Amherst participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program. Why doesn’t Williams? More background here.

The deadline for colleges to sign up as Yellow Ribbon institutions has been extended from May 15 to June 15 – and it’s a good thing, too, as many colleges are still grappling with the program’s many complexities. Numerous private colleges — large and small, internationally-known and regional, near and far from military bases — are signing up, even as others hold back.

Under the new, Post-9/11 GI Bill, and the Yellow Ribbon Program specifically, colleges can enter into dollar-for-dollar matching agreements with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to cover any outstanding tuition and fees above those covered by the base GI Bill benefit, which varies widely across the nation because it is pegged to the highest resident, undergraduate public university charges in each state. Private colleges can enter into Yellow Ribbon agreements to cover all or part of the difference between the base benefit and their charges for up to a specified number of students, but so too can public colleges enter into Yellow Ribbon agreements, to cover the balance for non-resident veterans or those enrolled in more costly graduate programs, like law or business.

Amherst also deserves kudos for its special scholarship program for veterans.

Amherst College has created a permanently endowed scholarship fund for veterans of the U.S. armed forces who are accepted by and enroll at the liberal arts school. The Veterans Scholarship Fund, as it is called, will provide enough financial aid to cover the full demonstrated need of qualified former American servicemen and servicewomen, starting in the fall of 2009.

“Amherst has a deep respect for those who choose to serve this country through the military, and we hope that this scholarship fund will open a few doors for them,” said the college’s president, Anthony W. Marx. “In addition to elevating the level of discourse among Amherst students, faculty and staff in the classroom and across campus, I am confident the real-world insights and presence of student-veterans will resonate throughout our entire community.”

“It is extremely important to show gratitude to those who have made a sacrifice to serve our country, and helping make an Amherst education accessible to such men and women will do just that,” added Trustee Richard LeFrak ’67, whose gift from the Richard and Karen LeFrak Charitable Foundation helped create the fund. “Veterans offer a completely new perspective that many of the college’s undergraduates will benefit from hearing. They will also add a whole new dimension to the diversity of the student body.”

Surely there is at least one trustee at Williams who feels the same as LeFrak . . .

In times of economic troubles, I would not expect the College to start a new scholarship, at least in the absence of a specific donation. But why not participate in the Yellow Ribbon program?

By the way, how many veterans are in the class of 2013? Probably no more than a handful, and all of those international students. When was the last time that Williams admitted a US veteran? I have never heard of one.

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