The GI Bill 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.

For the 2024-2025 school year, the maximum amount is $28,937.09.

Schools can enter into a voluntary agreement with the Department of Veterans Affairs (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.

Let's say you are attending a private university with a tuition of $50,000/year, but the school has agreed to waive $10,000 in tuition for Yellow Ribbon participants. VA will match that $10,000, making the total tuition waived $20,000. Your Post-9/11 GI Bill will pay $28,937.09, and the Yellow Ribbon Program will waive $20,000. That makes $48,937.09. You will be responsible for the difference between the tuition of $50,000 and the Yellow Ribbon reimbursement of $48,937.09, so you'll owe $1,062.91 in tuition that you must pay with other financial aid or out of pocket.

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

  • Served an aggregate period of active duty of at least 36 months after Sep. 10, 2001, and received an honorable discharge.
  • Were honorably discharged from active duty for a service-connected disability and served 30 continuous days after Sep. 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.
  • Are using the Fry Scholarship.

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.

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