Coronavirus and School ClosuresMarch 6, 2020
COVID 19 Rescind SCO FAQ messageMarch 13, 2020
Please see the information below put out by VA Central Office regarding the COVID-19 situation. This is the only information we have at the is time so I will probably not be able to address questions that you may have that have not been covered below.
With regard to the last bullet, it seems that not all states SAA’s have been routinely advising in approval letters regarding distance learning. The NCSAA has routinely reported that information so if you have questions as to whether your SAA approval allows for distance learning please refer to your approval letter.
NOTE: Currently there is no change to how remedial/deficiency courses are handled. The law does not allow rem/def to be paid if all or part is offered online or via independent study.
Question: What is the impact, if any, to GI Bill recipients when their schools are either closed or has directed their students to take classes online as a result of precautions taken due to COVID-19?
Answer: The answer will depend on the type of action taken by the school, the timing of the action, and the current program approval.
- If a school temporarily closes due to an established policy based on an Executive order of the President or due to an emergency situation, VA may continue benefit payments (including the Monthly Housing Allowance under the Post-9/11 GI Bill) for up to 4 weeks during an 12 month period. This authority, and limitation, are codified in statute (38 U.S.C. § 3680(a)(2)(A).
- If the school remains open (virtually, rather than physically), and students are transitioned to pursuit solely through online classes, then benefit payments will be impacted as follows:
- If the switch from training in-residence to online classes occurs during the term, and the program has been approved by the State Approving Agency for delivery through an online modality, then benefit payments (including the Monthly Housing Allowance under the Post-9/11 GI Bill) will remain unchanged for the remainder of that term due to the recent change in the rules for hybrid training.
- However, for any subsequent terms pursued solely online, the Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) under the Post-9/11 GI Bill will be reduced to one-half of the national average of DoD’s Basic Allowance for Housing rates for an E-5 with dependents. The limitations on MHA rates are codified in statute (38 U.S.C. § 3313(c)(1)(B)(iii).
- Lastly, if the program has not been approved by the State Approving Agency for delivery through an online modality, benefit payments will completely stop (including the Monthly Housing Allowance under the Post-9/11 GI Bill) when students begin training online.
Please note: There is a draft bill to address our limitations, but until that passes we are restricted to what is described above.