GW Increases Yellow Ribbon Benefits

GWU
June 06, 2016

By Brittney Dunkins

Each year in the days leading up to Memorial Day, George Washington University sets the American flag on Kogan Plaza at half mast and joins institutions nationwide in honoring the memory of fallen military service members.

The gesture is not only in recognition of their sacrifice but also a reminder of the university’s commitment to veterans, according to Stephanie Erwin, GW Office of Military and Veterans Student Services program manager for online education and academic innovation.

“The flag of the United States will remain at half-mast on Monday at noon, when it will be raised to recognize that the memory of the fallen is raised by the living,” Ms. Erwin said during a short, dignified ceremony held on Kogan Plaza the Thursday before Memorial Day.

“We resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up and continue to fight for liberty and justice for all.”

The significance of the annual service, which includes placing a wreath at GW’s Veterans Memorial park, has only grown as enrollment of students who identify as veterans and military service members has increased at the university.

Currently more than 1,800 veterans, military service members and their dependents have enrolled at GW.

 “These students bring real life experiences, diverse backgrounds and maturity to the GW community,” said GW Associate Director of Military and Student Services Victoria Pridemore. “They are leaders and scholars who are often eager to lead through service, advocacy and education.

“By investing in the Yellow Ribbon Program, GW is making a high quality education affordable and accessible for student veterans and their families and increasing the diversity on campus leading to a richer educational experience for all GW students.”

Since the 2009-10 academic year, GW has participated in the Yellow Ribbon Program to supplement the GI Bill funding that veterans, reservists and service members and their dependents receive for educational costs.

The Yellow Ribbon Program was established following the enactment of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008. Under GW’s Yellow Ribbon Program agreement, the university contributes a set amount of funding for remaining tuition and fees not covered by the GI Bill. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs matches that funding dollar for dollar up to full tuition and fees for veterans and their dependents who meet set criteria.

During the 2016-17 academic year, the university will again increase the Yellow Ribbon Program matching funds to defer the cost of tuition and qualifying fees.

GW will provide up to $22,000 for undergraduate students, up to $14,000 for graduate students and up to $17,150 for law school students. The VA will match those funds.

The benefit is available to any student veteran or dependent who applies and qualifies. Qualifying student veterans and their dependents can request benefits through GWeb.

In addition to financial support, the university helps student veterans build community and find academic success through the Office of Military and Veteran Student Services. Since 2013, the number of student-veterans at GW increased by nearly 50 percent between 2013 and 2015.

GW was awarded an inaugural “Vetty” award from nonprofit organization Mission Complete. The university also has been named a “Best for Vets” university by Military Times since 2010 and has been listed among G.I. Jobs’ “Military-Friendly” institutions since 2009.

Seattle native and Marine Corps veteran David McKee applied to GW while stationed in Okinawa, Japan, and was released early so that he could begin his international affairs and Russian language studies during the fall semester.

Now he spends his days studying with friends, attending cultural events at the Russian Embassy and connecting with other GW veterans on campus.

“I got into Georgetown, University of Maryland and GW, but GW was the only school that could offer me a full ride,” Mr. McKee said. “The Yellow Ribbon Program at GW is great because you can go to school during the summer, and there are no breaks in your benefit.

“I hope every veteran considers applying, because you definitely won’t find a better Yellow Ribbon Program at a private school.”