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Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program

Find out if you can get help paying for school or job training through the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) program—also called Chapter 35—if you’re the child or spouse of a Veteran who has died or is disabled.

Can I get education benefits?

You can get benefits if you’re the child or spouse of:

  • A Veteran who died or who’s permanently and totally disabled as the result of active service, or
  • A Veteran who was permanently and totally disabled as the result of active service and who died while in this condition, or
  • A Servicemember hospitalized or receiving outpatient treatment for a service-connected permanent and total disability who is likely to be discharged for that disability, or
  • A Servicemember missing in action or captured in the line of duty by a hostile force, or
  • A Servicemember forcibly detained (held) or interned in the line of duty by a foreign entity.

If you’re the child of the Veteran or Servicemember:

  • You can get benefits if you’re between the ages of 18 and 26, except in certain cases. You may be married or unmarried.
  • If you’re over 18 years old and using DEA, you can’t get Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) from us.
    Learn about DIC.
  • If you join the military, you can’t use this benefit while on active duty, and you must not be discharged under dishonorable conditions. Military service can extend your eligibility, but this increase doesn’t usually go past your 31st birthday.

If you’re the spouse of the Veteran or Servicemember:

  • Your benefits start on the date we conclude that you qualify or on the date of the Veteran’s death, and last for 10 years.
  • If we rated the Veteran as permanently and totally disabled, with an effective date that’s 3 years after discharge, you’ll qualify for benefits for 20 years from that effective date. This new policy began on October 10, 2008. We won’t pay benefits for training you started before this date.
  • If the Servicemember died on active duty, your benefits end 20 years from the date of death.
  • You can get DIC payments from us and use DEA benefits.

Who’s covered?

Qualified dependents

What benefits can I get?

We’ll make a monthly payment to the school of up to $1,041 for up to 45 months for:

  • College or graduate degree programs
  • Career-training certificate courses
  • Apprenticeships
  • On-the-job training

View current payment rates.

For both children and spouses, if you qualify for both DEA and the Fry Scholarship, you must pick one or the other. Once you make this choice, you can’t switch to the other program.
Learn about the Fry Scholarship.

Exception: If you’re the child of a Servicemember who died in the line of duty before August 1, 2011, you can use both DEA and the Fry Scholarship and get up to 81 months of education and training.

How do I get these benefits?

First, contact your school’s certifying official to make sure your program is approved for VA benefits. Then, you can:

  • Apply online now, or
  • Apply by mail. You’ll need to fill out a Dependents’ Application for VA Education Benefits (VA Form 22-5490) and mail it to the regional processing office for your state. You’ll find the address on the last page of the form.
    Download VA Form 22-5490.

If you haven’t started school or a training program:

If you’ve already started your program:

  • Take your application to your school or employer.
  • Ask your school to fill out a VA Enrollment Certification (VA Form 22-1999) and send it to us along with your application.

Get more information