Reps. Joe Cunningham (SC-01) and Mike Levin (CA-49) today introduced a package of bills to address the impacts of COVID-19 and resulting changes to higher education on student veterans. The Pandemic Assistance for Student Veterans Act makes updates to H.R. 6322 and S. 3503, two previous GI bill legislative fixes that have been passed by Congress in response to COVID-19. The legislation ensures all student veterans negatively impacted are covered, and addresses disparities in coverage for student veterans in apprenticeships or receiving on-the-job training who have become unemployed or furloughed.
Among many other benefits, the legislation would:
- Provide resources to student veterans who have fallen through the cracks of previous student veteran COVID-19 relief packages through no fault of their own;
- Makes certain that veterans continue to receive their housing allowance payments if their institution closes due to COVID-19; and
- Extend coverage to vocational training, apprenticeship programs, and other educational programs included in the GI bill beyond traditional colleges;
“The challenges presented by COVID-19 are difficult enough without student veterans having to worry about losing their benefits or housing allowances or being hit with unexpected bills if their higher education institution or work-study program closes,” said Rep Joe Cunningham. “Throughout this pandemic, Congress has worked together to pass meaningful bipartisan legislation to help our student veterans manage the negative consequences of COVID-19. But conversations with student veterans, the VA, and Veteran Service Organizations have made it clear that more needs to be done. I’m proud to introduce this comprehensive package to ensure our student veterans have the resources and safeguards they need to get through this crisis.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to upend students’ lives, and that includes veterans who are at risk of losing VA benefits they depend on to cover tuition, housing, and other costs,” said Rep. Levin. “I was proud to help pass the Student Veteran Coronavirus Response Act earlier this year to protect veterans’ GI Bill benefits, but some students still fell through the cracks. Our bill will fill those gaps and ensure that veterans continue to receive the GI Bill benefits they deserve. Every student veteran deserves that peace of mind, and I’m grateful for Congressman Cunningham’s partnership on this legislation.”
“Since we passed my Student Veteran Coronavirus Response Act this April, we’ve continued to hear from students, VSOs, schools, apprenticeship programs, and other stakeholders about what we still need to do to fully support student veterans throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s why I strongly support Rep. Cunningham’s new bipartisan efforts to further safeguard student veterans’ benefits and provide certainty that however they’re learning throughout the pandemic—at home, at school, or some combination—their VA benefits will continue,” said Chairman Mark Takano.
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