The Yellow Ribbon Program

In 1944, the federal government created the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, also known as the GI Bill, to make it easier for soldiers returning from World War II to obtain an affordable education and return to everyday life. The original bill provided money for school, low-interest business loans and low-cost mortgages.

As soldiers’ needs evolved, so did the legislation. In 2008, the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act was enacted so younger veterans could benefit from expandedfinancial aid resources for military students. The act provides for four years of education at a public university in the United States or at an American school with an international campus. The act also provides a monthly living stipend and an educational stipend for books and supplies and expands the eligibility period to up to 15 years after leaving the service.

What is the Yellow Ribbon Program?

The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act also includes the Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program. Under the Yellow Ribbon Program, a university agrees to provide additional financial aid resources for military students to help cover tuition and fees. Participating colleges and universities decide how much money will be available to a particular veteran student, and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will match up to 50 percent of the difference between the GI Bill Base Benefit amount and full tuition. GW has participated in the program for the past three years.

How does the Yellow Ribbon Program work?

The GI Bill Base Benefit allows for up to $19,198 to be paid per student veteran. The Yellow Ribbon Program allows the George Washington University to pay a certain percentage of the remaining tuition. If the additional funds don’t cover the entirety of the tuition, the VA can also contribute additional funds.

Depending on the degree, GW will fund some tuition expenses:

  • Undergraduate degree: GW will provide up to $18,000 per year. The VA will match 50 percent of the remaining difference up to $18,000.
  • Graduate degree: GW will provide up to $12,000 per year, with a VA match of up to $12,000.
  • Law degree: For law students, GW provides up to $15,400 per year, with a VA match of up to $15,400.

For example, a veteran might receive $19,198 as a base benefit from the VA under the GI Bill. If he or she wishes to earn an undergraduate degree from the George Washington School of Public Health and Health Services, the full tuition will be around $46,900. Under the Yellow Ribbon Program, GW agrees to provide up to half of the remaining $27,702. The VA will then cover the rest of the tuition (up to half of the original difference). The goal is to cover all tuition and fees for the veteran.

Who is eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program?

  • Any veteran who has served three years of active duty after Sept. 10, 2001, may be eligible, but only if they are at 100 percent benefit. (Veterans at 100 percent benefit include those who served at least 36 cumulative months or at least 30 continuous days on active duty with a discharge due to service-connected disability.)
  • Active duty soldiers or spouses are not eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program.
  • Each veteran must apply to GW and be accepted to the university.
  • The program only covers net tuition and fees and does not extend to programs such as study abroad.

How can I apply?

First, learn more about your benefits at the website of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Then apply to the George Washington University and make sure you are eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program by visiting the YRP website. Once you are admitted to the university, fill out the GW Request for Participation form. There are limited spaces available in the program, and applications are considered on a first-come, first-served basis. For each consecutive semester, you must complete a GW Request for Certification and submit it to the Office of Military and Veteran Student Services.

Taking advantage of the GI Bill to pay for your education can help accelerate your career without incurring additional debt. Some assistance is available to nearly all veterans, and the Yellow Ribbon Program can offer you the means to attend a university that is beyond what regular benefits would pay for. Through the Yellow Ribbon Program, it is possible to attend a private university and emerge with a degree and no debt. Log on to the VA website today to find out more about your benefits.