New Law Protects Student Veterans During COVID-19 Crisis

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In this Sept. 3, 2018, file photo an American flag flies on the U.S. Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
In this Sept. 3, 2018, file photo an American flag flies on the U.S. Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

On April 28, president Trump signed into law the Student Veteran Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 into law.

The new law affects VA Work Study students and those students impacted by schools that close or suspend classes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

These new rules only apply to those using VA education benefits for classes from March 1, 2020, through Dec. 21, 2020.

Work Study Students

The Work Study program allows veterans using VA education benefits to get a part-time job at either their school, a nearby VA or DoD facility or a state veterans agency. Veterans enrolled in the program get paid minimum wage while they are working, and usually have a contract that extends for the entire length of a school term. They are paid by the VA.

Since many schools have closed and other jobs have vanished, this new law allows veterans participating in the work study program to get paid for their entire contract term, or extend their contract ending date by the time they are out of work.

Students Affected By School Closures

Housing and Subsistence Allowance

If you were attending school using the GI Bill or Vocational Rehabilitation programs and the school closed or suspended classes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the new law will allow you to continue receiving your Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) or subsistence allowance.

You can continue drawing your Post-9/11 GI Bill MHA for up to four weeks after the school closed. Veterans enrolled in the Vocational Rehabilitation program can continue drawing their subsistence allowance for up to two months after school closure.

Extension of GI Bill Time Limits

Students using Vocational Rehabilitation benefits, the Montgomery GI Bill or who are using the Post-9/11 GI Bill and aren't covered under the Forever GI Bill will have their time limit for using the GI Bill extended by the length of time they were unable to attend classes due to their school being closed. Those who first began using their Post-9/11 GI Bill on or after Jan. 1, 2013 are covered under the Forever GI Bill and have no ending date on when they can use their GI Bill.

Dependent children using transferred Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits will also have their ending date for using their benefits extended by the time they are unable to attend classes due to their school being closed. Normally, dependent children see their eligibility for using transferred benefits end on their 26th birthday.

Students using any VA education benefits will get their benefits given back to them for classes they took but didn't get any credit for as a result of the school closing for the current emergency.

All the actions contained in this law will happen automatically, you don't need to contact the VA to request them.

Keep Up With Your Education Benefits

Whether you need a guide on how to use your GI Bill, want to take advantage of tuition assistance and scholarships, or get the lowdown on education benefits available for your family, Military.com can help. Subscribe to Military.com to have education tips and benefits updates delivered directly to your inbox.

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Related Topics

Coronavirus/COVID-19