College Tuition Waiver for Veteran Dependents at a Glance

The College Fee Waiver for Veteran Dependents waives the tuition and fees at any State of California Community College, California State University, or University of California campus. This program covers tuition and student service fees; it does not cover campus-based fees, books, parking, or room and board. Furthermore, the Waiver is only applied to state-supported programs; therefore, self-supported courses and programs (commonly known as extension courses or extended education) are not eligible.


Only the dependent child or spouse of a service-connected disabled veteran with a disability rating of 0% or higher or the unmarried surviving spouse of a deceased veteran may be eligible (exceptions for POWs and Medal of Honor recipients). There are also other eligibility requirements specific to each of the four available plans, and all applicants must meet California residency requirements.

Plan A

The spouse, child, or unmarried surviving spouse of a wartime veteran who is (1) totally disabled due to a service-connected disability, or (2) whose death was officially rated as service-connected is eligible. Moreover, dependents of veterans (3) declared missing in action, captured in the line of duty, or forcibly detained or interned are also eligible. The child must be between the ages of 14 and 27 years old when applying, and the event which caused eligibility (disability rating or death, etc.) must have occurred before the child was 21 years old. If the child is a veteran, then the age limit to apply is extended to age 30. Unlike Plan B, there is no income restriction under this Plan; but there is a restriction on using the Plan A Waiver concurrently with VA Chapter 35 benefits.

Plan B

Dependent children are the only applicants allowed for Plan B, and there are no restrictions against using Chapter 35 benefits concurrently. To be eligible, one of the following must be true, the dependent must be the child of a veteran who (1) has a service-connected disability, (2) had a service-connected disability at the time of death, or (3) died of a service-related cause. The child’s annual income, including the value of support provided by parents, cannot exceed the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). No wartime service is required, and there are no age limits.

Dependent children are the only applicants allowed for Plan B.

Plan C

Any dependent or unmarried surviving spouse of any member of the California National Guard, (1) who died during active service to the state, (2) died due to a disability resulting from active service to the state, or (3) who is permanently disabled as a result of their active service to the state is eligible.

Plan D

Plan D grants these education benefits to (1) Medal of Honor recipients and (2) their children under the age of 27. However, benefits are limited to undergraduate studies only, and applicants are subject to both income (FPL) and age restrictions. But there is no restriction against receiving concurrent Chapter 35 benefits.

How to Apply

The Waiver must be applied for each year through your local county Veterans Affairs office (is a state benefit). When applying, you must provide proof of the student’s relationship to the veteran, such as a birth certificate, marriage, or domestic partnership certificate, and proof of service-connected disability as well as proof of income (proof of income is not required for Plan A).

Waiver must be applied for each year.

Final Thoughts

Given the rapidly rising college costs, the Tuition Waiver can provide an excellent supplement for your college funding. When utilizing this benefit, ensure the program of interest is eligible and that you plan so that your dependents are within the income limits (Plan B & D). Planning for your child’s education can be complicated, and ideally, you’ll start early to ensure you can utilize every tool at your disposal. Additionally, you should contact your local County Veteran Affairs office to learn more about the application process and visit the CalVet website to find additional resources. If you do not feel confident in creating a college funding plan on your own, or if you would like an expert opinion, you should consult with a qualified financial planner.

Author: Jose Armenta, MsBA, CFP®, ChFC®, EA

Hi, I’m Jose Armenta, a Certified Financial Planner practitioner. For over 14 years, I have worked with or among federal employees, from serving in the Marine Corps to my stint as a police dispatcher and now as a financial planner specializing in helping FERS federal employees. In that time, I have spoken to hundreds of federal employees about their benefits and retirement. Helping federal employees maximize their benefits, reduce taxes, and live confidently is a passion of mine. When I am not perfecting financial plans, you’ll find me at the shooting range, playing the drums, or breaching blanket forts with my three little ones.