VA Says No COVID Emergency Protection After This Summer

VA Says No COVID Emergency Protection After This Summer

VA officials do not expect to extend emergency GI Bill protections beyond the summer, indicating they expect college campuses to resume pre-pandemic operations during the fall semester.

From April 2020 onward, VA leaders are using a number of authorities granted by Congress to ensure that veterans and their families paying for classes with the Post-9/11 GI Bill won't experience any disruption in housing stipends, work-study programs or other financial aid.

These emergency provisions were renewed by the Congress in December and will expire on June 1. VA press secretary Terrance Hayes said officials are not pushing for a 2022-23 school year extension.

“Veteran Benefits Administration's Education Service does not believe another extension is required. According to COVID, compared to when the protections were in place, conditions have significantly improved, which has resulted in the lift of social distancing restrictions across the country."

In this semester alone, there were 57,000 students using the GI Bill benefit who were pandemic protected. Those people wouldn't get housing support for spring 2022 without them.

Specifically, the case at hand concerns how benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill are distributed to students who take classes remotely rather than in person.

Through the veterans education benefit, veterans can receive money for tuition and a monthly housing stipend. Students who enroll in traditional in-person classes receive the full financial benefit; however, students taking classes online will only receive half that amount.

Nonetheless, when college administrators were forced to move classes online as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic in spring 2020, this left students in a confusing financial situation. 

According to law, their housing stipends should have been cut in half since they weren't in-person students.

Since the amount payable is closely related to the student's location and school, the difference between half of a housing stipend and the full payout can vary from a few hundred dollars to more than $2,000 or more. If students had already signed leases for the semester, then losing this money could be financially crippling.

The VA worked with Congress to pass emergency protections that will allow the department to continue paying housing stipends rather than slashing support checks by half.