For many returning veterans, the Post-9/11 GI Bill is a fantastic way to gain an education after serving in the military. However, the GI Bill’s education benefits have limitations, making it difficult for students to attend out-of-state or private schools.
This is where the Yellow Ribbon Program comes in. The Yellow Ribbon Program helps pay for additional costs associated with returning to school for qualifying veterans, whether it’s nonresident fees at a state school, or graduate school tuition not fully paid for with the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
The Department of Veterans Affairs started the Yellow Ribbon Program in 2008 to help cover the funding gap for veterans and returning service members. If you’re an eligible recipient, the school you’ve chosen to attend will contribute a certain amount toward your tuition and fees through a grant, scholarship, or another similar program. The VA will match the contribution.
For example, let’s say you’re attending a public school as a nonresident, and your tuition and fees are $16,000 for the academic year. If in-state tuition is only $10,000 a year, then your Post-9/11 GI Bill will only cover that amount, leaving you responsible for covering the $6,000.
However, if you’re attending a Yellow Ribbon school or private institution, they can provide funding to cover a portion of the outstanding fees. Let’s say in this example, they offer $3,000 in Yellow Ribbon contributions. The VA will then match that amount, which will cover your tuition in full. But if your school can only contribute $2,000, the VA will match that amount, leaving you responsible for the remaining $2,000.
Qualifying for the Yellow Ribbon Program
To qualify for the Yellow Ribbon Program, a veteran or service member must satisfy one of the following requirements:
- Served at least 36 months on active duty (can be with breaks in service) or received a Purple Heart on or after September 11, 2001.
- Served at least 30 continuous days on or after September 11, 2001 and were discharged after 60 days with a service-connected disability.
- Dependent children who use benefits transferred by a veteran or a service member who served at least 36 months on active duty.
- Recipients of the Fry Scholarship
It’s important to also determine whether your school is on the list of approved Yellow Ribbon Program institutions of higher learning. The VA lists participating schools on their website. Keep in mind that just because your school is on the list doesn’t mean that you will receive full benefits. There are often a limited number of program recipients that can benefit each year.
Benefits of the Yellow Ribbon Program
Yellow Ribbon tuition assistance is a fantastic way for veterans to open up the scope of what’s possible after deployment. Rather than feel limited by in-state schools or public schools, veterans can cast the net far wider and find opportunities in universities and schools across the country.
Each school will determine its own range of contributions, and they can also choose to offer different amounts to students based on the student’s status (whether they’re an undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral student) and the type of school (traditional school vs. professional academy). This means that an engineering student could receive a different contribution than a student in the nursing school, for example.
The Yellow Ribbon Program covers mandatory fees for your program, but there are a few exceptions to the funding it provides. Non-mandatory fees include:
- Room and board
- Studying abroad, unless your degree program requires it
- Penalty fees (late registration fees, returned checks, or parking fines)
The Yellow Ribbon Program & the Post-9/11 GI Bill
The Yellow Ribbon Program emerged as a provision of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, but the two have some distinct differences.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides funding to help veterans go back to school, whether that’s attending a vocational school like Eleven Fifty Academy to become a web developer or enrolling in a state school to study architecture. The benefits will cover up to $26,042.81 for those who qualify at the maximum amount, which requires 36 months of service.
Veterans who served for less than 36 months receive a smaller amount, determined by the actual time in active duty. Beyond tuition and fees, the GI BIll also covers expenses such as housing, books and supplies, and even relocation costs.
Think of the Yellow Ribbon Program as an extension of the GI Bill that specifically covers tuition and fees. While money from the program won’t help you pay for housing, it will help bridge the gap between what the Post-9/11 GI Bill will cover and what you owe. Yellow Ribbon recipients must also be GI Bill recipients who qualify for the maximum amount of benefits.
How Do I Apply for the Yellow Ribbon Program?
The first step to qualifying for the Yellow Ribbon Program is to determine your Post-9/11 GI Bill qualification. To do this, be sure to apply for the GI Bill program on the VA website.
If you qualify for benefits, you’ll then get a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) through the VA. You’ll then bring your COE to your school’s certifying official, the financial aid office, or military liaison. When you do this, be sure to ask to apply for your school’s Yellow Ribbon Program.
Then, it’s up to the school to decide if they can offer you a contribution. This typically depends on whether they’ve already enrolled the maximum number of students for the program period.
Assuming you’re eligible, they’ll then add up tuition and determine how much funding you’ll receive based on tuition, other aid sources, and your GI Bill payment. Your school will subtract your other funding sources and then apply the Yellow Ribbon program to this final amount.
Your school will follow up with you to tell you how much they’ll be contributing, and you’ll be able to determine how much you’ll be responsible for covering after your benefits.
Does My School Participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program?
While the Yellow Ribbon Program is expansive, not all schools participate. Yellow Ribbon schools are those who have agreed to offer discounted tuition for returning service members. To find out if your school of choice is in the program, visit the VA’s website.
Each school has its own agreement with the VA that determines how many students can enroll in the program. Enrollment into the Yellow Ribbon Program is on a first-come, first-served basis at each school.
Eleven Fifty Academy is a VA approved trade school and has a veteran’s program designed to help returning service members easily start their computer science career. Our GI Bill benefits cover some of our most popular programs, where former military veterans can pursue coding and cybersecurity courses for free.
Our IT training for veterans includes coverage for both the coding bootcamps and cybersecurity bootcamps. Eligible students can expect the following at Eleven Fifty:
- $13,500 – 18,000 for Tuition*
- $1,509 for Housing
- $1,000 for Books
We want to make it easy for returning service members to use their GI Bill benefits to pay for our bootcamps. While your tuition coverage depends on your individual eligibility, we’ll make every effort to help connect you to funding opportunities.
The Yellow Ribbon Program FAQs
Do I have to participate full time in order to benefit from the Yellow Ribbon Program?
No, veterans do not have to enroll full-time in order to receive Yellow Ribbon funds.
Do all students get the same amount of funding?
Funding varies between students. Yellow Ribbon schools determine funding tiers based on a student’s status (undergrad, graduate, or doctoral) and the course in which the student is enrolled. For example, a student in the engineering program might receive a lesser amount than a student in a nursing program.
Can I get Yellow Ribbon benefits during a summer term?
Some schools offer Yellow Ribbon benefits during summer terms; check with your school for more details.
Are there any disadvantages to the Yellow Ribbon Program?
While the program does help cover a portion of fees beyond the Post-9/11 GI Bill, there are limitations to who is eligible and whether your school is in the program. For example, even if you are eligible to receive funding, if your school has already reached their maximum allowance of eligible recipients, you won’t receive funding.
Are students automatically re-enrolled into the Yellow Ribbon Program?
Students who are already in the Yellow Ribbon Program will automatically be re-enrolled in the program each year. However, to stay in the program, the VA says a student must be making “acceptable progress” toward their program, stay enrolled in the school without a break, and have money left in their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.
Keep in mind that if you transfer to a different school, that school must also offer Yellow Ribbon benefits and accept your application for you to continue in the program.
What happens if the school I’m attending stops participating in the program?
If your school stops participating in the program, your Yellow Ribbon Program benefits will cease.
What will cause my payments to change?
The most common reason your payments may change is if you enroll in fewer courses. Your school will also reduce the amount they pay accordingly.
Will taking a break for a semester change my benefits?
If you take a break for a semester, your school must continue to provide funding as long as you are still making progress toward completing your program, stay enrolled in the school without a break, and have money left in your Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.
How Eleven Fifty Academy Helps Veterans Enter the World of Tech
Attending Eleven Fifty Academy is a great option for veterans who want to enter a fast-paced career with excellent growth opportunities. Tech employers understand the benefits of hiring veterans: Not only are veterans focused and thorough, but also great team players with impressive self-motivation.
Our Veterans Program with coding and cybersecurity courses are great for setting the stage for tech careers for veterans, and our advisors and mentors will help you as you transition out of active duty into civilian life. Whether you’re passionate about web design or you want to launch a career in cybersecurity, Eleven Fifty Academy is here to help you succeed.