House Passes REMOTE Act to Help Student Veterans

Last week, the U.S. House passed U.S. Rep. David Trone’s, D-Mary., “Responsible Education Mitigating Options And Technical Extensions (REMOTE) Act.”

The bill will help student veterans by adding “remote learning waivers and ensuring that full housing benefits are given to student veterans as schools continue to conduct virtual classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” The bill “will increase the number of Equal Employment Opportunity counselors available at VA facilities to assist VA employees” and had the support of almost a dozen veterans groups.

“By law, the Department of Veterans Affairs is required to make significant cuts to the housing benefits afforded to student veterans who are taking classes remotely. As student veterans transitioned to online coursework during the pandemic, many remained in campus housing during shelter-in-place orders. Nonetheless, under the existing law, these students lost their housing benefits. In response, Congress took action to prevent cuts to veterans’ benefits as higher education institutions continued remote learning. The REMOTE Act will preserve this modification through June 2022,” Trone’s office noted.

“No one should have to worry about the pandemic negatively impacting their academic progress, especially those who have sacrificed so much to protect this country,” said Trone, who sits on the U.S. House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, when he introduced the bill back in October. “Our veterans deserve to receive a world-class education and earn their degrees on time. Some of these brave men and women have waited their whole lives to get their college degree, and the pandemic shouldn’t hinder them from doing that.”

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., co-sponsored the proposal and U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., weighed in on it last week.

“Veterans have sacrificed in their service to our nation and have earned their education benefits,” said Crist. “Obtaining a degree is incredibly valuable for our veterans – both in adjusting to civilian life and providing economically for themselves and their loved ones. While vaccines have allowed colleges and universities to reopen, many veteran students are still pursuing their education online. These veterans, who gave so much for us should not be forced to interrupt their learning because of the pandemic. I applaud passage of this bill and call on the Senate to act swiftly to protect our student veterans.”

There is no companion measure over in the U.S. Senate.

Kevin Derby
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