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VA Education Benefits for Spouses and Kids

College Planning Military Pay and Benefits Veterans Benefits

We’re all pretty aware of the Post 9/11 GI Bill and how it can be used for spouses and children of Military Members and Veterans. But there are other benefits that are available to the spouses and children of certain Military Members and Veterans. Let’s take a look.

Survivor’s and Dependent’s Education Assistance (DEA) Program

DEA, also called Chapter 35 benefits, applies to survivors or dependents of disabled veterans or military members. Specifically, to qualify for DEA there are requirements for both the Veteran or Military Member and the spouse or dependent.

For the Veteran or Military Member, one of the following must be true

  • Permanent and Total (P&T) Disability due to service-connected disability
  • Died on active duty or due to a service-connected disability
  • Missing in action or POW
  • Was a prisoner of a foreign entity
  • Is hospitalized for a service-connected P&T disability and is likely to be discharged due to the disability

For a child the following apply

  • Between the ages of 18 and 26, except in certain cases
  • Can be married or unmarried
  • If over 18 and receiving Dependency an Indemnity Compensation (DIC), must forfeit DIC to receive DEA
  • Can’t receive if on active duty

For a spouse the rules are

  • Benefit period starts when VA concludes you qualify or on when the Veteran passes away
  • Benefit period is 10 years
  • If rated P&T with an effective date that is 3 years after discharge, benefit period is 20 years from that date
  • If Military Member dies on active duty, benefit period is 20 years from date of death
  • Can receive DEA and DIC

DEA will pay for education ranging from Graduate Programs to On-the-Job Training. DEA pays essentially the same as the GI Bill. The benefit period is 36 months if school was started after 1 Aug 18. For those who started school before 1 Aug 18 the benefit period is 45 months. With one exception listed below you can’t use both DEA and the Fry Scholarship

The Fry Scholarship

The Fry Scholarship, like DEA, pays for education benefits. But the Fry Scholarship is only available to children or surviving spouses of Military Members who died in the line of duty on or after September 11, 2001. There are requirements for either children or spouses of deceased Military Members.

For Children the following rules apply

  • Depending on when the child graduated from high school or turned 18 the Fry scholarship is available from age 18 through 33 (graduated before 1 Jan 13) or with no upper limit (graduated on or after 1 Jan 13)
  • Can be married or single
  • Under certain circumstances may qualify for both Fry Scholarship and DEA, but can only use one at a time
  • Must forfeit DIC if the child accepts a Fry Scholarship

Surviving spouses have a different set of rules.

  • Cannot remarry and receive the Fry Scholarship
  • Not required to forfeit the DIC

Unlike DEA, the Fry Scholarship is limited to post-secondary education. You’ll receive amounts very similar to GI Bill. Under certain conditions (death occurred prior to 1 Aug 2011), both the Fry Scholarship ad DEA can be combined for a total of 81 months of full-time training. Only one program can be used at a time.

Military Members and Veterans Are Not the Same as Civilians

Financial and education planning for Military Members and Veterans isn’t the same as for civilians. If you work with an advisor that doesn’t understand the options available to you, you could end up with a generic plan that doesn’t account for your unique benefits.


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