Yellow Ribbon program helps Wayland help U.S. veterans

August 13, 2010

PLAINVIEW – A new program of the Veterans Administration is partnering with U.S. schools like Wayland Baptist University to provide tuition breaks at private colleges for American veterans through the post-9/11 G.I. Bill.

Called the Yellow Ribbon program, the initiative has garnered several universities including Wayland to help qualifying veterans who wish to continue their education in a private institution. Every school’s arrangement is different, but all have agreed to subsidize the cost of education beyond what the highest public in-state undergraduate tuition rate is for the student’s state of residence. Eligibility for veterans is related to their time of military service and length related to Sept. 11, 2001.

According to Dr. Elane Seebo, vice president for external campuses and graduate studies at WBU, the Yellow Ribbon program can provide a great benefit for students who choose schools who go above the high state rate. In Texas, for instance, that number is so high that Wayland students attending any of the Texas campuses – which include Amarillo, Lubbock, San Antonio and Wichita Falls – do not really benefit since Wayland’s tuition rate is much lower than the state’s.

However, in some of Wayland’s other locations like Alaska and Oklahoma, which boast lower in-state undergraduate tuition rates, students are taking advantage of the program to save some on tuition at Wayland if they qualify under the VA requirements. Students must be under the Chapter 33 program, which involves their benefits and transferability of those to dependents.

“WBU will pay half the difference between the state’s highest undergraduate tuition and fees and WBU’s tuition for up to 500 undergraduate students (under chapter 33) and we will pay up to $1000 per chapter 33 graduate student per year up to 100 students,” she said. “If students qualify for this they really can save some money since the VA is matching our dollars toward the student’s education.”

The Yellow Ribbon partnership is just one of several ways Wayland works with students who are currently serving in the U.S. armed forces or who are veterans of one of the service branches. With campuses on several military installations across the southwest – including Phoenix and Sierra Vista, Ariz.; Honolulu, Hawaii; Clovis and Albuquerque, N.M.; Altus, Okla.; Fairbanks and Anchorage, Alaska; and San Antonio and Wichita Falls, Texas – Wayland has long been committed to providing accessible, affordable higher education within a Christian environment in a format that works with the schedule and demands facing service personnel. That includes evening and weekend courses, online classes and degrees and sensitivity to the frequent duty requirements and deployments that can interrupt a military student’s education endeavor.

Wayland has been offering special programs and local classes in partnership with the U.S. military since 1974 when the first campus outside Plainview was established in Wichita Falls on Sheppard Air Force Base. Currently, more than half of the Wayland enrollment is active duty military or veterans or their dependents.