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Yellow Ribbon Program For Graduate School

The Yellow Ribbon Program helps qualifying veterans and dependents pay for higher out-of-state tuition, plus higher costs for private schools, overseas schools, or graduate schools.

You read that correctly; the Yellow Ribbon program can also be used for grad school funding. It’s not limited to undergraduate courses, unlike some veteran benefits programs.

Who is Eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program at Grad School?

If you wish to use the Yellow Ribbon program for graduate coursework, you must meet at least one of the following requirements –


  • Qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill at the 100% level
  • Served at least 36 months on active duty with an honorable discharge
  • Were awarded a Purple Heart on or after September 11, 2001, and have an honorable discharge
  • Served for at least 30 continuous days on or after September 11, 2001, and were discharged for a service-connected disability
  • Are a dependent using transferred benefits
  • Are a Fry Scholar

Yellow Ribbon Program Requirements for Graduate Schools

  • Not all graduate school programs participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program.
  • To get Yellow Ribbon funding for grad school courses, your school must participate in Yellow Ribbon, it must not have run out of Yellow Ribbon funds for the year, and your program and enrollment must be certified with the VA.
  • The first step toward being approved for the Yellow Ribbon Program is claiming your Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.

Apply for the Post-9/11 GI Bill first, and tell your admissions office you wish to use Yellow Ribbon if it’s available. This program is not automatically awarded to qualified grad school students; you must apply.

What to Know About Yellow Ribbon Benefits for Graduate School

If you hope to use the Yellow Ribbon program, you should know that it is offered ONLY for Post-9/11 GI Bill students. Montgomery GI Bill students do not qualify for Yellow Ribbon funds.

To qualify for the Yellow Ribbon program, graduate students must have 100% benefit levels for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Those who did not serve enough time on active duty to qualify for the 100% benefit level are not eligible to apply for Yellow Ribbon funds.

When attending graduate school using both the GI Bill and the Yellow Ribbon program, you’re subject to the following requirements:

  • As a graduate student, you are required to make “acceptable progress” toward completing the grad school program;
  • You must remain enrolled in graduate school without a break
  • You must have some remaining Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits for your graduate studies.

Related: 10 Careers with Education Programs Under One Year

Using the Yellow Ribbon Program at Overseas Schools

The VA official site states that thanks to changes in federal law the VA allows foreign schools to apply to the VA to offer the Yellow Ribbon program for graduate school programs and other options.

Public Law 116-315, Section 1008, “Technical Correction to Clarify Eligibility for Participation in Yellow Ribbon Program of Department of Veterans Affairs,” allows foreign schools to participate in the program, and “VA has implemented an open season time frame of June 1st through July 31st for foreign schools to apply” to offer the Yellow Ribbon program.

Your selected school may or may not offer Yellow Ribbon when you apply, but an overseas school may choose to apply for the program if there are enough eligible students to justify the effort.

If you are unsure whether your school is currently offering Yellow Ribbon, you can use CollegeRecon’s School Finder tool, or visit the VA’s website.

va site

Related: Veteran Education Guide




About the author

Editor-in-Chief | + posts

Editor-in-Chief Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter/editor for Air Force Television News and the Pentagon Channel. His freelance work includes contract work for Motorola, VALoans.com, and Credit Karma. He is co-founder of Dim Art House in Springfield, Illinois, and spends his non-writing time as an abstract painter, independent publisher, and occasional filmmaker.