Moran, Tester Legislative Fix to Protect GI Bill Benefits Signed Into Law
WASHINGTON – Today, President Trump signed into law S.3503, legislation introduced by Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Ranking Member Jon Tester (D-Mont.) to protect GI Bill benefits during the COVID-19 outbreak. This legislation will ensure that veterans, their dependents, and servicemembers, who are using their GI Bill benefits, will be able to continue receiving their full tuition and monthly housing payments as universities and other approved programs move classes online to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“I’m grateful Congress and President Trump acted quickly to pass this legislation and sign it into law, making certain our veterans don’t lose their GI Bill benefits,” said Chairman Moran. “Our country is facing uncertain times and no one is unaffected, but Congress’ quick action to move this bill to the President’s desk provides a needed certainty for student veterans, their families and the men and women still currently serving during this time.”
“Congress stepped up to the plate and worked quickly to push our bipartisan fix over the finish line for student veterans across the country who rely on their GI Bill benefits,” said Ranking Member Tester. “As more schools move to an online curriculum and make necessary adjustments during this crisis, it’s increasingly important that we provide students with the financial support they need. Folks who served our nation in uniform can breathe easy knowing that this law helps give them the financial stability they earned.”
Current law provides certain approval requirements before a school or training program can receiving GI Bill payments, and these requirements often differ between online programs and brick and mortar programs. Last week, Congress was alerted by the Department of Veterans Affairs that as colleges and universities close campuses and move to online programs, to prevent the spread of the COVID-19, veterans and other beneficiaries, using the GI Bill, faced the possibility of having their benefits negatively impacted. Not only would this have resulted in VA no longer paying for the program of education, but it would have also resulted in a reduction or complete halt in a veteran’s monthly housing allowance that they rely on to pay their rent or mortgage. This bill allows student veterans to continue receiving their full benefits even if the universities and programs they are attending move classes online due to COVID-19.
“Student Veterans of America (SVA) applauds Senators Moran and Tester’s leadership and Congress’ swift action to address the urgent concerns of student veterans everywhere,” said SVA National President and CEO Jared Lyon. “We are also thankful to the 70 organizations and schools that stood with military-connected students asking for urgent action. As this bill heads to the President’s desk, we look forward to an equally swift signature to finalize these needed protections.”
“We applaud Congress for its swift action to protect the GI Bill benefits of thousands of student veterans affected by the unprecedented implications of COVID-19,” said VFW Deputy Director of National Legislative Service Patrick Murray. “This bill would allow student veterans to remain focused on their individual health and welfare, and that of their families, and not have to worry about the fiscal concerns that would come with cutting their benefits in this challenging time.”
"TAPS is grateful to Congress for recognizing the urgency of this situation and passing legislation in a matter of days to ensure survivors, veterans and families using the GI Bill will not be penalized during these unprecedented times,” said Tragedy Assistant Program for Survivors Deputy Director of Policy and Legislation Ashlynne Haycock.
“Passing S. 3503, as COVID-19 hampers in-person education, will help students in the Reserve and Guard who have been activated to help states,” said Reserve Organization of America (ROA) Executive Director Maj. Gen. Jeffrey E. Phillips. “This bill allows all GI Bill users to continue their studies online without losing their benefits. ROA thanks Congress for its quick response and support of our Guard and Reserve.”
“The National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) thanks Sen. Moran, Sen. Tester, and the tireless work of the staffs of both the Senate and House Veterans’ Affairs Committees for passing this bill which protects our servicemembers’ GI Bill benefits for educational programs which convert to online only,” said NGAUS President Brig. Gen. J. Roy Robinson (Ret.). “Without this legislation, GI Bill recipients would lose much needed financial support simply because their ongoing educational program was forced to move online with the current COVID-19 crisis. We are living through truly challenging times with the national emergency and we thank Congress for continuing to care for our veterans and current servicemembers.”
“The National Association of State Approving Agencies (NASAA) applauds the passage of Senate Bill 3503,” said NASAA President Annie Walker. “We are deeply grateful for the leadership of Senators Moran and Tester as well as others in Congress who have proven to be true champions for our Veterans and their families. Furthermore, we celebrate the efforts in Congress which resulted in the passage of this bill in record time. Our Veterans are our greatest national treasure and this carefully crafted legislation ensures that that their educational futures remain secure and bright!”
"We are thankful to Congress for passing this vital legislation that protects GI Bill students from being inadvertently harmed during a time of crisis in our country,” said Veterans Education Success Vice President Tanya Ang. “We are relieved military-connected students are now free from the burden of worry with their housing allowance and can concentrate on protecting their families and community, while they attempt to finish their studies from a distance. We are grateful for the leadership by Senator Moran and Senator Tester in getting this pivotal legislation through.”
“Veterans enrolled in on-site career classes would have lost up to 50% of their living allowance when schools followed orders to transition to on-line delivery through no fault of theirs or their school,” said Career Education Colleges and Universities President and CEO Steve Gunderson. “We deeply appreciate the bi-partisan response and protection of our veteran students and their earned G.I. Bill Benefits.”
“NAVPA is pleased with the immediate response from our nation’s leadership to protect student veterans as education institutions across the country take action with preventive measures to address the present pandemic crisis of COVID-19,” said National Association of Veterans’ Program Administrators (NAVPA) President Dr. Jan Del Signore, MSGT, USAF (Ret.). “We appreciate the leadership and support from President Trump, Chairman Moran, Chairman Takano, and Ranking Members, Tester and Roe. With these new measures in place, the Secretary of the VA will be able to address any disparities to ensure our student veterans have no detrimental impact from this national emergency. NAVPA looks forward to continued partnerships with our fellow VSO’s and Congressional leaders as we navigate these unchartered waters together as a country.”
“We appreciate the quick and vital effort by congressional leaders and all members of the House and Senate to ensure that veterans’ educational benefits are not impacted by campus efforts to move coursework online in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said American Council on Education President Ted Mitchell. “Without this legislation being enacted into law, student veterans and their families could see their education benefits drastically reduced, or cut entirely, during an already difficult time.”
This legislation was cosponsored by Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Bill Cassidy (R-Louis.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Jacky Rosen (Nev.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.).
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