Rep. Norma Torres Introduces GI Bill Distance Learning Improvement Act
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA) introduced the GI Bill Distance Learning Improvement Act, in honor of Veterans Day. This legislation looks to assist veterans’ pursuit of higher education following their military service by providing additional resources to support distance learning.
The Post-9/11 Veterans’ Educational Assistance Act of 2008, commonly known as the Post 9/11 GI Bill, improved access to higher education for veterans; however the law did not include all of the tools that veterans need to enroll in online programs – either for a degree or workforce certification. The GI Bill Distance Learning Improvement Act would allow veterans to use additional benefits on a one-time purchase of a computer to complete distance learning classes.
“I’ve spoken with businesses in our communities who simply can’t find enough well trained workers to hire,” said Torres. “Many of the certifications needed for advanced manufacturing jobs in the Inland Empire are available through distance learning, but without computer access, some veterans may be unable to take advantage of these GI Bill benefits. My bill will update the Post 9/11 GI Bill opportunities to be more in line with educational, training, and workforce needs.”
Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, veterans enrolled in distance learning receive half the educational benefits compared to those enrolled in-residence. While they can receive a stipend for books and supplies, the stipend is not sufficient to cover a computer in addition to the necessary books and supplies. The GI Bill Distance Learning Improvement Act empowers the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to use existing resources to give veterans additional flexibility they need to complete their education.
“Our veterans have sacrificed so much for our country already. Making this simple fix to the Post 9/11 GI Bill will make it possible for many veterans to access a computer and complete the training and education necessary to find a good paying job,” added Torres.
Veterans have increasingly turned to distance learning programs following their military service. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), since 2003 the number of students taking at least one online course has grown at a rate greater than that of the overall higher education student body.