The George Washington University has signed the Yellow Ribbon Program agreement with the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) for the 2013-14 academic year. It is the university’s fourth year participating in the program, which is a federally funded provision of the post-9/11 G.I. Bill to assist student veterans. The new agreement includes an increase in the university’s law school and graduate school contributions, a change that will cover full tuition costs for law and most master’s degrees. The program continues to fully fund undergraduate student veterans.
The Yellow Ribbon Program aligns with the GW Veterans Accelerate Learning Opportunities and Rewards (VALOR) initiative recently announced by Vice Admiral (retired) Mel Williams Jr., senior associate dean for military and veterans initiatives. Adm. Williams calls VALOR “a comprehensive, collaborative and unified effort” across the university.
“GW's decision to increase support to the Yellow Ribbon Program is a significant statement of commitment, and the first of many military and veterans initiatives planned as part of GW VALOR,” Adm. Williams said.
Under the Yellow Ribbon Program, the federal government sets a national tuition assistance cap for private colleges and universities. This base increased $1,060 to $19,198.31 per student for the 2013-14 academic year.
GW then puts forth its own contribution, an amount matched by the VA. That amount doubled for graduate students, from $5,550 in 2012-13 to $12,000 in 2013-14. For law students, funding increased from $15,000 in 2012-13 to $15,400 in 2013-14, meaning eligible law student veterans will receive tuition assistance at the 100 percent level. The increases will also cover summer studies for eligible undergraduate, law and graduate students.
Tuition has been fully covered for undergraduate student veterans in the Yellow Ribbon Program since 2009. With federal assistance and GW’s and VA’s matching contributions of $18,000, undergraduate veterans can receive up to $55,198.31. Tuition assistance totals $43,198.31 for graduate students and $49,998.31 for law students.
The university accepts an unlimited number of Yellow Ribbon Program participants to graduate and law programs. Starting in the fall, GW will also accept an unlimited number of eligible veteran undergraduates in the School of Public Health and Health Services, the College of Professional Studies, the School of Medicine and Health Sciences and the School of Nursing.
Nearly 1,000 service members and their dependents used VA benefits at the university this year. The number has increased steadily over the last few years, something that is important to GW’s community because “military and veteran students add so much value to the classroom,” said Andrew Sonn, assistant vice president for student affairs.
“It’s part of the George Washington University’s DNA to help service members—we have some famous military leaders among our alumni. It’s been a highlight of my career to work with military and veteran students and see the growth of Yellow Ribbon Program participants,” Mr. Sonn added.
“As a veteran, I am proud to be aligned with an institution genuinely committed to supporting our military members, veterans and their families,” Adm. Williams said. “GW's commitment to those who sacrifice and defend our nation is strong—whereby GW has been ranked among the top military-friendly universities over the past four years.”