Veterans & Service Members

AACRAO recognizes and honors the sacrifices these men and women have made and its members are proud to assist them and meet their educational needs. Veterans and students on active military duty and their families face special circumstances and challenges.

Changes in federal statute and executive actions have greatly promoted the expansion of services toward veterans and their families. Since the Post-9/11 GI Bill was passed in 2009, close to 1 million veterans, service members, and eligible dependents have taken advantage of the educational benefits available to them. With the passage of more recent legislation, such as the Forever GI Bill in 2017 and the Isakson Roe and THRIVE Acts in 2021, there will be significant changes to military education benefits over the coming years.


Latest Actions

AACRAO recently hosted a webinar to discuss the implementation of veteran legislation passed in December 2020, also known as the Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act. This law will have a transformative effect on the mission of Education Service to provide ready access to, and timely and accurate delivery of, education benefits to Veterans, Service members, and their families, as well as further enable the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to empower GI Bill beneficiaries to achieve their vocational and career goals.

Other recent legislation introduced in both the House and Senate include important provisions to help ensure veterans can continue to receive their education benefits as well as technical corrections to the legislation passed last year.


Dept. of VA Guidance, Senate Bill Aims to Protect GI Bill Benefits

Mar 19, 2020, 13:33 PM
legacy id :
Summary : VA prepares guidance for schools that have changes in training modalities and operation statuses due to COVID 19.
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As schools across the country respond to unprecedented challenges caused by COVID-19, students and veterans who rely on the Post-9/11 GI Bill's educational assistance could see those benefits reduced or paused without legislative action, reported JD Supra.

In a recent announcement, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA) outlined the impact on student benefits in three scenarios:

  • School temporarily closes: If a school temporarily closes because of an emergency, the VA will continue to pay benefits (including full housing allowances) for up to four weeks in a 12-month period.
  • School with approval for online program shifts to online courses: If a school shifts its in-person courses to online courses, student veterans will continue to receive benefits through the end of the term only if the school’s state approving agency (SAA) has given the school approval to offer such programs online. If programs remain solely online for additional terms, student veterans' housing allowance would be reduced to 50 percent of the national average of the U.S. Department of Defense's basic allowance for housing for an E-5 with dependents, which is consistent with the amount the VA typically provides for online programs.
  • School without approval for online program shifts to online courses: If a school shifts its in-person courses to online courses, but does not have the SAA's approval to offer such programs online, student veterans enrolled in those programs will stop receiving payments of all education benefits (including housing allowances) as soon as they begin their training online.

The VA is preparing additional guidance for schools that have changes in training modalities and operation status due to COVID-19.

However, Congress approved legislation that, if enacted by the president, will alleviate the impact to GI Bill beneficiaries for a switch to pursuit solely through distance education. In order to avoid confusion and the need to make multiple changes to enrollments, the VA is asking that all institutions temporarily refrain from making any adjustments to enrollment certifications if training has changed due to COVID-19. The Regional Processing Offices (RPOs) are not making adjustments to student's awards regarding COVID-19 until further notice.

The U.S. Senate on Monday and House today passed legislation, S. 3503, to ensure that veterans' education benefits are not disrupted as colleges and universities move courses online due to coronavirus, Military Times reported.

The measure is aimed at maintaining housing benefits payments under the GI Bill in cases where college programs switch midterm from in-person to online. It also would seek to prevent the disruption of tuition and housing benefits when an academic program has been pre-approved as eligible for GI Bill benefits as an in-person program, but not an online one.

AACRAO joined more than 60 other higher education groups to urge Congress to move swiftly to approve the legislation. The letter expresses strong support for the bipartisan legislation.

"In light of coronavirus challenges, many campuses are working quickly to stand up online classroom instruction as a way to protect students and campus communities and limit contagion," the letter states. "However, moving programs of education online has the potential to significantly and negatively impact the ability of veterans to receive GI bill benefits. As just one example, under current Post-9/11 GI Bill rules, student veterans taking courses online typically receive only half the housing allowance of their on-campus peers."

The letter adds that because most veteran students and their families have already made housing arrangements, including signing leases for the current semester or term, a drastic cut in their living expenses would be a considerable hardship during these already difficult times. 

Related Links

Letter in Support of Ensuring GI Bill Benefits for Online Programs During COVID-19 Pandemic

JD Supra

Military Times

Michelle Mott
Categories :
  • Advocacy
  • Online and Distance Learning
  • Veterans and Service Members
Tags :
  • covid-19
  • Federal relations
  • gi bill
  • Resources for Veterans Administration Certification
  • tuition
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