In a bill signed by President Joe Biden on Dec. 21, veterans will get their full housing stipends even if classes move back online in the spring.
REMOTE extends COVID-19 pandemic protection to student veterans that expired the same day Biden signed the bill at the White House.
The GI Bill provides student veterans with housing benefits as well as tuition benefits. Before the pandemic, students taking in-person classes got the full housing benefit, while those taking online classes got half the benefit.
In spite of the pandemic, Congress passed a bill last year that ensured the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) would pay out the full allowance to students who were not attending classes in person due to the pandemic.
This protection will be extended until June 1, 2022, thanks to the new bill. In early December, both chambers of Congress approved the measure in voice votes, indicating a broad bipartisan consensus.
"Veterans who are learning remotely deserve their full VA housing benefits, and this legislation will ensure that they are not unfairly penalized for pursuing their education online during the pandemic," said Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., who sponsored the bill.
Depending on school location, cutting the housing stipend in half could cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars for student veterans.
The legislation is expected to affect about 57,000 student veterans who use the GI Bill for college classes.
The majority of colleges resumed in-person classes as the COVID-19 vaccine became available and officials developed plans for testing, tracking and isolating cases.
As the Omicron virus has begun to spread throughout the United States, several schools have announced plans to begin classes remotely next semester.
When the bill passed the House, Rep. David Trone, D-Md., the bill's sponsor, said the REMOTE Act ensured student veterans received the education benefits they needed during an ever-changing and evolving pandemic.