If you’re looking to start school this September, then you likely already know about the benefits offered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill. You may be eligible to receive benefits through the Yellow Ribbon program if you find yourself with additional fees that aren’t covered through the GI Bill.
The Yellow Ribbon Program can help you pay for higher out-of-state, private school, foreign school or graduate school tuition and fees. You must be eligible and already utilizing the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits and be attending a school that recognizes the Yellow Ribbon Program in order to utilize it. Here is everything you need to know about one of the most popular educational aids for military personnel.
Am I eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program?
Besides being a qualifier for the Post-9/11 GI Bill at the 100% benefit level, you must also identify with at least one of the following:
- You served at least 36 months on active duty (either all at once or with breaks in service) and were honorably discharged.
- You received a Purple Heart on or after September 11, 2001, and were honorably discharged after any amount of service.
- You served at least 30 continuous days (all at once, without a break) on or after September 11, 2001, and were discharged or released from active duty for a service-connected disability.
- You’re an active-duty service member who has served at least 36 months on active duty (either all at once or with breaks in service).
- You’re a spouse using the transferred benefits of an active-duty service member who has served at least 36 months on active duty.
- You’re a dependent child using benefits transferred by a veteran.
- You’re a Fry Scholar.
What schools offer the Yellow Ribbon Program?
There are institutions of higher education that offer the Yellow Ribbon Program in almost every state across the country. Some popular states with numerous participating schools include California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia. There are also many online schools that participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program. To check if your school is part of the program, the Department of Veterans Affairs has a full list of schools on their website.
How do I start receiving Yellow Ribbon benefits?
In order to start receiving funds from the Yellow Ribbon Program, you must fill out an application with your school’s financial aid, military liaison or similar office. You will not be enrolled automatically and acceptance into the program is not guaranteed on the basis of qualifications alone. Yellow Ribbon schools are only allotted a specific amount of funds for a certain number of students and funds are given on a first-come, first-served basis.
While the process will look slightly different depending on your school, you will want to fulfill the following steps to apply for the program:
- Apply for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.
- Turn in your COE (Certificate of Eligibility) to your school’s certifying office, financial aid center, military liaison or similar office.
- Upon turning in your COE, ask the office to apply for the Yellow Ribbon Program.
- Wait for your school’s decision. They will let you know if they have reached the maximum number of students the program allows and how much funding you will receive.
How much is covered through the Yellow Ribbon Program?
While students have been able to receive full tuition coverage through the GI Bill and the Yellow Ribbon Program, not all students are guaranteed to be fully covered once enrolled into both programs. Funds are distributed on a case-by-case basis and only cover mandatory expenses such as tuition.
These funds are distributed to both full-time and part-time students and may cover the expenses for summer terms depending on your school.
Where can I learn more?
For other questions surrounding the Yellow Ribbon Program you can visit the Department of Veterans Affairs official website, visit your local VA office or talk to your school’s finance or military aid office.
Sources: Department of Veterans Affairs, College Recon