As of 2018, there were more than 18 million veterans in the U.S., according to the latest available data from the U.S. Census. Many of these service members have re-entered civilian life by earning a postsecondary degree.
Educational Attainment Opportunities and Challenges for Service Members
A 2017 population survey by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revealed that veterans had higher than average educational attainment for associate, masters and doctoral degrees. For example, 8.9% of veterans have a master’s degree, compared to 8.3% of nonveterans. Overall, approximately two-thirds of veterans have completed some form of postsecondary education.
At the same time, service members face unique challenges in earning their degrees. Readjusting to civilian life after being on active or reserve duty often takes time, not to mention a significant mental and emotional toll. Although a relatively high share of veterans had graduate degrees like master’s, Ph. D.s and MBAs in the BLS survey, other assessments have found that the graduation rates of veterans are lower than those of other students at many institutions.
In addition to the overarching challenges of adjusting to post-service life, other hurdles, such as needing to fill out extensive paperwork to qualify for benefits under the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 (also known as the Post-9/11 GI Bill), have impeded the educational journeys of many veterans. Speaking to The Atlantic in 2017, a spokesman for the advocacy group Student Veterans of America stated that “more can be done to support the needs of these nontraditional students.”
The George Washington University (GW) is deeply committed to ensuring the success of the service members enrolled in its programs, including the healthcare-focused Master of Business Administration (HCMBA) track. To explain how, we’ll review what programs and educational benefits veterans are eligible for when pursuing graduate education, how GW provides them and what students can expect.
What to Know About the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Yellow Ribbon Program
The Post-9/11 GI Bill, also known as Chapter 33, was signed into law in 2008 and took effect in 2009. It provides a wide range of possible benefits to service members who have served 90 days or more cumulatively since Sept. 11, 2001, and received an honorable discharge. Also, veterans with 30 days or more of continuous service and a discharge related to a service-connected disability are eligible. Active-duty members, as well as spouses and children, can receive some Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, too.
A key component of the Post-9/11 GI Bill’s benefits structure is the Yellow Ribbon Program (YRP). The YRP allows participating institutions to contribute additional funds toward student tuition and fees, beyond what the bill’s basic provisions cover (the Post-9/11 GI Bill has different maximum payment amounts for public and private schools). As of Aug. 1, 2018, the Post-9/11 GI Bill paid up to $23,671.94 per academic year to private institutions such as GW. This amount changes year by year.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs explains that receiving YRP benefits requires a student to be eligible for the maximum benefit rate under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which is available to service members meeting any of the following criteria:
- A minimum of 36 months of aggregate service time (also known as being at 100%).
- A Purple Heart and an honorable discharge, with any duration of service.
- Children of service members who are at 100%.
- Spouses of service members who are at 100%, as of Aug. 1, 2022.
- Discharged after 60 days with a service-connected disability, plus 30 days of continuous service since Sept. 11, 2001.
Moreover, a service member student’s selected school must participate in the YRP, not have already provided benefits to the maximum number of participants stipulated in its participation agreement and certify student enrollment with the Veterans Administration. Active-duty service members are not eligible for the YRP.
Institutions such as GW that participate in the YRP do so voluntarily and may elect to issue waivers beyond the maximum amount of tuition and fee reimbursement allowed under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will match the waiver amount and contribute it directly to the institution for the costs in question.
GW, the Yellow Ribbon Program, and Other Benefits for HCMBA students
GW began participating in the YRP for the 2009-2010 school year, the first full year during which the Post-9/11 GI Bill was in effect. Eligible service members who are approved for the program will receive additional funding for tuition and fees, which currently exceed the maximum base amount allowable by the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
Beyond its participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program, GW supports service members through a dedicated office, the GW Office of Veteran Services, which provides specialized services for career placement. GW has been recognized as a Military Friendly School and also been ranked among the “Best for Vets” schools by Military Times. Service members who enroll in a GW degree program benefit from guaranteed deferments for military deployments and obligations, and from the guidance provided by GW faculty mentors who are also service members.
The HCMBA’s status as a fully online program is another important benefit, as it gives service members excellent flexibility while they work toward their degrees. Instead of needing to travel to campus and show up for classes at preassigned time slots, students can complete lessons and assignments on their own schedules. This allows a 100% online degree such as the HCMBA to fit into a busy schedule that might already accommodate a job and other personal or professional commitments.
If you are a veteran interested in pursuing an advanced degree that prepares you for a high-level career in healthcare administration, learn more by visiting the HCMBA program overview page, where you can answer a few questions and receive a copy of our brochure. Be sure to check out the GW Office of Veteran Services for more information on how we support our service member students.
Yellow Ribbon Program
Education and Training
A Closer Look at Veterans in the Labor Force
Department of Veterans Affairs Fast Facts
Issues Facing Student Veterans
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The Yellow Ribbon Program Explained