Dependents’ Educational Assistance

Under Chapter 35 of Title 38 of the U.S. Code, Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) any spouse, son, or daughter (including stepchild or adopted child), of a permanently and totally service-related disabled Veteran can utilize DEA benefits. The program is also available to you if your related servicemember is/was missing in action, taken prisoner by a hostile force, foreign government or foreign power.

If you are a dependent child of a disabled Veteran, as stated above, you can usually begin your DEA benefits at age 18, until you are 26. There are circumstances that can expand that range. When you are attending school under the Dependents’ Educational Assistance program, you may receive up to the highest public, in-state undergraduate tuition and fees, plus a monthly living stipend and book allowance under this program. If you are a spouse of a disabled Veteran and covered under the Dependents’ Educational Assistance program, your 20 year period of eligibility begins on the date after October 10, 2008 the permanent and total rating decision was effective and only if you remain married to the disabled Veteran. If the determination was before the October 2008 date, you have a 10 year period of eligibility.

So you’re probably wondering how much in DEA benefit aid you will receive, and how long the DEA benefits will last. While the amount is dependent upon where you attend school and the type of program you’re pursuing (degree, certificate, apprenticeship, etc.) the basic monthly rates increase October 1 every year, and is tied to the Consumer Price Index increase. For the most part, you may be entitled to receive up to 45 months of DEA benefits. You can receive a maximum of 48 months of DEA benefits combined if you’re eligible under more than one VA education program. The most important thing to keep in mind is that whatever program you choose, it must be approved by the VA in order to use the Dependents’ Educational Assistance program. You must steer clear of courses of study such as self-improvement courses, bartending classes, avocational or recreational courses, and any courses given by radio.