Montana State University

MSU becomes part of Yellow Ribbon program to help student veterans

July 16, 2009 -- By Michael Becker, MSU News Service

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
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BOZEMAN -- Some veterans attending Montana State University this fall will be able to apply for a new program to help them pay for tuition and fees not covered by the GI Bill.

Beginning in August, eligible Post 9/11 GI Bill veterans attending MSU may apply for the Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement program, said Brenda York, director of MSU's Disability, Re-entry and Veteran Services office.

The Post 9/11 GI Bill, passed in 2008, pays veterans' tuition up to an amount equal to the highest in-state, public-school, undergraduate tuition, York said. But some private schools, schools with out-of-state students and graduate programs cost more than that limit, which is where the Yellow Ribbon Program comes in.

If a veteran enrolls in an educational program that costs more than the maximum that the Post 9/11 GI Bill will pay, the Yellow Ribbon Program allows the university to pay for half of the remaining amount -- up to $6,100 for undergraduates and $6,600 for graduates at MSU. The university's contribution is then matched by the Department of Veterans Affairs, ideally covering the total cost of the veteran's tuition and fees.

Colleges become part of the Yellow Ribbon Program voluntarily and adjust the payment amounts each year with the VA, said York, whose office also helps veteran students with issues ranging from housing and health care to study skills.

MSU attracts a significant number of veteran students, York said. Around 350 veterans enroll at MSU each fall, and she estimates as many as two dozen could qualify for the Yellow Ribbon Program.

"MSU has a high veteran population because of programs that attract veterans, like nursing and engineering," York said. "We thought joining the Yellow Ribbon Program was the right thing to do to allow veterans to come to college and get the most out of the GI Bill."

The Yellow Ribbon Program is aimed at out-of-state veterans attending MSU as undergraduates, as well as in- or out-of-state veterans attending MSU graduate or doctoral programs.

To be eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program, veterans must qualify 100 percent for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, meaning the veterans must have served at least 36 months of active duty since Sept. 10, 2001. Other provisions for disabled veterans also apply.

A number of other colleges and universities in Montana are also participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program. They include Albion College, Carroll College, Miles Community College, MSU-Billings, MSU-Great Falls College of Technology, the University of Great Falls and the University of Montana.

For more information, veterans can visit the GI Bill Web site for the Yellow Ribbon Program or the Web site for MSU's Veteran Services office. They can also stop by the office in the Strand Union Building, Room 180.

Contact: Brenda York, director of MSU Office of Disability, Re-entry and Veteran Services, at 406-994-2824 or byork@montana.edu