Military Veterans Should Take Advantage Of The Yellow Ribbon Program

The Yellow Ribbon Program was established by the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008. This program allows institutions of higher learning to voluntarily enter into an agreement with the VA to fund tuition and fee expenses that exceed the tuition and fee amounts payable under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The institution can contribute a specified dollar amount of those expenses, and the VA will match the contribution, not to exceed 50 percent of the difference. To receive the Yellow Ribbon Program benefits a veteran must be enrolled in an approved program offered by an institution of higher learning that participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program.

In 2010, nearly 300,000 veterans in the country applied for the Yellow Ribbon program, a financial aid program which covers the difference in tuition between public and private colleges for qualified veterans.  Last year, some 441,000 veterans enrolled in college using the program.

Veterans are eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program benefit if they served on active duty after September 10, 2001, for at least 36 months and were honorably discharged. Military personnel are also eligible if they were discharged from active duty for a service-connected disability and they had served 30 continuous days after September 10, 2001. Finally, veteran's dependents can receive benefits transferred from an eligible service member.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill pays all in-state tuition and fee charges at public schools and tuition and fees that do not exceed a national cap at private schools. Out-of-state students and those attending private schools may receive additional funds to help cover unmet costs under the Yellow Ribbon Program. If a student's charges exceed the tuition and fee amounts payable under the Post-9/11 GI Bill at the school they are attending, additional funds may be available to them through the Yellow Ribbon Program. Program institutions of higher learning that enter into a Yellow Ribbon Program Agreement with the VA will choose the amount of funds they will contribute toward a student's tuition and fees. The VA will then match that amount and issue payment directly to the institution on the student's behalf.

Schools that participate in the Yellow Ribbon program establish their own application procedures for eligible students. The school will determine the maximum number of students who may participate in the program and the percent of tuition that will be contributed. To find out which institutions participate in the Yellow Ribbon, visit the benefits page of the VA

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