The Veteran's Spouse

Education Assistance

Deciding to apply for Education Assistance, whether you are a veteran or dependent requires certain steps in order to ensure your goal.

Determine your best Benefit

There are several factors that can help you determine which benefit is going to be beneficial to you as a veteran or dependent.  For example, like where will you take classes?  What type of program would you like to pursue?  Do you want to use the Post 9/11 GI Bill or Chapter 30 Montgomery GI Bill?  The answers to your question only you can decide.  Don't forget to check with State Agencies as well, each individual state may offer additional benefits on top your VA benefits.

Collect Your Paperwork and Information

As always there is paperwork needed to apply for any VA benefit. Be sure if you submit information via mail, you send it certified with return receipt.  These are the most important pieces in the application for VA Education benefits but depending on your situation you may need to include more.

  • DD214 Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty for most recent period of active duty.
  • Transcripts for all periods of education after high school.
  • Kicker Contract (the Department of Defense may be able to provide this information if you cannot locate a copy of the contract.)
Choosing a School

*NOTE* If you've decided to pay for college using the Post-9/11 GI Bill, you'll need to get some information about each school you might attend.  Whatever school you choose be sure to get in touch with the School Certifying Official throughout your process as well.  They are there to assist Veterans and Dependents as a liaison to the VA. There are more important questions to ask about choosing a school here.

There is also options about choosing a foreign school as well.  Please visit here to see what your options may be.

Compare the Programs
The VA states each individual's situation is different, this side by side chart may help you determine which of the programs provide the most benefit for your individual situation. You should now have enough information to decide whether you want to apply for the Post-9/11 GI Bill or another benefit program.

Remember, if you give up another program to receive the Post-9/11 GI Bill, it is an irrevocable choice - this means that once you have selected the Post-9/11 GI Bill, you cannot switch back to the program you gave up.

At this time, you also will have to determine which school you will apply to for enrollment.


When you have decided which education benefit is best for you, you'll need to submit your application. You can either submit your application online or by mail, or, if you know what school you plan to attend, your school may be able to help you prepare and submit your application.

Apply online through VONAPP OR

Send in a mail by following these steps:

1.  Fill out VA form 22-1990
2.  Mail it to your VA Regional Office (be sure to send it certified mail) or submit it to the region of your school's physical address
3.  Send copies of documents:  DD 214, DD 2384 if you are Selected Reserves applying for Montgomery GI BIll, copies of orders if activated from the guard/reserves, supporting documents, and/or College Fund kicker contact.

Any problems with the application you can call 1-(888)-GiBill1 to speak with a education specialist.

Are you a dependent wondering if you are entitled to education benefits?

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

  • A veteran who died or is permanently and totally disabled as the result of a service-connected disability. The disability must arise out of active service in the Armed Forces.
  • A veteran who died from any cause while such permanent and total service-connected disability was in existence.
  • A service member missing in action or captured in line of duty by a hostile force.
  • A service member forcibly detained or interned in line of duty by a foreign government or power.
  • A service member who is hospitalized or receiving outpatient treatment for a service connected permanent and total disability and is likely to be discharged for that disability. 

This change is effective December 23, 2006. If you have determined you are eligible for education benefits under the criteria above for the Dependents' Education Assistance program, please visit the Veterans Administration site for more specific Education information, including how to apply for dependents..

Click here for the Dependent's Application for VA Education Benefits form.

What is Chapter 35 DEA? (Dependents Educational Assistance)

A child (between ages 18 and 26, with some exceptions) of a veteran who is permanently and totally disabled due to a service-related condition; or who died in service; or who died of a service-connected disability; or who died while evaluated as having total and permanent service-connected disability; or who is listed as a POW or MIA.

The surviving spouse of a veteran who died of a service-connected disability, or died in service, or died while evaluated as having total and permanent disability resulting from a service-connected disability. Surviving spouses whose benefits stopped when they remarried can receive DEA benefits again if their remarriage ends by death or divorce, or they cease to live with the person to whom they presented themselves in public as married.

A spouse of a veteran or service person who has a total and permanent disability resulting from a service-connected disability; or who is listed as a POW or MIA.

Entitlement: 45 months. (Maximum of 48 months if eligible for more than one benefit chapter.) Delimiting Date: Child: 8 years; Spouse: 10 years; Surviving Spouse: 10 years. 20 years if death while on active duty.

You should make sure that your selected program is approved for VA training. If you are not clear on this point, VA will inform you and the school or company about the requirements.

Obtain and complete VA Form 22-5490, Application for Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance. Send it to the VA regional office with jurisdiction over the State where you will train. If you are a son or daughter, under legal age, a parent or guardian must sign the application.

If you have started training, take your application to your school or employer. Ask them to complete VA Form 22-1999, Enrollment Certification, and send both forms to VA.

Section 301 of Public Law 109-461 adds a new category to the definition of "eligible person" for DEA benefits. The new category includes the spouse or child of a person who:

VA determines has a service-connected permanent and total disability; and at the time of VA's 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 December 23, 2006, the effective date of the law.  

DEA provides education and training opportunities to eligible dependents of veterans who are permanently and totally disabled due to a service-related condition, or who died while on active duty or as a result of a service related condition. 

The program offers up to 45 months of education benefits. These 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.  Click here for more information on this special education program offered through the VA for eligible dependents.

Are you a transitioning or a retired veteran?  Have you just returned from OIF or OEF and have questions about your schooling benefits?

Veterans may be able to use the GI Bill for On-The-Job Training (OJT), non-college degree training and much more!

On-the-job training (OJT) is training you receive while performing a job and earning wages. (6 mo to 2 yrs) Examples of this type of training are:

  • Union Plumber
  • Hotel Management
  • Firefighter

On-the-Job & Apprenticeship Training

This program assists veterans and their dependents by allowing them to learn a trade or skill through participation in apprenticeship or on-the-job training rather than by attending classes.

One generally enters into a training contract for a specific period of time with an employer or union and at the end of the training period has gained job certification or journeyman status.  In most instances one receives a salary from their employer or union while participating in training.  As one progresses through training, their skill level increases and so does their salary. GI Bill payments are issued monthly after VA receives certification of hours worked from the employer.

Non-College Degree Programs (NCD)

Non-college degree training includes programs that produce career-specific diploma or professional certifications. Training is designed to advance your skills, especially in relation to your present or future job. Non-college degree programs include training for jobs that are based on manual or practical activities related to a specific trade, occupation, or vocation. They do not normally include training for a specific profession.
Examples of non-college degree training are diploma vocational schools such as:
  • Truck Driving
  • EMT Certification
  • Barber/Beautician School

Flight Training

Flight training refers to programs for those who have a private pilot's license and who are looking to learn a specific piloting skill or qualification. Examples of vocational flight training programs include:
  • Rotary Wing Qualification
  • Dual Qualification
  • Flight Engineer

VA - Education - Montgomery GI Bill (Selected Reserve)

The Montgomery GI Bill (Selected Reserve) is an educational assistance program enacted by Congress to attract high quality men and women into the reserve components of the Armed Forces.

General Program Requirements
  • Incur a six-year obligation to serve in the Selected Reserve
  • Complete your Initial Active Duty for Training (IADT)
  • Maintain Selected Reserve Status
  • Complete high school or obtain a high school equivalency certificate before you apply for benefits.
Your reserve or National Guard component determines your eligibility for this program.

VA - Education - Post-9/11 GI Bill

The Post 9/11 GI Bill is an educational assistance program enacted by Congress for individuals with active duty service on or after September 11, 2001.

To qualify, you must have served:

  • 90 days of active duty service after September 10, 2001; OR
  • 30 continuous days after September 10, 2001, and be discharged due to a service-connected disability.
If you are no longer on active duty, you must have been:

  • Honorably discharged; OR
  • Released from active duty and transferred to the Fleet Reserve or Fleet Marine Corps Reserve; OR
  • Released from active duty for further service in a reserve component of the Armed Forces.
For more specific questions and details about your veteran's school benefits visit the VA GI Bill site.

Visit Headlines to read an article about the GI Bill payments backlog.

Website Builder