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U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs protects student GI Bill benefits during COVID-19 crisis

Story by Amber Robinson

As COVID-19 continues to redefine Palomar’s scholastic landscape, veteran students are concerned with potential changes in their GI Bill education benefits, a concern quickly addressed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

According to Jessica Horn, Palomar College Veterans Resources Supervisor, veterans’ main concern here and nationwide is whether there will be changes in how much they receive in education benefits during this time.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs worked closely with congress to quickly pass legislation that will protect veteran students and their benefits during this time.

As part of every veterans’ service to country, they receive education benefits known as the GI Bill. These benefits pay for college courses after they have separated from the military, to help them attain a civilian education and reintegrate into a civilian job.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the GI Bill not only pays for college courses, but also pays a living stipend that many veterans depend on.

Veterans receive less living stipend for online courses, and must attend at least one on-campus course to receive any of the stipend at all, thus their concerns.

“Prior to COVID-19, the VA will only pay full housing to students who had at least one unit as a resident (on-campus) course,” said Horn. “Legislation was passed that allowed full benefit payments to apply to courses that were transitioned to an online format.”

The VA said that veteran students will continue to receive the same monthly housing allowance payments that they received for resident training until December 21, 2020, or until the school resumes normal operations of resident training.

Palomar’s VRC will continue to keep students abreast of any changes to their benefits, and will continue to work with the rest of the Palomar staff, and their usual community partners to ensure veteran students are taken care of during the COVID-19 crisis.

“The VRC is continuing to work with outside community organizations and our various Palomar College departments in order to best serve our students during this time,” said Horn. “If there is a military affiliated student in need, we encourage them to reach out to us at veterans@palomar.edu.

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