Survivorsí and Dependentsí Educational Assistance Program® (DEA) (Chapter 35)
Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance Program (DEA)
The Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance (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 of Veterans who died while on active duty or as a result of a service-related condition.
Type of Assistance
Benefits may be used for degree and certificate programs, apprenticeship, and on-the-job training. If you are a spouse, you may take a correspondence course. Remedial, deficiency, and refresher courses may be approved under certain circumstances.
Available Benefits and Eligibility
You may receive up to 45 months of education benefits. 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.
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 Servicemember 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.
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. The disability must arise out of active service in the armed forces.
- A Veteran who died from any cause while such permanent and total service-connected disability was in existence.
- A Servicemember missing in action or captured in line of duty by a hostile force.
- A Servicemember forcibly detained or interned in line of duty by a foreign government or power.
- A Servicemember 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 Dec. 23, 2006.
Other Factors to Consider
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.
How do I Apply?
You can apply by completing VA Form 22-5490, Application for Survivors' and Dependents'
Educational Assistance, online at
How Do I Get More Information?
Call 888-GI-BILL-1 (1-888-442-4551).