How to Add College-Aged Dependents to My VA Benefits
If your combined disability rating is 30 percent or higher, you are eligible to receive additional benefits for qualifying dependents in your household, including children between the ages of 18 and 23 who are still in school. Specifically, 38 CFR § 3.667 states that “compensation may be paid from a child’s 18th birthday based upon school attendance if the child was at that time pursuing a course of instruction at an approved educational institution and a claim for such benefits is filed within one year from the child’s 18th birthday.”
Effective Dates for VA Benefits Based on School Attendance
According to VA, entitlement to VA benefits for college-aged dependents is effective on the date of the child’s 18th birthday, if:
- VA receives a claim for benefits based on school attendance within one year of the child’s 18th birthday; and
- The child was attending school on his or her 18th birthday; or
- Turned 18 during a school break; and
- Resumed school attendance at the end of the break
If VA receives a claim for additional benefits based on school attendance within one year of the child’s 18th birthday, but the child was not attending school at that time, VA should pay the additional benefits effective the first day of the month following the month in which school attendance began.
Additionally, if VA receives the claim more than one year after a child turns 18, but before age 23, benefits should be effective the first day of the month following the month school attendance began, as long as VA receives the claim within one year of the date school attendance began.
Vacation Periods and Transfers
For compensation purposes, a college-aged dependent is considered to be in school during a vacation or other holiday period if he or she was attending an approved educational institution at the end of the preceding school term and resumes attendance, either in the same or a different approved educational institution, at the beginning of the next term. Importantly, if benefits were awarded covering a vacation period, and the dependent fails to resume school attendance, benefits should be terminated the date of the last payment or the last day of the month preceding the date of failure to pursue the course, whichever is earlier.
Furthermore, if VA benefits are awarded based on school attendance, college-aged dependents should continue to receive such benefits even if it is shown that he or she was pursuing a different course in the same approved educational institution or a course in a different approved educational institution.
Discontinuing VA Benefits Based on School Attendance
VA maintains that any award of benefits based on school attendance will have an end date that corresponds with the date the school child stopped or plans to stop attending school. Discontinuation of these benefits will be effective the earlier of the following dates:
- First day of the month following the month in which school attendance ended or will end; or
- The child’s 23rd birthday
VA Form 21-674, Request for Approval of School Attendance
To add college-aged dependents to VA benefits, veterans must fill out and submit VA Form 21-674, Request for Approval of School Attendance. There are two main parts to the form including the actual request for school attendance and the school attendance report. Each part is comprised of subparts that the veteran must complete:
Request for Approval of School Attendance
- Part I. In this section, veterans must include the following personal identifying information: full name, email address, and VA file number. From there, veterans must include the following information about the college-aged dependent: full name, social security number, date of birth, name/address of school for which approval is requested, name of type of course of education or training, and the expected start and graduation dates. Veterans must also indicate whether the student will be attending school full time. If not, they must indicate the subject for which the student is enrolled and the number of sessions/hours per week of class or training for it.
- Part II. Section II involves questions regarding the college-aged dependent’s income and net worth. Specifically, the veteran must include a report of the student’s income by calendar year categorized by the source of the income (i.e. all employment, annual social security, other annuities, and all other income); how much money was received; and how much money is expected to be received the following year. Veterans must also indicate the value of the student’s estate, broken down into savings (including cash), securities/bonds, real estate, all other assets, and the total of all of those combined.
- Part III. Here, the veteran must sign to indicate that the information provided is accurate. By signing, the veteran is also agreeing to notify VA immediately of any changes in the course of the college-aged dependent’s education, including transferring to another school, discontinuing school, etc.
School Attendance Report
At the top of this section, the Veteran will again list his or her full name and email address along with the student’s full name and social security number.
- Part I – Verification of School Attendance. In this section, the veteran will list the official beginning date of the college-aged dependent’s school term and whether he or she started attending on that date. The veteran must also indicate whether the student’s tuition is being paid under VA Dependents Education Assistance benefits or any other federal agency benefit. If so, the veteran must include the type of benefit and the date payments began. At the end of this section, the veteran will have to certify that the information provided is accurate by signing and dating the form, and also listing his or her relationship to the student.
- Part II – Verification of Termination of School Attendance. This section only needs to be completed by the school if the student discontinued his or her education.
Importantly, veterans must submit a copy of the student’s class schedule along with VA Form 21-674 as supporting documentation.
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