Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance (DEA)

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The Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance (DEA) program provides education and training opportunities to eligible dependents of certain veterans. The program offers up to 36 months of education benefits.

If you first enrolled in classes before Aug. 1, 2018, you are entitled to a maximum of 45 months of benefits.

These benefits may be used for degree and certificate programs, apprenticeships, and on-the-job training. If you are a spouse, you may take a correspondence course.

Dependents using the DEA benefit are entitled to resident tuition at public schools in the U.S.

Eligibility for Dependents' Educational 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 having a VA-recognized service-connected disability
  • A service member missing in action or captured in the line of duty
  • A service member who VA determines has a service-connected permanent and total disability and at the time of determination is a military member 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 age 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

These rates are effective Oct. 1, 2023.

DEA School Payment Rates 

Full Time

3/4 Time

1/2 Time

<1/2 but >1/4 Time

1/4 Time






If you are enrolled in an apprenticeship or on-the-job training, your payments will be based on how long you have been in the program. 

Apprenticeship/On-the-Job Training Rates

First six month period $945/month
Second six month period $710/month
Third six month period $466/month
Remainder of program $237/month

Special restorative training is paid at the rate of $1,488/month.

Apply online using the VA website.

Keep Up With Your Education Benefits 

Whether you need a guide on how to use your GI Bill, want to take advantage of tuition assistance and scholarships, or get the lowdown on education benefits available for your family, can help. Subscribe to to have education tips and benefits updates delivered directly to your inbox.

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