MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
Since 2008, the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill has been a reality, expanding the educational benefits created by the Montgomery G.I. Bill for service members.
According to the G.I. Bill Web site, http://www.gibill.va.gov, the bill was created to pay for 100 percent of a public four-year undergraduate education for a veteran who has served three years on active duty since Sept. 11, 2001.
Some of the new benefits of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill include a monthly housing allowance, a $1,000 book and supplies stipend and the ability to transfer all benefits to a dependent.
As comprehensive as the new bill is, many military members may not be aware of all it has to offer.
According to the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008, which added additional education benefits, veterans who have served a minimum of three years active duty can now attend a public university without paying a cent.
The bill will only pay for the highest in-state university cast and does not include private universities, graduate schools or out-of-state schools.
For some veterans like James D. Hamel, who received a bachelor’s degree, there is a provision included in the Post-9/11 Act that covers paying for a graduate-level education, the Yellow Ribbon G.I. Enhancement Program.
“My end of active service date was August 2007,” said Hamel who served four years in the Marine Corps and finished his enlistment as a corporal. “Because of college courses I took while serving, I was able to graduate from Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in political science and philosophy in August 2009.”
A couple of months after graduating, Hamel received his acceptance letter from the prestigious Yale Law School in New Haven, Conn.
“After finding out about my acceptance, I met with the director of admissions,” the 25-year-old Hamel said. “He told me that Yale participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program. After the meeting, I did research on the program.”
What Hamel found was the Yellow Ribbon G.I. Enhancement Program, another provision of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008. According to the G.I. Bill Web site, the Yellow Ribbon Program allows Post-9/11 G.I. Bill-eligible service members to attend a participating private, graduate or out-of state-university without having to pay the difference not covered by the bill.
According to the Web site, participating schools voluntarily enter into an agreement with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs to fund tuition expenses that exceed the highest public in-state undergraduate tuition.
“Yale Law pays 50 percent of the tuition, and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs matches that amount to cover the full rate of tuition,” Hamel said. “Because I have 16 months left on my G.I. Bill, I will only have to pay $100,000 instead of $200,000.”
Hamel also said the Yellow Ribbon program falls under the same guidelines as the Post-9/11 G.I Bill.
“Just like the new G.I. Bill, the program is transferable,” Hamel said. “So if one of your dependents wants to attend a private school or graduate school, you can transfer the program to them.”
Hamel expressed his sense of relief in finding out about the Yellow Ribbon Program.
“There are no law school scholarships,” Hamel said. “The truth is, if it was not for the Yellow Ribbon Program I would not be going to law school.”
According to Hamel, veterans and active-duty service members should understand what their options are concerning education benefits.
“This program is really one of the great things a Marine gets out of service to their country,” Hamel added. “Everybody needs to know because everybody can benefit from the program.”
For more information about the Yellow Ribbon G.I. Enhancement Program visit the Web site at http://www.gibill.va.gov/GI_Bill_Info/CH33/YRP/Yellow_ribbon.htm.