The Yellow Ribbon Program is the latest incarnation of the GI Bill of Rights. It’s designed to help veterans attend school after an honorable discharge from one of the armed services. In some cases, veterans who receive a general discharge under honorable conditions might quality, but it is not an automatic process the way it would be after an honorable discharge.
The veteran in question must have served a total of 36 months on or after September 11, 2001. These months do not need to be consecutive. In most cases, veterans discharged for medical or other reasons regarding disability also qualify unless their period of service is 180 days or less. Such a discharge of less than 180 days is called an entry-level separation, or ELS. These veterans are not usually eligible, but some are. The veteran would have to apply for benefits and be subject to review.
Veterans must also not be on active duty. They also must not be married to anyone on active duty or married to anyone who is receiving transferred entitlement. Dependents, however, are eligible even if they receive transferred entitlement. The schools to which the veteran plans to apply must also participate in the program. Even if the chosen school participates, that school must not have offered more than its allotted amount of Yellow Ribbon Program slots to other veterans. To be sure you qualify, it would be best if you talked to the person responsible for administering the program at the school you plan to attend.
The benefits are substantial in recognition of exemplary service. When it comes to all public schools for resident students, all tuition and fees are paid. For private schools and public schools in states other than your state of residence, the program covers either the actual costs or the national maximum amount, whichever is lower. As of August 1, 2017, the program will pay up to and including $22,805.34 annually for private and out-of-state public schools. As an example, Harvard University’s 2017 tuition is $63,025 including all fees, which means the veteran would have to pay $40,222.66 out-of-pocket.
Even if a veteran doesn’t qualify for full benefits, that person might be eligible for partial benefits. These include:
•A housing allowance
•Books and supplies
•Various rural benefits, for which the veteran would have to qualify separately
Veterans who wish to attend trade schools, seek apprenticeships, or even study online are also eligible for benefits of differing maximum amounts. It’s usually best to speak with someone from the applicable department of the armed forces to determine these levels of eligibility and to get the proper paperwork started.
If you’re a veteran who is trying to re-assimilate into society, one of the best ways to do that is to earn a college degree or other certification that says you’re qualified for a trade. Such certifications and educational experiences, in addition to providing opportunities for veterans to better themselves, also help to increase feelings of value and self-worth among veterans. The Yellow Ribbon Program seeks to help veterans in any way that it can.