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Can You Explain How Chapter 35 Benefits Work?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I’m about to start receiving DEA benefits (Chapter 35). I’ve seen that the monthly payment is $936, but is that in addition to my tuition? Will VA pay for all of my tuition costs for the semester up front? I have no idea how this works!

A: Unfortunately, under Chapter 35, you are responsible to pay your own tuition, fees, books and other education-related expenses. However, you do get 45 months of education benefits and as a dependent child, you have up to age 26 to use them. If you are a surviving spouse, then you generally have 10 years to use them up. Any unused benefits at the end of the delimitation date will be lost.

Under Chapter 35, you can take either degree-producing or non-degree courses including:

  • certifications
  • licensing
  • apprenticeships/OJT.

Just ensure your school and course are VA-Approved.

If you haven’t already, you should go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-5490. That will get you your Certificate of Eligibility that shows your are eligible to use Chapter 35 benefits.

If you are eligible for Chapter 35 as a dependent child, you may also be eligible for the Fry Scholarship. Basically, this allows you to use your parent’s Post 9/11 GI Bill, if he/she was eligible for it and died in the line of duty. It pays considerably more being it pays for your tuition, plus gives you a monthly housing allowance and a book stipend up to $1,000 per year. Being you asked if the VA will pay your tuition, you may have already heard about this program.

If you do qualify for both the Fry Scholarship and Chapter 35, you will be limited to a total of 48 months of combined benefits under the VA’s Rule of 48. You could use up 36 months of the Fry Scholarship and then switch to Chapter 35 and use another 12 months.

If you are a surviving spouse, then you would not be eligible for the Fry Scholarship, but you may qualify for other scholarships, grants and loans. Start with submitting your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see what you would qualify for in educational funding.

37 responses on “Can You Explain How Chapter 35 Benefits Work?

My daughter was approved for chapter 35 in 2009 they have not given her anything yet. they misunderstood her and had her to sign the papers again in 2011, told her that is when her pay year starts is that right. Still haven’t gotten any thing as of today.

The only way your daughter will receive Chapter 35 benefits is if she enrolls in school. The approval only verified that she was eligible to receive benefits, not that she would automatically. The paperwork her school sends in on her behalf when she registers as a Chapter 35 student is what triggers the payments to start coming.

The GI Bill benefits you use has no effect on Chapter 35 benefits for your spouse or children. Each dependent member would get up to 44 months of Chapter 35.

My father had 70% rating from the VA they recently denied me from getting school benefits. Does the person have to be 100% and deceased? Or can I still get benefits even if he only had 70 % and heÔÇÖs deceased?

The way it is worded on the VA website is for you to be eligible to receive Chapter 35 benefits, one of the following conditions has to apply:
==> Veteran who is permanently and totally disabled as the result of, or dies of, a service-connected disability. The disability must arise out of or be aggravated by active duty.

==> Veteran with a permanent and total service-connected disability who dies from any cause.

Because your dad was rated at 70%, he does not meet the criteria for either condition and therefore you would not be eligible for education benefits. Permanently and totally constitutes a 100% rating.

I work for the VA and I know how hard we all work…the length of time holding on is simply due to the large number of calls we get each day. I am sorry for the long holds but it is not due to a lack of hard work. Also, a lot of calls could be answered through http://www.ebenefits.va.gov if you have a premium account and it only takes a few moments to set it up.

Good advice. We probably all could do a better job of trying to find answers on our own before calling the VA (and then complaining because of the on-hold time or call back message that you get). That would free up a lot of time that is right now spend on calls that the caller could have solved him/herself with a little research work. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy.

However as a person that does a lot of research on the GI Bill, the VA website could be more user friendly thus making it easier to find answers to questions. I’m experienced at using it and I still find it hard to get the information I want. I can imagine a newbie just throwing their arms up in frustration after being on it awhile and decide to call and try and get an answer (just to be put on hold).

So VA, if you do a better job of organizing your website so people can EASILY find the information they are looking for, the volume of calls may decrease, thus making the situation better for everyone.

Yes you can. Under Chapter 35, you get a fixed monthly amount of $987 per month that you can use to help pay for tuition. Keep in mind that generally speaking you have to use Chapter 35 benefits before you attain the age of 26.

Your husband would qualify. Because his disabilities are service-connected, he would qualify for 36 months of the Post 9/11 GI bill at the 100% tier level. Depending on how many years he has in, he may or may not qulaify to transfer benefits to you. If he has served for at least 10 years, he most likely would qualify for the transfer option. If he has not yet served 20 years, most likely not.

I am currently receiving Ch. 35 benefits. I have been offered a Graduate Teaching Assistant position with the University where I am studying. Will this affect my benefit amount? Thank you!

I have been total and permanent since 1995.I was married 7 years ago for the first time.Is she eligible for chapter 35?

Can you use concurrently both the DEA and the Post 9/11 educations benefits at the same time or just one or the other?

No you can’t use the concurrently (both at the same time), however you could use them consecutively (one after the other) up to your maximum of 48 months.

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