Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance Program

If you are the dependent of a Veteran who was permanently and totally disabled on active duty or due to a service-related condition, you may be eligible for 45 months of degree and certificate courses, apprenticeship, and on-the-job training under the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) program.

Are you eligible for benefits?

Yes, if:

You are the son, daughter, or spouse of:

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

If you are the child of the Veteran or Servicemember:

  • You must be between the ages of 18 and 26, except in special circumstances.
  • Marriage does not disqualify you from eligibility under DEA.
  • Should you join the military, you may not use this benefit while on active duty, and you must not be discharged under dishonorable conditions. Military service can extend your eligibility by the same number of days as your time on active duty, but this extension generally does not go beyond your 31st birthday.
  • You may not receive Dependency Indemnity Compensation (DIC) from VA if you are over 18 years old and using DEA.

If you are the spouse of the Veteran or Servicemember:

  • Your benefits begin on the date VA finds you eligible or on the date of the Veteran’s death, and extend for 10 years.
  • If the Veteran was rated permanently and totally disabled, with an effective date that’s three years after discharge, you will remain eligible for 20 years from that effective date. This new policy began on October 10, 2008, and no benefits will be paid for training you started before October 10, 2008.
  • If the Servicemember died on active duty, your benefits end 20 years from the date of death.
  • You remain eligible to receive DIC payments from VA.

Who is covered

Your dependents

Available benefits

A monthly payment of up to $1,021. View current rates.

How it works

If you are a spouse, you may take correspondence courses under this program. Remedial, deficiency, and refresher courses may also be approved under certain circumstances. View current DEA pay rates. For both children and spouses, if you are eligible for both DEA and the Fry Scholarship, you must choose which of these you will use. Your choice is final and cannot be changed.

Exception: If you are the child of a Servicemember who died in the line of duty before August 1, 2011, you qualify to use both benefits subsequently for up to 81 months of education and training.

What happens next?

If you have not begun your educational or training program:

  • Make sure that VA approves your selected educational or vocational program. Explore the GI Bill Comparison Tool for more information and to see if your program is approved.
  • Complete and submit VA Form 22-5490, Dependents’ Application for VA Education Benefits. Be sure to send the form to the VA regional office that oversees the state where you will receive the education. Find out which Regional Processing Office will accept your form.

If you have already started your program:

  • Take your application to your school or employer.
  • Ask them to complete VA Form 22-1999, Enrollment Certification, and send both forms to VA. (Your school must contact their VA representative to receive Form 22-1999.)

Learn more