Yellow Ribbon Program

A key portion of the new GI bill will allow veterans and active duty service members to attend higher cost schools than previously possible under the former incarnation of the GI Bill. Dubbed the Yellow Ribbon program, the new provision is a cost saving initiative between the Department of Veterans Affairs and participating education institutions and will allow veterans access to schools that were previously too costly to be eligible under the GI Bill. Benefits from the Yellow Ribbon program will be available to those who have served at least thirty six months on active duty or thirty continuous days prior to a service related injury discharge.

More than one thousand schools will be participating in the Yellow Ribbon program, and the high number is due mainly to outreach on the part of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA has encouraged more and more universities to participate in GI Bill related education and launched a special outreach initiative to eligible schools in January of 2010 in order to draw attention to the new program. Met with resounding success, VA officials eventually had to extend the schools’ decision deadline from May 21 to July 21.

“We are pleased that so many institutions are joining us to support the educational goals of the men and women who served this nation so honorably,” stated Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.

The GI Bill already reimburses eligible students for tuition that does not exceed the highest undergraduate tuition rate for their state’s public institutions. However, under the Yellow Ribbon program, when schools contribute the difference between the current in state maximum tuition amount and their usual tuition cost, the VA will match tuition amounts dollar for dollar for up to fifty percent of the difference. Schools can enter into multiple agreements with the Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure that they are able to accept students regardless of the program of study each would like to undertake. Thus far, more than 3,200 agreements have been signed with 1,100 schools for the 2010-2011 school year.

The post-9/11 GI Bill is easily the largest and most expansive educational assistance measure since the first GI Bill was penned in 1944 and includes stipends for books and supplies as well as a housing allowance and tuition and fee payments.

Photo thanks to michaeljscott under creative common license on Flickr.

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