Yellow Ribbon Program will aid UW–Madison’s military veterans

Sept. 8, 2011

by Liz Beyler

U.S. military veterans are a preferred population for admission to the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and this fall the university is participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program, formally titled the Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program.

The program is a subcomponent of the Post-9/11 GI Bill administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Colleges and universities sign up with the Veterans Administration to participate in it.

The bill provides education benefits for veterans who have served on active duty for 90 or more days since Sept. 10, 2001. It pays public in-state tuition and fees.

Assistant Dean of Students John Bechtol says the university has allocated 57 slots for student veterans, 43 of them for undergraduates and 14 for graduate students.

“Recent changes in the Post-9/11 Bill limit tuition coverage to resident rates. Under the Yellow Ribbon Program, the difference between the resident and nonresident rate is split between the VA and the university," says Bechtol.

“For example, the Post-9/11 covers an in-state tuition rate of $4,800. A student is a nonresident, so the actual tuition bill is $12,000. The difference of $7,200 is split between the school and the VA. The VA agrees to pay an additional $3,100 if the school covers the other $3,100.”

The university has set aside $360,000 for the program next year to assist current nonresident veterans affected by the changes in the bill.

UW–Madison is one of only two UW System schools participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program. It has been included on a list of military-friendly schools that was compiled by GI Jobs magazine.

“There is a solid triad of support for student veterans on campus, consisting of the dean of students’ office, the registrar’s office and the Vets for Vets student organization. Additionally, all major support agencies on campus have a veteran specialist identified,” the magazine noted.

UW–Madison is also one of the few universities in the country to host all three Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) branches — Army, Navy and Air Force. The university’s student body includes more than 600 students with military experience.

In 1972, the student organization Vets for Vets was founded on the Madison campus with the goals of counseling veterans about their service-related benefits and serving as the nucleus of the student veteran community. In 2008, Vets for Vets became a chapter of Student Veterans of America, and it recently hosted the organization’s national leadership conference. It will mark its 40th anniversary in 2012.