Last week, President Biden signed the Responsible Education Mitigating Options and Technical Extensions (REMOTE) Act, H.R. 5545, into law. The legislation makes important technical corrections to the recent Isakson Roe Act and extends certain COVID-related flexibilities for veterans education benefits.
In particular, the REMOTE Act allows student veterans taking remote classes to continue receiving full GI Bill housing benefits through summer 2022, Military Times reported. Student veterans enrolled in traditional in-person courses receive the full monthly housing stipend, while students in online-only classes get half of that amount. However, when the pandemic shuttered college campuses, forcing students to shift to virtual learning, Congress granted the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) broad authority to continue paying out the full housing stipends to online students. The policy, which was set to expire December 21, helped tens of thousands of student veterans avoid losing part of their benefits.
"While we've made a lot of progress in getting this virus under control, many veterans continue to take classes online due to the pandemic and need the protections in this legislation in order to continue their studies," said Representative Mike Levin (D-CA), chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee's panel on economic opportunity. "At a time when we are trying to keep veterans housed and encourage them to pursue a higher education, the last thing we can afford is to let these protections expire and risk derailing their studies or, even worse, forcing them out of their homes."
As part of the technical corrections to the Isakson Roe legislation, the REMOTE Act amends language banning the use of commission-based international student recruitment by institutions that receive GI Bill funding, Inside Higher Ed reported. The measure restores the ability of U.S. colleges and universities to recruit foreign students abroad utilizing incentive-based compensation agreements.
The REMOTE Act also allows the VA to waive the second certification requirement for institutions with a flat rate tuition and fee structure; permits institutions to satisfy Isakson Roe section 1018's consumer information requirements by using the Education Department's "College Financing Plan" template; and includes language to fix the VA's rounding out policy, which helps veterans receive full time benefits during the last term of their education program.
AACRAO and other higher education and veterans organizations actively advocated for the changes included in the REMOTE Act. The association applauds the swift passage of this time-sensitive legislation.
Inside Higher Ed