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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.

A child annuitant who is attending school full-time and whose 22nd birthday occurs before July 1st or after August 31st of a calendar year is considered to have become 22 years of age on the first day of July after that birthday.

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*  *  * SEPTEMBER 2020: GET ON THE NEW ANNUAL PLAN AND USE THE NEW SCHOOL CERTIFICATION FORM WIZARD *  *  * 

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
  • 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 filling out the new DD 2788 form during the 2020 transition.
  • 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. 
  • 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.


IMPORTANT INFORMATION - WHAT YOU NEED TO DO - IF YOU HAVE NOT YET SENT US A NEW DD 2788 SCHOOL CERTIFICATION FORM OR PREVIOUS ATTENDANCE LETTER:  

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

If you already submitted a school certification form for the most recent term/semester and you used the old DD 2788 form (form dated May 2017): we need you to fill out and return a new DD 2788 (form dated May 2020) as soon as possible. This is so we have your full future attendance information for the coming school year. If you send us a new DD 2788 form (form dated May 2020), you won’t need to fill out another DD 2788 until summer of 2021 (unless you graduate, stop attending school full-time, or get married). Use the new School Certification Form Wizard to make it easy or use the new How-To Checklist with instructions for filling out the new DD 2788 form during the 2020 transition. See more information in the Helpful Tools and Tips for School Certifications section below.

If you have not yet submitted your school certification form for the most recent term/semester: we need you to send us a new DD 2788 (form dated May 2020) and new Child Annuitant’s Certification for Previous Attendance Letter. Use the new School Certification Form Wizard to make it easy or use the new How-To Checklist with instructions for filling out the new DD 2788 form during the 2020 transition. If you did not receive a new Child Annuitant’s Certification for Previous Attendance Letter in this special mailing to you in May or September, please contact us at 800-321-2080. See more information in the Helpful Tools and Tips for School Certifications section below.

High School Students and College Students Turning 18

If you already submitted your school certification using the old DD 2788 form (form dated May 2017), you should have received this special mailing in May or September. Please fill out and return a new DD 2788 (form dated May 2020) as soon as possible. This is so we have your full future attendance information for the coming school year. If you send us a new DD 2788 form (form dated May 2020), you won’t need to fill out another DD 2788 until summer of 2021 (unless you graduate, stop attending school full-time, or get married). Use the new School Certification Form Wizard to make it easy or use the new How-To Checklist with instructions for filling out the new DD 2788 form during the 2020 transition. See more information in the Helpful Tools and Tips for School Certifications section below.

If you have not yet submitted your school certification form and you recently turned 18 or will turn 18 in the next 60 days: please send us a new DD 2788 form as soon as possible. Use the new School Certification Form Wizard to make it easy or use the new How-To Checklist with instructions for filling out the new DD 2788 form during the 2020 transition. 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 new school certification form (form dated May 2020) is valid for the entire school year, unless you drop below full-time attendance, graduate, or get married. If you do not drop below full-time, graduate, or get married, the next time you will need to fill out a DD 2788 form (and Previous Attendance Letter) will be June of 2021.  

For school year dates, use the school’s official academic calendar dates. For example for the current school year (2020-2021), if you are attending fall term through spring term, use the beginning date of the fall term as the “date school year began or is expected to begin” and the ending date of the spring term 2021 as the “date school year ends or is expected to end.” 

If you will be attending the summer session in 2021, 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 instructions for filling out the new DD 2788 form during the 2020 transition to make filling out the form easier. 

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/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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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
  •  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 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 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

A child annuitant who is attending school full-time and whose 22nd birthday occurs before July 1st or after August 31st of a calendar year is considered to have become 22 years of age on the first day of July after that birthday. 



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 Sept 10, 2020