Emergency Act to Preserve GI Bill Payments Becomes Law

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With schools across the nation shutting down or moving to online-only instruction, the Department of Veterans Affairs will be making changes in how GI Bill payments are administered.

It literally took an act of Congress, but students who are affected by the move from classroom lessons to online courses will not see their GI Bill payments stop.

Congress worked quickly to pass Senate Bill 3503, which made the changes and sent it to President Donald Trump, who signed the bill into law today, March 21, 2020.

The new law says that all VA education payments for classes that are "converted from being offered on-site to distance learning by reason of an emergency or health-related situation" will continue to be paid as if they were conducted in the classroom.

This affects all VA education payments, including the Post-9/11 GI Bill, Montgomery GI Bill, Dependents Education Assistance and the Vocational Rehabilitation & Education (VR&E) programs.

The law had to be changed because previous regulations said that if a class meeting on campus was originally authorized for GI Bill payments and then was moved to online sessions, it would no longer be eligible for GI Bill reimbursement. This also affected the Monthly Housing Allowance for the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the subsistence allowance for VRE.

Students would have been on the hook for thousands of dollars in GI Bill payments and seen their housing allowances terminated immediately if the law hadn't been changed.

The new law is effective for classes from March 1, 2020, through Dec. 21, 2020.

Students enrolled in schools that close as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are eligible for GI Bill payments through the end of the term or up to four weeks from the date of closure, whichever is earlier.

Also, if your school switches their classes to pass/fail only, your GI Bill payments will be unaffected.

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