Program may send record number of servicemembers to colleges nationwide; veterans may attend free
In June 2008, the Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2008 was signed into law. Starting August 1, 2009, eligible veterans and servicemembers on active duty on or after September 11, 2001, may use the new education benefit. Columbia College plans to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program at the highest level, 50 percent. With the VA pitching in the other 50 percent, this means veterans may be able to attend Columbia College completely free.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill, Chapter 33, provides tuition and fee payments directly to institutions while providing a housing allowance and book stipend to qualified individuals. Tuition and fee payments issued to schools may not exceed the maximum in-state tuition and fees at a leading public institution of higher learning – the University of Missouri-Columbia for the state of Missouri, for instance. The VA also has invited interested schools with costs above the highest in-state rate to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program. The Yellow Ribbon Program allows schools to enter into an agreement with the VA to waive or offset the remaining tuition costs up to 50 percent, and the VA will match the same amount as the institution.
Under the Yellow Ribbon Program, the maximum amount of annual contribution by the college to a veteran will be $4,252 for undergraduate students and $990 for graduate programs. These contributions will allow any eligible veteran to attend Columbia College full-time, tuition free in 2009-2010.
Columbia College students who qualify for 100% of the Post-9/11 GI Bill will have the opportunity to use the Yellow Ribbon program to pay for tuition costs not covered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill, Chapter 33. Additional information about the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Yellow Ribbon Program may be found on the Department of Veterans Affairs Web site.