Yellow Ribbon Program: An Introduction to This New GI Bill Benefit

The new GI Bill, known as the Post-9/11 GI Bill, has extended a series of new educational benefits to veterans and their families. One of the new enhancements is the Yellow Ribbon Program, administered through the U.S. Veterans Administration (VA). This program offers an exceptional opportunity for veterans to get most or all of their college education paid for by the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

The Yellow Ribbon Program

Colleges and universities throughout the country have entered into an agreement with the VA to cover a portion of the costs that exceed the maximum benefits allowed by the Post-9/11 GI Bill. This is the heart of the Yellow Ribbon Program. These schools, Yellow Ribbon Schools, can pay up to 50 percent of the costs that are over what the New GI Bill covers, and the VA matches that amount. In turn, the Yellow Ribbon Program could pay up to 100 percent of your tuition and fees at participating schools.

Contributions from universities and colleges are typically made through scholarships and other financial aid that does not require repayment. The school determines how many students it will cover with the Yellow Ribbon Program, and exactly how much money each student will receive. This amount can be anything up to 50 percent of the fees that exceed what's covered by the New GI Bill.

Eligibility in Yellow Ribbon Schools

Your eligibility for the Yellow Ribbon Program depends on specified criteria. First, you must be eligible for maximum education benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. If you are unsure if you meet the maximum eligibility criteria, consider the following:

  • You were on active duty after September 10, 2001 for a minimum of 36 months
  • You received an honorable discharge with at least 30 days active duty service after September 10, 2001
  • Your dependent is eligible to receive Post-9/11 GI Bill educational benefits through a Transfer of Entitlement

The Benefits of the Yellow Ribbon Program

While the Yellow Ribbon Program can help cover 100 percent of your tuition for an undergraduate degree program, you may be seeking other educational avenues. If you want to pursue a graduate degree or attend a private institution, those costs may exceed the maximum amount available from the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

Top Online Schools for Military

University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix

Kaplan University

Kaplan University

Virginia College

Virginia College


Additionally, the Yellow Ribbon Program can be applied to an approved degree program that includes online courses. Be sure to check with the VA for a list of Yellow Ribbon Schools that offer online degree programs prior to enrolling.

Finally, your spouse and dependents are eligible for education benefits offered through the Yellow Ribbon Program. As long as both you and your spouse or dependents meet the eligibility of the Post-9/11 GI Bill Transferability Provision, they are eligible to receive benefits. Spouses and dependents can pursue degrees through both online education and campus-based programs.

The goal of the program is to allow you to adequately prepare to take your place in the civilian workforce by providing an educational advantage as you enter a new career. The Yellow Ribbon Program is a benefit that can make a significant difference in your future.

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