Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) is honored to offer our support for H.R. 950, a bill that will grant veterans, pursuing their education through distance learning, a living allowance under the new Post 9/11 GI Bill. Although the Post 9/11 GI Bill is the greatest investment in veterans’ education since WWII, it has some rough edges that need to be ground down to better serve our newest generation of veterans, as they pursue their education.
Online distance learning is a fast growing way for people to achieve a college degree while living at home. It allows veterans to take college classes when they would otherwise be prevented from attending a physical classroom, because of a disability and/or family commitments. Sadly, the Post 9/11 GI Bill specifically prevents distance learners from receiving a monthly living allowance. This allowance is paid to student veterans studying at a traditional brick and mortar schools. Your bill will help to rectify this problem by giving veterans, taking distance-learning classes, a comparable living stipend.
While IAVA supports the intent of this legislation, we feel strongly that the basis for determing the living allowance should be the residence of the veteran and not the location of the online school. For students at brick and mortar institutions the living allowance is based on the zip code of the school. Applying this same formula to online learners will result in wide disparities. A veteran attending a brick and mortar school in Utah who is living next door to a veteran attending an online school in New York City would receive nearly $2000 less per month then his/her online neighbor. Basing the living allowance on the residences of the veterans, both veterans would receive the same amount.