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School Certifications

Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) annuity payments typically stop for child annuitants covered under SBP when they reach age 18 unless they are incapacitated.

However, if you attend school full-time (in high school or at an accredited college or university), the SBP annuity payments can continue until you reach age 22 or otherwise become ineligible.

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*  *  * MAY 2020 CHANGES: NEW SCHOOL CERTIFICATION FORM, NEW PROCESS – SIMPLER AND MORE CONVENIENT! NO SCHOOL SIGNATURE OR TRANSCRIPT NEEDED! *  *  * 

We simplified the school certification form and overhauled the process to reduce the paperwork and make it easier and more convenient for you: 

  • College students will now certify annually instead of each term
  • Students will self-certify, so they will no longer need a school official signature or school documentation when they certify full-time attendance, and 
  • The new DD 2788 - Child Annuitant’s School Certification form is shorter and simpler and is focused on your intent to continue full-time school attendance (future intent). There is a new, simple Child Annuitant’s Certification for Previous Attendance Letter you will use to certify past attendance. This makes the process much less confusing. 


Starting now, here is how the school certification process will work:

  • If you are a college student between 18 and 22 years old, once each year you will fill out and send a new DD 2788 form (form dated May 2020) to notify us of your future full-time school plans. You will also sign and return a short previous attendance certification letter to confirm your past full-time school attendance.
    In the future, the Child Annuitant’s Certification for Previous Attendance Letter you receive in the mail will be pre-filled with the information you provided previously on your DD 2788 form, so you can simply confirm and sign. 
  • If you are a high school student over 18, once each year you will fill out and send a new DD 2788 form (form dated May 2020) to notify us of your future full-time school plans. You will also sign and return a short Child Annuitant’s Certification for Previous Attendance Letter to confirm your past full-time school attendance. At the end of your last year of high school, you will fill out another new DD 2788 form (form dated May 2020) to notify us of your future full-time school plans. You will also sign and return a short previous attendance certification letter to confirm your past full-time school attendance.
    In the future, the Child Annuitant’s Certification for Previous Attendance Letter you receive in the mail will be pre-filled with the information you provided previously on your DD 2788 form, so you can simply confirm and sign. 
  • If you are a high school or college student turning 18, we will mail you a school certification form 60-90 days prior to your 18th birthday. The certification form must be filled out and signed by a parent or guardian and returned to DFAS prior to the first day of the month of the child annuitant’s 18th birthday

TRANSITION to the new form and process:

College Students and High School Students Over 18 Attending School Full-Time

If you have not yet submitted your school certification form for the most recent term/semester, please use the new DD 2788 form and new Child Annuitant’s Certification for Previous Attendance Letter that will be in this special mailing to you in May.

If you have already submitted your school certification form for the most recent term/semester, you will receive this special mailing in May. Please fill out and return only the new DD 2788. This is so we have your full future attendance information for the coming school year and you won’t need to fill out another DD 2788 until summer of 2021 (unless you graduate or stop attending school full-time).

High School Students and College Students Turning 18

If you have not yet submitted your school certification form, please use the new DD 2788 form

If you have already submitted your school certification form, you will receive this special mailing in May. Please fill out and return only the new DD 2788. This is so we have your full future attendance information for the coming school year and you won’t need to fill out another DD 2788 until summer of 2021 (unless you graduate or stop attending school full-time).
 


**Reminder: DFAS has a new, online option for submitting school certification forms

DFAS created a new online upload tool where students can upload a school certification form through AskDFAS on the DFAS.mil website, which is also accessible on a mobile browser. 

The online upload tool is at: https://go.usa.gov/xymaH

To use the new, online upload tool to submit a school certification form, students just need to fill in the required information in the online screen, and then upload a PDF of their completed and signed form/previous attendance letter.

This online upload tool can only accept school certification forms previous attendance certification letters, and other school certification documentation,. It cannot be used for other types of annuitant documents or requests.


**Did you hear? New email reminders when school certifications are coming due

DFAS will now send email reminders when it is time to submit school certifications. Student child annuitants who would like to receive these reminders just need to have a myPay account with a valid email address, and DFAS will email reminders when it is time for school certifications to be submitted. We have a how to get started with myPay video on the DFAS YouTube channel at: or use this Get Started pdf guide


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School certifications for child annuitants over age 18 attending college/university full-time

Each year, we mail a Child Annuitant's School Certification package, which includes the Child Annuitant's School Certification form (DD Form 2788) plus a Child Annuitant’s Certification for Previous Attendance Letter, to verify you are still enrolled full-time. 

If we don’t receive the signed form and previous attendance letter no later than July 31 (60 days from the date of the school certification package annual mailing), we will suspend payments until we receive a properly completed form and letter. In the future, the Child Annuitant’s Certification for Previous Attendance Letter you receive in the annual mailing will be pre-filled with the information you provided previously on your DD 2788 form, so you can simply confirm and sign. 

School certifications for child annuitants turning age 18 while attending high school or college

Child annuitants over age 18 (and not incapacitated) must be full-time students to continue receiving SBP annuity payments. A school certification form is sent before the annuitant reaches age 18 to verify the child annuitant’s eligibility to continue to receive SBP payments.

We will mail a school certification form to the child annuitant 60-90 days prior to their 18th birthday. The certification form must be filled out and signed by a parent or guardian, and returned to DFAS prior to the first day of the month of the child annuitant’s 18th birthday.

When the school certification form is received for a child annuitant that turns 18 years of age while attending college, we will certify the child annuitant's eligibility as future intent to continue payment. The school certification package (DD 2788 dated May 2020 plus the new Child Annuitant’s Certification for Previous Attendance Letter) will also be needed annually to certify that the child annuitant is a full-time student.

When the school certification form is received for a child annuitant that turns 18 years of age while in high school, we will certify the child annuitant’s eligibility until their high school graduation date or or until the following summer, whichever period is shorter.

If the school certification form is not returned by the first day of the month of the child annuitant’s 18th birthday, the annuity payment is suspended until a properly completed form is received.

If a child annuitant over age 18 does not plan to attend college full-time, their annuity eligibility ends on the date of high school graduation.

If the child annuitant over age 18 plans to attend college full-time within 150 days of the date of their high school graduation, they should submit the school certification package (DD 2788 dated May 2020 plus the new Child Annuitant’s Certification for Previous Attendance Letter) to notify DFAS of their plan to attend college on a full-time basis and their past attendance, which will continue their annuity eligibility. The school certification package (DD 2788 dated May 2020 plus the new Child Annuitant’s Certification for Previous Attendance Letter) will also be needed annually to certify that the child annuitant is a full-time student.

If a child annuitant over 18 stops attending school full-time and doesn’t intend to return to full-time schooling in the next 150 days, they must notify DFAS immediately by sending a signed DD Form 2788 or by sending a written statement stating they are no longer a full-time student. Please include  full name, daytime phone number, the member’s social security number and signature on all written correspondence.
 

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THE MAY 2020 CHANGES SUPERSEDE THE FOLLOWING MARCH 2020 CHANGES TO THE SCHOOL CERTIFICATION PROCESS – Please use the new form and new process, it’s easier!

The following information only applies if student child annuitant is submitting certification in 2020 using the EXPIRED DD 2788 form dated May 2017.
During the transition period of May 1, 2020 to July 31, 2020 you may submit either the new DD 2788 form dated May 2020 OR the OLD DD 2788 form dated May 2017. 

Details of the March 2020 changes to the school certification process are below or download a PDF of the March 2020 letter from the DFAS Retired & Annuitant Pay director 

New transcript or verification options instead of School Official signature (Applies ONLY to the outdated DD 2788 form dated May 2017)

College Students: You can now submit a copy of an unofficial transcript or official transcript from your school or a verification from the National Student Clearinghouse with your DD 2788 - Child Annuitant’s School Certification, instead of having a school official fill out and sign the form (Section III or IV of the form). Most college students can print an unofficial transcript from their school’s online self-serve portal. 

The transcript/verification you submit must show you are/were enrolled in school full-time and be dated at least 45 days into the semester/term (for college students’ current attendance). For certifying past attendance, the transcript/verification must be dated after the 45th day of the term and show you were enrolled in school full-time for that term.

High School Students: You can now submit a copy of an unofficial transcript (proof of enrollment) or official transcript from your school or a verification from the National Student Clearinghouse with your DD 2788 - Child Annuitant’s School Certification, instead of having a school official fill out and sign the form (Sections III or IV of the form). The unofficial transcript can be proof of enrollment generated by your school’s learning management system (or online portal). 

If you are certifying for current attendance, the transcript/verification you submit must show you are currently enrolled in high school full-time. The transcript/ verification cannot be dated more than 60 days before the date you send your DD Form 2788. If you are certifying for past attendance in high school, the transcript can be dated any time after the 45th day of the start of the school term.


College students/school officials may now certify attendance after the 45th day of the school term/semester (Applies ONLY to the outdated DD 2788 form dated May 2017)

DFAS can now accept a DD Form 2788 from college students dated AT LEAST 45 DAYS after the start of the school term/semester. For college students, the form is still due no later than the LAST DAY of the term/semester. 

Please note the DD 2788 form currently says: "School official may not certify attendance earlier than 30 days prior to the end of the school semester." We are in the process of updating the form with the new information. 

DD 2788 School Certification How-To Checklist (Applies ONLY to the outdated DD 2788 form dated May 2017)

The how-to checklist for the DD 2788 form dated May 2017 provides quick tips and a walk-through of the form to help you and the school official fill out the school certification form correctly and easily. You can download and print the checklist, or use it on your computer or tablet while you are filling out the form.

School certifications for child annuitants over age 18 attending college/university full-time  (Applies to the outdated DD 2788 form dated May 2017)

Each semester, we mail a Child Annuitant's School Certification form (DD Form 2788) to verify you are still enrolled. If we don’t receive the form by the end of your school term, we will suspend payments until we receive a properly completed form.

School certifications for child annuitants turning age 18 while attending high school or college  (Applies to the outdated DD 2788 form dated May 2017)

Child annuitants over age 18 (and not incapacitated) must be full-time students to continue receiving SBP annuity payments. A school certification form is sent before the annuitant reaches age 18 to verify the child annuitant’s eligibility to continue to receive SBP payments.

We will mail a school certification form to the child annuitant 60-90 days prior to their 18th birthday. The certification form must be filled out and signed by a parent or guardian, and then signed by a school official  (unless form is returned with a current transcript/verification), and returned to DFAS prior to the first day of the month of the child annuitant’s birth.

When the school certification form is received for a child annuitant that turns 18 years of age while attending college, we will certify the child annuitant's eligibility as future intent to continue payment. However, a separate school certification will also be needed at the end of the semester for validation of their eligibility as a full-time student. School certification forms will also be needed at the end of each of the following semesters to certify that the child annuitant is a full-time student.

When the school certification form is received for a child annuitant that turns 18 years of age while in high school, we will certify the child annuitant’s eligibility until their high school graduation date or for one year, whichever period is shorter.

If the school certification form is not returned by the first day of the month of the child annuitant’s 18th birthday, the annuity payment is suspended until a properly completed form is received.

If a child annuitant over age 18 does not plan to attend college full-time, their annuity eligibility ends on the date of high school graduation.

If the child annuitant over age 18 plans to attend college full-time within 150 days of the date of their high school graduation, they should submit an additional school certification form to notify DFAS of their plan to attend college on a full-time basis, which will continue their annuity eligibility. A school certification form will also be needed prior to the end of the first semester for validation of their eligibility as a full-time student. School certification forms will also be needed at the end of each of the following semesters to certify that the child annuitant is a full-time student.

 

 

Page last updated on May 15, 2020