Lewis' Yellow Ribbon agreement allows veterans to pursue a fre private education BY TORI FOSTER

Infographic created by David  Olsen.

While the Post-9/11 GI Bill covers tuition for veterans and military personnel looking to attend an in-state public university, a provision of the bill expands opportunities for military students to seek a private or out-of-state education through the Yellow Ribbon GI Educational Enhancement Program.


Those qualified receive maximum Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits for the 2018-19 academic year, however, at public schools they are left to pay the remainder of the tuition out of pocket. The Yellow Ribbon Program grants these universities the ability to enter an agreement with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), allowing the university to pay up to half of the remaining tuition, which would be met through matching contributions from the VA’s Veterans Benefit Administration.


This program is not offered by every four-year university. Individual universities must first enter an agreement with the VA, setting standards for which programs the benefits will apply, as well as how many participants can access these benefits in a given year. Lewis is a proud partner of the program offering an unlimited number of participants the ability to enroll in over 100 approved programs tuition free.


Whether a student is attending college directly from high school or a veteran is beginning a college education, choosing a school is an important life decision. Limiting students to in-state public school options may not provide them with the right degree program for their desired career path.


Sgt. Brian Hawthorne, a VA Yellow Ribbon Program Advocate who sought a private education after his deployment, encourages veterans to seek out institutions that provide the right degree program with full tuition coverage. “Now you have an opportunity for a veteran to return from combat and go to school effectively for free,” said Hawthorne. “You’ve earned it. You’ve already paid for this benefit. You’ve put your life on the line. You wrote a blank check to the nation up to and including your life. Come and receive your benefits.”


Private colleges offer distinct advantages for students including a smaller student community, additional flexible merit aid, a stronger liberal arts education and closer graduate and alumni ties. As a private institution, Lewis offers specific aviation programs not available at other Illinois public schools, providing many of these private college advantages to veterans.

Lewis University awarded more than $310,000 in Yellow Ribbon benefits last year split among 78 veterans. Lewis’ adherence to the Yellow Ribbon Program is one reason the university sits high in military-friendly rankings for four-year universities, receiving four out of four stars in GI Bill gap coverage according to the Military Times Best: Colleges 2018 list for four-year schools.

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