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Yellow Ribbon Program

The Yellow Ribbon Program can help you pay for higher out-of-state, private school, foreign school, or graduate school tuition and fees that the Post-9/11 GI Bill doesn’t cover. Keep reading to find out if you’re eligible and if your school takes part in this program.

Am I eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program?

You may be eligible for this program if you and your school meet the requirements listed here.

You must qualify for the Post-9/11 GI Bill at the 100% benefit level

And at least one of these must be true:

  • You served at least 36 months on active duty (either all at once or with breaks in service) and were honorably discharged or
  • You received a Purple Heart on or after September 11, 2001, and were honorably discharged after any amount of service, or
  • You served for at least 30 continuous days (all at once, without a break) on or after September 11, 2001, and were discharged or released from active duty for a service-connected disability, or
  • You’re a dependent child using benefits transferred by a Veteran (find out about transferring Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits), or
  • You’re a Fry Scholar (eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program on or after August 1, 2018)

Note: At this time, you’re not eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program if you’re an active-duty service member or a spouse using the transferred benefits of an active-duty service member.

Starting on August 1, 2022, you may become eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program if you’re currently an active-duty service member who qualifies at the 100% level (you already served on active duty for at least 36 months) or if you’re a spouse using the transferred benefits of an active-duty service member who meets these qualifications.

Your school must meet certain requirements

All of these must be true:

  • Your school is an institution of higher learning, and
  • Your school offers the Yellow Ribbon Program, and
  • Your school hasn’t offered the Yellow Ribbon benefit to more than the maximum number of students in their agreement with us, and
  • Your school has certified your enrollment with us and provided Yellow Ribbon Program information

Find schools that offer the Yellow Ribbon Program this year

What benefits can I get through this program?

You can get money to help pay for tuition and fees at any of these types of schools:

  • A private school that may have higher tuition and fees, or 
  • A foreign school, or 
  • A public school if you want to attend as a nonresident student

If you qualify, your school will contribute a certain amount toward your extra tuition and fees through a grant, scholarship, or similar program. We’ll match the contribution.

How do I get this benefit?

  1. Apply for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits

    Apply for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits
    If you qualify for benefits, you’ll get a Certificate of Eligibility (COE).

  2. Turn in your COE to your school

    Bring your COE to your school’s certifying official, or to the financial aid, military liaison, or other appropriate office. Ask to apply for your school’s Yellow Ribbon Program.

  3. Wait for a decision

    Your school will decide:

    • Whether it has already enrolled the maximum number of students for the program period. Enrollment is on a first-come, first-served basis. We have an agreement with each school about how many students they’ll cover each year.
    • How much funding you’ll receive. Your school decides this amount. They’ll add up tuition and mandatory fees, then subtract any aid you’ve received from other sources—such as scholarships, grants, and your Post-9/11 GI Bill tuition payment. Your school will apply the Yellow Ribbon Program benefit to this final amount.
  4. Follow up

    You’ll get a notice from your school about whether it has accepted you into the program and how much money you’ll receive for tuition and fees.

Does my school participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program?

To find out if your school participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program, you can use our tool to find a Yellow Ribbon school.

You can also search for participating schools using the GI Bill Comparison Tool.

Learn more about the Yellow Ribbon Program

Get answers to other questions you may have about the Yellow Ribbon Program.

How much funding you’ll receive through the program

This depends on the school. Schools can choose to offer different amounts to students based on 2 factors:

  • Student status (undergraduate, graduate, doctoral), and
  • Type of school (college or professional)

For example: A school could provide $1,000 for undergraduates, $1,500 for graduate students, and $2,000 for doctoral students. The school also could provide $1,800 for students in the school of engineering and $2,500 for students in the school of nursing.

This depends on the agreement we have with your school.

Your school’s agreement with us states how much it will contribute and how much we’ll match. This amount makes up all or part of the difference between what the Post-9/11 GI Bill will pay and the unmet tuition and fees.

Here’s how it works:

Let’s say you’re attending a public school as an out-of-state student.

The school charges $10,000 per year for in-state tuition and fees, but $16,000 per year for out-of-state tuition and fees.

We’ll pay the in-state $10,000 cost under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. But you’ll need to pay the extra $6,000 for the out-of-state cost.

If you qualify for the Yellow Ribbon Program, you can get some or all of that extra amount paid. We’ll match the amount your school contributes to the program. So if your school funds $3,000 of your tuition, we’ll also pay $3,000 to your school, and you’ll be covered for the full amount. If your school funds $2,000 through the Yellow Ribbon Program, we’ll also pay $2,000 to your school, and you’ll need to pay the remaining $2,000.

Note: Your school’s agreement may also state that they’ll contribute only toward degrees at certain colleges or professional schools, or only for certain degree levels (like undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral degrees). 

Learn more about each school’s agreement

No. You don’t have to attend full time to be in the program.

First, we’ll determine how much the Post-9/11 GI Bill will pay. We’ll do this by subtracting any financial aid you have that’s designated solely for paying tuition and fees from the total amount your school charges.

Then, your school’s funding through the Yellow Ribbon Program and our matching contributions can cover part or all of the remaining unmet charges.

Yellow Ribbon funds may cover any mandatory (required) fees for your education program.

Yellow Ribbon and Post-9/11 GI Bill funds won’t cover any fees that aren’t mandatory, such as:

  • Room and board
  • Study abroad (unless your degree program requires the study abroad course)
  • Penalty fees (like fees for late registration, returned checks, or parking fines)

This depends on if your school offers Yellow Ribbon benefits in the summer. Please check with your school.

You may be able to get Yellow Ribbon funds if your school participates in the program. Starting in the 2021-22 academic year, some foreign schools now participate in the program. 

Find out if your school participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program

How your benefits may change from year to year

Yes. If your school continues to participate in the program, they must continue to offer the Yellow Ribbon benefits to you the next year, as long as you meet all of the requirements listed below.

All of these must be true. You:

  • Make acceptable progress toward completing your program (according to your school), and
  • Stay enrolled in the school without a break (following the school’s policy), and
  • Have money left in your Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits

Check the status of your Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits

If you transfer to a different school, your new school needs to offer Yellow Ribbon benefits and accept your application for you to continue in the program. Your first school’s decision doesn’t affect your new school’s decision.

Yes. If you stay enrolled without interruption, you'll get the same amount next year.

Your school must notify you if they plan to stop offering the program.

If you take fewer courses, we’ll pay less toward your tuition and fees. Your school will also reduce the amount they pay.

We base refunds on each school’s refund policy. You’ll need to pay us back for any overpayments we may have made to the school that they don’t refund.

If the school still offers the program, they must continue to give you funding if you meet all the requirements listed below.

All of these must be true. You:

  • Make acceptable progress toward completing your program (according to your school), and
  • Stay enrolled in the school without a break (following the school’s policy), and
  • Have money left in your Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits

Check the status of your Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits

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