WASHINGTON (July 13, 2009) — More than 1,100 colleges, universities and schools across the country have entered into "Yellow Ribbon" program agreements with the Department of Veterans Affairs to improve financial aid for veterans participating in the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

The new GI Bill will normally fund tuition up to the level of the highest public in-state undergraduate tuition rate. The Yellow Ribbon program funds tuition expenses at private schools that exceed that rate. Institutions can contribute up to 50 percent of those expenses, and VA will match this additional funding for eligible students.

More than 3,400 agreements were received from the 1,100 schools participating in the Yellow Ribbon program.

"This is a strong response to a new benefit," said Keith Wilson, director of VA's Education Service. "We are pleased so many institutions are supporting our veterans."

"The Post-9/11 GI Bill is an important part of fulfilling our promise to the men and women who have served our country so honorably," Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki said. "Implementing this landmark legislation and providing even more veterans with a quality education is a top priority for VA. We are grateful so many schools are joining us as partners in this unprecedented effort."

The Yellow Ribbon program is reserved for veterans eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill at the 100-percent benefit level. This includes those who served at least 36 months on active duty or served at least 30 continuous days and were discharged due to a service-related injury.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill, passed by Congress last year, is the most extensive educational assistance program authorized since the original GI Bill was signed into law in 1944.

The maximum benefit allows every eligible veteran, servicemember, reserve and National Guard member an opportunity to receive an in-state, undergraduate education at a public institution at no cost.

Provisions of the program include payments for tuition and fees, housing, and a books and supplies stipend. Benefits are payable for training pursued on or after August 1, 2009. The tuition and fee benefit is paid directly to the school.

For information on specific schools participating in the Yellow Ribbon program, go to www.gibill.va.gov/GI_Bill_Info/CH33/YRP/YRP_List.htm.