If you are the spouse or child of a veteran or servicemember, there are unique financial aid options available to assist you in paying for your college education. Educational assistance programs, grants, and scholarships are all available to help you afford your college degree.
Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance Program
The Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance (DEA) Program provides education and training opportunities to the spouses and children of veterans who are permanently or totally disabled as the result of a service-related condition. DEA payments can also be made to the spouses and children of veterans who died while on active duty or as a result of a service-related condition. DEA financial aid may be used to pay for degree or certificate programs. Aid is available for up to 45 months. As of October 1, 2013, some spouses and children may be eligible to receive up to 81 months of GI Bill benefits if they enroll in the DEA program.
Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant
Individuals with a parent or guardian that died as a result of military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001 may be eligible for an Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant. The program provides financial aid for young men and women to pay for college courses and other education expenses. To qualify you must not eligible for a Federal Pell Grant (see more information below) on the basis of your expected family contribution, but you must meet all other eligibility requirements. Finally, you must have been younger than 24 years old or enrolled in college at least part-time at the time of your parent's or guardian's death.
Federal Pell Grant Increase
Federal Pell Grants are typically available only to undergraduate students. The financial aid awarded is determined based on a student's financial need, which is the remaining cost to attend their chosen college or university after subtracting the expected family contribution. Unlike a loan, Federal Pell Grants do not need to be repaid. For individuals whose parent or guardian died as a result of service in Iraq or Afghanistan, they may be eligible to receive an increase in their available Federal Pell Grant funding. In order to be eligible, you must have been less than 24 years old at the time of your parent's of guardian's death or have been enrolled in college at least part time.
Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship
The Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship offers Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits specifically to the surviving spouses and children of servicemembers who died while serving active duty after September 10, 2001. Eligible spouses and children may receive up to 36 months of financial aid. Funds can be used to pay full college tuition and fees and the funds are paid directly to your public in-state school. If you have chosen to attend a private or out-of-country school, the financial aid is capped at a maximum amount every year. Funds can also be used to pay for housing, books, and supplies. Fry Scholarship participants are not eligible for Yellow Ribbon Program benefits.
Transferring Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefits
Servicemembers eligible for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits may also choose to transfer all or a portion of available benefits to a spouse or child to help them pay for their own education. Eligible servicemembers may transfer up to 36 months of unused Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, with approval from the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security. Benefits may be transferred to a spouse, a child, or a combination of a spouse and a child.
Spouses and children of former servicemembers have convenient and affordable solutions to help pay for college through military education aid such as scholarships, grants, and loans. It is important for them to understand these opportunities so they may accomplish their education goals.