What are Education and Home Loan Guarantees for Survivors?

Eligible surviving spouses and dependent children of deceased veterans are entitled to certain education benefits as well as loan guarantees under the VA loan program.

Survivors and Dependents Education Eligibility

Overview of Veterans' Spouses, Dependents, and Survivors Education Eligibility

VA provides education and training opportunities for certain Veterans' spouses, dependents, and survivors through various programs to help cover the cost of tuition, housing, books, and supplies. Education benefits may be used toward a traditional degree, non-college degree, on-the-job training, apprenticeships, and more. Explore the following programs:


What Is the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship?

The Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship provides Post-9-11 GI Bill® benefits to the children and surviving spouses of service members who died in the line of duty while on active duty after September 10, 2001. Eligible beneficiaries attending school may receive up to 36 months of benefits at the 100% level.

Full tuition and fees paid directly to the school for all public school in-state students. For those attending private or foreign schools, tuition and fees are capped at a statutory maximum amount per academic year.


Who Is Eligible?

Children of active duty members of the Armed Forces who died in the line of duty after September 10, 2001, are eligible for this benefit.


Surviving spouses of active duty members of the Armed Forces who died in the line of duty after September 10, 2001, are also eligible for this benefit.


Rules for Eligible Dependents Serving, or Who Have Served, in the Armed Forces:

If the child or surviving spouse is eligible under the Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty, Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve, and/or the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP), then he or she must relinquish eligibility under one of those programs to receive benefits under Post-9-11 GI Bill.


Individuals Who Have Used or Wish to Use Entitlement under Dependents' Educational Assistance (DEA)

Children eligible for the Fry Scholarship may also be eligible for DEA. Effective August 1, 2011, children are not able to establish eligibility for both Fry Scholarship and DEA benefits based on a parent's death in the line of duty.


Surviving spouses eligible for the Fry Scholarship may also be eligible for DEA. Surviving spouses are not able to establish eligibility for both Fry Scholarship and DEA benefits based on a parent's death in the line of duty. Surviving spouses must make an irrevocable election of which benefit he or she wishes to receive for any and all school enrollments beginning on or after January 1, 2015.

How to Apply

To apply, obtain and complete VA form 22-5490 "Dependents' Application for VA Education Benefits" (available at http://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-22-5490-ARE.pdf). Send it to the VA Regional Processing Office indicated in the instructions of the form.

Be sure to explore potential programs and how much you could receive using the GI Bill by visiting the GI Bill Comparison Tool at www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/comparison.

The Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance (DEA) Program

The Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance (DEA) program offers education and training opportunities to eligible dependents of Veterans who are permanently and totally disabled due to a service-related condition or of Veterans who died while on active duty or as a result of a service-related condition.

Type of Assistance

Benefits may be used for degree and certificate programs, apprenticeship, and on-the-job training. If you are a spouse, you may take a correspondence course. Remedial, deficiency, and refresher courses may be approved under certain circumstances.

Available Benefits and Eligibility

You may receive up to 45 months of education benefits. Effective Oct. 1, 2013, some DEA beneficiaries may be eligible for up to 81 months of GI Bill benefits if they use the Survivors and Dependents Educational Assistance program in conjunction with an entitlement from other VA education programs.

If you are eligible for both Fry Scholarship and DEA, you will be required to make an irrevocable election between the two programs when you apply. Dependents are not eligible to receive both DEA and Fry Scholarship based on the same event (like a Servicemember dying in the line of duty) unless he or she is a child whose parent died prior to August 1, 2011. A child whose parent died before August 1, 2011, may be eligible for both benefits but he/she may only use one program at a time and combined benefits are capped at a total of 81 months of full-time training. In this situation, the two benefit programs cannot be used concurrently.

Eligibility

You must be the son, daughter, or spouse of:


Other Factors to Consider

If you are a son or daughter and wish to receive benefits for attending school or job training, you must be between the ages of 18 and 26. In certain instances, it is possible to begin before age 18 and to continue after age 26. Marriage is not a bar to this benefit. If you are in the armed forces, you may not receive this benefit while on active duty. To pursue training after military service, your discharge must not be under dishonorable conditions. VA can extend your period of eligibility by the number of months and days equal to the time spent on active duty. This extension cannot generally go beyond your 31st birthday, there are some exceptions.

Please note that a child over 18 years old using DEA will not be eligible to receive Dependency Indemnity Compensation (DIC) payments from VA. Receiving DEA payments bars a child from receiving DIC payments.

If you are a spouse, benefits end 10 years from the date VA finds you eligible or from the date of death of the Veteran. If VA rated the Veteran permanently and totally disabled with an effective date of three years from discharge, a spouse will remain eligible for 20 years from the effective date of the rating. This change is effective Oct. 10, 2008, and no benefits may be paid for any training taken prior to that date. A spouse using DEA (of the Fry Scholarship) remains eligible to receive DIC payments from VA.

For surviving spouses of Servicemembers who died on active duty, benefits end 20 years from the date of death.

Apply

To apply, obtain and complete VA Form 22-5490, Dependents Application for VA Education Benefits. Send it to the VA Regional Office with jurisdiction over the state where you will advance your education and training. If you are a son or daughter, under legal age, a parent or guardian must sign the application. If you are eligible for both DEA and Fry, you will be required to make an irrevocable election unless you are a child of a Servicemember who died in the line-of-duty prior to August 1, 2011.

If you have started your educational program, take your application to your school or employer. Ask them to complete VA Form 22-1999, Enrollment Certification, and send both forms to VA. (Note: Schools must contact their VA representative to receive this form.)

Additional Assistance

Those eligible for DEA benefits may also be eligible for this additional assistance:

Special Restorative Training

VA may prescribe special restorative training where needed to overcome or lessen the effects of a physical or mental disability for the purpose of enabling an eligible person to pursue a program of education, special vocational program, or other appropriate goal. Medical care and treatment or psychiatric treatments are not included.

Special Vocational Training

VA may also approve these benefits for an eligible person who is not in need of special restorative training, but who requires such a program because of a mental or physical disability.

Section 301 of Public Law 109-461 adds a new category to the definition of eligible person for DEA benefits. The new category covers the spouse or child of a person who VA determined has a service-connected permanent and total disability; and is at the time of VAs 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. Persons eligible under this new provision may be eligible for DEA benefits effective Dec. 23, 2006, the effective date of the law.

You may be eligible for more than one of these programs. In most situations, you will be required to make an irrevocable election between the DEA program and Fry Scholarship when you apply. Beneficiaries are not able to use the same qualifying event for more than one benefit unless you are a child of a Servicemember that died in the line of duty prior to August 1, 2011.

The chart below was developed to assist surviving spouses making a decision between the two programs.

Comparison Chart for Surviving Spouses with both DEA and Fry Scholarship Eligibility

  DEA FRY Scholarship
Benefit Payments Monthly amount paid directly to the student. The current monthly payment for full-time training is $1,024.00 Tuition and Fee Payment (Paid to School) - Full in-state tuition costs covered for training pursued at public institutions. Up to $21,970.46 per year at private institutions Books and Supplies Stipend (Paid to Student) - Up to $1,000 a year for books and supplies. Paid to the student proportionately for each term. Monthly Housing Allowance (Paid to Student) - Stipend based on local BAH for E-5 with dependents and paid monthly. Online students receive half of the BAH national average
Duration of Benefits Surviving Spouses of those who died in the line of duty may use benefits for up to 20 years from the Servicemember's date of death. 15 years from the Servicemember's date of death
Maximum Months of Benefits 45 months 36 months
Concurrent Receipt of DIC and Education Benefit for Spouse YES YES
Programs Covered • College, Business, Technical, or Vocational Programs
• Certification Tests
• Apprenticeship/On-the-Job Training
• Tutorial Assistance
• Work-study
• College, Business, Technical, or Vocational Programs
• Certification Tests
• Apprenticeship/On-the-Job Training
• Vocational flight training
• Tutorial Assistance
• Work-study

Survivors and Dependents Employment Services

If you are a family member caring for a service-disabled Veteran, you may be eligible for counseling to determine your career goals and training to increase your skills.

Veterans' dependents who are eligible for the VA Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance program may also receive the following assistance from the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program:


Survivors and Dependents Health Care

CHAMPVA

A health care benefits program that provides coverage to the spouse or widow(er) and to the dependent children of a qualifying sponsor who:


Under CHAMPVA, VA shares the cost of covered health care services and supplies with eligible beneficiaries.

On the Claims Support Disc, we provide a 96 page outline of the champ VA program entitled "A Complete Guide to CHAMP VA Services."

Children of Women Vietnam Veterans (CWVV) Program

The CWVV Health Care Program is a Federal health benefits program administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, for children with certain birth defects born to women Vietnam Veterans. The CWVV Program is a Fee for Service (indemnity plan) program. The CWVV Program provides reimbursement for medical care-related conditions associated with certain birth defects except spina bifida, which is covered under the VA's Spina Bifida Program.

Children whose biological mother is a Vietnam Veteran, who were conceived after the date on which the Veteran entered the Republic of Vietnam, during the period beginning on February 28, 1961, and ending May 7, 1975, and who have one of the covered birth defects, as determined by the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) are eligible for the program.

Spina Bifida Healthcare Program

The Spina Bifida Health Care Program is a health benefit program administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs for Vietnam and certain Korean Veterans' birth children who have been diagnosed with spina bifida (except spina bifida occulta). The program provides reimbursement for medical services and supplies.

Caregiver Program

Primary caregivers of OEF/OIF Veterans may be eligible to receive a stipend and access to healthcare coverage if they are not already entitled to care or services under a health plan contract, including Medicare, Medicaid or worker's compensation. Mental health counseling, including marriage and family counseling, will also be provided. Caregivers may also be eligible for travel, lodging and per diem when they accompany the Veteran for care or attend training.

Caregivers need to complete VA Form 10-10CG, Application for Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers Programto apply for VA's Comprehensive Assistance Family Caregivers Program. VA will use the information on this form to determine your eligibility for this program. The VA believes that caring and supporting family caregivers improves the lives of Veterans. Learn more about how the VA supports family caregivers at caregiver.va.gov.

Survivors Home Loans

VA Home Loans for Surviving Spouses

VA offers three home loan guaranty programs to eligible surviving spouses of Veterans and Servicemembers. These programs may be used to refinance a mortgage or help purchase, construct, or improve a home. Certain surviving spouses may be eligible for the following programs:


Purchase Loan

With a Purchase Loan, VA can help you purchase a home at a competitive interest rate, and if you have found it difficult to find other financing.

Cash-Out Refinance Home Loans

VA's Cash-Out Refinance Loan is for homeowners who want to take cash out of your home equity to take care of concerns like paying off debt, funding school, or making home improvements. The Cash-Out Refinance Loan can also be used to refinance a non-VA loan into a VA loan. VA will guaranty loans up to 100% of the value of your home.

About the VA Home Loan Guaranty

Most VA Home Loans are handled entirely by private lenders and VA rarely gets involved in the loan approval process. VA "stands behind" the loan by guaranteeing a portion of it. If something goes wrong and you can't make the payments anymore, the lending institution can come to us to cover any losses they might incur. The VA loan guaranty is the "insurance" that we provide the lender.

VA Home Loan Advantages

The guarantee VA provides to lenders allows them to provide you with more favorable terms, including:


You should also know that:



Please refer to the table of contents in the top right column of this page for more topics on Benefits for Survivors of Veterans.