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Know Your Soldier For Life Benefits: Yellow Ribbon Program

By Lt. Col. George Coleman | Soldier for Life Education and Training | Feb. 28, 2018

Research shows that more than 50 percent of all new Soldiers in fiscal year 2017 joined the Army in part because of the GI Bill with 49 percent wanting to gain experience and works skills or education.

The impact of Veterans using the GI Bill is felt from the World War II generation coming home and attending colleges at rates higher than seen before the war.

The GI Bill made college affordable for many. The impact of the Post 9-11 GI Bill is significant today in many of the same ways.

Soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are pursuing higher education to better themselves and create a better trained, better educated work force for America. According to the Student Veterans of America, 52 percent of Soldiers use their Post 9-11 GI Bill benefits after they leave the military.

The Department of Veterans Affairs sponsors a program in which Soldiers or their family members using their Post 9-11 GI Bill can receive additional funds from the participating school to cover the gap between GI Bill and the actual cost of tuition.

For example, your school tuition is $16,000, your GI Bill authorizes $10,000 leaving a shortfall of $6,000 that the Soldiers or family member must cover out of pocket.

If your school approves participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program, the school could offer $3,000 in additional tuition funding for the student, then the VA would agree to pay the final $3,000 so there would be no out-of-pocket expenses for the student.

Many schools limit the number of Yellow Ribbon Program students that they sponsor so it is important to work with your school early in the process to ensure you can compete to be included in the program. Schools participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program for the academic year 2017-2018 can be found  at  https://www.benefits.va.gov/GIBILL/yellow_ribbon/yrp_list_2017.asp.

According to the VA, "Degree-granting institutions of higher learning participating in the Post-9/11 GI Bill Yellow Ribbon Program agree to make additional funds available for your education program without an additional charge to your GI Bill entitlement. These institutions voluntarily enter into a Yellow Ribbon Agreement with VA and choose the amount of tuition and fees that will be contributed. VA matches that amount and issues payments directly to the institution."

Each participating school manages their own Yellow Ribbon Program so you may qualify for it one year and not the next or you may receive a different amount of money from year to year.

There is no guarantee that the Yellow Ribbon Program will eliminate all out-of-pocket tuition expenses for the student. Not all school fees are covered under the program. Late registration, return check or room and board are not covered under the program. Only mandatory fees are covered.

For more information, call the VA toll-free at 888-GIBILL-1 (888- 442-4551), or visit the VA GI Bill Website at http://www.gibill.va.gov.