In recognition of service, the United States government offers several education programs to veterans. First instituted in 2008 as part of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the Yellow Ribbon Program is one of those initiatives. The Yellow Ribbon Program helps eligible students cover expenses to attend private schools. 

Who is eligible?

To qualify for the Yellow Ribbon Program you must meet the requirements for the maximum benefit rate under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. These requirements include one of the following:

  • Anyone who has served at least 36 months on active duty.
  • Anyone who has received a Purple Heart after September 11, 2001 and was honorably discharged.
  • Anyone that has served 30 continuous days after September 11, 2001 and was discharged after 60 days with a service-connected disability.
  • Dependents of a veteran that has served 36 months on active duty.
  • Fry Scholars

The VA will let you know if you are eligible after you apply for education benefits. If you don’t have an account to apply for benefits, you can create one online using’s secure process

You can also look at your personal statement of education benefits by logging in at the VA website with an existing account. 


The GI Bill has a number of benefits that cover the maximum amount of public, in-state tuition, but it doesn’t cover the full amount of tuition and expenses at pricey private universities. However, to prevent veterans and active-duty military from being limited by this rule, the Yellow Ribbon Program allows qualifying students to waive a portion or all of their tuition costs that the GI Bill doesn’t cover. This amount of funding is decided by the school and then matched by the VA.

Ex: You want to attend a private university that costs $55,000. The school has decided to waive $12,000 in the Yellow Ribbon Program and the VA will match that with another $12,000. The Post 9/11 GI Bill will waive another $25,162 according to this year’s rate. $55,000 – $24,000 – $25,162 = $5,838 in tuition that you must cover out-of-pocket or with financial aid. 

The Yellow Ribbon Program has made participating private colleges affordable and accessible to veterans. The full list of Yellow Ribbon Program schools can be found on the VA’s website. More information about specific schools and their military education benefits can be found on the GI Bill Comparison Tool

How to Apply

There are a limited number of students allowed by each school based upon their Yellow Ribbon Program agreement. Applications are taken on a first-come, first-served basis each year, so apply as soon as you can! 

If you qualify for benefits, you will receive a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) in the mail that you can bring to your school’s financial aid office or military liaison. Once you bring the COE to your school’s admissions office, they can determine if it has available slots in its program and how much aid it will give you.