Military Education Benefits for Families
Each education benefit for military family members has specific sponsor eligibility criteria. Although there are many education benefits and scholarships available to military dependents, this guide will focus on those benefits offered by the VA.
To see the eligibility requirements for each benefit, review the criteria outlined below. The steps needed to start an application can also be found in this guide.
Post-9/11 Active Duty Eligibility
In order for a family member to use Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, the sponsor must:
Have served a minimum of 90 days of active duty after September 10, 2001, OR elected Post-9/11 GI Bill if entered service prior to September 10, 2001
Be currently on active duty or honorably discharged
- Have served a minimum of 30 days and been discharged due to service connected disability
YES: Continue to transfer eligibility >
NO: May not be able to use Post-9/11 benefits
There are multiple variables that affect transferability of Post-9/11 benefits. We have outlined the eligibility criteria for benefit transfer below; however, the Veterans Benefit Administration is the final authority on the matter. For more information on the transferability of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, click here.
Post-9/11 Benefit Transfer Requirements
The sponsor must have completed a minimum of 10 years of service in the armed forces on the date of approval of benefit transfer and be precluded by the service branch or Department of Defense or statute from committing to four additional years. The sponsor must agree to serve for the maximum amount of time allowed by such policy or statute.
- The sponsor must have served at least six years in the armed forces, either active duty or selected reserve, on the date of approval of benefit transfer. At this point, the sponsor must also agree to serve four additional years in the armed forces.
- Sponsor must be retirement-eligible (having completed 20 years of active service or 20 years of service as computed pursuant to Section 12732 of Title 10 United States Code) and agree to serve an additional four years on or after August 1, 2012.
YES: Continue to next question.
NO: Benefits cannot be transferred after the sponsor separates from active service. The family member may not be able to use transferred benefits. Confirm with your local Veterans Benefits Regional Office.
YES: Student cannot use transferred benefits. Confirm remaining reward with your regional benefits office.
NO: Apply for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits using VA 22-1990e or by visiting http://www.vabenefits.vba.va.gov/vonapp/default.asp. You may also be eligible for work-study benefits. Continue to Duration of Eligibility.
Survivors’ and Dependents’ Education Assistance (SDEA) Eligibility
In order to be eligible for SDEA, the sponsor must be one of the following:
- Permanently and totally disabled due to a service-related condition.
- Deceased, having died while on active duty or as a result of a service-related condition.
- Forcibly detained or interned in the line of duty by a foreign government or power.
- Hospitalized or receiving outpatient treatment for a service-connected permanent and total disability, likely to be discharged for that disability (effective December 23, 2006).
YES: To apply continue to the Department of Veteran Affairs >
NO: Continue reading.
Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship Eligibility
This benefit is for children and surviving spouses of those who died in the line of duty after September 10, 2001. Eligible beneficiaries attending school may receive up to 36 months of benefits at the 100 percent level. For more information on payment rates, click here. For more information on the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship, click here.
Children and surviving spouses of an active duty member of the Armed Forces who died in the line of duty on or after September 10, 2001, are eligible for this benefit. Children are eligible as of their 18th birthday (unless they have already graduated from high school). A child may be married and still be eligible although this eligibility ends on his or her 33rd birthday. A spouse will lose eligibility to this benefit upon remarriage. A spouse has 15 years from the date of death of the service member to use the benefit.
Students eligible for both the Fry Scholarship and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) are required to make an irrevocable election between the two programs when applying. Dependents are not eligible to receive both DEA benefits and the Fry Scholarship based on the same event unless he or she is a child whose parent died prior to August 1, 2011. A child of a parent who died prior to August 1, 2011, may still be eligible for both benefits, but he or she may only use one program at a time, and combined benefits are capped at a total of 81 months of full-time training.
Other Factors To Consider
Surviving spouses are eligible to receive Dependency Indemnity Compensation (DIC) while using the Fry Scholarship. Children over the age of 18 in receipt of DIC will relinquish DIC payments upon the start of using VA educational benefits such as the Fry Scholarship.
Duration of Eligibility
After a certain amount of time has past, military education benefits may no longer be used. For transferred Post-9/11 GI Bill and SDEA applicants, benefits must be used within 20 years of the sponsor’s death. For the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John Fry Scholarship, benefits must be used within 15 years, though sometimes only within 81 months.
YES: Apply electronically, in person, in writing or at local regional office.
NO: Benefits cannot be acquired.
Occasionally, changes in family structure and marital status can affect benefit eligibility. The remarrying of a spouse or the adoption of a child by another party may render that particular family member ineligible. It is always advised that service members confirm the status of any VA benefits with the VA.
The education benefits and eligibility information on our website is provided to help you learn about the various benefits that may be available to you. However, 2U does not make eligibility determinations or administer any federal or state military benefits, and such benefits and/or requirements are subject to change. Please reference the applicable official U.S. government and/or service branch websites for complete and up to date information.