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Can I Use the DEA Program to Go to School?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband is a veteran and I am interested in going back to school to get my LPN and use the DEA (chapter 35) assistance program. I have not been able to find any specific information on this program. I know it can pay up to $925.00 a month, but I’m not sure what it covers, etc. Do you have any information to explain the program a little better? Also, what are some other options I might have to help pay for additional expenses? Thank you very much for you time.

A: I don’t know how much you know about the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Education Assistance Program (DEA), so I noted the eligibility requirements. As a spouse of a veteran, your sponsor must be:

  • a veteran who died or is permanently and totally disabled as the result of a service-connected disability;
  • a veteran who died from any cause while such 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.

I couldn’t tell from your question is your husband is deceased or disabled. If he is not, then you most likely do not qualify for the DEA program.

If you do qualify, though, you can get up to 45 months of education benefit that you can use for:

  • degree programs;
  • certificate and licensing programs;
  • apprenticeship/on-the-job training;
  • correspondence courses.

If you think you might qualify, apply online or download VA Form 22-5490, fill it out and submit it according to the instructions on the form.

If approved for the DEA program, you have 10 years from either your approval date, or from the date of your husband’s death, to use your benefit. You are correct in saying you can get up to $925 per month to go to school. Out of that amount, you have to pay all of your own education expenses.

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