Survivors’ and Dependents' Education Assistance Program (DEA)
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 if you began using the program before August 1, 2018. If you began your program on August 1, 2018, or after, you have 36 months to use your 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.
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 they are 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 they 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.
You may be able to receive DEA benefits if both you and the Veteran or service member meet certain eligibility requirements.
One of these descriptions must be true for the Veteran or service member:
- The Veteran or Service member is permanently and totally disabled due to a service-connected disability, or
- The Veteran or Service member died in the line of duty, or
- The Veteran or Service member died 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 for more than 90 days, or
- The Veteran or Service member was forcibly detained (held) or interned in the line of duty by a foreign entity for more than 90 days, or
- The 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
And one of these descriptions must be true for you:
- You are 18 years old or older, or
- You completed high school or secondary education
Note: If you are the Child of a Veteran or Service member, your marital status does not affect your eligibility for DEA benefits.
Period of During Which This Benefit May Be Used:
Children and Spouses who can use DEA benefits at any time
You can use DEA benefits without age or time limits if you are eligible for benefits, and one of these is true for you:
- The event that qualified you for DEA benefits happened to the Veteran or service member on or after August 1, 2023, or
- You turned 18 years old on or after August 1, 2023, or
- You completed high school or secondary education on or after August 1, 2023
Children and Spouses who have age and time limits for using DEA benefits
You have age and time limits for using your DEA benefits if all of these are true:
- The event that made you eligible for DEA benefits happened to the Veteran or service member before August 1, 2023, and
- You turned 18 before August 1, 2023, and
- You completed high school before August 1, 2023
If you are the Child of a Veteran or Service member
Your benefits start at age 18. You may use these benefits for eight years (there may be exceptions).
Note: If you join the military, you cannot use this benefit while on active duty. And if you want to use this benefit after you leave the service, you cannot have a dishonorable discharge. Military service can extend your eligibility, but this extension usually ends when you turn 31 years old.
If you are the Spouse of a Veteran or Service member
Your benefits start on the date we determine that you are eligible or on the date of the Veteran or Service member’s death.
In most cases, your benefits end after 10 years.
If the Service member died on active duty, your benefits end after 20 years.
If we rated the Veteran as permanently and totally disabled, with an effective date that’s three years after discharge from active duty, your benefits end 20 years from that effective date in most cases.
Note: If you join the military, you cannot use this benefit while on active duty. And if you want to use this benefit after you leave the service, you cannot have a dishonorable discharge.
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 are a Spouse or Surviving Spouse
Special Restorative or Specialized Vocational Training: If you are 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.
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, 2023:
Institutional Training :
Full time - $1,488.00 a month
3/4 time - $1,176.00 a month
1/2 time - $862.00 a month
less than 1/2 time and more than 1/4 time - $862.00 a month
1/4 time or less - $372.25
55% of the established charge for the number of lessons completed by the eligible Spouse or surviving Spouse and serviced by the school. Allowance is paid quarterly.
Apprenticeship & On-the-Job Training:
First six months of training - $945.00 a month
Second six months of training - $710.00 a month
Third six months of training - $466.00 a month
Remainder of training - $237.00 a month
Special Restorative Training
Full time - $1,488.00 a month
Accelerated Charges – Cost of tuition and fees in excess of $392 a month
Entitlement Reduced 1 day for each - $46.70 a month (1/30th of full-time rate)
You can apply in 1 of these 2 ways:
Apply by mail
If you have already enrolled in a program
Mail your completed form to the regional processing office for the state your school or training program is in:
VA Regional Office
P.O. Box 4616
Buffalo, NY 14240-4616
VA Regional Office
P.O. Box 8888
Muskogee, OK 74402-888
Tell the certifying official at your school or training program that you applied for VA education benefits. Ask them to submit your enrollment information online.
If you have not enrolled in a program
Mail your completed form to the regional processing office for your state.
For more information, please visit the Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance webpages maintained by VA:
Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance:
View the current rates at:
Army Casualty and Mortuary Affairs Operations Division (CMAOD):
VA benefits for Spouses, Dependents, Survivors, and Family Caregivers Webpage: