Survivors & Dependents Education

What is the VA Survivors and Dependents Educational Assistance?

VA survivors and dependents educational assistanceVA Survivors and Dependents Educational Assistance (Chapter 35) is an education benefit for eligible spouses and children of certain veterans. Eligible persons can receive up to 45 months of full-time or equivalent benefits for:

  • College, Business, Technical or Vocational Courses
  • High School Diploma or GED
  • Independent Study or Distance Learning courses
  • Correspondence Courses (Spouses Only)
  • Apprenticeship/On-the-Job Training
  • Remedial, Deficiency, and Refresher Training (in some cases)
  • The cost of tests for licenses or certifications needed to get, keep, or advance in a job

An eligible child over age 14 with a physical or mental disability that impairs pursuit of an educational program may receive special restorative training to lessen or overcome that impairment. This training may include speech and voice correction, language retraining, lip reading, auditory training, Braille reading and writing, and similar programs.

Certain disabled or surviving spouses are eligible for special restorative training. Specialized vocational training also is available to an eligible spouse or child over age 14 who is handicapped by a physical or mental disability that prevents pursuit of an educational program.

Note: Each individual State approves schools and courses. To find out if your school or program is approved for VA Survivors and Dependents Educational Assistance, contact your school’s VA Certifying Official, or call VA at the toll-free number below.

Who Is Eligible for VA Survivors and Dependents Educational Assistance?

To be an eligible for VA Survivors and Dependents Educational Assistance 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 service-connected disability was in existence
  • a service member missing in action or captured in the line of duty by a hostile force
  • a service member forcibly detained or interned in the line of duty by a foreign government or power
  • a service member hospitalized or receiving outpatient care for a VA determined service-connected permanent and total disability may be eligible for DEA benefits. (Effective December 23, 2006)

How Long Is the Period During Which This Benefit May Be Used?

Spouses and surviving spouses have 10 years from the date VA establishes eligibility to use the benefit. Surviving spouses of veterans who died while on active duty have 20 years from the date of the veteran’s death to use the benefit (benefits can’t be paid before December 10, 2004 for anyone whose 10 year period ended prior to that date). The termination of a surviving spouse's remarriage -- by death, divorce, or ceasing to live with another person as that person's spouse -- will reinstate Dependents' Educational Assistance benefits to the surviving spouse.

Children may use the VA Survivors and Dependents Educational Assistance benefit while they are between the ages of 18 and 26.

Note: These time limits can be extended under certain circumstances.

How Much Does VA Pay?

The amount the VA pays for VA Survivors and Dependents Educational Assistance 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.

How Can You Apply for VA Survivors and Dependents Educational Assistance?

We strongly recommend that you enlist the services of a Veteran Service Officer before you submit your application. They will review your application, helping ensure it has all the information the VA requires. If you do not have a VSO yet, the NVF will help you find one. Simply call us at 888-777-4443.

After finding a program approved for VA training, complete VA Form 22-5490, Application for Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance, and submit it to the VA regional office that serves the state where you will train. You can also apply online through the VA's web site.

What Are Some Related Benefits?

  • Special Benefits for Children with Disabilities
  • Educational Counseling Services
  • Work-Study Employment
  • Tutorial Assistance

For More Information, Call the NVF Toll-Free at 888-777-4443.

The VA's GI BILL Hotline is 888-GIBILL-1, and their web page is https://www.gibill.va.gov.