On December 21, 2021, President Biden signed the Responsible Education Mitigating Options and Technical Extensions Act or the REMOTE Act into law
Section two of this law extends the various COVID-19 protections for GI Bill® students from December 21, 2021, to June 1, 2022. In part, this means that students who were attending a course that was converted to online training because of COVID-19, and were getting paid the resident rate, may continue to train online, and will continue to receive the resident housing rate until June 1, 2022.
Additionally, the law provides the following:
Section 3: Amends 38 U.S.C. § 3679(f)(2)(B), to now allow schools to pay incentives to recruit foreign students not eligible for Federal financial student aid; exempts all foreign schools from the requirements of 38 U.S.C. § 3679(f) and amends 38 USC 3689(c) and 3690(c) to exempt certain foreign students and foreign schools from certain reporting requirements; exempts schools that provide their students with financial disclosure information required by the Secretary of Education (e.g., schools that provide students with a College Financial Plan as part of participation in Federal financial student aid) from any of the requirements of § 3697(f); and delays enforcement of § 3679(f) until August 1, 2022, and any school seeking a waiver may apply for one starting on June 15. 2022.
Section 4: Amends 38 U.S.C. § 3680(a) to authorize “rounding out” for GI Bill students during their final semester, term, or academic period starting January 1, 2022, which allows them to enroll in additional classes in order to be more than half-time, and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is authorized to pay benefits for the additional classes as well. This is only allowable during the student’s final semester, term or academic period.
Section 5: Extends all COVID protections included in the Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe, M.D. Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2020 (PL 116-315) by extending the covered period from December 21, 2021, to June 1, 2022
On December 21, 2021, COVID-19 legislation that permits you to receive the Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) at the resident (in person) rate, while taking approved courses converted to online training due to COVID-19 will end.
What does this mean?
This means that starting December 22, 2021, you will no longer receive the MHA at the resident (in person) rate for classes taken online. When enrolling for courses after that date or any subsequent term, you will need to enroll in approved resident (in person) classes to continue receiving your MHA at the resident rate. Otherwise, you will receive the online rate (half the national average). To find out more about your MHA rate, visit the GI Bill Comparison Tool.
Additionally, many GI Bill programs are not normally approved for online training; they are only approved for resident (in person) training. This is especially true for most Non-College Degree (NCD) programs but is also the case for any non-accredited degree programs. These programs are only currently approved for GI Bill benefits for online training because of the COVID-19 legislation set to end on December 21, 2021. If your program is one that is normally only approved for resident training and is only approved for online training due to the COVID-19 legislation, you will need to return to resident (in person) training after December 21, 2021, if you want to continue receiving GI Bill benefits.
How will this impact me?
If you choose to continue training online after December 21, 2021, your GI Bill benefits, such as a monthly housing allowance, will stop, and you may end up owing a tuition debt to your school (the Department of Veteran Affairs will charge your school a prorated tuition and fee debt which your school may, in turn, pass on to you). If you are unsure whether your program is normally approved for online training or if it is only approved for online training due to the special COVID-19 legislation, you should consult with your School Certifying Official (SCO).
To prepare for the change and learn more about the expiration of the COVID-19 special rules, check in with your SCO and visit the COVID-19 Student FAQs.
Veterans from all eras are reacting to the events in Afghanistan, such as the U.S withdrawal and the takeover by the Taliban.
You are not alone.
Veterans may question the meaning of their service or whether it was worth the sacrifices they made. They may feel more moral distress about experiences they had during their service. It’s normal to feel this way. Talk with your friends and families, reach out to battle buddies, connect with a peer-to-peer network, or sign up for mental health services. Scroll down for a list common reactions and coping advice.
Resources available right now
Veterans Crisis Line - If you are having thoughts of suicide, call 1-800-273-8255, then PRESS 1 or visit http://www.veteranscrisisline.net/
For emergency mental health care, you can also go directly to your local VA medical center 24/7 regardless of your discharge status or enrollment in other VA health care.
Vet Centers - Discuss how you feel with other Veterans in these community-based counseling centers. 70% of Vet Center staff are Veterans. Call 1-877-927-8387 or find one near you.
VA Mental Health Services Guide - This guide will help you sign up and access mental health services.
MakeTheConnection.net - information, resources, and Veteran to Veteran videos for challenging life events and experiences with mental health issues.
RallyPoint - Talk to other Veterans online. Discuss: What are your feelings as the Taliban reclaim Afghanistan after 20 years of US involvement?
Download VA's self-help apps - Tools to help deal with common reactions like, stress, sadness, and anxiety. You can also track your symptoms over time.
Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) - Request a Peer Mentor
VA Women Veterans Call Center - Call or text 1-855-829-6636 (M-F 8AM - 10PM & SAT 8AM - 6:30PM ET)
VA Caregiver Support Line - Call 1-855-260-3274 (M-F 8AM - 10PM & SAT 8AM - 5PM ET)
Together We Served -Find your battle buddies through unit pages
George W. Bush Institute - Need help or want to talk? Check In or call:1-630-522-4904 or email: email@example.com
Elizabeth Dole Foundation Hidden Heroes - Join the Community
American Red Cross Military Veteran Caregiver Network - Peer Support and Mentoring
Team Red, White & Blue - Hundreds of events weekly. Find a chapter in your area.
Student Veterans of America -Contact SVAOC for more information or to join the Canvas page by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Team Rubicon - Find a local support squad.
Important Updates Coming this Summer!
Welcome to the July edition of the Bi-Monthly GI Bill® Student newsletter! We hope that you are safely enjoying the summer season. Earlier this year, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced an effort to modernize the operations of the GI Bill for Veterans, Service members, and their dependents. Referred to as the Digital GI Bill (DGIB), this transformation will improve the user experience, provide faster and easier access to benefits, cut claims processing times, and enhance VA’s tools to aid Veterans in their educational and career goals. Watch the DGIB Intro video to see what's in store for your GI Bill experience.
For the most recent updates to your benefits, be sure to check out our Isakson and Roe Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2020 webpage.
Be sure to add Veteransbenefits@messages.va.gov to your contacts list to ensure that you receive important updates for VA and share with other Veterans and GI Bill beneficiaries, too!
Important Changes to Rounding Out
The practice of “rounding out” provides eligible GI Bill students in their last term with the option to take additional classes to bring their course load to full-time and receive a full-time monthly housing allowance. In accordance with law, VA is only authorized to pay GI Bill benefits for classes that are part of an approved program of education and count toward completion of that approved program of education.
Beginning on Aug. 1, 2021, students can “round out” in their last term only if they are taking classes that are approved for their program of education. Classes approved for a program of education means those that can be used to satisfy the graduation requirements of the program as specified in the curriculum. Classes that have been previously completed cannot be used to round out the student’s course load.
Learn more here.
COVID-19 Debt Relief Expiring Soon
COVID-19 Debt Relief Expiring – If you have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and have a VA debt, VA is offering help until September 30, 2021. To provide relief for Veterans, during the COVID-19 pandemic, VA paused collection on all VA benefit debts created between April 1, 2020, and September 30, 2021. VA also offered a pause on collection and repayment plans for debts created before April 1, 2020.
If you continue to face financial hardship and need assistance with repaying your VA debt after September 30, 2021, you can find out how to request help by visiting the Manage your VA debt webpage.
VA is extending debt relief for Veterans through September 30, 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. VA will suspend collection of all Veteran benefit overpayments incurred between April 6, 2020, and September 30, 2021. No adverse actions or collection attempts will occur during this suspension period. Additionally, all copayments for medical care and pharmacy services incurred from April 6, 2020, through September 30, 2021, will be cancelled, along with any fees or interest. Any payments for this time period will be refunded.
VA is committed to keeping Veterans informed about their debt and the expansive relief options available.
What will happen next
With regard to benefit overpayments, Veterans will receive a letter from the VA Debt Management Center (DMC) showing current debt amount as well as available options. Subsequent letters will be sent showing updates to Veterans’ accounts.
What Veterans can do now
For benefit overpayments, no action is required through September 30, 2021. That said, if Veterans would like to resolve debts sooner, there are options they can exercise now. VA can work with Veterans to determine what option is best. Options include:
- Making a payment
- Establishing a repayment plan
- Submitting a compromise offer
- Disputing the debt
Requesting a waiver
For benefit debt, information is available online at https://www.va.gov/manage-va-debt/, or by calling the DMC at 800-827-0648, or via IRIS at https://iris.custhelp.va.gov/app/ask/.