Schools encouraged to join VA's Yellow Ribbon Program Published March 10, 2011 WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki is encouraging interested colleges and universities to participate in the Department of Veterans Affairs Post-9/11 GI Bill Yellow Ribbon Program for the upcoming 2011-2012 academic year. "Through shared responsibility, VA and our nation's colleges and universities are working together to ensure that our service members, veterans and dependents receive the education benefits they have earned," Secretary Shinseki said. "I strongly encourage any interested school to formally sign up with us before the May 23 deadline to guarantee their participation." Interested schools should visit VA's Yellow Ribbon Program website for more information where they will find a copy of a letter recently sent to all school presidents and department heads, an agreement form, instructions, and an easy-to-follow checklist. The Yellow Ribbon Program is a provision of the Post-9/11 GI Bill that allows degree-granting institutions to voluntarily enter into a formal agreement with VA to fund tuition and fee expenses that exceed either the annual $17,500 private institutions cap recently instituted by Congress or the in-state tuition and fees charged out-of-state residents attending public institutions. Institution officials can contribute up to 50 percent of those expenses and VA will match this additional funding for eligible students. This may enable qualified students to attend school tuition-free. This Post-9/11 GI Bill program is available for service members and veterans at the 100-percent benefit level, specifically those who have served at least 36 months on active duty or served at least 30 continuous days and were discharged due to a service-related injury after Sept. 11, 2001. The benefit can be transferred to eligible family members. Effective Aug. 1, under a new law passed by Congress, there is a cap on the maximum payment of tuition and fees at $17,500 per academic year for private and foreign schools, a change from the previous Post-9/11 GI Bill. The law also provides for full payment of in-state tuition and fees -- undergraduate, graduate or doctoral -- at public institutions. Officials at institutions of higher learning requesting participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program must enter into an agreement with VA each year, whether to renew participation from the previous academic year or enter first year agreements. For the 2010-2011 academic year, VA officials signed more than 1,200 Yellow Ribbon agreements with institution representatives across the nation. For a complete listing of the schools presently participating, go to www.gibill.va.gov/GI_Bill_Info/CH33/YRP/YRP_List.htm. Additional information about the Post-9/11 GI Bill, including upcoming changes to the Post-9/11 GI Bill based on recent legislation can be obtained by visiting VA's website at www.gibill.va.gov and www.gibill.va.gov/benefits/post_911_gibill/Post911_changes.html or by calling 1-888-GIBILL-1 (1-888-442-4551).