San Diego Student Veterans may lose thousands of dollars in financial aid as their monthly housing allowance is a risk when Special COVID-19 Veteran Education Benefits Laws expire on Dec 21st. In a message dated November 15th , 2021 California Institute of Arts and Technology (San Diego and National City) announced that it will transition to a 100% virtual campus starting in January 2022.
This unexpected and abrupt decision disparately impacts on-campus veterans as they will lose a significant portion of their monthly housing allowance (MHA) if they continue their training classified as an online student. On-campus veterans enrolled in San Diego, the 8th most expensive city in the nation, receive an estimated MHA of $2,949. Compared to the online MHA rate of $871, the difference is life-changingly significant at $2,078.
Students under the Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program (VRRAP), a program created for veterans unemployed due to the pandemic, are most at risk as the VRRAP prohibits employment (including receiving unemployment insurance benefits) while under the program; making MHA at $871 unlivable.
Unless the Special COVID-19 Education law gets extends or CIAT returns to on-campus courses, students receiving monthly housing allowance enrolled CIAT will only receive MHA at the online rate. Students are confused at this surprise announcement as their livelihood is at stake. Again, it’s a difference of $2,078 we are talking about here.
What is most concerning about CIAT’s announcement is that it seems they have no intentions of coming back to an on-campus learning environment, yet a significant portion other population expects to.
- How can the school just change the enrollment agreements of hundreds of students, from the on-campus experience they had expected to the online?
- Why weren’t the voices of the students most impacted by this decision not included in the decision-making process?
- Why weren’t students, enrolled during the pandemic, made aware of the expiring Special COVID-19 Veteran Education Benefit laws?
- How long was the transition to move 100% online known to the admissions team, and why weren’t they informing students as on-campus training is a huge factor in their decision to enroll at CIAT?
- If CIAT has no intentions of going back to on campus courses, why should they rely on the extension of the laws, rather than fulfill their obligation to provide on-campus training?
- If safety is an issue then why can other schools and businesses accommodate to the public but they can’t?
- If tuition stays the same as the cost of operations is decreased, where is the extra profit made go to?
Cleary, CIAT capitalized on an opportunity and seeks to shift blame and burden on the expiring laws and the archaic Veteran Affairs policies. This is not an isolated problem as every student veteran faces these concerns at other schools. What’s interesting about this particular case is that CIAT seems to have no intensions of moving back on-ground. If that’s the case, how can they blame the expiring law?