The VA provides educational assistance to qualifying dependents as follows:
1. The spouse or child of a servicemember or Veteran who either died of a service-connected disability, or who has permanent and total service-connected disability, or who died while such a disability existed.
2. The spouse or child of a Servicemember listed for more than 90 days as currently Missing in Action (MIA), captured in the line of duty by a hostile force, or detained or interned by a foreign government or power.
3. The spouse or child of a Servicemember who is hospitalized or is receiving outpatient care or treatment for a disability that is determined to be totally and permanently disabling, incurred or aggravated due to active duty, and for which the service member is likely to be discharged from military service.
Surviving spouses lose eligibility if they remarry before age 57 or are living with another person who has been held out publicly as their spouse. They can regain eligibility if their remarriage ends by death or divorce or if they cease living with the person. Dependent children do not lose eligibility if the surviving spouse remarries. Visit www.gibill.va.gov/ for more information.
Period of Eligibility: The period of eligibility for veterans’ spouses expires 10 years from either the date they become eligible or the date of the Veteran’s death. VA may grant an extension. Children generally must be between the ages of 18 and 26 to receive educational benefits, though extensions may be granted.
The period of eligibility for spouses of servicemembers who died on active duty expires 20 years from the date of death. This is a change in law that became effective Dec. 10, 2004. Spouses of servicemembers who died on active duty whose 10-year eligibility period expired before Dec. 10, 2004, now have 20 years from the date of death to use educational benefits. Effective Oct. 10, 2008, Public Law 110-389 provides a 20-year period of eligibility for spouses of veterans with a permanent and total service-connected disability rating effective within 3 years of release from active duty.
Payments: The payment rate effective Oct. 1, 2010, is $936 a month for full-time school attendance, with lesser amounts for part time. Benefits are paid for full-time training up to 45 months or the equivalent in part-time training.
Training Available: Benefits may be awarded for pursuit of associate, bachelor, or graduate degrees at colleges and universities; independent study; cooperative training study abroad certificate or diploma from business, technical or vocational schools, apprenticeships, on-the-job training programs; farm cooperative courses; and preparatory courses for tests required or used for admission to an institution of higher learning or graduate school. Benefits for correspondence courses under certain conditions are available to spouses only.
Beneficiaries without high-school degrees can pursue secondary schooling, and those with a deficiency in a subject may receive tutorial assistance if enrolled half-time or more.
Special Benefits: Dependents over age 14 with physical or mental disabilities that impair their ability to pursue an education may receive specialized vocational or restorative training, including speech and voice correction, language retraining, lip reading, auditory training, Braille reading and writing, and similar programs. Certain disabled or surviving spouses are also eligible.