4 Questions About Yellow Ribbon Schools and Military Benefits

by John Montesi

Yellow Ribbon schools offer unmatched benefits to military veterans. In fact, they cover the entire cost of tuition. But while there is a lot to be gained, there is also some confusion about how exactly the program works.

Yellow Ribbon schools offer additional funding to help eligible veteran students pay for the balance that is left after their annual contribution from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has been maxed out. To be eligible to receive benefits under the Yellow Ribbon program, students must be utilizing the Post 9/11 GI Bill (at the 100 percent level) and cannot be on active duty. Additionally, the Yellow Ribbon designation is not available to students whose active duty spouses transferred the Post 9/11 GI Bill to them.

We spoke to Vannessa Weber, assistant director of Military and Veteran Education Benefits (MVEB) at Azusa Pacific University, to learn more about what participating schools offer veterans and their families.

1. How Are Military Benefits Similar to Scholarships?

Weber noted that military benefits are similar to scholarships in that they do not have to be repaid as long as the student completes his or her classes and maintains a steady enrollment status (i.e. does not drop from full-time to part-time partway through a term). The benefits also provide specialized, holistic resources for recipients that extend beyond financial contributions.

2. How Are They Different From Scholarships?

Military benefits have a more rigorous approval process than scholarships. “Military benefits are very different than scholarships because they go through various approval channels,” explains Weber. The benefits must be approved by the university’s military benefits office, Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Defense, depending on the benefit type.

Additionally, military benefits are earned through selfless service to the country. There is no competition or merit-based system that limits potential beneficiaries of the Yellow Ribbon program.

3. What Makes APU’s Military Benefits Unique?

Azusa Pacific University offers a very generous Yellow Ribbon contribution. “Whereas other schools may offer Yellow Ribbon only to a set number of eligible students, APU provides Yellow Ribbon for every student who qualifies,” says Weber.

APU has noted that it is committed to supporting every veteran and minimizing the sense of competition for financial and personal resources. The university’s benefits are not just limited to veterans; APU facilitates tuition assistance for active duty military members and their spouses.

4. How Does APU Support Military Members and Veterans?

In addition to the Military and Veteran Education Benefits office, APU also supports military members and veterans through the Military and Veteran Services (MVS) office, which is spearheaded by former Army officer Everette Brooks III. Whereas MVEB is involved solely in the processing of military benefits, MVS provides a number of services and resources—including the [Veterans Club](/militaryeducation/services/student-community/ and events specifically designed for military-connected students.

Yellow Ribbon schools are committed to helping veterans graduate from college debt-free, regardless of their in-state status or whether the school is public or private. That expands educational opportunities beyond what the GI Bill provides, and it demonstrates a university’s commitment to veterans both inside and outside of the classroom.