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School Certifications

The Survivor Benefit Plan provides an ongoing monthly annuity payment to military spouses or children when a military member dies while on active duty, on inactive duty in the line of duty, or after retirement (if the retiree chooses to purchase coverage). A child's eligibility to receive SBP payments ends when the child turns 18 unless proven to be in school or incapacitated/incapable of self-support and/or handling their own affairs.

If a child annuitant attends school full-time (in high school or at an accredited college or university), the SBP annuity payments can continue until they reach age 22 or otherwise become ineligible. SBP child annuitants between 18 and 22 years old must regularly certify their status as an unmarried, full-time student to continue to receive annuity payments. 

If a child annuitant attends school full-time and the child's birthday is between September 1 and June 30, the child’s eligibility to receive SBP payments ends on July 1 following the 22nd birthday. If the child's birthday is in July or August, the annuity eligibility stops the first day of the month in which the annuitant reaches age 22.

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Please see our Survivor SBP Newsletter for the latest news and information. 

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*  *  *SCHOOL CERTIFICATION SEASON – SPRING/SUMMER 2021 – WHAT TO KNOW AND WHAT TO DO *  *  * 

IMPORTANT
We recently learned that some student SBP annuitants did not receive their School Certification documents in the mail. We are extending the due dates for those students and mailing a special letter to them with additional information. We sincerely apologize for the missing mailing with the School Certification documents and the difficulty this may have caused.
 
What Student SBP Child Annuitants Need to Do
Students still need to complete and submit their School Certification documents NO LATER THAN July 31, 2021 even if they did not receive the School Certification mailing prior to May. Students attending summer school in 2021 should return their documents no later than the first of the month their summer term ends.  
 
You don’t need to wait to receive the mailing to fill out and submit your documents.
 
1-You can download, fill out and submit the DD 2788 Child Annuitant’s School Certification form or use the DD 2788 Form Wizard to help you fill out the DD 2788 form easily and correctly.
 
2-Use our special How-To Checklist for Spring/Summer 2021 to fill out your DD 2788 form according to your individual situation
 
3-If you don’t have the pre-filled Child Annuitant’s Certification for Previous Attendance Letter, submit a written and signed statement based on this example.
 
4-Use the online upload tool on DFAS.mil to submit PDFs of your completed and signed documents (this link is case-sensitive): https://go.usa.gov/xymaH
 
Listed below are the groups of student SBP child annuitants with the documents needed.
 
Students who turned/turn 18 prior to August 31, 2021:
1-Fill out, sign and return the DD 2788 School Certification form; and
2-Fill out, sign and return the direct deposit form (SF1199A)
 
Students over 18 who graduated from high school prior to July 1, 2021:
1-Fill out, sign and return the DD 2788 School Certification form; and
2-Sign and return the pre-filled Child Annuitant’s Certification for Previous Attendance Letter (or submit a written and signed statement based on this example
 
Students over 18 who finished their 2020-2021 college school year:
1-Fill out, sign and return the DD 2788 School Certification form; and
2-Sign and return the pre-filled Child Annuitant’s Certification for Previous Attendance Letter (or submit a written and signed statement based on this example) 
 
Students who turned/turn 22 between September 1, 2021 and August 31, 2021:
1-Sign and return the pre-filled Child Annuitant’s Certification for Previous Attendance Letter (or submit a written and signed statement based on this example) 


WHAT TO KNOW

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 now certify annually instead of each semester.
  • Students self-certify, so they don't need a school official signature or school documentation to certify full-time attendance.
  • We have a new School Certification DD 2788 Form Wizard to simplify filling out the form. The Form Wizard will ask you a series of questions and fill in your answers in the appropriate areas of the form. When you have finished answering the questions, you can even choose to electronically sign your form and submit it online using our online upload tool! Or click a button to generate a ready-to-print-and-sign PDF with your answers. See more information in the Helpful Tools and Tips for School Certifications section below.
  • We also have a new How-To Checklist with instructions for Spring/Summer 2021.
  • The new DD 2788 - Child Annuitant’s School Certification form is shorter and simpler. There is a new, simple Child Annuitant’s Certification for Previous Attendance Letter you will use to certify past attendance and replaces the former requirement for a school official’s signature.
  • We will now also use your annual DD 2788 School Certification Form as your Certificate of Eligibility (COE) instead of sending you a separate COE to submit each year.

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IMPORTANT INFORMATION - WHAT YOU NEED TO DO FOR SPRING/SUMMER 2021 - IF you have NOT YET sent us your DD 2788 School Certification form and Previous Attendance Letter
 
WHAT TO DO - COLLEGE STUDENTS Attending School Full-Time During the 2020-2021 School Year
 
1-Fill out, sign and return the DD 2788 School Certification form; and
2-Sign and return the pre-filled Child Annuitant’s Certification for Previous Attendance Letter (or submit a written and signed statement based on this example)

The DD 2788 is intended for you to fill out BEFORE the end of your current school year/semester. “Section II - Current Annuitant/Student Verification” refers to the current school year. “Section III - Future Intent to Attend or Continue to Attend School on a Full-Time Basis” refers to the upcoming school year.

Fill out the DD 2788. You don’t need to fill in Section II as long as you are returning a signed Previous Attendance Letter. For school year dates, use the school’s official academic calendar dates.

The DD 2788 School Certification form (form dated May 2020) is valid for the entire upcoming school year, unless you drop below full-time attendance, graduate, or get married. Use the ending date of the last semester you plan to attend in the next year in Section III – Future Intent. For example, if you plan to attend through spring of 2022, use the last date of that semester (e.g., 05/19/2022). If you plan to attend through summer of 2022, use the last date of that semester (e.g., 07/31/2022).

Review the pre-filled Child Annuitant’s Certification for Previous Attendance Letter. If the information is correct, sign, date, and fill in your email and phone number. If you do not have a pre-filled Child Annuitant’s Certification for Previous Attendance Letter, submit a written and signed statement based on the example above.

Use the new School Certification Form Wizard to make it easy or use the new Spring/Summer 2021 How-To Checklist with instructions for filling out the DD 2788 form.

Upload a PDF of your completed/signed DD 2788 form (or Form Wizard generated form), Previous Attendance Letter and any supporting documents via the AskDFAS online upload tool on DFAS.mil (this link is case-sensitive): https://go.usa.gov/xymaH

OR mail or fax to DFAS:
Defense Finance and Accounting Service
U.S. Military Annuitant Pay
8899 E 56th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46249-1300

Annuity fax: 800-982-8459
 
See more information in the Helpful Tools and Tips for School Certifications section below.

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WHAT TO DO - HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS and COLLEGE STUDENTS Turning 18 During the 2020-2021 School Year 

We mail a school certification form (DD 2788) and a direct deposit form to the child annuitant 60-90 days prior to their 18th birthday. The certification forms 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. 

1-Fill out, sign and return the DD 2788 School Certification form; and
2-Fill out, sign and return the direct deposit form (SF1199A)

For school year dates, use the school’s official academic calendar dates. 

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 until the following summer, whichever period is shorter.

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 plus the pre-filled Child Annuitant’s Certification for Previous Attendance Letter) will be needed annually to certify that the child annuitant is a full-time student.

Use the new School Certification Form Wizard to make it easy or use the new Spring/Summer 2021 Checklist with instructions for filling out the DD 2788 form.

If we do not receive a completed direct deposit form with your DD 2788, your payment will be converted into a check sent via mail.  

Upload a PDF of your completed/signed DD 2788 form (or Form Wizard generated form), Direct Deposit Form, and any supporting documents via the AskDFAS online upload tool on DFAS.mil (this link is case-sensitive): https://go.usa.gov/xymaH 

OR mail or fax to DFAS:
Defense Finance and Accounting Service
U.S. Military Annuitant Pay
8899 E 56th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46249-1300

Annuity fax: 800-982-8459

See more information in the Helpful Tools and Tips for School Certifications section below.

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WHAT TO DO - HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS Over 18 Graduating in 2021

1-Fill out, sign and return the DD 2788 School Certification form; and
2-Sign and return the pre-filled Child Annuitant’s Certification for Previous Attendance Letter (or submit a written and signed statement based on this example)

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 plus the pre-filled 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 will also be needed annually to certify that the child annuitant is a full-time student.

The DD 2788 is intended for you to fill out BEFORE the end of your current school year/semester. “Section II - Current Annuitant/Student Verification” refers to the current school year. “Section III - Future Intent to Attend or Continue to Attend School on a Full-Time Basis” refers to the upcoming school year. 

Fill out the DD 2788. You don’t need to fill in Section II as long as you are returning a signed Previous Attendance Letter or statement. For school year dates, use the school’s official academic calendar dates. 

The DD 2788 School Certification form (form dated May 2020) is valid for the entire upcoming school year, unless you drop below full-time attendance, graduate, or get married. Use the ending date of the last semester you plan to attend in the next year in Section III – Future Intent. For example, if you plan to attend through spring of 2022, use the last date of that semester (e.g., 05/19/2022). If you plan to attend through summer of 2022, use the last date of that semester (e.g., 07/31/2022).

Review the pre-filled Child Annuitant’s Certification for Previous Attendance Letter. If the information is correct, sign, date, and fill in your email and phone number. If you do not have a pre-filled Child Annuitant’s Certification for Previous Attendance Letter, submit a written and signed statement based on the example above.

​Use the new School Certification Form Wizard to make it easy or use the new Spring/Summer 2021 Checklist with instructions for filling out the DD 2788 form.

Upload a PDF of your completed/signed DD 2788 form (or Form Wizard generated form), Previous Attendance Letter and any supporting documents via the AskDFAS online upload tool on DFAS.mil (this link is case-sensitive): https://go.usa.gov/xymaH

OR mail or fax to DFAS:
Defense Finance and Accounting Service
U.S. Military Annuitant Pay
8899 E 56th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46249-1300

Annuity fax: 800-982-8459

See more information in the Helpful Tools and Tips for School Certifications section below.

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WHAT TO DO - COLLEGE STUDENTS Who Turned/Turn 22 between September 1, 2021 and August 31, 2021:
 
1-Sign and return the pre-filled Child Annuitant’s Certification for Previous Attendance Letter (or submit a written and signed statement based on this example) 

If a child annuitant attends school full-time and the child's 22nd birthday is between September 1 and June 30, the child’s eligibility to receive SBP payments ends on July 1 following the 22nd birthday. If the child's 22nd birthday is in July or August, the annuity eligibility stops the first day of the month in which the annuitant reaches age 22.

Upload a PDF of your completed/signed Previous Attendance Letter or statement and any supporting documents via the AskDFAS online upload tool on DFAS.mil (this link is case-sensitive): https://go.usa.gov/xymaH 

OR mail or fax to DFAS:
Defense Finance and Accounting Service
U.S. Military Annuitant Pay
8899 E 56th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46249-1300

Annuity fax: 800-982-8459

See more information in the Helpful Tools and Tips for School Certifications section below.


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Helpful Tools and Tips for School Certifications 


Tips for Filling Out the DD 2788 School Certification Form 

The DD 2788 School Certification form (form dated May 2020) is valid for the entire upcoming school year, unless you drop below full-time attendance, graduate, or get married. 

The DD 2788 is intended for you to fill out BEFORE the end of your current school year/semester. “Section II - Current Annuitant/Student Verification” refers to the current school year. “Section III - Future Intent to Attend or Continue to Attend School on a Full-Time Basis” refers to the upcoming school year. 

If you are returning a signed Previous Attendance Letter, you don’t need to fill in Section II - Current Annuitant/Student Verification on the DD 2788 form. Note: the Previous Attendance Letter replaces the former requirement for a school official’s signature or transcript.

For school year dates, use the school’s official academic calendar dates. For example, in Section III, for the 2021-2022 school year, if you are attending fall semester through spring semester, use the beginning date of the fall semester as the “date school year began or is expected to begin” and the ending date of the spring term 2022 as the “date school year ends or is expected to end.” If you will be attending the summer session in 2022, use the ending date of the summer term as the “date school year ends or is expected to end.”

Use the new How-To Checklist with specific instructions for filling out the new DD 2788 form according to your situation.

Use the School Certification DD 2788 Form Wizard

Use the new School Certification DD 2788 Form Wizard to simplify filling out the form. The Form Wizard will ask you a series of questions and fill in your answers in the appropriate areas of the form. When you have finished answering the questions, you can even choose to electronically sign your form and submit it online using our online upload tool! Or click a button to generate a ready-to-print-and-sign PDF with your answers.

How to use the Form Wizard: You can download the entire DD 2788 Form Wizard (right click and choose "Save As") to your Windows or MAC computer. You will need compatible PDF software, such as the free Adobe Acrobat DC software, available at adobe.com. We do not recommend saving the Form Wizard to a shared computer, because it contains personally-identifiable information.

Online option for submitting school certification forms

DFAS created an online upload tool where students can upload a school certification form and Previous Attendance Letter 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 and previous attendance letter. Please note that information filled in on the online screen does not change or affect information on the uploaded form or letter. 

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

Students can also mail or fax their school certification documentation:
The annuitant mailing address is: 
Defense Finance and Accounting Service
U.S. Military Annuitant Pay
8899 E 56th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46249-1300

Annuity fax: 800-982-8459

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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How the New School Certification Process Works

  • 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. 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. 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 and direct deposit form 60-90 days prior to your 18th birthday. The forms 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.
  •  For both high school and college student turning 18 and over 18, we will now also use your annual DD 2788 School Certification Form as your Certificate of Eligibility (COE) instead of sending you a separate COE to submit each year. 


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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 pre-filled Child Annuitant’s Certification for Previous Attendance Letter, to verify you are still enrolled full-time. 

If we don’t receive the signed DD 2788 form and previous attendance letter, we will suspend payments until we receive a properly completed form and letter. 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 and a direct deposit form to the child annuitant 60-90 days prior to their 18th birthday. The forms 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 plus the 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 plus the 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 plus the 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 annuitant full name, daytime phone number, the member’s social security number and signature on all written correspondence.

Child Annuitants turning 22 while attending college/university full-time

If a child annuitant attends school full-time and the child's birthday is between September 1 and June 30, the child’s eligibility to receive SBP payments ends on July 1 following the 22nd birthday. If the child's birthday is in July or August, the annuity eligibility stops the first day of the month in which the annuitant reaches age 22. 



Note: The information on this website is provided to explain typical situations regarding retiree and annuitant benefits. For details and exceptions, please see applicable laws, financial management regulations, and instructions.

Page last updated on May 19, 2021