University grows Yellow Ribbon Program

GW will expand its commitment to the Yellow Ribbon Program, providing a 35 percent increase in tuition benefits for graduate student veterans through the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the University announced last month.

The University will now pay $5,120 per veteran graduate student per year, a 35 percent increase in support, bringing the total cost of the Yellow Ribbon Program for the University to $2.8 million.

Under the Yellow Ribbon Program, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs matches the University’s tuition contribution, bringing the total tuition award for each graduate student up to $10,240.

“This is a great step for GW’s student veterans,” Andrew Sonn, director of customer service for Student and Academic Support Services, said. “It reaffirms GW’s continued strong support of the Yellow Ribbon Program and veterans’ access to world class educational opportunities we provide at GW.”

Of the 161 GW students currently participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program, 102 are graduate students.

“I am very proud of GW for stepping up to the plate to assist returning eligible veterans’ transition back into civilian life and resume their education toward what will hopefully be fulfilling careers and successful lives,” Senior Vice President for Student and Academic Support Services Robert Chernak said in an e-mail.

Sonn said the increase in monetary support for veterans in the program may bolster the number of graduate student veterans, who currently make up approximately 300 of the 400 veterans on campus. Veterans eligible for the program must have been honorably discharged from the military after having served at least 36 months of active duty after Sept. 10, 2001.

“It is difficult to predict at this point, but I expect that this increased Yellow Ribbon Program investment on the part of GW should attract graduate student veterans in the long term,” Sonn said. “We are pleased if this is the case because individuals with military experience add much value to classrooms on both the undergraduate and graduate levels.”

But Chernak said the increase is less about enrollment numbers and more about giving back to the veteran community.

“The motivation to increase yellow ribbon benefits for students is not necessarily directed to induce enrollment increases, although that may be a by-product of the initiative,” Chernak said. “But, rather, to ease the financial burden of American heroes who have served their country and who are motivated to retool themselves and prepare for the next stages of their life.”

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