SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - San Diego veterans engaged in virtual learning are breathing a sigh of relief after finding out that certain GI Bill benefits will be extended because of the pandemic.
ABC 10News spoke to Congressman Mike Levin (D-CA-49) who pushed for change after the federal aid was scheduled to stop next week.
“There's no question that we have an absolute commitment that our local veterans are able to further their education and find new ways to serve with great new careers and also that they can afford to live here,” he told us on Thursday morning.
Rep. Levin co-sponsored the Remote Act which, in part, extends GI Bill aid to veterans who were forced into online learning during COVID-19. The legislation passed in the senate on Wednesday and is now going to the president for a signature.
“We're making tremendous progress on COVID-19 but we still have a ways to go so what we did is, in advance of that deadline coming up in just a few days, we in the house and senate worked together on a bipartisan basis to extend the deadline until June of 2022,” he added.
Last week, ABC 10News spoke to local veterans at the California Institute of Arts & Technology (CIAT) in Mission Valley who were scheduled to lose about two thirds of their housing funds. At the time, student and veteran Trevis Zetina-Richards explained, “Living in this area, [you] can't afford to lose any money because rent is so high. Gas is so high. Even buying food is so high.”
As a safety precaution, his school is continuing with virtual instruction-only, which would have forced veterans to lose benefits that were scheduled to go to on-campus learning students instead.
CIAT President Jamie Doyle sent the following statement to ABC 10News on Thursday:
“California Institute of Arts & Technology (CIAT) is extremely pleased to learn of the passage of H.R. 5545 by the Senate yesterday. As we all know, the Pandemic is far from over and the passage of this bill gives CIAT and our students time to prepare for their future without facing financial uncertainty and risking their health to gain an education.
Prior to the Senate passage, the CIAT management worked diligently to discuss options for our Veteran students to continue their resident housing allowance rates. We have revised our on-site plans starting June 2022 to incorporate limited on-site classes which will allow our current students to graduate successfully from their programs and maintain their resident housing rates while keeping the ongoing COVID health and safety concerns as a top priority. We are relieved to have another six months to organize these efforts so that our students have the benefit of this transition time.
Thank you to our Veteran students who loudly voiced their concerns to their elected officials and CIAT during this trying time.”
“I think there was a fair degree of concern and that's been addressed and alleviated for the time being,” added Rep. Levin.