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AU among 500-plus colleges nationwide enrolled in new veterans’ program
6/24/09

ALFRED, NY — Alfred University is among more than 500 institutions of higher learning nationwide committed to participating in a federal program that will allow military veterans to attend college at significantly reduced expense.

The Yellow Ribbon Program, a provision in the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008, will allow veterans with at least 36 months of service after Sept. 11, 2001, to attend in-state public institutions tuition free, or apply the money toward the cost of attending a private institution. Colleges and universities in the United States can voluntarily enter into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to fund tuition expenses that exceed the highest public in-state undergraduate tuition rate. Volunteer institutions can contribute up to half of those expenses and the VA will provide a matching amount.

According to Earl Pierce, director of financial aid at Alfred University, veterans will be able to attend AU at very little cost. For example, a student living on campus will have his or her tuition fees and room and board fully covered, between the GI bill benefits and Alfred University funding.

“Any veteran enrolling in any academic program at AU will not incur any tuition expenses or academic fees,” Pierce commented.

The new GI Bill will provide veterans with a Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) of $1,018 per month. While that amount wouldn’t cover the cost of on-campus room and board at AU, Pierce said the University will provide a grant for the difference. The BAH is sufficient to meet housing expenses for off-campus students.

The VA also provides $1,000 per year to help cover the cost of books and supplies. It’s likely that a veteran who uses the Yellow Ribbon Program would have to pay out-of-pocket only for incidental and miscellaneous expenses.

The Yellow Ribbon Program is for veterans seeking undergraduate and/or graduate degrees. Institutions enrolled in the program have to commit annually to participate and Pierce said AU plans to re-commit in February.

Monday, June 15, was the deadline for colleges and universities across the country to volunteer to take part in the Yellow Ribbon Program, with the final list of institutions to be announced after June 24. As of June 12, there were 573 colleges and universities nationwide, and approximately 70 in New York State, enrolled in the program. The majority of those institutions (just over 400) were private schools.

Pierce said any qualifying veteran interested in attending Alfred University through the Yellow Ribbon Program will apply for admission, just as any prospective student would. “The University would consider heavily their post-high school experience, for example, their military training and experience, when considering them for admission,” he said.

Pierce said several veterans from the Alfred area have inquired about possibly attending under the new GI Bill. There are no residency requirements for applying to AU under the Yellow Ribbon Program, meaning a veteran from any state could apply to attend. Many of the participating schools are allowing veterans to attend on a first-come first-served basis; AU will accept an unlimited number of qualifying veterans.

“Alfred University is proud to have this opportunity to partner with the VA to acknowledge the service and sacrifices made by our veterans,” Pierce said.