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Yellow Ribbon Program Explained


Yellow Ribbon Program

The Yellow Ribbon Program was established by the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008. This program allows institutions of higher learning (such as colleges, universities, and other degree-granting schools) in the United States to voluntarily enter into an agreement with VA to fund tuition and fee expenses that exceed the tuition and fee amounts payable under the Post-9/11 GI Bill®. 

The institution can contribute a specified dollar amount of those expenses, and VA will match the contribution, not to exceed 50% of the difference. 

To receive the Yellow Ribbon Program benefits you must be enrolled in an approved program offered by an institution of higher learning that participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program.

Am I Eligible?

You may qualify for the Yellow Ribbon Program benefit if you:

  • Served an aggregate period of active duty after September 10, 2001, of at least 36 months and were honorably discharged
  • Were discharged from active duty for a service-connected disability and you served 30 continuous days after September 10, 2001; or 
  • Are a dependent who received benefits transferred from an eligible Service Member
  • Active duty Servicemembers may use the Yellow Ribbon program effective August 1, 2022. *

*New provision per the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act ... “The Forever GI?Bill.”

How Does The Yellow Ribbon Program Benefit Me?

The Post-9/11 GI Bill® pays all in-state tuition and fee charges at public schools and tuition and fees not to exceed a national cap at private schools. Out-of-state students and those attending private schools may receive additional funds to help cover unmet costs under the Yellow Ribbon Program. If your charges exceed the tuition and fee amounts payable under the Post-9/11 GI Bill® and you are enrolled at a participating school, additional funds may be available to you through the Yellow Ribbon Program. Institutions of higher learning that enter into a Yellow Ribbon Program Agreement with VA will choose the amount of funds they will contribute toward your tuition and fees. VA will match that amount and issue payment directly to the institution on your behalf.

Example of How the Yellow Ribbon Program Works

Example of how Yellow Ribbon Program Works

You are attending a private school or a public school as an out-of-state resident and your tuition and fees for the year are $50,381. The Post-9/11 GI Bill® will pay $26,381.37.* You are responsible for the $24,000 difference. If your school offers $11,000 in Yellow Ribbon contributions, the VA will also pay $11,000 to the school, and you will be responsible for only $2,000. 

$26,381.37 is the current maximum tuition and fee reimbursement allowable for academic year beginning August 1, 2022.


What Must My School Agree To?

The school must agree to:

  • Enter into an official agreement with VA
  • Provide contributions to eligible individuals who apply for the Yellow Ribbon Program on a first-come first-served basis
  • Make contributions toward the program on behalf of the individual in the form of a grant, scholarship, etc.
  • State the dollar amount that will be contributed for each participant during the academic year
  • State the maximum number of individuals for whom contributions will be made in any given academic year


How Will I Know if My School Is Participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program?

You can search for Yellow Ribbon Program schools on the Department of Veterans Affairs GI Bill® website at or check the following pages for a complete list of participating schools.


How Will I Know if I Can Use the Yellow Ribbon Program?

Your school will let you know:

  • If you are accepted to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, and 
  • The maximum amount that may be provided to you on a yearly basis.


How Do I Apply?

You must contact your School Certifying Official to apply for Yellow Ribbon Program benefits.


GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at