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Education and Training

COVID-19 Information Affecting Education Benefits

Special COVID rules extended to December 21, 2021. 
We will be updating the content below to convey the extension.  

From the beginning of this crisis, we have been working with Congress to preserve GI Bill benefits for those of you impacted by COVID-19 during this difficult time.  On March 21st the The President signed into law S.3503, giving VA temporary authority to continue GI Bill payments uninterrupted during an emergency.

  • The new law allows VA to pay education benefits regardless of the fact that a program has been converted from resident training to online training, even if a online training hasn’t been or approved or is not approvable.

GI Bill students will continue to receive housing allowance payments at the resident training until 12/21/20, or until the school resumes normal operations of resident training, for programs converted solely to online training.

Q1. My school changed my program from in-residence classes to online classes? Can I still get GI Bill benefits for this?

Based on the recently passed legislation, if your school converts from an approved residence training course to online training for that course (distance learning) due to COVID-19, your benefits will not change. However, the law only authorizes this special authority from March 1, 2020, to December 21, 2020.

The new law applies to both current and new students enrolled in courses affected by COVID-19.

Note: Other types of changes to your enrollment status (for example, dropping a class results in a reduced rate of pursuit) may affect payments.

Q2. What happens to my housing allowance if my school changes from in-residence classes to online classes due to COVID-19?

Post-9/11 GI Bill students whose schools convert to online programs from previously approved resident programs will not see reduced monthly housing payments. Current and new beneficiaries can receive the resident housing rate when in school March 1, 2020, to December 21, 2020.

Note: Other types of changes to your enrollment status (for example, dropping a class results in a reduced rate of pursuit) may affect payments.

Q3. If I am unable to attend school due to COVID-19, but my school is in session, will I still receive my education benefits?

VA can pay you through the last date of attendance, but not through the end of the term. This may create a prorated tuition & fees debt and a housing overpayment for you. If you do get a debt you can request a waiver when you are notified of a debt. Learn more at Submit a Waiver Request.  Also, VA has provided additional support to students who owe debts (see question 8 for additional information).

Q4. What happens if my school is closed temporarily?

If your school is temporarily closed, VA will continue to pay your benefits through the end of the term or 28 days, whichever is sooner.

Q5. What happens when my school’s resident lab portion of a course is canceled or marked as incomplete due to COVID-19 and the school does not allow me to move to the next class in the degree program? (i.e. Organic Chemistry 1 lab completion needed to enroll in Org Chemistry 2 next semester)

VA lacks authority to handle these situations in any special way due to COVID 19. VA has instructed schools to follow their “Incomplete” grade policy and apply that procedure, if applicable. When the school is eventually able to continue training, you will be allowed to complete the lab portion without any further reporting requirements to VA.  However, if the discontinued class is a prerequisite to future classes, you cannot enroll in the next sequential required class until the pre-requisite is complete.

If your school doesn’t have an “Incomplete” policy, the school should withdraw you from the class based on your last date of attendance. But if this action changes your rate of pursuit, your monthly housing allowance may be affected.

Q6. Will VA pay for my benefits if my school changes from a standard grade scale (A, B, C…) to a Pass/Fail or other grading system due to COVID-19 national emergency?

It depends on your school’s grading policy, and you will need to check with your School Certifying Official. Rules about failing grades have not changed.

Q7. What happens if my OJT or Apprenticeship establishment changes to online, remains open but I can’t work because I was furloughed, or it temporarily ceases trainee program training due to COVID-19?

• If your training facility can change to an online format, you will continue to receive your regular monthly housing payment.
• If your training facility remains open, but you must stop training (due to furlough, illness, etc.), VA can only pay education benefits through the last day of your training.
• If the facility you work at temporarily ceases operations, VA can continue to pay trainees their monthly housing through the end of the program or 28 days, whichever is sooner.

Q8. I’m experiencing a financial hardship due to COVID-19 and owe a debt to VA. Is there any relief for me?

VA’s Debt Management Center (DMC) is currently offering Veterans a couple options; one is to completely suspend debt collection until May 31, 2020 (currently – but subject to extension) and the second is to establish an extended repayment plan without the submission of additional financial documentation. DMC encourages Veterans and family members affected by COVID-19 (Coronavirus) who have a VBA benefit debt and need temporary financial relief to contact the DMC at 1-800-827-0648 to request assistance.

If you have questions about your specific circumstance, please contact the Education Call Center at: 1-888-442-4551 between 8 AM and 7 PM Eastern Time, Monday-Friday, or submit your question electronically.  

The VA Debt Management Center (DMC) is offering temporary financial relief if you are unable to pay your GI Bill benefit debt during this crisis.  Our debt relief flyer breaks it down for you.

Q9. What if I am a School Certifying Official (SCO) with questions?

See our webpage for School Certifying Officials with COVID-19 questions.