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Education options expanded for area veterans

Thursday, August 27, 2009  
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Posted August 27, 2009 @ 1:45 PM

Area veterans seeking financial assistance for college tuition will benefit from a new U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs program that offers them additional choices where to study for a degree.

The Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program now grants private degree-granting institutions reimbursement for contributions to veterans for tuition and fees. Previously, the post-Sept. 11 G.I. Bill of 2008 only provided full government-paid tuition to those veterans attending public universities.

The new program expands that assistance to private institutions by funding higher education expenses which exceed the public instate undergraduate program rate.

Under Yellow Ribbon, private colleges can commit to 50 percent of those tuition and fees and the VA will match it. As with other programs, veterans must maintain attendance, satisfactory progress and conduct to participate.

According to VA Yellow Ribbon requirements, a veteran must have served at least 36 months since Sept. 10, 2001, or have been honorably discharged from a service-connected disability to be entitled to the maximum benefit rate.

Rodney San Jose, director of admissions at Bradley University in Peoria, confirmed the university would provide $5,000 to qualifying veterans who will then receive a matching $5,000 from the VA. Bradley limits the number of veteran-students in the Yellow Ribbon Program to 100; however, some Illinois private schools accept an unlimited number of applicants in the program.

That total would give veterans $10,000 toward Bradley's annual cost of $31,874 for undergraduate tuition and fees. Most college-bound vets should qualify for additional monies through the G.I. Bill, a federal Stafford Loan and other grant programs.

Another college participating in the Yellow Ribbon program is Rock Island's Augustana College. Augustana was an early participant in the 1944 G.I. Bill, which brought young World War II veterans to the institution, according to President Steven Bahls.

Bahis, in a recent new release, said the Yellow Ribbon Program allows Augustana to continue a meaningful part of its history. "The influence of those young veterans can still be felt in the school that Augustana is today, just as their impact can be traced throughout the development of post-war America," he said.

For President Bahls, this VA program not only pays tribute to current U.S. veterans, but also past veterans like his father.

"I"m proud to say that my father, a World War II veteran, became the first person in his family to earn a college degree, and he was able to do so because of the G.I. Bill," Bahls said. "Clearly, this is an important program for our nation, for Augustana, and for many, many families like mine."

Augustana college counselors have reported speaking with several interested student-veterans who will qualify for aid under this partnership with the V.A.

Other Illinois private education institutions involved with the Yellow Ribbon program include Columbia College, DePaul University, Elmhurst College, Illinois Wesleyan University, Lewis University, Loyola University, Monmouth College and Rockford College.

A complete list of Illinois schools participating in the program can be found within the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs Web site at

Portions of this article were provided by the Moline Dispatch.
This story appeared at on July 17, 2009.

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