Last month the President signed S.3503 into law, authorizing the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to treat certain approved educational programs that move to an online format as a result of emergencies and health-related situations in the same manner as programs offered on ground. Under the new law, Veterans and eligible recipients of funding from the Veterans Administration can continue receiving monthly housing stipends and other VA education benefits under Chapters 30,31,32 and 35 between March 1, 2020 and December 21, 2020.
In the final days of the 115th Congress, legislators passed the Veterans Benefits and Transition Act of 2018. The new law which was signed by President Trump contains several provisions to assist and protect student veterans. Under the new law, institutions that accept GI Bill benefits could face losing participation in Veteran’s educational benefits for programs if an institution prevents a veteran student from attending or participating in their courses because of delays in Chapter 31 or 33 benefits.
If a student veteran provides certification of eligibility to the school, it can’t impose any penalties on the student including the assessment of late fees, the denial of access to classes, libraries, or other institutional facilities, or the requirement that a covered individual borrow additional funds. State approving agencies which grant approval to programs at institutions of higher education may terminate a program’s approval if an institution violates these provisions.
Additionally, the law requires the Veterans Affairs to provide timely payment of VE Educational Benefits. Under the “Prompt Payments” provisions, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs must ensure that payment is made to institutions on behalf of eligible students within 60 days after the institution certifies a student’s eligibility.
The Forever GI Bill Housing Payment Fulfillment Act of 2018 was also signed into law at the end of 2018. The law addressed problems with the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, also known as the Forever GI Bill. Under the Forever GI Bill, monthly housing stipends were supposed to be based on the location of the campus of the institution where a veteran student attends classes, a change from the previous direction that the calculation was to be based on the location of the institution, but outdated information technology systems at the Veteran’s Administration “stymied efforts to update necessary information that enable proper housing payments, resulting in a months long backlog. The Forever GI Bill Housing Payment Fulfillment Act of 2018 the VA is expected to begin reimbursing student veterans who did not receive their full housing benefits.