What is the Yellow Ribbon Program?
If you are planning on attending college using the GI Bill, then you may already know that rising tuition costs makes getting an education expensive. What you may not know is that the Yellow Ribbon Program is an asset to help fund your education and offset expenses. The Yellow Ribbon Program was created in 2008 by the Post 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act.
How does the Yellow Ribbon Program work?
With the Yellow Ribbon Program, schools work with the Department of Veterans Affairs to offer you an opportunity to earn a degree at no cost to you. The way this works is a school will agree to pay tuition and fees that are above the highest in-state public undergraduate tuition. With the Yellow Ribbon Program a school will agree to pay a specific amount of expenses, and the VA will match that amount.
As of August 1, 2011 the Post 9/11 GI Bill will cover all public in-state tuition and fees, or no more than $17,500 a year for a private school. Let’s say you plan on attending a private, graduate, or out-of-state school where tuition is higher than what is covered by the GI Bill. If your tuition is $1,400 a semester, and your school agrees to pay $700 under the Yellow Ribbon Program, then the VA will also pay $700. In other words, you won’t have to pay anything in tuition out of pocket. However if your tuition for the semester is $1,400, and your school along with the VA agrees to pay $600, then you will have to pay the remaining $200.
There are certain eligibility requirements that determine if the Yellow Ribbon Program is available to you. First and foremost you need to be enrolled in an institution that is participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program. Active duty service members are not eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program. The Yellow Ribbon Program is available to you if:
- You have at least 36 months of aggregate service on active duty after September 10, 2001.
- You have an honorable discharge with a service connected disability, and have served at least 30 days on active duty after September 10, 2001.
- You are a dependent using GI Bill benefits transferred from a service member.
How to apply
If you are unsure if your school is a Yellow Ribbon Program participant, click here to check the Department of Veterans Affairs website for your school. You can also find out what the highest in-state public undergraduate tuition rate is for your state by visiting www.gibill.va.gov. If you are ready to apply for the Yellow Ribbon Program, start by visiting your School Certifying Official to help claim your benefits.
 “The Yellow Ribbon Program.” Welcome to the GI Bill Web Site | The Home for All Educational Benefits Provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs.