Customer Service

800-321-1080
M-F, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET

AskDFAS

Forms
Frequently Asked Questions

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.

*  *  *  *  *   *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *   

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

*  *  *  *  *   *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * 

 

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

*  *  *  *  *   *  *  *  *  *

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. 


*  *  *  *  *   *  *  *  *  *

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 Oct 19, 2021