Survivors & Dependents Educational Assistance (DEA)

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The Survivor's and Dependents' Educational Assistance (DEA) program provides education and training opportunities to eligible dependents of certain veterans. 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. If you are a spouse, you may take a correspondence course.

Eligibility For Dependents Education Assistance

To be eligible, 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 they had a VA recognized service-connected disability.
  • A service member missing in action or captured in line of duty.
  • A service member whom VA determines has a service-connected permanent and total disability and at the time of 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.

DEA Rules for Children

Children must be between the ages of 18 - 26 to get this benefit. In certain cases, it is possible to begin before age 18 and to continue after age 26. Getting married doesn't end your eligibility.

You can't get this benefit while on active duty. 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 go past your 31st birthday.

Remedial, deficiency, and refresher courses may be approved under certain circumstances.

DEA Rules for Spouses

If you are a spouse, benefits end 10 years from the date VA finds you eligible or from the date of death of the veteran. However, if you are a surviving spouse of a service member who died on active duty, your benefits end 20 years from the date of death. If you divorce the veteran your benefits end on the date of divorce. If you remarry before age 57 your eligibility ends on the date of remarriage.

DEA Rates

2017-2018 DEA Payment Rates - these rates are effective October 1, 2017.
Type of Training

Full Time

3/4 Time

1/2 Time

<1/2 but >1/4 Time

1/4 Time

Institutional

$1,041

$780

$519

$519

$260.25

Farm Cooperative Training $837 $630 $417 N/A N/A
Apprenticeship/On-The-Job Training Rates
First six month period $760/month
Second six month period $571/month
Third six month period $375/month
Remainder of program $191/month

Special Restorative Training is paid at the rate of $1,041/month.

Apply online using the VA's VETS.GOV website.

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