Chapter 35: Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance

Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) program offers education and training opportunities to eligible dependents of Veterans who are permanently and totally disabled due to a service-related condition or of Veterans who died while on active duty or as a result of a service-related condition. The program offers up to 45 months of education benefits. View current payment rates.

Eligbility:
You must be the son, daughter, or spouse of:

  • A Veteran who died or is permanently and totally disabled as the result of a service-connected disability. The disability must arise out of active service in the armed forces.
  • A Veteran who died from any cause while such permanent and total service-connected disability was in existence.
  • A Servicemember missing in action or captured in line of duty by a hostile force.
  • A Servicemember forcibly detained or interned in line of duty by a foreign government or power.
  • A Servicemember who is hospitalized or receiving outpatient treatment for a service connected permanent and total disability and is likely to be discharged for that disability. This change is effective Dec. 23, 2006.

Other Factors to Consider
If you are a son or daughter and wish to receive benefits for attending school or job training, you must be between the ages of 18 and 26. In certain instances, it is possible to begin before age 18 and to continue after age 26. Marriage is not a bar to this benefit. If you are in the armed forces, you may not receive this benefit while on active duty. To pursue training after military service, your discharge must not be under dishonorable conditions. VA can extend your period of eligibility by the number of months and days equal to the time spent on active duty. This extension cannot generally go beyond your 31st birthday, there are some exceptions.

Please note that a child over 18 years old using DEA will not be eligible to receive Dependency Indemnity Compensation (DIC) payments from VA. Receiving DEA payments bars a child from receiving DIC payments.

If you are a spouse, benefits end 10 years from the date VA finds you eligible or from the date of death of the Veteran. If VA rated the Veteran permanently and totally disabled with an effective date of three years from discharge, a spouse will remain eligible for 20 years from the effective date of the rating. This change is effective Oct. 10, 2008, and no benefits may be paid for any training taken prior to that date. A spouse using DEA (of the Fry Scholarship) remains eligible to receive DIC payments from VA.

For surviving spouses of Servicemembers who died on active duty, benefits end 20 years from the date of death