How Veterans Can Pay for College When the GI Bill Isn’t Enough

Military Transition

Over the past two weeks we have looked at the two most popular GI Bills and how the type of school and venue affect payments. We also looked at how to best combine using those GI Bills to maximize their benefits.

In this part, we are going to look at one way to help pay the difference when the GI Bill is not enough to pay what a school charges. Out-state tuition is up to three times more expensive than what the Post 9/11 GI Bill will pay. If you are going to be in that situation, look for a school that is part of the Yellow Ribbon program.

Yellow Ribbon Program

A feature of the Post 9/11 GI Bill, and one that must be used in conjunction with it, schools can sign a Yellow Ribbon Agreement with the VA stating what percentage of the difference they will waive, how many students can be in the program, maximum contribution per student, which degree programs are covered and at what level, etc. But because not all schools are part of the Yellow Ribbon Program, it takes some legwork to uncover the ones that are and what they each offer.

Yellow Ribbon Example

Let’s look at one school that is a fairly typical representative of the Yellow Ribbon Program – Arizona State University (ASU). ASU is the top school in the Phoenix Metro Area. Their Yellow Ribbon Program shows it includes all degree plans at both the undergraduate and graduate level. They can take up to 150 students in their YR program as undergraduates and 3 graduates. The maximum school contribution is $8,425 and $9,103, undergraduate/graduate respectively.

Their yearly in-state tuition rate is $10,792; out-of-state rate is $27,372. For an out-of-state student, the Post 9/11 GI Bill would pay the in-state rate of $10,792 leaving a balance of $16,580. If selected into their Yellow Ribbon Program, it would pay an additional $8,425 dropping the final unpaid difference to $8,155. That remaining amount could be further reduced through scholarships, grants and work study programs, leaving very little out-of-pocket costs. For a resident student, the total tuition costs would be covered 100% (if at the top eligibility tier).

Student loans should be used only as a last resort, as they eventually must be paid back, thus putting an additional financial burden on the individual student and his/her family. The other sources of money mentioned do not require any payback, but they do require a little work to find.

In the next part, we dig into some of the unique scholarships and grants available to veterans and how they affect using the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

Kness retired in November 2007 as a Senior Noncommissioned Officer after serving 36 years of service with the Minnesota Army National Guard of which 32 of those years were in a full-time status along with being a traditional guardsman. Kness takes pride in being able to still help veterans, military members, and families as they struggle through veteran and dependent education issues.