What is the GI Bill Yellow Ribbon Program?

If you are a veteran of the United States military who served at least three years in active duty after September 10, 2001, or you were honorably discharged from disabilities incurred in the line of duty and you are looking to obtain your college degree, the Yellow Ribbon Program for GI Bill can help you succeed.…
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If you are a veteran of the United States military who served at least three years in active duty after September 10, 2001, or you were honorably discharged from disabilities incurred in the line of duty and you are looking to obtain your college degree, the Yellow Ribbon Program for GI Bill can help you succeed.

The Yellow Ribbon Program for GI Bill was created as part of the Post 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008.

The Yellow Ribbon program allows universities and colleges which grant degrees in the United States to enter an agreement with the VA to help veterans who have served in the last two decades to pursue higher education.

The agreement enables the VA and the higher education institution to split the costs 50/50 of any tuition expenses that go above and beyond the cost of the highest public in-state undergraduate tuition – meaning people who qualify for the Yellow Ribbon program can attend any degree-granting institution for the price of the highest-priced undergraduate state school tuition.

Yellow Ribbon Program for GI Bill

The Yellow Ribbon Program provides students the opportunity to attend the college or university of their dreams if it extends beyond the coverage of the GI Bill.

In order to be able to take advantage of this generous opportunity, you need to make sure you qualify for the Yellow Ribbon Program benefits and be sure to understand what it covers.

If you meet the minimum requirements and decide to pursue a degree through the Yellow Ribbon Program, you can follow the simple steps below to apply.

What the GI Bill Does

Following the events of September 11, 2001, the Post-9/11 GI Bill was released in June of 2008.

The bill, like the GI Bill issued after WWII, is intended to help veterans pay their way through college.

The GI Bill funds a full four-year degree at a public in-state college or university, assuming the veteran has served 3 years as an active duty serviceman or woman since September 11, 2001.

The bill also allows veterans to transfer their educational benefits to their spouse or their children in some cases, an excellent advantage for a veteran who has already pursued their college degree but hopes to afford the same opportunity to their loved ones.

What Do Eligible Recipients of The Yellow Ribbon Program Receive?

While the offerings of the GI Bill are beneficial to many, not all veterans wish to attend an in-state university or a public one, as previously stipulated in the GI Bill. In light of that fact, the GI Bill now includes an extension of its offerings to other schools with the Yellow Ribbon Program.

If you are eligible for the Yellow Ribbon program under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you’ll receive funding to cover the amount of tuition and fees that exceed the highest public state undergraduate tuition and fees.

This provision allows you to attend a private institution, graduate school, or attend a state school where you are not a resident.

That’s a tremendous benefit for out-of-state students, students specializing in fields which might be better suited to a private university, and to those looking to further their education with a masters or doctoral degree.

Schools that participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program voluntarily will choose the amount of money to be contributed per eligible recipient, and the VA will match the amount and make their payment directly to the institution on behalf of each recipient.

Who Benefits from the Yellow Ribbon Program?

First, it is worth noting that this offer is available to a select group of veterans, and as such, there are certain criteria you must meet for eligibility. The first stipulation worth noting is that active duty military personnel are not eligible for this offer, nor are their spouses, that is until August 1, 2022 when this stipulation will be waived.

Until then, in order to qualify, you must meet the minimum requirements listed below:

  • Served at least 36 months of active duty after September 10, 2001, or
  • Received a Purple Heart on or after September 11, 2001, and were honorably discharged after any amount of service, or
  • Received or will be receiving a Fry Scholarship on or after August 1, 2018, or
  • Served for at least 30 continuous days (all at once, without a break) on or after September 11, 2001, and were discharged after 60 days with a service-connected disability, or
  • Are a dependent child using benefits transferred by a Veteran or a service member who has served for at least 36 months on active duty and qualifies at the 100% level

You must also be eligible for maximum benefits under the Post 9/11 GI Bill in order to qualify for the Yellow Ribbon Program.

Additionally, you must be planning to attend a college or university which participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program. Your school will be expected to verify your enrollment to the VA in order for you to actually receive the benefits of the program.

Participating Colleges and Universities Requirements

Participating colleges and universities of the Yellow Ribbon Program must agree to provide funds to qualified Yellow Ribbon applicants on a first-come, first served basis; within the current academic year and in all subsequent academic years while the student maintains attendance requirements and satisfactory academic performance.

The school must also state the maximum number of people per academic year may receive the contributions, and state the dollar amount that is contributed on behalf of each participant of the program during the academic year.

The funds must be made toward the program, on behalf of the recipient in the form of a scholarship or grant.

The Department of Veterans Affairs provides users with an interactive map that shows all participating colleges and universities. From there, you may access each school’s specific criteria.

Those criteria include the school’s name, their location, the degree levels to which the program applies (undergraduate, graduate, or all), the type of school (seminary, law school, etc.), the number of students benefits will be offered to, and the maximum amount the school will contribute per year towards your degree in conjunction with the Yellow Ribbon Program.

How Do I Apply for the Yellow Ribbon Program?

Each participating educational institution can establish its own application procedures for students.  They also determine how many students per year may receive funds under the Yellow Ribbon Program.

Also, don’t forget that the specific school you are applying to must be one that partners with the Yellow Ribbon Program, as not all schools do.

Upon your application to the approved school of your choice, your school will need to confirm your enrollment to the VA, presenting them with information on the college or university’s participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program.

Bottom Line

Funding a college education is no doubt one of the pricier ventures you’ll pursue in life, and tuition rates are unfortunately trending upwards across the board.

Luckily, if you’re a veteran who meets the requirements listed in this post, you or your spouse or child could benefit from the Yellow Ribbon Program funding and make your goal of a four-year college degree or a graduate program a reality, with a little less stress over tuition and fees.

Take a look at all the participating colleges and universities and consider applying with the Yellow Ribbon Program.

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About Ryan Guina

Ryan Guina is The Military Wallet's founder. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over six years on active duty in the USAF and is a current member of the Illinois Air National Guard.

Ryan started The Military Wallet in 2007 after separating from active duty military service and has been writing about financial, small business, and military benefits topics since then. He also writes about personal finance and investing at Cash Money Life.

Ryan uses Personal Capital to track and manage his finances. Personal Capital is a free software program that allows him to track his net worth, balance his investment portfolio, track his income and expenses, and much more. You can open a free Personal Capital account here.

Featured In: Ryan's writing has been featured in the following publications: Forbes, Military.com, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, Reserve & National Guard Magazine (print and online editions), Military Influencer Magazine, Cash Money Life, The Military Guide, USAA, Go Banking Rates, and many other publications.

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