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Can I Use the Yellow Ribbon Program After Exhausting My Post 9/11 GI Bill?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Let’s say, I am going to school to get my doctorate. I will use three years of the MGIB, and then the 12 additional months of the Post 9/11. (I do qualify and am at the 100% tier.) I would then want to use the Yellow Ribbon Program benefit since I am not yet done with the MD. Assuming the college participates, and I have exhausted all my GI Bill options, how would that work to complete my existing semesters under VA programs?

A: Your plan wouldn’t work and here is why. The Yellow Ribbon Program is a feature of the Post 9/11 GI Bill and not a program of itself that can be used alone. It has to be used in conjunction with the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Because of that fact, your plan will not work.

The first part of your plan is solid if it will take over four years to get your doctorate – using your MGIB first and then the Post 9/11 GI Bill next. However if you can do it in four years, a better plan would be to switch your MGIB benefits over to the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

Under the MGIB, you’ll get about $1,729 per month. Out of that amount, you would have to pay tuition, buy books and pay for other education-related expenses. But if you use the Post 9/11 GI Bill, your tuition up to the resident level is paid in full if you attend a public school or up to $20,235.02 if attending a private school.

If your tuition exceeds what the VA can pay and your school is a participant in the Yellow Ribbon Program, the unpaid difference could be picked up by your school and the VA.

Once per semester you would also get about $500 per semester for books (up to the $1,000 yearly limit). You would also get a monthly housing allowance that averages $1,300. Because it I based on the zip code of your school and the number of credits you take, your amount could be more or less.

So in the end, your decision as to which GI Bill to use should hinge on how long it will take to get your doctorate degree.

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