Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance
Learn about the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) program. If you’re the child or spouse of a Veteran or service member who has died, is captured or missing, or has disabilities, you may be able to get help paying for school or job training through the DEA program—also called Chapter 35. Find out if you’re eligible for this benefit.
Am I eligible for education benefits through the DEA program?
You may be able to get these benefits if both you and the Veteran or service member meet certain eligibility requirements.
One of the descriptions listed below must be true:
- The Veteran or service member is permanently and totally disabled due to a service-connected disability, or
- The Veteran or service member died while on active duty or as a result of a service-connected disability, or
- The Veteran or service member is missing in action or was captured in the line of duty by a hostile force, or
- The Veteran or service member was forcibly detained (held) or interned in the line of duty by a foreign entity, or
- The Veteran or service member is in the hospital or getting outpatient treatment for a service-connected permanent and total disability and is likely to be discharged for that disability (effective December 23, 2006)
If you’re the child of a Veteran or service member
- 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 if you want to use this benefit after you leave the service, you can’t have a dishonorable discharge. Military service can extend your eligibility, but this increase doesn’t usually go past your 31st birthday.
If you’re the spouse of a Veteran or service member
- 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 from active duty, 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 service member 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.
What benefits can I get?
We’ll send you a monthly payment to help you cover the cost of:
- College or graduate degree programs
- Career-training certificate courses
- Educational and career counseling
- On-the-job training
Note: If you began using this program to pay for your school or training before August 1, 2018, you can get benefits for up to 45 months. If you began using the program on or after August 1, 2018, you can get benefits for up to 36 months.
What if I qualify for both DEA and the Fry Scholarship?
You’ll need to 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 service member 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. You’ll need to use one program at a time.
Can I get more help if I have a disability that prevents me from working toward my goals?
We may approve special restorative training, if needed, to help you overcome or lessen the effects of a physical or mental disability so you can work toward your educational or training goal. Or we may approve special vocational training you may need due to a physical or mental disability. These special benefits won’t include medical or psychiatric care.
Can I get more help if I have a disability or am a dependent of a Veteran who has a disability?
You may be eligible for certain other programs and assistance.
We may prescribe special restorative training to help you overcome or reduce the effects of a physical or mental disability so you can work toward your educational or training goal. Or we may approve special vocational training you may need due to a physical or mental disability. These special benefits don’t include medical or psychiatric care.
If you’re the spouse or child of a disabled Veteran, you may be eligible for DEA benefits. All of these must be true:
- The Veteran has received a VA designation of having a service-connected permanent and total disability, and
- The Veteran is a member of the Armed Forces who’s hospitalized or receiving outpatient medical care, services, or treatment, and
- The Veteran is likely to be discharged or released from service for this service-connected disability
Dependent spouses and children may be eligible for DEA benefits effective December 23, 2006.
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 for VA education benefits for dependents online, 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.
Get VA Form 22-5490 to download
If you haven’t started school or a training program:
- Get help from a trained professional trusted to help with VA-related claims.
Get help filing your claim
- Get more information about schools and see if we’ve approved your program.
Use the GI Bill Comparison Tool
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.