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If I Use the Yellow Ribbon Program, Can I Pocket the Money from the Post 9/11 GI Bill?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am about to get out of my active duty commitment. I was in for 8 years. I am currently looking at Yellow Ribbon services for college full tuition schools already paid for. Does that mean I can pocket my GI Bill? If yes, no or maybe, can you go in detail how I can get my college paid for while pocketing my GI Bill?

A: Based on your question, I don’t think you understand the Post 9/11 GI Bill. The Yellow Ribbon Program is a feature of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. It is used mainly by students that have to pay out-state tuition, are in graduate school or attending a private school.

The way tuition payment works under the New GI Bill is the VA would pay your tuition in full up to the resident rate if you attend a public school. So if you are a resident in the state where you attend school, you would not need to use the Yellow Ribbon program.

If any of the other conditions I mentioned apply, you could use the Yellow Ribbon Program, but it only pays on the difference between what the Post 9/11 GI Bill pays and what your school charges. By agreement, your school could pay up to half of the difference (but it could be a lesser percentage) and the VA would pay an equal amount. As far as the money you actually receive, you get the monthly housing allowance and a book stipend once per semester. You can spend that money as you wish.

What many people do not realize is that the VA is the last payer, so if you have scholarships or grants dedicated to paying your tuition, the VA ends up paying less in tuition, but you don’t get the difference in money. Your GI Bill benefit just ended up paying less, but you still used up the same amount of entitlement – you just got less bang for your buck.

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