Yellow Ribbon Program Makes School More Affordable for Vets

Military service member saluting the U.S. flagThe Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 created a new way to help members of the military pay for school.

Currently the the Post-9/11 GI Bill pays up to the highest public in-state undergraduate tuition and fees. However, if you’re heading to a private college, going to grad school, and/or are not qualified to pay in-state tuition, your expenses may exceed the GI Bill benefit. The Yellow Ribbon Program — taking effect at participating schools on August 1st, 2009 — attempts to close the gap between GI Bill education benefits, and the true cost of many educational opportunities.

As part of the Yellow Ribbon Program, schools can volunteer to contribute up to 50 percent of that gap between their own costs and the highest public in-state undergraduate tuition and fees. The government then matches the school’s contribution, on top of providing the dollar amount of the highest public in-state undergraduate tuition and fees.

For example, this fall the Monterey Institute of International Studies in Monterey, CA — which has long been partnering to increase educational opportunities for Peace Corps Volunteers —  is launching a Yellow Ribbon Program for its MA in International Policy, MBA in International Business, MA in Translation and Interpretation, and MA in Language Teaching, and three-year BA/MA program. It’s offering up to 20 admitted military veterans full tuition, according to this formula:

  • The GI Bill would cover $13,173.08 of a veteran’s tuition and fees in the state of California, but tuition is $31,001.08 — leaving a $17,828 gap.
  • The Monterey Institute will contribute $8,914—filling half the gap.
  • The Yellow Ribbon Program then allows the VA to match that $8,914 contribution, plugging the tuition gap.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs website, eligible veterans include:

Only individuals entitled to the maximum benefit rate (based on service requirements) may receive this funding.  Therefore, you may be eligible if:

  • You served an aggregate period of active duty after September 10, 2001, of at least 36 months;
  • You were honorably discharged from active duty for a service connected disability and you served 30 continuous days after September 10, 2001;
  • You are a dependent eligible for Transfer of Entitlement under the Post-9/11 GI Bill based on a veteran’s service under the eligibility criteria listed above.

To find other participating schools, explore these state listings, which include information about which departments are offering the assistance, how many service students will be eligible to receive the funding, and what the school’s contribution will be per student.

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