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School Certifications: Now Simpler and Easier

Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) child annuitants between 18 and 22 years old who must certify their status as a full-time student will benefit from the sweeping changes made to simplify the process and the form.

College students will now certify annually instead of each term, students will no longer need a school official signature or school documentation when they certify, and the school certification form is shorter and simpler. In addition, we developed a Form Wizard to make filling out the DD 2788 easier, and added an electronic signature option to the Wizard. We also are now using the DD 2788 as the student annuitant’s annual Certificate of Eligibility (COE) in place of a separate form. These changes will significantly reduce the paperwork burden and make the process easier and more convenient for full-time student child annuitants. 

The Survivor Benefit Plan’s payments to child annuitants typically end when they reach age 18. However, if the child annuitant attends school full-time - in high school or at an accredited trade school, technical or vocational institute, college or university - they are eligible to continue receiving payments until the end of the school year during which they turn 22, as long as they remain unmarried. To continue the annuity payments, a child annuitant over 18 must regularly certify they are a full-time student. 

The changes include: 

  • College student annuitants only need to certify their full-time attendance once a year during the summer, instead of each term, significantly cutting the paperwork burden. 
  • Student annuitants self-certify their attendance without the need for a school official signature or documentation from the school, making it quicker and easier for students. 
  • The school certification form is shorter and simpler, focusing on the student annuitant’s future schooling plans. For certifying their past attendance, DFAS will also mail student annuitants a letter with pre-filled information for them to sign. 
  • Students can upload a PDF of their signed and dated school certification form and letter online on the DFAS website, which is mobile-friendly. The online upload tool is at: https://go.usa.gov/xymaH
  • To make the process even easier for student annuitants, we developed a Form Wizard to make the new DD 2788 easier to complete and submit. The Form Wizard takes the “form” out of the form by having the student answer a series of questions. Once they have answered the questions, the Wizard automatically places their answers in the correct areas of the form and generates a PDF of the completed form. 
  • We also added electronic signature capability to the School Certification Form Wizard. The electronic signature option allows the student annuitant to electronically sign the form in place of a handwritten signature. Electronic signature makes the process of completing and submitting the form much easier for student annuitants because they can fill it out, sign it, and authenticate it online and then upload it online through AskDFAS on DFAS.mil instead of having to print out a form, sign it, and then scan it to upload online.
  • The DD 2788 now serves as the annual Certificate of Eligibility (COE) for student annuitants, so they will no longer need to fill out a separate COE if they are submitting their School Certification annually. This will also reduce the paperwork burden for these student annuitants.
  • If students provide an email address in myPay, the DFAS pay management portal, DFAS will send an email reminder when they have a school certification coming due.

Find out more about the new, easier process and tools: www.dfas.mil/schoolcerts

Page updated Dec 3, 2020