Under the Yellow Ribbon G.I. Education Enhancement Program (also known as Yellow Ribbon Program), an eligible college or university may voluntarily enter into an agreement with the Veterans Administration (VA) to jointly pay all or part of the portion of the eligible veteran’s tuition and fees that exceeds the maximum amount otherwise provided under the basic Post-9/11 GI Bill benefit. The Yellow Ribbon Program was established by the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-252).
The Post 9/11 GI Bill pays up to 100% of in-state public school tuition and fee costs, and up to a national cap for private colleges and universities as well as foreign institutions. The caps are higher in seven states – Arizona, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas – where the cap is based on the highest in-state public college tuition and fees in the state.
Participating institutions (called “Yellow Ribbon Schools” or “Yellow Ribbon Colleges”) sign a Yellow Ribbon Agreement with the VA under which they contribute a portion of the difference between the veteran’s Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits and the college’s actual tuition and fees. The VA matches, on a dollar-for-dollar basis, the amount contributed by the institution under the Yellow Ribbon Program, up to half of the difference. Out-of-state students and those attending independent or international schools may receive additional funds to help cover unmet costs under the Yellow Ribbon Program.
The participating Yellow Ribbon school must enter into a formal agreement with the VA under which the school:
- States the dollar amount that will be contributed for each participant during the academic year
- States the maximum number of individuals for whom contributions will be made in any given academic year
- Provides contributions to eligible individuals who apply for the Yellow Ribbon Program on a first-come, first-served basis
To determine if a school is a Yellow Ribbon school, search the VA’s list of Yellow Ribbon Schools. Students can also call the college or university’s Certifying Official to ask if the school participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program. Many schools state whether they participate on their web sites, so another method of determining whether a school participates is to Google the college’s name with “Yellow Ribbon Program” appended to the search query.
To qualify for the Yellow Ribbon Program, the student must have served an aggregate period of active duty on or after September 11, 2001 of at least 36 months and received an honorable discharge, been discharged from activity duty for a service-connected disability after having served at least 30 consecutive days on or after September 11, 2001 or be a dependent who received benefits from an eligible servicemember.
Only students and dependents who are entitled to the maximum Post-9/11 GI Bill benefit rate may qualify for the Yellow Ribbon Program. Students cannot be on active duty or be the spouse transferee of a servicemember who is currently on active duty.
Qualifying students must enroll in an approved program offered by a school that has signed a Yellow Ribbon Agreement with the VA. The school must not have offered Yellow Ribbon Program benefits to more students than the school agreed to serve in their agreement with the VA, so it is best to apply as early as possible before the benefits run out. The student’s school must certify the student’s enrollment to the VA, and provide them with the required Yellow Ribbon Program information.