George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Survivors and Dependents Educational Assistance, Chapter 35

Survivors and dependents may be eligible for educational benefits from multiple sources: the Department of Veteran's Affairs Chapter 35; the Post/911 GI Bill; and the Virginia Department of Veterans Services.

The processes might seem complicated, but don't worry. Mason's Office of Military Services has been through it all before and can help you with each step. If you have questions or need guidance, call us at 703-993-2428.

Department of Veterans Affairs

Two primary programs offer assistance:

The Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship is available for children and surviving spouses of servicemembers who died in the line of duty after September 10, 2001. Children are eligible for the scholarship from ages 18 to 32. Beneficiaries can get up to 36 months of educational benefits, which pay 100 percent of costs. For more information about this program, read the Fry Scholarship fact sheet (PDF).

The Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance (DEA) Program offers education and training opportunities to the survivor or dependents of veterans who are disabled due to a service-related condition or who died on active duty or as a result of a service-related condition. Eligible dependents can get up to 45 months of educational benefits. Some beneficiaries might qualify for up to 81 months of GI Bill benefits if they use the Survivors and Dependents Educational Assistance program in conjunction with other VA education programs. To qualify, you must be the child or spouse of:

  • A veteran who died or is disabled, or died from any cause while disabled, as the result of a service-connected disability.
  • A servicemember missing in action or captured in the line of duty by a hostile force.
  • A servicemember detained or interned in the line of duty by a foreign government or power.
  • A servicemember hospitalized or receiving outpatient treatment for a service-related disability who is likely to be discharged.

For a summary of the DEA program's features, read the Dependents' Educational Assistance Program pamphlet (PDF).

Dependants and spouses maybe eligible for both the Fry and DEA programs, but only one can be used at a time.

To apply for both programs, fill out the Dependents' Application for VA Education Benefits form.

Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program (VMSDEP)

This program provides up to four academic years of education benefits at Virginia's public colleges and universities to spouses and children of military service members and veterans who:

  • Were killed in action.
  • Are missing in action
  • Were taken prisoner.
  • Are considered 90% disabled as a result of military service by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Applicants must be the children—ages 16 to 29—or the spouse of a qualified military service member, and Virginia must be the service member's home of record for at least five years before the application is made. You'll need a variety of documents for the application, including:

  • Authorization to Review Records.
  • Authorization to Disclose Records.
  • Proof of Military Service (DD Form 214; DD Form 1300, which will come from the service branch).
  • Proof of residency (tax records, utility bills, mortgage statements, for example).
  • Proof of disability (service medical records, military disability board decisions, for example).
  • Proof of dependency (marriage license, birth certificate, adoption decree, for example).

You can file the VMSDEP application online through the Virginia Department of Military Services, which also has complete information about the program and its requirements. You can also find a summary of information in the Veterans Education, Training, and Employment flyer (PDF).


Educating the Educators to Help Military Families' Children

Dr. Jill Biden speaks at podium while military official and student look on

Dr. Jill Biden, wife of former vice president Joe Biden, and then-Army Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno spoke at the "Operation Educate the Educators" event on the Fairfax Campus. Mason's College of Education and Human Development was one of the first to sign on to the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education initiative, which prepares educators to develop school cultures that are responsive to the social, emotional, and academic needs of children in military families.

Schools & Programs