REMOTE Act for GI Bill Extends Student Veteran Protection
UPDATE: The United States government ended the COVID-19 national emergency on May 11, 2023. The article below is kept as an archive, but the conditions, issues, and complications addressed below all reference a specific time and place in American history and should not be referred to as current news. Congress had at one time extended GI Bill protections for student veterans required to take remote classes due to COVID-19 restrictions. The article below addresses these protections but at press time such restrictions no longer apply.
GI Bill REMOTE Act News
The most pressing news for veteran students at this time is that Congress passed the REMOTE Act at the end of December 2021.
The Responsible Education Mitigating Options and Technical Extensions (REMOTE) Act extended provisions of the Student Veteran Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 until June 1, 2022. But what does that mean for you, the student veteran?
Full Benefits for Student Veterans with REMOTE Act
Remember when everything was shutting down due to COVID-19, and schools were able to start offering 100% remote learning? Well, the Student Veteran Protection Act ensured that student veterans would be paid the GI Bill BAH portions in full, even if the classes were taught remotely. Those protections were set to expire on 21 December 2021, but the REMOTE Act extends those protections until June 2022.
Rounding Out a Program
The REMOTE Act also solidly enshrines the “rounding out” that may impact some students.
Right now, you may be asking “What is rounding out?” Well, here’s the answer:
When a student’s GI Bill runs out in the last semester of their program, then the VA can provide extra financial assistance, read a “rounding out”, to bring that program to a close without the student incurring any out-of-pocket tuition expenses. Three conditions must be met in order for this provision to apply:
- The number of credits a student needs is less than the number of credits that would be considered more than a half-time enrollment for that semester, AND
- The student is enrolled in, or has completed, every course required for the completion of the degree or program, AND
- The student enrolls in an additional, non-required course where the enrollment in that non-required course raises the enrollment status above the half-time mark.
The effective date of the rounding-out provisions was January 1, 2022. So, any enrollments and semesters that meet the criteria above now qualify.
Still Confused About the GI Bill Remote Act?
Still confused? Here’s a personal example:
I am currently working on a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. I have completed every course except two: my Thesis Proposal and Thesis Defense. These courses are taken within the same semester, one before the other. By taking only these two courses, I am considered half-time enrollment.
Incidentally, I have exactly 6 days of GI Bill benefit remaining, so I will run out of regular funding shortly after the next semester begins. If I were to enroll in another class that is not required for my MFA, then I would be eligible for the extended financial assistance from the VA, or the rounding up. Without that extra assistance, I would be responsible for the remaining tuition.
So, I have to choose whether or not I want to add yet another course to an already heavy workload so I can qualify for the extra assistance. Or, I keep only the two required courses and pay the rest of my tuition out-of-pocket.
Keep in mind, that the text of the REMOTE Act says that the VA “may provide” extra assistance, meaning that it is a possibility, not a guarantee.
Believe me when I say that it’s a tough choice to make!
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