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Yellow Ribbon Program

9 Jan 2017 | Valerie O’Berry, Editor Marine Corps Base Quantico

Yellow Ribbon Program can help cover the cost of expensive tuition

There is a benefit that all veterans and active duty service members need to know about if they are planning to pursue a college degree.  The program is called the Yellow Ribbon Program and it provides assistance with paying tuition costs that may be above and beyond what the GI Bill covers.

Following are the most common questions about the program:

Q.  What is the Yellow Ribbon Program?

A.  The Yellow Ribbon Program was established by the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008.  This program allows institutions of higher learning (such as colleges, universities and other degree-granting schools) in the United States to voluntarily enter into an agreement with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to fund tuition and fee expenses that exceed the tuition and fee amounts payable under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

The institution can contribute a specified dollar amount of those expenses and VA will match the contribution, not to exceed 50 percent of the difference.

To receive Yellow Ribbon Program benefits you must be enrolled in an approved program offered by an institution of higher learning that participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program. 

Q.  Can you give me examples of how the Yellow Ribbon Program Works?

A.  Say you are attending a public school as an out-of-state student and your total tuition and fees for the year are $16,000.  The in-state tuition and fee charges for the school are only $10,000.  Your total tuition and fees exceed the amount payable under the Post-9/11 GI will by $6,000.  The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will pay a total of $10,000 to your school for your tuition and fees.  You are responsible for the $6,000 charged to out-of-state students.

If your school offers $3,000 in Yellow Ribbon contributions, VA will also pay $3,000 to the school and your full amount will be paid.  The VA will only match the contribution that your school decides to pay, so you may have to pay some out-of-pocket expenses.

Q.  Am I eligible?

A.  You may qualify for the Yellow Ribbon Program benefit if you:
• Served an aggregate period of active duty after Sept,.10, 2001 of at least 36 months and were honorably discharged
• Were discharged from active duty for a service-connected disability and you served 30 continuous days after Sept. 10, 2001;
• Are a dependent who received benefits transferred from an eligible service member. 

Q.  How will I know if my school is participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program?

A.  You can search for Yellow Ribbon Program schools on the VA GI Bill website at

Q.  How do I apply?

A.  You must contact your school certifying official to apply for Yellow Ribbon Program benefits.