What is the Yellow Ribbon Program

The Yellow Ribbon Program is part of a larger piece of legislation known as the Post-9/11 GI Bill. That legislation helps military veterans obtain college and graduate degrees following active duty service. Like the original GI Bill, which paid for the educations of many WWII veterans, the Post-9/11 GI Bill provides education benefits for veterans who served at least 90 consecutive days in the Armed Forces anytime after September 11, 2001.

What Benefits Are Available Through the Post-9/11 GI Bill?

In general, the Post-9/11 GI Bill provides benefits by making tuition payments to colleges and universities on behalf of veterans. The legislation also offers veterans monthly living allowances and stipends for textbook purchases. The law pays 100% of in-state tuition for public universities and approximately $20,000 per year for tuition at private universities.

What Additional Benefits Are Available Through the Yellow Ribbon Program?

Yellow Ribbon benefits supplement financial support available through the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Specifically, Yellow Ribbon benefits support veterans whose tuition costs exceed the limits in the GI Bill. This supplemental assistance allows veterans to attend expensive private universities or to attend public universities on an out-of-state basis. Schools that agree to participate as Yellow Ribbon Schools provide their own benefits in the form of loan forgiveness or grants, and the Department of Veterans Affairs matches the school’s contribution in order to cover the full cost of tuition.

How Do Veterans Access Yellow Ribbon Benefits?

In order to receive Yellow Ribbon benefits, veterans must complete several steps. First, you will need to check that you are an eligible veteran, as not all Post-9/11 GI Bill veterans are eligible. In order to qualify for Yellow Ribbon support, you must be eligible at the 100% level, or have served 36 cumulative months in the Armed Forces. If you are eligible, you will need to determine if your school participates as a Yellow Ribbon School. You can access a list of participating schools through the Department of Veterans Affairs website. If both you and your school are eligible, you will need to present your Certificate of Eligibility to the school to inquire about program availability and limitations.

What Are the Limitations on Yellow Ribbon Benefits?

Eligibility for Yellow Ribbon benefits does not necessarily ensure full tuition support in any program at a participating school. You should check with your school regarding any institutional limitations for your specific program or degree. In addition to these limitations, your school must continue to participate as a Yellow Ribbon school for each academic year in which you enroll as a student. Your school will be able to confirm your eligibility and access to Yellow Ribbon benefits for the upcoming academic year. There are certain types of educational costs that will never be covered by Yellow Ribbon benefits, even at a participating school. Those non-eligible education costs include study abroad fees, room and board, and any penalties caused by late registration, parking tickets, or other violations by the student.

The Yellow Ribbon Program offers increased financial support for veterans attending costly schools and educational programs. This support occurs in addition to the base benefits provided by the Post-9/11 GI Bill, but veterans should not assume that this program will cover 100% of their undergraduate or graduate tuition at any institution. Rather, it is important to check with both the Department of Veterans Affairs and the specific school to determine the exact level of available benefits.