Effective August 1, 2018, the entitlement available under the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) program will be reduced from 45 months to 36 months, but in October, the monthly allowance for eligible recipients will increase.

These changes, part of the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, aka “Forever GI Bill,”were passed by Congress last summer.

The 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 from a service-related condition.

DEA benefits may be used for degree and certificate programs, apprenticeships and on-the-job training.  Surviving spouses-can use benefits for correspondence courses and remedial, deficiency and some approved refresher courses.

What you need to know now:

  • If you’re already taking classes, or will start taking classes by July 31, 2018, you remain eligible for up to 45 months of education entitlement benefits
  • Beginning Oct.1, 2018, all students will see a significant increase in the monthly benefit

Eligible DEA recipients will be entitled to a monthly allowance of:

  • $1,224 for full-time coursework, compared to $1,041 currently as of Oct. 1, 2017
  • $967 for three-quarter time coursework, compared to $780 currently as of Oct. 1, 2017
  • $710 for half-time coursework, compared to $519 currently as of Oct. 1, 2017

These increases go into effect Oct. 1, 2018.

To find out more about DEA benefits, please visit the DEA page on our website.

Call us if you have questions!

If you have further questions about your entitlement or eligibility, please call 1–888-GI-BILL-1 (1–888–442–4551). If you use the Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD), the federal number is 711. You can also visit the Forever GI Bill website at FGIB website.

As always, be sure to follow us on Facebook and on Twitter at @VAVetBenefits. These give you quick and helpful updates.

About the author: The Veterans Benefits Administration’s Education Service delivers GI Bill education benefits to Veterans, service members, and their families.  Since 1944, the GI Bill has helped millions of Veterans pay for college, graduate school and training programs.

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Published on Jul. 3, 2018

Estimated reading time is 1.7 min.

Views to date: 1,012


  1. dominic Baca July 26, 2018 at 11:47 am

    How can I possibly get my degree in 36months when my requirement calls for four years of collage. I don’t feel its right for the DEA to shorten the benefits of Dependents. Who thought of this crazy Idea to shorten it from 45 months to 36 months, the congress or the president? The increase to the monthly allotment is justifiable the to shorten the time is NOT. Please re consider the decession and give us the 45 months and the increase.

  2. Catherine Nau July 19, 2018 at 10:56 pm

    My father served in the US Navy, served in WWII & Honorably Discharged in 1947. He joined the Reserves right after. Mother committed to Mental Institution 2 years later. Foster Homes for 2 of 4 kids – including me. Absolutely, nothing was ever explained to me by my Public Guardian – not Education Benefits including time limits. Even my father’s SSA Account he created for me was stollen. Never an explanation. His name is excluded from the Vietnam Vet’s Memorial WALL because his last mission as a Civilian Flight Engineer, contracted out by the Air Force to transport Army Rangers from Travis AFB to Saigon, disappeared after takeoff from Guam enroute to Saigon. All surviving relatives have never been told the truth of what actually happened. And, we believe it to be a coverup. So, at the cost of a coverup, my father is Denied The Honor, Peace & Respect he so deserves.

  3. Rhernd July 11, 2018 at 9:28 am

    I don’t think it’s just for our children to suffer and parents too! My son is barely 15 I tell him to get a scholarship. He wants to join up I said now days u need some college to get into officer training. I want the best for him now I have to rethink his education. Will see how it plays out…Hopefully by then a New President will change this problem for our children.

  4. Freeman Wells July 11, 2018 at 6:42 am

    I’m a disabled vet, rated at 100% permanently disabled and unemployable. My wife is in this program and currently in her 4th year pursuing a Bachelors Degree in Social Work. She is doing very well and will have several months of these benefits left over. Do the math folks…..9 months of school per year X 4 years to complete a Bachelors Degree = 36 months. This of course would depend on YOU to put the required effort into it, and suitable for college to begin with.

  5. Ulrich L. M. Austin July 9, 2018 at 10:46 am

    Stop being pissed off at the VA, this is not a VA Problem, this is a feckless, non caring, no additional monies lost Congress that wrote this bill. I doubt if anyone from the VA really had any say in it, but you can damn well bet a host of Lobbyists made a ton of money off of all this. Write your Congressman, Write your Senator, Write POTUS, and do it often AND LOUD. The VA is giving out more in Compensation than they ever have, thank you POTUS, but they are looking for ways to cut little programs here and there so make up for those higher monthly payouts. Stop blaming the VA, and the people who work there, start blaming the Money Masters, CONGRESS, for all this BS, for THEY hold the Purse Strings.

    • Freeman Wells July 11, 2018 at 6:44 am

      Good answer Ulrich

  6. STEVEN July 9, 2018 at 2:19 am

    A disgrace to all servicemen and servicewomen

  7. Michael Nielsen July 7, 2018 at 2:24 pm

    How and why? Why would they come after our children. Where are our “so called” friends in congress?

  8. Kathleen Zaske July 7, 2018 at 9:36 am

    I agree with you. My husband also passed away due to agent Orange. I think it is an outrage they are cutting the DEA program from 45 months to 36 months. So big deal they have increased the benefit. It still doesn’t cover all of your tuition. Fight for her, she is entitled to finish her education. I know how frustrating and hard it is to fight the system. I do believe our Vietnam vets are being pushed under the rug and I am so angry about it. I only pray all our other vets are being treated with respect they deserve. What else is the VA going to take away? My heart goes out to you. Stay strong.

  9. J g heck July 7, 2018 at 7:38 am

    Cheap and mean, that what’s this administration has just proved themselves again. Now survivors will be limited to two year instead of four year degrees while the wealthy get bigger tax cuts. My dad died in Vietnam and survivors benefits was the only way I could afford my degree as it is very typical for a widows income to significantly drop when their spouse suddenly dies.

  10. Jeremiah Stillings July 6, 2018 at 7:00 pm

    Here is the break down of what this means for SDEA Users

  11. Arnie Welber July 6, 2018 at 5:32 pm

    So let me see if I got this ‘memo’. VA program DEA program will be reduced by 9 months for future eligible applicant’s effective Aug 1, 2018. Who we gonna blame now?

    • dominic Baca July 26, 2018 at 11:48 am

      the president!

  12. pRKs July 6, 2018 at 3:46 pm

    So let me get this straight, you are giving a bit of an increase, (don’t call it substantial, it’s not a livable wage), BUT, you will ONLY pay for THREE years of college?!! Just how in hell is someone going to finish a degree?!! Truck you fump and the horse you rode in on. You dumpster republicons can find more ways to bend us all over than a pervert in thailand.

  13. Gilbert Saenz III July 6, 2018 at 3:02 pm

    Can my children of my still living husband even though we all lives here in Texas now.
    My husband joined the service out of Michigan back in 1972-1974
    we have tried to apply but was told that his time already expired & didn’t qualify for the assistance because he didn’t lived at that time in Texas

  14. Michelle Davis July 6, 2018 at 1:53 pm

    yea- just take away more stuff from my children. like they didn’t have to suffer enough.
    any other way you want to kill and abuse veterans- ??
    im trying to think of anything else you can gut from us…
    besides lousy medical from VA….completely useless benefits
    and horrible treatment.
    oh, I get it- if you can get more than 22 a day to commit suicide- (or at least die and
    not look like suicide) that will considerably reduce the spending for veterans- good plan.

    until new recruits figure it out and no one signs up anymore for you war mongering pigs

  15. william Yates July 6, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    I am a VietNam, I was wondering if my grandaughter, can get any kind grant, to help her finish her Education.
    It is hard for her to get any kind of funding for her education.
    It is just a question, but if you do know of any way she could get some help, Please let know.

    Thank you

  16. Brent Ferguson July 6, 2018 at 12:36 pm

    Presently va cheats eligible dependents of the benefit during required education breaks. Over summer Christmas Thanksgiving spring break even programmed breaks during a programmed four-year educational degree which will lead to a marketable diploma but the kids don’t get paid for those days. In addition the parent is still alive can no longer claim dependency for those kids once they elect to accept the DEA benefit. So before you elect to opt into the DEA benefit consider the adverse effect it will have on the dependency pay raise you might be getting in light of the fact that your child will probably be paid only 6 or 7 months of the DEA benefit each year. Encourage anyone this upsets to write your congressman because the law as written states that it will be a monthly stipend paid for as long as the child is in a program of Education that could reasonably be expected to result in a as they said standard degree.

  17. Batman July 6, 2018 at 12:23 pm

    I’ve served 11 yrs. My daughter is just 10 yrs old my wife was denied from one school because the VA wouldnt cover it so now we have to pay the school back. I think we veterns and family members of veterns should not have a timetable for any benifits we scarficed alot for this country and we have all this so call patriotism but our government still treat us like shit when you have done your time. If your serving right now everything is for you but as soon as you get out your treated like crap and its harder to get help. But our disability is also forever why cant our benifits be forever.

  18. Bernardo Baca July 6, 2018 at 12:14 pm

    I’m a Vietnam veteran which I served in country for 18 months. Never used my VA ED. BENNIES. Now I have a adopted son who wants to go to college and the VA is wanting to cut the educational benefits down. I feel it’s not right. They should give him my Ed. Benefits that I did not use. I never asked for anything from the government. Please give him his chance!

  19. Carlos j Poteet July 6, 2018 at 11:42 am

    Flamnia, go to your local VA office and ask them to go over your benefits. They will be able to give you straight answers on what you and your daughter is entitled for.. Your daughter and you should have tons of benefits available. Our country fights wars differently today than we did in Vietnam. I too am a Vietnam Vet and I can tell you that everyone who served in Vietnam came home changed. If your husband is still alive, he might want to also see what benefits are available to him. If he is diagnosed with a service connected disability, yours and your daughters benefits will also change. The VA is very fair and depending on your circumstances, the benefits you receive can be life changing. .

    Kenneth,. Go to your local VA office and See what benefits you may be eligible for. explore with the VA rep the impact the service has had on you, You may have a service connected disability and not even know about it. It takes a while but if you are diagnosed with service connected disability, Your benefits change and so will the time limits… also if you have a service related disability, you may qualify for chapter 31 funding and medical.. very nice..

  20. Rachelle Ponder July 6, 2018 at 11:39 am

    •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.
    education benefits are good for 15 years after date of death.

  21. Dezi July 6, 2018 at 11:17 am

    Who is that Oxy-moron was thinking. Most colleges are 4 years. That comes 48 months. You forcing to go to associate level colleges which is nothing these days.

    What a bull shit going on

    • Jeff Pesta July 9, 2018 at 9:01 am

      36 months is for class time, most schools take the summer off, so your in class 9 months of the year. 9×4=36 so you can still go to a four year school. P.S. you don’t receive compensation during the months you are not in class

      • Grisha B July 9, 2018 at 5:39 pm

        It is true that 36 months is 4 years in College, but That only applies if you are taking 15 and 18 credit hours each semester. Not everyone is equipped to handle that many classes in a semester. And hell if you fail a class. Don’t you have to pay the money back?

  22. Margaret Baker July 6, 2018 at 11:07 am

    I’m entered into the Chapter 31 program, do we get an increase as well?

  23. Margaret Baker July 6, 2018 at 11:02 am

    What about the Chapter 31 Benefits?

  24. Charles July 6, 2018 at 10:51 am

    I’m still pissed that I can’t transfer my GI Bill. Retired 2013 and was never told I had to transfer them while still on active duty. Most of us were a little busy from 2003 and after always go to a combat zone or training to go back. Was told that it’s was up to each unit to put the info out. Must have missed it in the op order before leaving the wire on patrol.

  25. w.anthony@aol.com July 6, 2018 at 10:40 am

    What make us any different from the rest. We should be entitled to the same benefits. Believe me if your a veteran and try to deal with things your self. Don’t file and get what you deserve. What ever happen to you was not caused by you. It was caused by a situation you were put into so fight for your benefits before they take everything from us.

  26. Kelly D carter July 6, 2018 at 10:33 am

    Ex: I was eligible under the original 45mo of assistance- if I had used 24 mo of it already does
    that mean I will only have 12 months of assistance left as apposed to 21 months?

    • Beth Lewis July 9, 2018 at 6:03 pm

      No, it’s only for those who start using benefits after Aug. 1, 2018.

  27. Bry Not July 6, 2018 at 10:27 am

    Wow! I’m assuming Colmery is turning over in his grave knowing Congress cannot do the math to understand it takes 48 months to get a four-year degree. 36 months? That’s three years. Why not just spread the money out over 48 months? Who does this benefit? Not this family – one who is putting their kids through college with the DEA. Does congress get that it’s around $2500 a month for a public education? How does this make sense?

    • Beth Lewis July 9, 2018 at 6:02 pm

      Benefits are paid based on the start/end date of programs, not full calendar years. Traditional colleges use about 4 months in the fall and 4 in the spring. So 8 months in a year. 8 months x 4 years = 32 months. Summer semesters are about 2 months long, so they can go for a couple of summers, too, or have an additional fall/spring semester.

  28. Philip A Casten July 6, 2018 at 10:26 am

    I still have A Year of Post 911 GI Bill. I originally transfered it to my Daughter. But she left a Balance of 16 months. My Wife is a school teacher and would like to use it for her Masters. I transfered the remaining balance back to me. But it will not allow me to transfer it to my wife. I am currently 60% disabled. What must be done to transfer remaining GI bill to my wife. THANK YOU, PHILIP CASTEN

  29. Michael Padula July 6, 2018 at 9:59 am

    I am married. I am a 100% Service Connected Disabled Vietnam Era Veteran. Does my wife’s Daughter qualify for DEA when I pass away?

    • Jeff Pesta July 9, 2018 at 8:57 am

      you need to talk to a veteran service officer, pick up an affidavit and apply for special monthly compensation, since you can not work due to the care you have to provide your husband day to day.

  30. Robin Coleman July 6, 2018 at 9:54 am

    My husband is 100% disabled, but I would like to know is there an age limit to the education benefits ? I would like to take some classes.

    • Leonel Fuentes July 16, 2018 at 3:57 pm

      No Ma”am there’s no age limit and if your husband is 100% disable you also qualify for chapter 35.

  31. GStair July 6, 2018 at 9:51 am

    Unfortunately Many of us who served more than 20 years and had children while serving they are too old to take advantage of the DEA benefits once awarded. Only those who start a new family afterwards. How fair is that to those kids who actually suffered through our deployments and constant relocations.

    I think there should be an adjustment for those family members and svc members who could not take advantage of their gi bill within the 10 or 14 years.

  32. Scott Lang July 6, 2018 at 9:49 am

    This is BS. The program was too short already. 36 months is not enough.

  33. M Brown July 6, 2018 at 9:46 am

    I am a 10 year caregiver for my Husband who is a Korean War Vet. same BS- if he were post 911 I would be paid. That is BS TOO.

  34. Charles Dubin July 6, 2018 at 9:31 am

    Dear USVA,I still receive medical benefits but more serious exams.We were uniformed Army but had the required service as civilian test directors with explosives.I’ve worked in the Schools in local government and as a Recreation Leader for light salaries.My BS was from early times and the graduate work required more credits.I worked Pro Bono at BVA at Wash,DC HQ as a legal consultant.If you have partial payment plans for vets with few benefits we’re interested.

  35. Brian T. Osborn July 6, 2018 at 9:14 am

    Tired of “winning” yet? Oh well, enjoy the parade!

    • pRKs July 10, 2018 at 6:16 am

      Right?!! I’m so sick of dumpster republikcon win I could die.

  36. Flammia July 5, 2018 at 7:51 pm


    • Quancidine Gribble July 6, 2018 at 10:10 am

      Write a letter to President Donald Trump and ask him why as well as your Congressman. They sure could use the opportunity to help someone right now. I hope this helps. Quancidine Hinson-Gribble

      • Gerald E. Lynch July 13, 2018 at 9:07 pm

        Do you actually think tRump gives a rat’s ass about veterans? He is a draft dodging traitor.

    • SimpleLife July 6, 2018 at 12:07 pm

      Hi Flammia,
      I am so sorry to hear this. Unfairness is happening in this system all over the place. I am so sorry for your daughters’ loss, yours, and the family unit you had. How terrible for someone to come home and relive those nightmares over and over. It’s heartbreaking to try to imagine what these men go through and what their families end up going through. She deserves his education allowance for sure. I wish there was a way to help!

    • Seth Trent July 6, 2018 at 7:58 pm

      Unfortunately if he only served from 71 to 73, he would not have been able to transfer his Viet Nam era GI Bill benefits to his children. And he does not qualify for The other 2 programs: MGI Bill and Post 911 GI Bill.

    • Terry Delaney July 8, 2018 at 7:43 am

      Check with the VFW and American Legion they have special advocates for Vietnam Veterans who were exposed to agent orange. I know when I was in NY a friend of mine was one of those advocates. Best of Luck!

    • Alexa Salas July 24, 2018 at 10:14 am

      You may also want to check with state benefits. Here in California if the veteran passed of Agent Orange it would be considered DIC benefits for you and your daughter this would give eligibility for chapter 35. In California she would be eligible for Cal Vet Tuition fee waiver, this waives tuition at any Cal state, UC or Junior College that is considered a public institution. Other states have similar programs it is best to go to your veteran affairs county office as they can provide assistance.

    • Diana July 30, 2018 at 1:19 am

      Contact your US Representative or US Senator. They can help you.

  37. Kenneth July 5, 2018 at 5:20 pm

    I am limited to 15 years and non 911 veterans get forever. I sailed 81 2003 many years no internet cell phone or ship phones. Had to wait weeks for a letter and some jackass give forever to new military. Some serious bullsh..

    • Seth Trent July 6, 2018 at 8:00 pm

      Are you seriously telling everyone that 15 years is not long enough for you to get a degree? Lmao

      • pRKs July 10, 2018 at 6:32 am

        Did you ever think that it might have something to do with “timing”? You don’t know this person or his life story. Don’t be a jerk.

        I wanted to use my educational benefits but then I came up pregnant, the small amount of money would not have paid for childcare. By the time my children were grown, the benefits were gone. Life happens.

    • Larry July 13, 2018 at 1:09 pm

      Budget my friends. How can this country balance budgets by millions to veterans who served this country? We have millions as many at least as 50 million illegal invaders. Millions granted legal status under Clinton Bush and Obama at least. There are millions on welfare we need to provide food clothing medical-dental care housing education etc. those outvote a few veterans. Go figure the math the votes of benefactors of fraud illegals and criminals out count veterans. Who do expect to win. Bash Trump if you like but at least he tries to put Americans and veterans first.

      • Sail Army July 29, 2018 at 11:54 am

        Your comment is really sad and pathetic. You take something so good like Veterans benefits that we worked hard, and sacrificed for and you make it political partisan issue that has nothing to do with immigration. I’m sorry you’re so angry. Maybe you can seek help at your local VAMC behavioral health clinic. Better yet, use the benefits to credential yourself so you won’t have to worry about what others do. I’m sorry to say but you really sound like a very uninformed person who knows nothing about the budget or social issues that truly impact our country. Get help dude!

        • Art Krueger August 1, 2018 at 4:51 pm

          No Sail Army, it is you that is ill informed and not aware of real events. It is about immigration, illegal immigration that takes millions and millions of dollars dealing with illegals. We police our borders, process, release them with benefits ranging from health care, welfare and education, and but 10% show up for their court hearings several years later. Where do you believe the money comes from to pay those bills? Money does not grow on sugar plumb trees, it has to be taxed and then spent as Congress dictates. Political, oh yes it is. Our liberal folks in Washington want as many people as possible dependent on the government, so they vote to support those that do. It is like mandatory union dues that (have) been collected by law, and then used to fund government representatives that support unions right to collect the dues, and so on. VA does not have an unlimited budget and now they are awarding VA disability to those that suffered from sexual harassment. And so it goes.

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