Last week in the article “US News and World Report Announces 20 Best Colleges for Veterans,” I briefly touched on the fact that the Yellow Ribbon (YR) Programs of the schools listed differed from each other depending on the agreement they have with the Department of Veterans Affairs. This article continues that discussion by charting some of the basic differences between the programs of these schools.

For illustrative purposes, this article discusses the YR program for veterans and dependents using Post 9/11 GI Bill as undergraduates. While many of the schools also have a YR program at the graduate and/or doctoral level, the specifics at those higher degree levels get even more convoluted and confusing. So for now, we’ll keep it simple.

What does a Yellow Ribbon Program Consist of?

A school’s YR program usually includes four variables:

  1. Degree level covered.
  2. Division or school covered.
  3. Number of students that can be in the program at any one time during an academic year.
  4. Maximum contribution per student in the program per academic year.

While the degree level covered is straightforward, the division or school can get somewhat confusing. For example, at Georgetown University all undergraduate degree fields are covered at the Georgetown College (a school within Georgetown University) however, only Business, Continuing Studies, Foreign Service, Nursing and Health Studies are covered at Georgetown University itself.

An easier example is the University of Rochester. Only eligible Eastman School of Music students qualify for its undergraduate YR program. No other degree fields are covered under their agreement at the lower degree level.

Enrollment into a YR program at most schools is on a first-come/first-served basis, so if it has a limited number of students they can take, it is important to enroll early to increase one’s chances of securing a spot. Because the VA pays an equal amount to what the college pays per student (on top of what it already pays initially at the beginning of each semester for tuition and fees via the Post 9/11 GI Bill), it can be a valuable additional source of financial aid. Using the YR program can greatly reduce the amount of out-of-pocket expense when going to a private school or paying out-state-tuition at a public school where the Post 9/11 GI Bill does not cover all of the tuition/fee expenses.

Rank School Degree Level Division/ School Number of Students Max Per Year Per Student
1 Stanford University Undergraduate












2 Dartmouth College Undergraduate



All at Dartmouth College Unlimited Unlimited
3 Cornell University Undergraduate












4 University of California None for Undergraduates N/A N/A N/A
5 Georgetown University Undergraduate  

Georgetown College




Continuing Studies


Foreign Service


Nursing and Health Studies






















5 University of Southern California Undergraduate All Unlimited Unlimited
7 Carnegie Mellon University Undergraduate All 35 $8,000
7 University of Virginia None for Undergraduates N/A N/A N/A
9 University of Michigan Undergraduate All Unlimited Unlimited
10 New York University Undergraduate All Unlimited $10,000
10 University of California Undergraduate All 10 $3,000
10 University of North Carolina Undergraduate – Non-Resident All 50 $5,000
13 University of California None for Undergraduates N/A N/A N/A
13 University of Rochester Undergraduate Eastman School of Music Unlimited Unlimited
15 Georgia Institute of Technology All All 40 $6,435
16 College of William and Mary All All 5 $2,000
16 University of California None for Undergraduates N/A N/A N/A
18 Boston University All All 52 $3,500
19 Tulane University Undergraduate All 20 $1,000
20 Pepperdine University All All Unlimited Unlimited
20 University of Georgia None for Undergraduates N/A N/A N/A
N/A = Not Applicable

For information on each school’s YR program at the higher degree levels, use this link to the Yellow Ribbon Program page on the VA site, click on the state where the school is located and find the school from the returned list.

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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.