Earlier this year the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill went into effect, changing and expanding the education benefits available to veterans who have served since September 11, 2001. These benefits include the government paying up to 100% of tuition directly to any school the beneficiary chooses. This is generally considered an improvement over the Montgomery G.I. Bill, which made veterans pay tuition up front and then reimbursed them later.
However, government tuition and fee payment in the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill is capped at the rate charged by the most expensive undergraduate public institution in the veteran’s state of residence. This means that post-9/11 veterans attending graduate school, an out-of-state school or a private college will probably not have all – or even most – of their tuition covered by their benefits.
Unless they take advantage of the Yellow Ribbon Program, that is.
The Yellow Ribbon Program – officially known as the Yellow Ribbon G.I. Education Enhancement Program – is a provision of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill that allows degree-granting colleges and universities to help veterans pay tuition costs exceeding the usual cap. Under this arrangement, educational institutions can volunteer to pay up to 50% of the additional tuition and fees, and the Department of Veterans Affairs will match them dollar-for-dollar. So attending a private or out-of-state school that participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program means up to 100% of the tuition can be covered, even though that tuition is greater than the cap set by the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.
Not all veterans are eligible. Only those who are entitled to the maximum G.I. Bill benefit rate qualify, which means that:
- They must have served an aggregate period of active duty after September 10th, 2001 of at least 36 months
- Or they must have been honorably discharged from active duty for a service-connected disability and have served 30 continuous days after September 10th, 2001
Dependents of a veteran can be eligible for a Transfer of Entitlement if the veteran’s service meets the criteria listed above.
Of course, not all colleges and universities participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program. When deciding on where they want to apply, eligible veterans should research both the U.S. News University Directory sponsor schools that are taking part as well as the complete list of participating institutions.
Veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces have made enormous sacrifices on behalf of this country and its citizens. They deserve more than gratitude – they deserve every possible consideration to help them find success in civilian life. As Veteran’s Day approaches, those who qualify are encouraged more than ever to take advantage of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill and Yellow Ribbon Program. None are more worthy of an opportunity to achieve the American dream.