As a veteran interested in returning to college, you want to pursue an education on your own terms. You’ve done your part as a valued member of the military, and now, you deserve the training and support required for success as a civilian. Whether you want to enroll in a college program that builds on your existing skills or take your career in a completely new direction, this is the perfect time to focus on your personal and professional goals.
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As you examine the array of academic and career options available to veterans, you’ll be pleased to find multiple avenues that lend additional affordability to your college journey. Ideally, you will enroll at a university that is committed to supporting military members and veterans. Better yet, this could be accompanied by funding from the VA. If you’re like many veterans, you’ll be especially intrigued by the path to a private college education provided under the VA Yellow Ribbon Program.
A critical component of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the Yellow Ribbon Program gives eligible veterans a greater range of options not only for covering the cost of college but, also, for choosing the school they prefer. Under this system, veterans and some dependents can receive significant financial support for attending both private universities and out-of-state public colleges. Unfortunately, many eligible students neglect to make the most of this extraordinary opportunity, often because they simply don’t know it exists or that they qualify.
If you’re interested in attending a private college as a veteran, you likely have many questions, including:
- What is the Yellow Ribbon Program?
- What is a Yellow Ribbon School?
- How does it work?
- Am I eligible for Yellow Ribbon benefits?
Let’s dive into the details to see if the Yellow Ribbon Program is the right path to a private college education for you.
How Does the Yellow Ribbon Program Work?
The Yellow Ribbon Program is powered by partnerships between the VA and participating colleges. Students who qualify receive financial support from the schools at which they’re enrolled, often in the form of scholarships or grants. This amount is then matched by the VA.
While the Yellow Ribbon Program only covers tuition and fees, it can provide a valuable opportunity for veterans who desire to attend private colleges and get started on their path to a fulfilling civilian career.
Who is Eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program?
Eligibility standards for the Yellow Ribbon Program tend to be strict, so it’s important to get a sense for your qualifications before you go through the process of applying. The absolute minimum barrier to entry? Documentation of having served with the Navy, Air Force, Army, or National Guard. Other key requirements include:
- In most cases, applicants qualify if they served at least 90 combined days—assuming this period occurred on or after September 11th, 2001.
- Serving at least 30 continuous days on or after September 11th should also qualify.
- Must be eligible for the maximum benefit rate as defined by the VA.
- An honorable discharge regardless of the amount of time served or when active-duty time occurred.
In some situations, Yellow Ribbon benefits can be transferred to dependents. This option is available to children of veterans who served active duty for at least 36 months and qualify for the Post-9/11 GI Bill at the 100 percent level. Furthermore, Fry Scholars are eligible for Yellow Ribbon benefits as of August 1, 2018.
Aspiring students who are currently on active duty may not be eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program, but they enjoy many other opportunities for funding their academic ambitions. Many active-duty personnel are, for example, eligible for the Department of Defense Tuition Assistance (TA) option. The Top-Up benefit provides additional support to ensure full coverage of tuition and fees at approved schools.
How to Apply for the Yellow Ribbon Program
If you believe you’re eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program, you can move forward with the process of applying for not only benefits but, also, for your preferred college. A proactive approach is essential as the VA limits the number of allowed participants. This program operates on a first-come, first-served basis. Ready to get started? Follow these steps to apply:
Obtain Your Certificate of Eligibility
To begin, complete the official application for benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. You’ll need to obtain a variety of documents as well as provide personal details. Essentials include:
- Direct deposit information for your bank account.
- Your Social Security Number.
- Information about your academic background and military history
- Basics about the college at which you’d like to enroll or are already attending.
The application process can take place online, in person, or with help from an accredited professional. Take your time to ensure that you have all the essentials covered as any missing details could prevent you from qualifying.
If you’re approved for benefits, you will receive a Certificate of Eligibility (COE). Sent by the VA, this official document details the benefits available to you under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
Submit Your COE
Once you’ve secured your COE, you can submit it to your college’s financial aid office and let it be known that you’d like to apply for the Yellow Ribbon Program. From there, the process may differ based on the school and how many other veterans have already applied. Keep in mind that the VA maintains separate agreements with each college regarding how many students they can fund via Yellow Ribbon benefits.
If approved to attend as a Yellow Ribbon student, you’ll receive a decision about the extent to which your school will provide funding under this program. This is based not only on tuition and fees but also, on other sources of financial aid. Once all this has been taken into account, Yellow Ribbon benefits can be applied.
Post University: A Proud Yellow Ribbon School
At Post University, we are committed to providing exceptional academic and career opportunities for veterans. As such, we are proud participants in the VA’s Yellow Ribbon Program. Many of our most passionate and accomplished students have received these benefits.
Post University can also be found in the catalog for the Defense Activity for Nontraditional Education Support (DANTES). This valuable resource provides detailed insight for service members interested in pursuing their educational goals. Inclusion in DANTES signifies a college’s commitment to providing opportunities for active-duty personnel and veterans alike.
If you’re on the hunt for a college that will support your academic journey, look no further than Post University. We recognize that you’ve devoted your life to protecting our nation—and we’re committed to offering the support and encouragement you deserve.
Thank you for reading! The views and information provided in this post do not reflect Post University programs and/or outcomes directly. If you are interested in learning more about our programs, you can find a complete list of our programs on our website or reach out directly!