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Dependents' Educational Assistance (DEA) assures your military family funding to pursue a college education or training program, in the event that you are harmed or killed during military service. As a child or spouse of an injured veteran, you may be eligible for DEA.
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Survivors and Dependents Assistance


When a military spouse or parent is injured during service in the Armed Forces, military family life suffers in many areas. Rest assured that your military family's college education plans can remain intact, thanks to the Dependents' Educational Assistance program. In the unfortunate event of harm or injury to the military service member, the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) Dependents' Educational Assistance (DEA) offers education benefits that support military dependents and veterans' spouses in earning a college degree or completing a training programs.

DEA offers up to 45 months of educational benefits towards a variety of post-secondary educational programs including tuition at a college or university; business, technical or vocational courses; independent study or apprenticeships; costs for tests for licenses or certificates required to practice a trade; distance learning and online schools. Remedial, deficiency, and refresher courses may be approved under certain circumstances.


The amount of tuition and education benefits you receive from Dependents' Educational Assistance depends on the length and type of training or college degree program you choose. DEA pays benefits monthly with a maximum for full-time education of $925/ month.


  1. Find a VA approved degree program. If you are not sure that your program is VA approved, ask the VA and your school or program about meeting the requirements.
  2. Complete VA Form 22-5490, the Application Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance. Send VA Form 22-5490 to the VA regional office with jurisdiction over the state where you will attend school. If you are a military son or daughter under legal age, a parent or guardian must sign the application.
  3. Send your completed VA Form 22-5490 to the regional Veterans' Affairs office in the state where you'll be enrolled in your education . If you have already started your program, take your application to your school or employer and ask them to complete VA Form 22-1999, Enrollment Certification; then send both forms to VA.


To be eligible for DEA benefits, you must be the son, daughter, or spouse of:

  • A veteran who died or is permanently and totally disabled as the result of a service-connected disability.
  • A veteran who died from any cause while a 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.
  • Eligible military children must use the DEA benefit between age 18 and 26. In certain instances, it is possible to begin before age 18 and to continue after age 26.
  • Under certain circumstances, it is also possible to extend the 18-26 age limit by the number of months and days equal to the time spent on active duty. This extension cannot generally go beyond your 31st birthday, but there are some exceptions.
  • Spouses have 10 years to use their DEA benefits, starting on the date the VA establishes eligibility.
  • For surviving spouses (spouses of service members who died on active duty) DEA benefits end 20 years from the date of death.
  • If the VA rated the veteran permanently and totally disabled with an effective date of 3 years from discharge a spouse will remain eligible for 20 years from the effective date of the rating.
  • You are not eligible for the DEA benefit while you're on active duty. Leverage the other educational programs available to you, such as Active Duty Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB).
  • Remember that as military, you're entitled to military aid as well as federal aid and state aid in the form of school grants and college loans. Grants and scholarships are gift aid that don't need to be repaid. Private loans usually have higher interest rates and repayment terms.


Section 301 of Public Law 109-461 adds a new DEA-eligible category for DEA benefits: the spouse or child of a person who VA determines has a service-connected permanent and total disability, and at the time of VA's determination is a member of the Armed Forces who is hospitalized or receiving outpatient medical care, services, or treatment, and is likely to be discharged or released from service for this service-connected disability.


The Department of Veterans Affairs may prescribe special restorative training where needed to overcome or lessen the effects of a physical or mental disability for the purpose of enabling an eligible person to pursue a program of education, special vocational program or other appropriate goal. Medical care and treatment or psychiatric treatments are not included.


This type of program may be approved for an eligible person who is not in need of Special Restorative Training, but who requires such a program because of a mental or physical handicap.

MilitaryRates.com is not a government website and is not affiliated with any branch of the U.S. Military.

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