There are many different ways to find money for your education when you serve in the military. The Yellow Ribbon Program is one of them. While not every service member will be able to use the Yellow Ribbon Program, here is what you need to know to see if you qualify and if the program will work for you and your educational goals.

RELATED: List of Yellow Ribbon Schools

What is the Yellow Ribbon Program?

  • The Post 9/11 GI Bill will pay for all tuition and fees for a public school, and the lower of the actual tuition and fees or the national maximum per academic year for a private school. However, what happens if you go to a school that costs more than what the GI Bill will provide? That is where the Yellow Ribbon Program can help.
  • Those who are attending a private school or a public school as a nonresident would benefit from the Yellow Ribbon Program. Your school will need to elect to participate in the program. If they do, the Yellow Ribbon Program will make additional funds available for your educational program without additional charges to your GI Bill entitlement.
  • Institutions of Higher Learning will enter in a Yellow Ribbon Agreement with the VA and will choose the amount of tuition and fees that will be given. The VA will then match that amount and will issue the payments directly to your school.

Who is eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program?

You will need to be eligible for the maximum benefit rate under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, this includes:

  • If you have served 36 months (may be aggregate) on active duty.
  • If you have received the Purple Heart with an honorable discharge and any amount of service.
  • If you were discharged after 60 days with a service-connected disability and also served 30 continuous days after September 10, 2001.
  • If you are a child using transferred benefits.
  • If you are a child using transferred benefits and your service member transfer is at the 100% level.

In addition to your school participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program, they must have not also offered the Yellow Ribbon Program to more than the maximum amount of people as stated in the participation agreement.

Your school must also certify your enrollment to the VA and provide Yellow Ribbon Program information.

You do not qualify if you are an active duty service member or their spouse.

How do I know if my school or any school is a member of the Yellow Ribbon Program?

You can view which schools are participating on our Yellow Ribbon Schools list.

Do you automatically receive the Yellow Ribbon Program benefits if you qualify and your school participates?

No. There could be a limit to the amount of students that can receive the Yellow Ribbon benefits at your school. It is determined on a first-come, first-served basis, so your best bet is to apply through your school as soon as you can do so.

What else do I need to know about the Yellow Ribbon Program?

  • Schools can have the flexibility to designate the number of students and contributions based on what the student’s status is, either undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral as well as college or professional school. This means that the school could have different amounts for undergraduates, graduates, and doctoral students as well as different amounts for the different schools the institution has.
  • Just because you were able to get the Yellow Ribbon Program benefits one year, it doesn’t mean you will 100% get them the next year. The agreements between the school and the VA need to be in effect for each year. If your school is still apart of the program, then you will need to have these things to continue with the program:
  • You maintain satisfactory progress in your educational program.
  • You remain continuously enrolled per the school’s policy.
  • You do have remaining entitlement with your Post 9/11 GI Bill.
  • If you want to transfer to another school, that school will also need to be participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program and accept your application. Just because the first school let you into the program, that doesn’t mean the second school has to.
  • Not all of your tuition and fees will be covered with the Yellow Ribbon Program. This all depends on the school’s agreement with the VA.
  • The fees included with the Yellow Ribbon Program would be all mandatory fees for the program you are in. Fees such as room and board, or any other non-mandatory fees are not included.
  • You do not have to attend school full-time to be in the Yellow Ribbon Program.
  • In some cases, you can receive funds during the summer term if your school has them available.

How do you apply for the Yellow Ribbon Program?

After you submit an application for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, and you are eligible at the 100% benefit level, the VA will issue you a Certificate of Eligibility and advise you that you are potentially eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program. You can then apply for the program at your school with that Certificate, and they will determine if there are spots available. Your school will notify you if you have been approved for the program.

The Yellow Ribbon Program can be a great way to get the education that you need and to be able to have everything paid for. See if your school or a potential school has the program, and apply if you are eligible to receive the benefit.

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