The U.S. Senate on Wednesday passed the Responsible Education Mitigating Options and Technical Extensions (REMOTE) Act, H.R. 5545, by voice vote. The House approved the measure last week, reported The Pie News.
The final legislation contains important technical corrections to the recent Isakson Roe legislation that made sweeping changes to the administration and oversight of GI Bill benefits. It also includes provisions to extend certain COVID-19-related flexibilities and ensure that veterans' benefits are not negatively impacted during the spring semester should an in-person program need to convert to online.
More specifically, the REMOTE Act would extend remote learning waivers for student veterans, set to expire this December, through the Spring 2022 term. It would also ensure student veterans continue receiving full housing benefits despite participating in remote learning and simplify the verification process for tuition reimbursement so student veterans minimize unneeded paperwork.
The proposed technical corrections to the Isakson Roe Act included in the REMOTE Act would:
- Make the VA's incentive compensation provision parallel to the incentive compensation provision in the Higher Education Act (HEA) by adding the exception that permits recruiting of foreign students in foreign countries.
- Require the VA and the State Approving Agencies to interpret the VA's incentive compensation provision consistent with the Education Department's interpretation.
- Allow the VA to waive the second certification requirement for institutions with a flat rate tuition and fee structure.
- Allow institutions to satisfy Isakson Roe section 1018's consumer information requirements by using the Education Department's "College Financing Plan" template.
The measure also includes language to fix the Department of Veterans Affairs' rounding out policy, which helps veterans receive full time benefits during the last term of their education program. Previous iterations of the bill omitted that provision.
Ahead of the House and Senate votes, AACRAO along with 33 other organizations sent a letter to Congress urging lawmakers to include the rounding out language and move swiftly to pass the time-sensitive legislation that addresses that issue along with the other COVID extensions and technical fixes.
The approved bill now moves to the White House for President Biden's signature.
U.S. Senator Jon Tester's Press Release
The Pie News