Survivors’ & Dependent Education Assistance Program (DEA)
Regular Army: Retired
Benefit Fact Sheet
Survivors' and Dependents' Education Assistance (DEA) Program is established by Chapter 35 of Title 38 U.S. Code. The 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 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. These benefits may be used for degree and certificate programs, apprenticeship, and on-the-job training as well as correspondence courses for Spouses. Remedial, deficiency, and refresher courses may be approved under certain circumstances.
Effective Oct 1, 2013, some DEA beneficiaries may be eligible for up to 81 months of GI Bill benefits if they use the Survivors and Dependents Educational Assistance program in conjunction with an entitlement from other VA education programs.
Note: If you are eligible for both Fry Scholarship and DEA, you will be required to make an irrevocable election between the two programs when you apply. Dependents are not eligible to receive both DEA and Fry Scholarship based on the same event (like a Service member dying in the line of duty) unless he or she is a Child whose parent died prior to August 1, 2011.
A Child whose parent died before August 1, 2011, may be eligible for both benefits but he/she may only use one program at a time and combined benefits are capped at a total of 81 months of full-time training. In this situation, the two benefit programs cannot be used concurrently.
DEA benefits are available to the son, daughter (including step-Child or adopted Child), 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 Army.
- A Veteran who died from any cause while such service-connected disability was in existence.
- A Service member missing in action or captured in line of duty by a hostile force.
- A Service member forcibly detained or interned in line of duty by a foreign government or power.
- A Service member 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 December 23, 2006.
Period of During Which This Benefit May Be Used:
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 or surviving 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 Service members who died on active duty, benefits end 20 years from the date of death.
Eligible persons can receive up to 45 months of full-time or equivalent benefits for:
- Degree programs, undergraduate and graduate, at colleges or universities, including cooperative training programs and accredited independent study programs that may be offered through distance education.
- Cooperative training is a full-time program of alternating school instruction and training in a business or industrial establishment.
- Certificate programs, at colleges, universities, and other degree-granting institutions, including accredited independent study courses that can be offered through distance education.
- Certificate programs at business, technical, or vocational schools.
- Apprenticeships or on-the-job training (OJT) programs offered by companies or unions. Apprenticeships or OJT programs can offer an alternative to college or vocational school to help you gain experience in the field you choose.
- Correspondence courses, if you're a Spouse or surviving Spouse.
- Farm cooperative courses.
- Programs overseas that lead to college degrees.
- Preparatory courses for college or graduate school entrance examinations.
- High school programs, after age 18, if you aren't a high school grad
Special Restorative or Specialized Vocational Training: If you're handicapped by a physical or mental disability, you can be eligible to receive Special Restorative Training or Specialized Vocational Training. The disability must prevent you from pursuing an educational program.
Special Restorative Training can involve speech and voice correction, language retraining, lip reading, auditory training, Braille reading and writing, or other training of this nature.
Specialized Vocational Training includes specialized courses leading to a vocational objective. The objective must be suitable for you, and required because of a physical or mental handicap. As a son or daughter, you must be at least 14 to receive benefits for Specialized Vocational Training.
Additional Benefits: DEA also offers the following additional benefits:
- You can receive benefits for the cost of a test to obtain a license or certification needed to get, keep, or advance in a job.
- You can receive benefits for national tests required for admission to various college and university programs. These tests include, but aren't limited to, the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), Law School Admission Test (LSAT), Graduate Record Exam (GRE), and Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT).
- You can receive benefits for approved national tests that provide an opportunity for course credit at colleges and universities.
- You can receive benefits for remedial or deficiency courses if you need them to assist you in overcoming a weakness in a particular area of study.
- You can receive a special allowance for individual tutoring if you train in school at one-half time or more.
- While using your DEA benefits, you can be eligible for an additional allowance under a work-study program, if you're training at the three-quarter or full- time rate.
Note: schools and programs must be approved by a State Approving Authority (SAA) for VA training.
How Much Does VA Pay?
The amount VA pays is based on the type of training program and training time (i.e. full-time, half-time, etc.). Benefits are paid monthly and in arrears. If attendance is less than a month or less than full-time, payments are reduced proportionately.
The following basic monthly rates are effective October 1, 2016:
- Full time - $1,024.00 a month
- 3/4 time - $767.00 a month
- 1/2 time - $510.00 a month
- less than 1/2 time and more than 1/4 time - $510.00 a month
- 1/4 time or less - $256.00
Entitlement charged at the rate of one month for each $1,024.00 paid.
Apprenticeship & On-the-Job Training:
- First six months of training - $747.00 a month
- Second six months of training - $561.00 a month
- Third six months of training - $369.00 a month
- Remainder of training - $188.00 a month
Farm Cooperative Training
- Full time - $823.00 a month
- 3/4 time - $619.00 a month
- 1/2 time - $410.00 a month
Special Restorative Training
- Full time - $1,024.00 a month
- Accelerated Charges - Cost of tuition and fees in excess of $317.00 a month
- Entitlement Reduced 1 day for each - $34.13 a month (1/30th of full time rate)
To apply, take these steps depending on your situation:
- Make sure that your selected program is approved for VA training. Take a look at the VA GI Bill Comparison Tool for more information. VA can inform you and the school or company about the requirements.
- To apply, obtain and complete VA Form 22-5490, Dependents Application for VA Education Benefits. Send it to the VA regional office with jurisdiction over the state where you will advance your education and training. If you are a son or daughter, under legal age, a parent or guardian must sign the application. If you are eligible for both DEA and Fry, you will be required to make an irrevocable election unless you are a Child of a Service member who died in the line-of-duty prior to August 1, 2011.
- If you have started your educational 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. (Note: Schools must contact their VA representative to receive this form.)
For more information, please visit the Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance webpages maintained by VA:
Department of Veterans Affairs Dependents' Educational Assistance Program Informational Pamphlet:
View the current rates at:
Department of Veterans Affairs Survivor and Eligible Dependents Webpage:
Document Review Date: 31 October 2016