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The Post-9/11 GI Bill’s Yellow Ribbon Program

The Post-9/11 GI Bill’s Yellow Ribbon Program

Contributed by Alan Rohlfing

 

The “yellow ribbon” has been symbolic among Americans for many years. We displayed those ribbons everywhere in support of Americans being held hostage in Iran and the Persian Gulf War inspired countless numbers of our loved ones (my own parents included) to decorate clothing, trees, and even county courthouse columns with yellow ribbons to demonstrate support of those deployed.

More recently, the Department of Veterans Affairs has chosen to leverage that highly positive symbolism when naming a key benefit for military Veterans and their families. Established by the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008, the Yellow Ribbon Program allows colleges, universities, and other degree-granting schools in the United States to enter into an agreement with the VA to fund tuition and fee expenses that exceed the amounts payable under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. In short, the Yellow Ribbon Program helps make up the difference when the GI Bill just isn’t enough … degree-granting institutions of higher learning that participate in the Post-9/11 GI Bill Yellow Ribbon Program agree to make additional funds available for your education without an additional charge to your GI Bill entitlement.

Here are some key highlights of the program, straight from the VA. Of course, in the realm of benefits things are always subject to change; in order to nail down the most current information, visit https://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/yellow_ribbon.asp

The Yellow Ribbon Program. The Post-9/11 GI Bill will pay all resident tuition & fees for a public school or the lower of the actual tuition & fees or the national maximum per academic year for a private school. Your actual tuition & fees costs may exceed these amounts if you’re attending a private school or are attending a public school as a nonresident student. In order to make additional funds available for your education program without an additional charge to your GI Bill entitlement, these institutions voluntarily enter into a Yellow Ribbon Agreement with the VA and choose the amount of tuition and fees that will be contributed. The VA matches that amount and issues payments directly to the institution.

Available Benefits and Eligibility. To receive benefits under the Yellow Ribbon Program, you must be eligible for the maximum benefit rate under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. This includes:

…Those who served 36 months (may be aggregate) on active duty

…Purple Heart recipients with an Honorable discharge and any amount of service

…Those discharged after 60 days with a service-connected disability and served 30 continuous days after Sept. 10, 2001

…Children using transferred benefits if their Service Member transferor is at the 100 percent level (36 months served)

…Effective August 1, 2022, Service Members at the 100 percent level and transferee spouses whose transferor is at the 100 percent level

…Active duty Service Members or their spouses are not eligible

 

Additionally, your school must agree to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program; your school must have not offered Yellow Ribbon to more than the maximum number of individuals, as stated in their participation agreement; and your school must certify your enrollment to the VA and provide them Yellow Ribbon Program information.

Of course, not every institution of higher learning is part of the Yellow Ribbon Program. For a listing of schools that are participating in the 2019-20 school year, visit https://www.benefits.va.gov/GIBILL/yellow_ribbon/yrp_list_2019.asp. In addition, participating schools have the flexibility to designate the number of students they will assist and the amount of contributions based on student status (as in undergrad, grad, or doctoral) and college or professional school. It might be good to touch base with your school’s certifying official, as well, for details on how they fit into the program.

Finally, the Yellow Ribbon Program received some enhancements as part of the Forever GI Bill (aka The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017). Just to reiterate what I mentioned above, effective August 1, 2018 Fry Scholarship and Purple Heart recipients became eligible for the Yellow Ribbon benefits and on August 1, 2022 certain members of the Armed Forces serving on active duty will eligible.

The application process isn’t too complicated…if you submit an application for the Post-9/11 GI Bill to the VA and are eligible at the 100% benefit level, the VA will issue you a Certificate of Eligibility advising that you are potentially eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program. They say that you should provide your Certificate of Eligibility to the school which, in turn, will determine if there are slots available for the Yellow Ribbon Program (based on its agreement with the VA).

Once the Department of Veterans Affairs started redesigning the current-era array of educational benefits (beginning with the Post-9/11 package), many among us have decided to give ‘higher ed’ the ol’ college try. And the way the Yellow Ribbon Program has helped bridge the gap for many Veterans, especially with the recent enhancements I just mentioned, has made a tremendous impact for many of our Brothers and Sisters.

 

 Until next time…

 

Veterans Groups Agree on Four GI Bill Changes

GI Bill (1)

By Debbie Gregory.

Last month, thirty-five veteran groups banded together and stalled a congressional hearing.

The groups were in the U.S. Capital to weigh in on changes to the Post 9/11 GI Bill.  They want change and to close some loopholes.

While they agree on more than they disagree on, the area of disagreement concerns whether or not to charge new enlistees for their GI Bill benefit.
The areas of agreement include:

  • There should be a fix to a Pentagon deployment authorization that is unfairly preventing thousands of Reservists and Guardsmen from earning GI Bill benefits. About 4,700 Reservists and Guardsmen who deployed under Title 10, Section 12304b have been restricted from accumulating education benefits.
  • Also in agreement among veteran groups is a measure to bring the mobilization authority up to par with active-duty entitlements
  • Expanding eligibility for the Yellow Ribbon Program to surviving spouses and children of servicemembers killed in the line of duty. The program allows veterans to attend schools or enroll in programs that cost more than the GI Bill tuition cap.
  • Expanding full GI Bill benefits to all Purple Heart recipients. Currently, a veteran must be medically retired from the military or have 36 months of active-duty service to qualify.  There are approximately 1,500 Purple Heart recipients who aren’t eligible for full education benefits.  If you’ve been wounded on the battlefield, you’ve met the service requirement.
  • Assisting student veterans whose schools close. Last year, for-profit ITT Technical Institute closed its doors, and thousands of veterans who attended the campuses were unable to recover lost education benefits. The situation has also happened with other for-profit schools that have closed.

The major issue that these groups cannot reach consensus on which has divided veteran groups is the Post 9/11 GI Bill expansion and funding it.   It has been recommended by some of the veteran groups that new enlistees would pay $2,400 over a two year period to opt into this benefit.

Some Veteran groups have described this as “a tax on troops”.

There will be further discussions between veteran groups on whether to charge servicemembers for the GI Bill.

Tell us what you think and check out the multitude of educational information on our site militaryconnection.com.

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