Yellow Ribbon Program

Yellow Ribbon Program

The Yellow Ribbon Program provides educational benefits jointly paid by the United States Department of Veteran Affairs and participating yellow ribbon schools. If the benefits provided through the Post 9/11 GI Bill do not cover your entire educational expenses at a university, college or other institution that grants degrees, you may be eligible to have the rest of your expenses paid through this program. Generally the GI Bill covers the highest tuition fees that are charged within your state from a public institution or up to $17,500 for a private or out- of-state/foreign institution. Thus, if you meet the eligibility requirements and are enrolled at a participating school, the Yellow Ribbon Program will cover part or all of the difference.

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Yellow Ribbon Program Benefits

If you are attending an institution where educational expenses exceed the amount covered by the Post 9/11 GI Bill (such as the case with attending a private, graduate or out-of-state school) some or all of the difference in tuition and fees could be covered by the Yellow Ribbon Program. Yellow ribbon program schools state how much they will provide for each eligible student and the Veterans Affairs will match this contribution. For example, if your university is providing you with $2000.00 through the program, Veterans Affairs will match the $2000.00. Some yellow ribbon schools are able to contribute financial support to an unlimited number of students, while others define a certain number of students they are able to compensate.


Yellow Ribbon Program Eligibility includes:

  • You have at least 36 months of active duty service on and/or after September 11, 2011. (This means that you are also eligible for 100% coverage of your state’s highest tuition for public institutions or $17,500 per year tuition for private or foreign schools through the Post 9/11 GI Bill).
  • If you do not have 36 months of active duty service because you were honorably discharged due to disability incurred while serving, you must have 30 days of service on and/or since September 11, 2011.
  • You must be attending a degree granting institution that has chosen to voluntarily enroll in the Yellow Ribbon Program.
  • You must no longer be serving on active duty while receiving the Yellow Ribbon program benefits.
  • If you are a dependent of someone who qualifies for the Yellow Ribbon Program, you may be eligible to receive his or her benefits.

Yellow Ribbon Schools

Across the United States, hundreds of colleges, universities and other institutions that grant degrees have chosen to voluntarily participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program. Each institution defines the number of students that may provide funding to and the maximum amount of benefits they can provide to each student. With some yellow ribbon program schools, they are able to provide educational benefits to an unlimited amount of students. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will match the dollar amount provided by the institution.

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A Hypothetical Example

Let’s say you are attending an institution in a state where the maximum public tuition is $250 per credit and the maximum yearly student fee is $700. But, you are attending a private university where you are taking 12 credits in your first year at $300 per credit and the student fees are costing you $1000. The Post 9/11 Bill will cover the $250/per credit and the $700 fee, meaning there is still $600 for credits ($50 * 12 credits) and $300 in yearly fees, for a total of $900 not covered.

If your institution is a yellow ribbon school and is able to pay at least $450 per year, which will be matched by the Veterans Affairs Department, then the remaining balance of $900 will be completely covered through the yellow ribbon program. On the other hand, if your institution only pays $350, meaning the yellow ribbon benefits will total $700, then you must pay the remaining $200 out of your own pocket.