In an effort to give back to those who defend the freedom of the United States of America, Waynesburg University has participated in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Yellow Ribbon Program on the graduate and undergraduate levels since the program's inception in 2009.
“The Yellow Ribbon Program at Waynesburg University has helped make my dream of graduating from a university possible,” said Thomas Brownfield, a sophomore nursing major in the Air Force Reserves. “There is an annual cap on the amount Veterans Affairs can provide. When my benefits reached that amount, the Yellow Ribbon Program stepped in, enabling me to continue my education.”
Between 2007 and 2010, Brownfield deployed twice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, serving in Afghanistan and Southeast Asia. In 2010, the Uniontown, Pa., native left active duty to continue his career as a reservist at the Pittsburgh 911th airlift wing and to pursue an education.
“Waynesburg University's Christian mission was important in my decision to attend,” said Brownfield, who serves as a youth group leader at Abundant Life Church in Uniontown, Pa. “I feel that the University stands for more than just education, based on its mission. And that's also apparent in its decision to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program.”
The Yellow Ribbon Program allows Waynesburg University and the federal government to split tuition costs that are not covered by the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill for qualified military personnel and veterans like Brownfield.
The G.I. Bill provides individuals meeting the requirements a benefit equal to the most expensive public campus tuition in that state.
“The Program provides financial resources to enable our eligible veterans to fulfill their educational goals,” said Vicki Wilson, registrar at Waynesburg University.
As the University's certifying official for veteran's benefits, Wilson works with veterans to maximize the benefits they receive.
“The veterans at Waynesburg are lucky to have a person who is so proficient at her job,” Brownfield said of Wilson. “Other veterans I've spoken with have had to do a ton of things I have not had to deal with, thanks to her.”
The Yellow Ribbon Program is a provision of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008. This program allows institutions of higher learning (degree granting institutions) in the United States to voluntarily enter into an agreement with the Department of Veterans Affairs to fund tuition expenses that exceed the highest public in-state undergraduate tuition rate. Waynesburg University waives up to 50 percent of those expenses, and the Department of Veterans Affairs matches the same percentage.
Waynesburg University is approved for Veteran Education benefits. Eligible veterans and members of the National Guard may be eligible to use the G.I. benefits. Determination is made by the Veterans Administration.
Individuals are entitled to the maximum benefit rate if they served a period of at least 36 months active duty after September 10, 2001; they were honorably discharged from active duty for a service connected disability and served 30 continuous days after September 10, 2001; or if they are a dependent eligible for Transfer of Entitlement under the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill based on a veteran's service under the eligibility criteria listed above.
Brownfield has advice for other veterans.
“While Veterans Affairs is your number one reference, Waynesburg University is extremely helpful,” he said. “Waynesburg is a challenging school where you will definitely get a concrete education.”
For more information related to undergraduate studies, contact the Office of Admissions at Waynesburg University at 800-225-7393. For information related to the graduate program, contact Graduate and Professional Studies at Waynesburg University at 888-481-6029.