Survivors and Dependents Benefits (Chapter 35)
If you’re a dependent or surviving spouse or child of a veteran or current servicemember, you may qualify for educational benefits or job training through a GI Bill benefit program. The two primary GI Bill programs offering benefits to survivors and dependents are the Fry Scholarship and the Survivors and Dependents Educational Assistance (DEA) Program. It is possible to qualify for both benefit options but you must choose one and you cannot switch.
Servicemembers may also exercise the option of transferring their own benefits to a dependent spouse or child.
Review the information below for eligibility, applying for, and using these benefits.
Surviving dependents or spouses are eligible for this benefit if the following is true:
- They are the spouse or child of a veteran who died in the line of duty while serving on active duty or away from active duty on or after September 11, 2001.
- They are the spouse or child of a veteran of the Selected Reserve who died from a service-connected disability on or after September 11, 2001.
Survivor spouses must remain unmarried to be eligible. Spouses who remarry are no longer eligible for the Fry Scholarship.
Surviving children must meet the following conditions to be eligible for the Fry Scholarship:
- If you turned 18 or graduated from high school before January 1, 2013, you are eligible until you’re aged 33.
- If you turned 18 or graduated from high school after January 1, 2013, you are eligible at any age over 18 or after you graduate (whichever comes first).
- If your parent was a member of the Selected Reserve and died from a service-connected disability while not on active duty, you are eligible at any time, no matter how old you are.
Visit the VA website for more information about Fry Scholarship terms and conditions.
Children or spouses of veterans and servicemembers are eligible for this benefit if the following is true regarding the veteran or servicemember:
- They are permanently disabled due to a service-connected disability.
- They died while on active duty or as a result of a service-connected disability.
- They are missing in action or were captured in the line of duty by a hostile force.
- They were forcibly held or interned while in the line of duty by a foreign entity.
- They are currently hospitalized or receiving outpatient treatment for a service-connected permanent disability and are expected to be discharged because of that disability (effective December 23, 2006).
Spouses of veterans or servicemembers must meet the following conditions to be eligible for the DEA Program:
- Your benefits start on the date that you, the spouse, are deemed eligible for benefits and will last for 10 years.
- If the veteran or servicemember is permanently disabled effective three years after discharge from active duty, you qualify for benefits for 20 years from that effective date.
- If the veteran died on active duty, your spousal benefits end 20 years from the date of death.
Children of veterans or servicemembers must meet the following conditions to be eligible for the DEA Program:
- You’re between the ages of 18 and 26.
- If you join the military, you cannot be on active duty and use this benefit.
- You cannot have a dishonorable discharge and use this benefit.
- Military service can extend your eligibility beyond age 26, but your eligibility typically ends with your 31st birthday.
Visit the VA website for more information about the DEA Program terms and conditions.
If your parent died in the line of duty before August 1, 2011, you may qualify for both the Fry Scholarship and the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) Program. You may use only one program at a time. The combined benefits are capped at 81 months of full-time training and education.
How to Apply