Not affiliated with the US Social Security Administration

Collage tuition


Sponsored Links

I have not seen any mention of direct college tuition assistance under Social Security survivor benefits.

You can, however, receive "indirect" assistance for college because unmarried children who are under 18 (up to age 19 if attending elementary or secondary school full time) can be eligible to receive Social Security survivor benefits.

Three months before your child's 18th birthday, SSA will send you a notice that benefits will end at age 18 unless your child is a full-time student at a secondary ( or elementary) school. If your child is younger than 19 and still attending a secondary or elementary school, he or she must notify the SSA by completing a statement of attendance that has been certified by a school official. The benefits then will usually continue until he or she graduates, or until two months after reaching age 19, whichever comes first.

survivors benefits after 19? yrs old:
i would also like to know if there is a direct college tuition assistance under social security survivor benefits bc my parent passed away in 08 when i was 18, i recieved ss untill i graduated and turned 19 in the same week. All of the money that was saved for me to to to college has gone into bills and i dont know where to turn. I would like to further my education but i cant if i have to keep working all these hours just to survive. Please if any one knows a way to continue my benefits at least untill im 21 please let me know.

This would be the same answer as above.

Unmarried surviving children who are younger than age 18 (or up to age 19 if they are attending elementary or secondary school full time) also can receive survivor benefits. I have not seen Social Security survivor benefits for children beyond that.

what if u still n the 12th grade but your 19

Three months before your child's 18th birthday, SSA will send you a notice that benefits will end at age 18 unless your child is a full-time student at a secondary (or elementary) school. If your child is younger than 19 and still attending a secondary or elementary school, he or she must notify the SSA by completing a statement of attendance that has been certified by a school official. The benefits then will usually continue until he or she graduates, or until two months after reaching age 19, whichever comes first.

I've looked into it because I was trying to figure out the same thing. You can get survivor benefits all the way up to 22 years old as long as you are unmarried and are attending an accredited college or university full time. In order to make this happen you have to contact the Social Security office and give them the claim number and they should send you some paperwork that you and which ever school you are attending to fill out.


I was following up on your post from 1/11/2010 - on applying for benefit up until 22? Please let me know if you were successfull and what this might fall under as everything I've read seems to indicate there is no such benefit after you turn 18 and/or 19 upon high school graduation, whichever comes first.

thank you!

There are no Social Security benefits for children in college who are not disabled. Children of deceased, retired or disabled parents do receive Social Security benefits. However, they end after age 18, or at the end of the 12th grade, whichever occurs first. This has been the case since 1981 when Congress passed the 1981 Reconciliation Act Repeal of Social Security. That was the beginning of the end of what had come to be thought of as "college student benefits." Beginning in 1982, it took until 1985 to phase out all these payments. If you were not enrolled in a post-secondary school by May 1982, you could no longer receive benefits.

Here's a good reference regarding the history of the student college benefit :

In the 1965 Social Security Amendments the definition of a "child" was broadened. In addition to presuming that a child under age 18 was dependent on its parents, the Social Security program began to recognize the reality that children who are full-time students after age 18 are often still in fact dependent on their parents for their support. Consequently, the existing Child's Benefit was extended in its duration to include children of the Social Security beneficiary who were full time students, and under the age of 22. The age of 22 was selected because this would be the usual time period for a student to complete a four-year college education.
In the peak year of 1977, almost 900,000 students were receiving this type of benefit. In the peak pay-out year of 1981, almost $2.4 billion was paid in the form of student benefits.
In its 1977 and 1978 budgets, the Ford Administration proposed a phase-out of student benefits; in its 1979 budget the Carter Administration made a similar proposal. When the Reagan Administration took office in early 1981, it offered a comprehensive budget and tax proposal designed to achieve its economic objectives.
Thus, under the provisions of the Omnibus Budge Reconciliation Act of 1981, student benefits for post-secondary and for elementary and/or secondary students older than 18, were phased-out and finally eliminated by April 1985. This change in the law was estimated to save the Social Security program $10.6 billion over the first five years.

Student benefits are still payable to elementary and/or secondary school students provided they are under age 19. Currently about 100,000 students receive this type of Child's Benefit each year--about one-tenth the volume prior to the change in the law.

Thank you for the information, it was very helpful. However, my daughter is 16 and will be attending college in 2 yrs. My husband just recently passed so there was no time for "banking" the current benefit. It looks like this law has not been revisited since 1981 and really needs to be looked at again. Children are still dependents as full time college students, the costs are even more not including the tuition. It seems that is the time that the widow(er) is in need of the assistance the most. In reading the history of the has changed and some of the issues that were associated with the past law do not exist any longer. The child support program is an example of being able to track eligibility and fraud and the Veterans Admin has a program that can be looked at that ranges to age 26.

One additional note - I know people that have been on unemployment longer than my child would be in school. I plan to get a face to face with my Congressman to discuss and I'm sure there has to be a lobbyist group out there that is working on this. If anyone knows of any groups, organizations that are trying to expand the child definition for survivor benefits please let me know.

I too am stuck in this dilemma. The 'lucky' women that I know who are divorced are still receiving child support from the father's until the kids graduate from College.

My husband passed away 11 years ago and we had two children ages 12 and 3. Once my 12 year old graduated from high school his benefits were cut, which reduced our family intake by $12,000 although he still lived with me until he was 22. Now I am facing this again in 2 1/2 years, when my second son graduates from high school, he is definitely heading off to college and the absolute worst time to take another $12,000/yr hit against our family intake. I am going to have to sell our family home as I can no longer afford the mortgage let alone help pay for his college! The excuse that was given in 1981 is completely inadequate! There are many ways for children to prove that they are enrolled in college and our country should support these young intelligent children with their college pursuits. Not to mention, in 2011 they've cut the social security tax on pay, which I do work and pay into as I have for the last 32 years. The extra couple of bucks in my pocket will be nothing compared to what the corporations will save on their matching contributions. In addition, for the last two years the child's survivor benefits have not been increased ,however, I'm paying $3.13/gallon of gas, which has increased over $1/gallon in the last two years, and my health insurance premiums have increased substantially due to ''health care reform'! Whatever that is!

Along with your note on the unemployment. I know of several instances where I have heard that people won't go off of unemployment cuz they can work under the table and continue to collect. Perhaps, this is where the government should be paying attention. Not taking monies from kids who work hard in school so they can go to college.

I don't know what I'm going to do come 2 1/2 years from now. I know I have to sell my house, which I'm less concerned about as I am about helping him get through college. If you hear of a lobbyist group to reinstate the survivor benefits please post!


I'm inferring from your comment that your daughter has (or soon will) graduated from high school and you're wondering how she can obtain assistance since survivor benefits will not be available to her.

We don't specialize in college assistance programs, but there are a number of academic and need-based programs.

One such program is the Pell Grant program :

I like you lost my husband when my two child were young ages 3 and 5. I was getting the same benefits as you. . I continued to work in order provide my family with a decent life. Unlike you I placed a protion of their social security benefits into a college education fund like we would have if my hushand had not passed away. Thank god i did they both have enough to pay for a good college education support by grants they are eligible for.

I lost my husband in 2007. At the time our children were ages 18 and 13. My 18yr old was starting college in Sept. after my husband passed away in June. Since he was already 18 he didn't receive any social security benefits. I had to pay for his college out of my pocket. My other son was 13 so he did qualify for benefits. I also qualified until he turned 16. He is now fixing to be 18, but is a senior in High School so he will continue getting benefits until he graduates in May. I have saved every social security payment in his name for his college. I received a letter in the mail today from Social Security stating that I have to send them everything that I have saved including the interest it has made. Needless to say I am very upset. I am trying to figure out how the government can take the benefits away if you save them. What is the difference since I have paid for his living expenses, school expenses and everything else out of my pocket and saved everything he has received from social security. I guess I should have spent the social security checks and then just put my money in his savings account so they can not take it back.
If someone understands this please reply.
The whole social security system needs to be reconfigured.
When the child turns 16 and starts to drive the parents benefits stop. Just when you need it!
Then when they go to college it totally stops. Whats wrong with this picture????

It sounds as if you are the representative payee for the child. We are not experts in representative payee matters, but this sounds odd.

Social Security directs that you must first use the benefits for "food, shelter, clothes, medical care and personal comfort items".

However, the SSA also directs that you must, "Save any money left after meeting the beneficiary’s current needs in an interest bearing account or savings bonds for the beneficiary's future needs."

You may wish to seek an appeal for this.

Congress changed the benefits children receive without a vote by the people they serve; we pay into ssi, and quite frankly, with all the changes they keep making, we'll never draw out what we pay in. we need to put pressure on our congress to allow our children to draw benefits, even if not for 4 years to allow college, at least 2; I drew ssi survivor benefits after my husband died for 2 months as i was caring for our youngest, he turned 16, my benefits stopped as they said. But now, since I went to work 2 months later, they say I earned too much money and want it back. If this keeps up, we need to definite privatize our ssi. we're paying in supporting those who work for ssi with high salaries, large retirement and we don't get the money we pay in.

Yes Congress voted for this they are trying to do to medicare...Privatize will only make it work...we just keep voting people in that want to privatize...$$$$'s in there pocket..A certain section of Gov wld have left this alone as this same certain area of Gov wld like to leave Medicare alone...Don't be fooled...folks are having lots of disapointments over what was promised with Medicare...and social security...Some things we want gov to stay in...Privatize will not help it will only line the pockets of people waiting to open social security and medicare business scams.

If they privatize the system they are in-fact handing it over to yet another corporation. Lets face it, more than half of our economic problems stem from 'corporate' behaviors. Look around. While we now pay (as of yesterday 07/26/2011) $3.75 per gallon of gasoline, the 'corporations' that sell us that gas are making record PROFITS. The utility 'companies (also conglomerate corporations)' are making record profits. Insurance companies, while making the decisions that our physicians should be making, are making record profits..... And sadly, at the top of those companies are but a small few that line their greedy pockets while the rest of us suffer. I'm sorry to say this but I personally would prefer everyone get a small slice of the pie rather than a handful of greedy pigs getting most of the pie. Just some food for thought!


Not affiliated with the US Social Security Administration