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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?

I’ve been getting VA benefits for a few years. They are really nice. Good luck EVER getting a hold of the VA on the 1st when you check is late, yet again. NEVER rely on the money to be there on time. Expect to be on hold anywhere between 30-45 minutes for a 2 sec question.

My husband was medically retired and is receiving 100% VA disability. Would I qualify for Chapter 35 benefits? He just got out in Dec 2010. My state also offers tuition waiver for dependents of disabled veterans and for veterans themselves.

Most likely you would. If approved, you would get 45 months of benefits paid at $957 per month. Out of that you would have to pay all your own education expenses. In this day and age, you have to work all the angles.

My father was medically reired from the service due to injuries recieved in Iraq. He has a 7o% rating from the VA. I am graduating from high school in 2013. Would I be eligible for Chapter 35 benefits.

I was told since my husband died from a over 100% service connected disability, my children would attend any state college totally paid for. Does this include housing as well?

Yes and no. It depends on what you consider “Chapter 35 money”. If you are half-time or less, then the maximum amount you can get paid is the amount of your tuition and eligible fees. If you are between 1/2 time and 1/4 time the most you can get is $491.00. If you are 1/4 time or less, that maximum amount drops down to $246.75. So you have to be over 1/2 time to get anything above and beyond the cost of your tuition and eligible fees.

My husband has a rating of 60% from the VA he is in the process of going to review board which will determine if he will be medically retired because he can not do his job due to injuries sustained in Iraq/Kuwait. Would we qualify for any education benefits. thank you

No she doesn’t. Chatper 35 is a GI Bill for education only program, however depending on her school, she may have some health insurance coverage if her school made her take out their health insurance.

I”m a 100% permanent and totally service connected disabled veteran. I am using my montgomery gi bill currently. If I use up my gi bill and post 911 gi bill, meaning 48 months of benefits, will the VA Rule of 48 cause my dependents and future wife to not have VA Chapter 35 benefits? If not, then, if my wife uses 48 months of chapter 35 benefits will my children then lose eligibility to Chapter 35 benefits due to the VA Rule of 48?

My daughter is currently getting chapter 35 benefits. She is in the honors program and tutor kids constantly for free. Since I no longer work as I need to take care of her father, I have asked her if she could get a tutoring job. Is she allowed to have a small part time job while going to school full time with her DEA/chapter 35 benefits?

If you are using your 35 benefits for a certification program, and it only runs 18 weeks, will I get paid the full tution cost or just my 957 a month?

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