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Understanding How the Yellow Ribbon Military Scholarship Program Works

Yellow RibbonThe Yellow Ribbon program is one of a handful of post-9/11 G.I. Bill programs specifically designed to assist veterans who wish to attend college. This program is more specialized than some of its counterparts. If you are transitioning military, a reservist or a veteran and your goal is to attend college, you may be able to do so under the Yellow Ribbon program.Whether you are going for your degree in criminal justice, accounting, or another major, make sure that you inquire about the Yellow Ribbon program.

Military personnel and their spouses are often the part of the “underemployed and unemployed group” despite having the necessary degree and qualifications for their field. Moving around so much and not being a stable employee can really hinder Military spouses employment options. Check out this infographic for more information on these issues. For this reason not only can a veteran find education assistance with programs, such as the Yellow RIbbon, but, as the info graphic suggests, spouses can as well.

Yellow Ribbon’s History

The Yellow Ribbon program came into being as a provision of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008. Sponsored by the Veterans Administration (VA), the Yellow Ribbon program is open to any institution of higher education that wishes to participate. In order to be a part, the school must enter into a formal agreement with the VA to subsidize all tuition and fee expenses that exceed what is allotted to eligible veterans under the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. In this way, the Yellow Ribbon program offers eligible veterans military scholarships that are jointly funded by the VA and the participating school.

The Yellow Ribbon program is one of a handful of post-9/11 G.I. Bill programs specifically designed to assist veterans who wish to attend college.

Determining Eligibility

Eligibility for Yellow Ribbon program participation is determined by these criteria. If you are able to meet these criteria, you are potentially eligible for the Yellow Ribbon program. If you have questions about eligibility you can contact the VA for clarification.

  • You must have served as active duty military for an aggregate period of 36 months between September 10, 2001, and the present.
  • You must have received an honorable discharge from the military.
  • You must have been discharged from active duty due to a service-related disability and have logged at least 30 continuous service days after September 10, 2001.
  • You must be a dependent who is receiving transferred benefits under “Transfer of Entitlement” from an eligible service person.


Attending College Under Yellow Ribbon

Once you have verified eligibility the next step is to select a college that is also participating in the Yellow Ribbon program. You can verify if the institution you have selected is participating by visiting the G.I. Bill website. If the institution you select is not currently participating you can invite them to do so by giving them the VA contact information. It is important here to know that eligibility for Yellow Ribbon program participation does not automatically ensure you will receive benefits — even from a participating college. Receiving benefits will depend on whether the participating school has accepted the maximum number of Yellow Ribbon participants for the year you apply. Benefits can also vary from year to year. However, once you are approved to participate, the school must continue to offer you some level of benefits as long as you maintain satisfactory grades and the school continues to be involved in the Yellow Ribbon program.

How Yellow Ribbon Benefits Work

The Yellow Ribbon program is designed to cover tuition and fees that exceed what is covered under the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill for higher education costs. For instance, eligible students who choose to attend an out-of-state school, a foreign school or a private school often encounter higher tuition and fees than students who choose to attend an in-state or public college. The Yellow Ribbon program benefits can come in handy here. As well, Yellow Ribbon program benefits are available for both full- and part-time students and for all terms (including Summer Term).

What is CoveredUnder Yellow Ribbon

The Yellow Ribbon program is designed to cover all tuition and mandatory fees for a student’s program over and above the student’s Post-9/11 G.I. Bill education benefits. If, however, you commit to paying non-mandatory fees, you cannot use Yellow Ribbon funds to cover those expenses. Non-mandatory fees may include but are not limited to:

  • Study abroad fees
  • Room-and-board fees
  • Penalty and late fees

How to Apply for Yellow Ribbon

The application process is simple:All you need to do is fill out and submit the Yellow Ribbon Program application to the VA and wait for a response. If you are program-eligible and your application is approved, the VA will issue a certificate of eligibility. Once you have received your certificate, you must submit it to your selected school. The school will then notify you regarding your acceptance into the program.

About the Author: Margaret Carlson is a veteran who attended college through the benefits in the Yellow Ribbon Program. She now serves as an education mentor to transitioning military who aspire to complete college.