Survivors and Dependents Educational Assistance

Agency - Department of Veterans Affairs

The Department of Veterans Affairs strives for excellence in patient care and veteran's benefits for its constituents through high quality, prompt and seamless service to United States veterans.

Office - See Appendix IV of the Catalog for Veterans Benefits Administration field offices.

Program Accomplishments

In fiscal year 2007, there were 77,436 students trained. Estimates for subsequent periods are: fiscal year 2008, 80,409 students, and fiscal year 2009, 82,728 students.

Uses and Use Restrictions

Participants may pursue: (1) courses at colleges and universities leading to associate, bachelor or graduate degrees (including courses taken via accredited independent study, provided those courses lead to a standard college degree or a certificate that reflects educational attainment offered by an institution of higher learning); (2) courses leading to a certificate or diploma from colleges or universities or from business, technical or vocational schools; (3) apprenticeship or on-the-job training programs; (4) correspondence courses, but only for spouses and surviving spouses; (5) state-approved teacher certification programs; (6) preparatory courses for tests necessary for admission to a college or graduate school; (7) reimbursement for licensing and certification tests approved for veterans; (8) reimbursement for national exams for admission to college or for college credit; (9) courses leading to a high school diploma or equivalent.

A special restorative training benefit is available for both children and spouses who need to overcome or lessen the effects of a physical or mental disability so that they will be able to pursue a program of education.

A specialized vocational training program is available for those who are not in need of special restorative training but require specialized vocational training because of a mental or physical handicap.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

Spouses, surviving spouses, and children (including stepchild or adopted child) between age 18 and 26 of veterans who died from service-connected disabilities, of living veterans whose service-connected disabilities are considered permanently and totally disabling, of those who died from any cause while such service-connected disabilities were in existence, of servicepersons who have been listed for a total of more than 90 days as currently missing in action, or as currently prisoners of war, a service member who VA determines has a service connected permanent and total disability and at the time of VA's 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.

Children under the age of 18 may be eligible under special circumstances.

Beneficiary Eligibility

See Applicant Eligibility.


Military discharge certificate, death certificate or official document verifying POW status or MIA status, marriage certificate, and birth certificate(s).

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination


This program is excluded from coverage E.O.


Application Procedures

An application, VA Form 22-5490 for a child, spouse or surviving spouse may be obtained from any VA Regional Office and submitted to the appropriate VA Regional Processing Office.

Award Procedures

Awards are authorized at the regional processing office.


None, but the period of eligibility for a spouse generally extends no later than the 10 years from the date the veteran was notified of the service-connected permanent and total disability, or from the date the serviceperson was listed for a total of more than 90 days as currently missing in action or listed as a prisoner of war. The period of eligibility for a surviving spouse generally extends no later than 10 years from the date VA notifies the surviving spouse that the death was service-connected and no later than 20 years for the surviving spouse of a veteran who dies while on active duty. The period of eligibility for a child generally extends to the 26th birthday, subject to certain exceptions.


Public Laws 86-236, 89-358, 90-631, 92-540, 93-508, 94-502, 95-202, 96-466, 98-460, 101-237, 101-508, 102-127, 102-568, 103-446, 104-275, 105-114, 105-206, 106-117, 106-419, 107-103, 107-330,108-183, and 108-454; 38 U.S.C., chapter 35.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

At least 95.25 percent of applications are processed within 90 days or less in 2006 and 96.98 percent in 2007.


Appeals are available through a special board; response time is 109.0 days in 2006 and 112.4 days in 2007.


Generally, eligibility for a child terminates at age 26. In some instances, it may be extended. For example, in the case of service in the Armed Forces, eligibility will end 8 years after the first discharge or release from service but in no event beyond age 31.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

Not applicable.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Not applicable.

Post Assistance Requirements


Monthly certification of enrollment and pursuit for courses not leading to a college degree must be executed by the beneficiary.

For college students, verification of pursuit is required near the end of the enrollment period.





Financial Information

Account Identification



(Direct Payments) FY 07 $423,335,000; FY 08 est $450,646,000; and FY 09 est $478,067,000.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

Per month, institutional training: full time, $881; three-quarters time, $661; half-time, $439. Benefits may be paid for up to a maximum of 45 months. Tutorial assistance up to a maximum of $1,200. Work-Study Allowance: Payment based on the higher of the Federal minimum wage or the State minimum wage where work is performed.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

38 CFR 21.3001 - 21.3344; "Federal Benefits for Veterans and Dependents," VA Pamphlet 80-0-01, $5.00, available from Superintendent of Documents, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954 or from the online government bookstore at The stock number is 051-000-00233-4.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

See Appendix IV of the Catalog for Veterans Benefits Administration field offices.

Headquarters Office

Department of Veterans Affairs, Central Office, Washington, DC 20420. Telephone: (202) 461-9800.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

Not applicable.

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Edited by: Michael Saunders

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