Education costs are skyrocketing, and making the right financial decisions is crucial.
A family finds themselves at a financial crossroads, grappling with decisions surrounding college tuition and available Veterans benefits.
Eligibility for Educational Benefits
A 17-year-old high school graduate, ready to embark on her college journey, faces a financial hurdle.
Her father, a disabled combat war veteran, and her stepmother, an expert in Military Education benefits, are caught in the middle of making tough decisions.
The stepdaughter is eligible for significant educational benefits due to her father’s service, but misinformation and reluctance create a rift in the family.
The stepmother narrates:
“We have spoken to her time and time again about applying for these VA Educational Benefits and she claims her mother is telling that she would not qualify for them.”
The Benefits at Stake
The stepdaughter is eligible for CH 35, or Dependents Education Assistance benefit, a monthly stipend, plus a state benefit that covers all tuition and fees for up to 8 semesters/4 years.
Despite the availability of these benefits, the daughter did not bother applying for the benefits and insisted on applying for student loans instead.
“My husband and I are not in a place to co-sign student loans, because my husband is still fulfilling his child support obligation until [his ex-wife] has finished her undergrad. [Ex-wife] has said that it is a ‘waste of her time’ to apply for these benefits, despite the fact she is eligible for it.”
The unfolding scenario has resulted in a family standoff, with the stepdaughter feeling her future is at stake and the parents steadfast in their decision not to co-sign loans when eligible benefits are at hand.
The stepmother, with 12 years of experience in the field, attempts to guide the stepdaughter through the application process, but misinformation continues to be a barrier.
Some people have weighed in on the situation, with some raising questions about the mother’s motives.
One commenter speculated on the possibility of the mother doing something that could have affected the stepdaughter’s eligibility, leading to her adamant stance against applying for the benefits.
Utilizing Available Benefits
Another viewpoint comes from people with experience in Veterans benefits, emphasizing the importance of utilizing available resources.
A veteran who worked in a college vet’s office highlighted that nothing the mother can do will disqualify the daughter and that not taking advantage of the available benefits would be a significant waste.
Suggested Solutions: Applying for Benefits First
Several people have suggested solutions to the impasse, recommending that the stepdaughter apply for the benefits and, if denied, the parents could then reconsider helping in other capacities.
Understanding the CH 35 or Dependents Education Assistance Benefit
The CH 35 or Dependents Education Assistance (DEA) benefit ¹ is a substantial educational assistance program for dependents and survivors of Veterans. This benefit is available for dependent spouses or children and surviving spouses or children of a Veteran.
Eligibility for this benefit is determined by several criteria, including the service member’s death in the line of duty, missing in action status, detention by a foreign power, or having a service-connected permanent and total disability.
The benefits include coverage of tuition costs, a monthly housing allowance, money for books and supplies, and more.
The program covers various educational programs, including college, business, technical, or vocational programs, certification tests, apprenticeships, on-the-job training, and more.
Duration & Limitations
The duration of benefits for spouses is 20 years from the service member’s date of death if they died on active duty, or 10 years from the date of qualification or the Veteran’s date of death.
Children may use benefits between ages 18 and 26.
The maximum months of benefits are 45 months if the first use of benefits was before August 1, 2018, and 36 months if after.
Eligible individuals must apply for the VA education benefits (Chapter 35).
Two main GI Bill programs offer educational assistance to survivors and dependents of Veterans: The Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship (Fry Scholarship) and the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) program. Applicants may qualify for both but can use only one.
Available benefits should not be overlooked, especially if education is involved. When finances are what’s between you and a better future, open communication is key to resolving conflicts and making the best choices.
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Martha A. Lavallie
Martha is a journalist with close to a decade of experience in uncovering and reporting on the most compelling stories of our time. Passionate about staying ahead of the curve, she specializes in shedding light on trending topics and captivating global narratives. Her insightful articles have garnered acclaim, making her a trusted voice in today's dynamic media landscape.