The Yellow Ribbon Program Explained

The Yellow Ribbon Program is a provision of the Post-9/11 GI Bill that can help students attend expensive private schools at little or no cost to themselves. Normally, Post-9/11 GI Bill payments at private schools are limited to a national maximum amount by law, although that amount changes every year, it seldom covers the full tuition and fees that private schools charge for enrollment. Currently the maximum amount is $20,235.02 changing to $21,084.89 on August 1, 2015.

Schools can enter into a voluntary agreement with the VA to waive a portion of, or all of their tuition costs that exceed the national maximum Post-9/11 GI Bill reimbursement. The VA will match the amount of the waiver and also contribute that to your tuition. For example, if you are attending a private university with a tuition of $50,000/year but the school has agreed to waive $10, 000 tuition for Yellow Ribbon Participants. The VA will match that $10,000 making the total tuition waived $20,000. Your Post-9/11 GI Bill will pay $20,235.02 and the Yellow Ribbon Program will waive $20,000. You will be responsible for $9,764.98 tuition that you must pay with financial aid or out-of-pocket.

To qualify to receive the Yellow Ribbon benefits you must meet the following criteria:

  • Served an aggregate period of active duty after September 10, 2001, of at least 36 months;
  • Were honorably discharged from active duty for a service connected disability and they served 30 continuous days after September 10, 2001;
  • Are a dependent eligible for Transfer of Entitlement under the Post-9/11 GI Bill based on a veteran's service under the eligibility criteria listed above.

Schools can limit the amount of tuition they waive, the number of students they choose to waive tuition for, and the specific programs they choose to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program.

Students may search for Yellow Ribbon Program participating schools on the VA's GI Bill website.

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at
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