One of the great rewards for serving in the U.S. Military is the vast array of VA education benefits available to service members, veterans, their spouses, and their dependents. The two primary programs used today are the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) and the Post 9/11 GI Bill. The Post 9/11 GI Bill has a provision which should greatly assist veterans, their spouses, and their dependents in reaching their educational goals: the Yellow Ribbon GI Enhancement Program (Yellow Ribbon Program).
What is the Yellow Ribbon Program?
The Post 9/11 GI Bill pays up to 100 percent of the highest tuition and fees for a public in-state undergraduate degree programs. The Yellow Ribbon Program allows U.S. colleges and universities, with approved degree programs, to enter into an agreement with the VA to fund a portion of the tuition and costs which exceed the maximum amount available to servicemembers with the Post 9/11 GI Bill. The schools participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program may pay for up to 50 percent of the costs that exceed the maximum benefit amount, and the VA then matches this amount.
Who is Eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program?
The Yellow Ribbon Program is available to those personnel who are eligible for the maximum military education benefits under the Post 9/11 GI Bill. You may be eligible for maximum benefits if you meet one of the following criteria:
- You served on active duty after September 10, 2001 for at least 36 months
- You served for at least 30 days after September 10, 2001 and were honorably discharged with a service related disability
- You are a dependent eligible for Transfer of Entitlement under the provisions of the Post 9/11 GI Bill based on the service of a veteran who meets one of the previous eligibility requirements.
Yellow Ribbon Program: What is the Benefit for Veterans?
The military education benefits available through the Yellow Ribbon Program may be of assistance if you are:
- Seeking to earn a degree through a private school
- Thinking of attending a school as an out of state student
- Pursuing a graduate degree
The Post 9/11 GI Bill funds up to 100 percent of the tuition and fees for a public in-state undergraduate degree. The costs incurred by the above examples, in most cases, exceed the maximum available with the Post 9/11 GI Bill. The Yellow Ribbon Program may provide you with additional funding for your education.
Schools participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program typically make their contributions to the program available in the form of grants, scholarships, or other types of financial aid which does not require repayment. Schools participating in the program designate how much they are contributing for eligible students per academic year, and how many students per year may receive the assistance. The VA then matches the school's contribution.
The Yellow Ribbon Program may be used for any approved degree program including those which may be available through online education programs. A list of schools participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program is available from the VA.
Yellow Ribbon Program: What is the Benefit for Spouses/Dependents?
Spouses and dependents of veterans are eligible for the full military education benefits of the Yellow Ribbon Program providing their veteran sponsor meets the criteria for participating in the program, and the spouse or dependent meets the eligibility requirements of the Post 9/11 GI Bill Transferability Provisions. Eligible spouses or dependents may use the program to pursue a degree through campus-based or online degree programs.