Veterans Affairs (VA) Education Benefits

VA education benefits are available to many survivors and dependents of veterans.

There are two main VA education benefits available to survivors.

The Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship (Fry Scholarship) is for children and spouses of services members who died in the line of duty after September 10, 2001.

The Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) program offers education and training to qualified dependents of veterans who are permanently disabled because of a service-related condition or who died while on active duty.

For eligibility and program details, visit VA Survivor and Dependent Education Benefits.

Some survivors may be eligible for education benefits under the Post 9/11 Montgomery GI Bill. Eligible Soldiers may transfer their Post 9/11 Montgomery GI benefits to a spouse or dependent children.

Visit VA Transfer of Post 9-11 GI Bill Benefits for information about transfer of eligibility.

The VA has a dedicated phone line for GI bill beneficiaries of active-duty service members who died in the line of duty. Beneficiaries such as surviving spouses and children can call 1-888-442-4551 (option5) for assistance with education benefits. A trained agent with survivor benefits expertise will assist. Agents are available Monday–Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. CDT.

Federal Student Aid

All survivors of Veterans are encouraged to apply for federal student aid. Survivors may receive loans, grants and work-study options to help pay for college or career school. To apply students must complete the free application for federal student aid (FAFSA).

Types of Federal Student Aid

Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant

Students with a parent or guardian who died while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan after 9/11 may apply for an Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant. To qualify, a student must have been under age 24 at the time of a parent’s or guardian’s death or enrolled in college or career school at least part time.

There is no application for the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant. The FAFSA will be compared with the file from the DOD, and the student will receive a letter explaining a potential increase in funding. Students must complete the FAFSA using their name as it appears in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS).

Other Types of Aid

Veterans service organizations, survivor groups and other local organizations provide opportunities for surviving family members. Contact an SOS coordinator for state, local and nonprofit resources.