Nearly two dozen veteran students will lose about two-thirds of their housing funds because the California Institute of Arts & Technology (CIAT), where they are enrolled, will no longer be having classes in person.
Dru Macasieb, a student and Army veteran, says he spent an entire year in Afghanistan. Trevis Zetina-Richards, a Navy veteran and fellow student, added, "I was a hospital corpsman."
The two veterans are among the 21 most impacted students. Their GI Bill benefits include COVID-related housing allowances of nearly $3,000 a month. However, soon students who take classes in person will get a much better rate.
CIAT has decided to continue to offer only online courses in January.
As a result of the college discontinuing in-person instruction, the housing allowance rate for these veterans will be reduced to about $800 per month. Zetina-Richards said that the high rent makes it impossible to lose money.
Gas and food prices have also increased significantly during recent months.
"I'm not fond of how veterans are treated or that this is considered free money since it isn't,” Macasieb said. “Some of my friends can't use this money because they died."
Students will soon be penalized due to the expiration of the provision that allowed veteran students to participate in virtual learning and receive the full amount of the housing allowance during the height of the pandemic, according to CIAT president Jamie Doyle.
According to him, the college went virtual during the pandemic outbreak and decided to remain virtual because of safety concerns, among other reasons.
“It was a difficult decision because we knew there would be many people that wouldn't be happy with it, but we also know that sometimes you have to make difficult decisions that don't please people because it's the right thing to do,” he said.
On December 21, the housing allowance officially decreased.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) received authority to pay monthly housing allowances for learning in-person rather than online through Dec. 21, 2021, following the COVID-19 pandemic.
GI Bill students' military housing allowance (MHA) rates are not affected by COVID-19's conversion to online learning from in-person operations. On the other hand, there are no plans to replace existing laws in the case of schools that only provide online education.
For these circumstances, VA has the authority to pay MHA for online learning at 50% of the national average as set by law. Adjustments can not be made to this rate by VA. Use the GI Bill Comparison Tool to learn more about education programs and compare the benefits of the school.