Scholarships and Other Education Benefits for Dependents of Military Veterans

By Peterson's Staff updated on Monday, October 14, 2013

If you have experienced the heartache of losing your spouse or parent during the course of their military service, or if they have suffered permanent disability, you may be eligible to receive education assistance from the government.

Whether it's a college degree, cooking school, or on-the-job training, you could get benefits and military financial aid for up to 45 months as a child of a veteran.

As a spouse, the government might cover the cost of your correspondence courses, or in some cases, remedial or refresher classes. This benefit is known as the Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance Program, or DEA.

Eligibility criteria
There are several criteria you must meet in order to be considered eligible for scholarships or other money for college. Primarily, you must be the son, daughter, or spouse of a veteran who meets at least one of these criteria:

  • Has died or is permanently disabled as the result of an incident which must have arisen from active service in the Armed Forces.
  • Has died from any cause while such service-connected disability was in existence.
  • Is missing in action or was captured in the line of duty by a hostile force.
  • Is forcibly detained or interned in the line of duty by a foreign government or power.
  • Is hospitalized or receiving outpatient treatment for a service-connected permanent and total disability and is likely to be discharged for that disability.


Children of veterans
Generally, you need to be between 18 and 26 to be eligible, but there are some exceptions to this rule and you may be able to get college scholarships or other benefits before you're 18 and/or continue getting them after you turn 26. You can even get married and still be eligible!

However, if you enter the military and go on active duty, you have to be honorably discharged before you can be eligible. This is one of those circumstances where you may be able to get benefits or scholarships for college even if you're older than 26 — the VA may extend your eligibility period by an amount of time equal to the number of months and days you spent on active duty. However, an extension like this probably won't go past your 31st birthday.

Spouses of veterans
In general, you can be eligible for scholarships and other benefits for up to 10 years from the date you are found eligible or from the date of death of the veteran. However, if you are a surviving spouse of a veteran killed during the course of active duty military service, your eligibility is effective for up to 20 years from the date of death.

As a surviving spouse, you may also receive a death pension (known as the Disability and Indemnity Compensation, or DIC), which will not be affected by you receiving education benefits.

More info about military financial aid

There are a variety of circumstances that can result in your benefits being either extended or terminated, whether you're a spouse or dependent. Similarly, the amount you receive will vary, based on your student status (college vs. vocational school, full-time vs. part-time, etc.).

You can find more detailed information about benefits, money for college, eligibility, and applying on the Department of Veterans' Affairs website.

About the Author

Peterson's has more than 40 years of experience in higher education, and the expert staff members here are all ready to leverage their considerable knowledge and experience to help you succeed on your educational journey. We have the information, the know-how, and the tools -- now all we need is you!

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