Dependents Education Assistance

Chapter 35

If you're the child or spouse of a Veteran or service member who has died, is captured or missing, or has VA service-connected disabilities, you may be able to get help paying for school or job training. Dependent Education Assistance (DEA) is a monetary benefit that can be used for whatever is needed.


You may be able to get these benefits if both you and the Veteran or service member meet certain eligibility requirements.

One of the descriptions must be true. The Veteran or service member

  • Is permanently and totally disabled due to a service-connected disability
  • Died while on active duty or as a result of a service-connected disability
  • Is missing in action or was captured in the line of duty by a hostile force
  • Was forcibly detained (held) or interned in the line of duty by a foreign entity
  • Is in the hospital or getting outpatient treatment for a service-connected permanent and total disability and is likely to be discharged for that disability (effective December 23, 2006)

If you're the child of a Veteran or service member

  • You can get benefits if you're between the ages of 18 and 26, except in certain cases. You may be married or unmarried.
  • If you're over 18 years old and using DEA, you can't get Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) from the VA.

If you're the spouse of a Veteran or service member

  • Your benefits start on the date we conclude that you qualify or on the date of the Veteran's death, and last for 10 years.
  • If we rated the Veteran as permanently and totally disabled, with an effective date that's 3 years after discharge, you'll qualify for benefits for 20 years from that effective date. This new policy began on October 10, 2008. We won't pay benefits for training you started before this date.
  • If the service member died on active duty, your benefits end 20 years from the date of death.
  • You can get DIC payments from the VA and use DEA benefits.

Apply for the Benefits

First, contact your school's certifying official to make sure your program is approved for VA benefits. Then, you can

  • Apply online, or
  • Apply by mail. You'll need to fill out a Dependents' Application for VA Education Benefits (VA Form 22-5490 (PDF)) and mail it to the regional processing office for Wisconsin.
    • VA Regional Office
      P. O. Box 32432
      St. Louis, MO 63132-0832
      Get more information about DEA.