Chapter 35 - Dependents' Educational Assistance (DEA) Program

The Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) Program was established by the War Orphans’ Educational Assistance Act of 1956. This educational program provides benefits to the spouse and children, including step-children and adopted children, of veterans who died in the defense of the United States or who were completely and permanently disabled due to injuries sustained while on active duty.

The links below have more information on Chapter 35:

Chapter 35 Benefit Description

The DEA program provides up to 45 months of education and training benefits to eligible dependents of certain veterans. These benefits may be used for degree and certificate programs, apprenticeship, and on-the-job training. If you are a spouse, you may be eligible to take a correspondence course. Other types of courses, such as remedial, deficiency, and refresher courses, may be approved under certain circumstances. Effective October 1, 2013, some recipients may be eligible to receive up to 81 months of GI Bill® benefits if they use DEA program benefits in conjunction with other VA education benefits.

The program pays a monthly benefit stipend directly to the student and is based on the type of training and the number of credit hours being taken. Benefits are paid in arrears (after the training period). For example, a student receives payment for August at the beginning of September. Payments are prorated for any partial months of attendance (ex. August & December). Payment amounts do not include enrollment break periods (ex. Winter & Summer break). VA Benefits will not be processed for courses which are not required for a student’s degree plan and may or may not be processed for repeated courses.

Eligible children may use this benefit while they are between the ages of 18 and 26, however under some circumstances the period of eligibility can be extended until the age of 31.

Spouses generally have ten (10) years from the date the VA establishes eligibility to use the benefit. However, effective October 10, 2008, a spouse may remain eligible for this benefit for twenty (20) years from the effective date of rating if the veteran was rated permanently and totally disabled within an effective date of three (3) years from discharge.

Surviving spouses of service members who died while on active duty have twenty (20) years from the date of death to use this benefit.

Eligibility Requirements

Individuals eligible to receive education benefits under the Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program (Chapter 35) you must be the spouse, daughter, or son (including step-children and adopted children) of a veteran or service member who:

  • Died or is permanently and totally disabled as a result of a service-connected disability. The disability must arise out of active service in the armed forces
  • Died from any cause while such permanent and total service-connected disability was in existence
  • Missing in action or captured in the line of duty by a hostile force
  • Was 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

How to Apply for Benefit

If this is the first time you are using your education benefits, please visit the VA Ebenefits homepage and apply online by completing VA Form 22-5490 ( Dependents’ Application for VA Education Benefits).

If you have used your benefits before at another school, please visit the VA Ebenefits homepage and complete VA Form 22-1995 (Change of Location).

If you are unable to apply on line, you may complete a hardcopy of VA Form 22-5490 and/or VA Form 22-1995 and return it to the VA Western Regional Education Office at the following address:

Western Region
VA Regional Office
PO Box 8888
Muskogee, OK 74402-8888

You can obtain a copy of the VA Form 22-5490 online at the VA website.

You can obtain a copy of the VA Form 22-1995 online at the VA website.

For more information concerning the Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program (Chapter 35) or any other education benefit chapter please visit the GI Bill ® homepage or by calling 1-888-442-4551.

Other Helpful Links/Websites

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at