Students in classroom

The Department of Defense Education Activity — Strong Foundations for Military Kids

With frequent moves for military families, finding the right school for your child is a crucial way to ease their transition. Department of Defense Education Activity schools provide education for children of service members and Department of Defense civilians that’s competitive with any school system, from pre-K through high school.

If you're considering a Department of Defense Education Activity school for the first time or you're wondering if it's the right choice for your military children, consider what these schools have to offer:

  • Teachers, administrators and staff are trained to recognize the needs of military-connected students and their challenges, including frequent moves, transitions and separations from parents.
  • These schools are ranked above the national average according to standardized test scores.
  • The web-based GradeSpeed program allows you to check grades and attendance, and email with your child's teachers.
  • You can access your child's academic records online with My Data Button.
  • Your high school student can take required classes during transitions with the Department of Defense Education Activity virtual high school.
  • Advanced placement science, technology, engineering and math classes are offered.
  • Mobile schools — curriculum materials and creative software are available at some schools via laptop from any location.

Where can you find Department of Defense Education Activity schools?

There are currently 181 schools in 12 foreign countries, seven states, Guam and Puerto Rico. That's a big area to cover, so the schools are grouped into three regions:

  • Americas
  • Pacific
  • Europe

Visit the Department of Defense Education Activity website and use the “Find Your School” search tool to get a list of school districts in your region. Explore the search results to learn more about individual schools and check out details on school policies.

Is your child eligible?

The answer depends on your location, circumstances, and available resources. In the continental United States, students are eligible for tuition-free enrollment if they are:

  • In grades pre-K through grade 12
  • Dependent children of service members living in permanent housing on base
  • Children of federal government civilians living in permanent housing on base
  • Children of service members or federal government civilians living off base can be accepted if space and resources allow.

Outside the continental United States, students are eligible for tuition-free enrollment if they are:

  • In grades pre-K through grade 12
  • Command-sponsored children of service members
  • Command-sponsored children of Department of Defense civilians
  • Other children may qualify on a tuition-paying basis if space is available:
    • Children of defense contractors whose contract allows for the education of dependent children in Department of Defense schools
    • Children of non-Department of Defense federal employees
    • Children of foreign national military members serving on the installation

To confirm whether your child qualifies for enrollment, visit the Department of Defense Education Activity website for your district's contact information.

You’re overseas, but nowhere near a Department of Defense Education Activity school

In these cases, the Department of Defense supports students through the Non-Department of Defense Schools Program. Your options include:

  • Homeschool
  • Private school
  • Public school

You must register and receive approval from the Non-Department of Defense Schools Program office. Your best bet is to contact the school liaison for your area to narrow down your children's options in these situations. Find the contact information on the Non-Department of Defense School page.

Military OneSource has your back to help you navigate these school choices. Read more about your children's education options or call 800-342-9647 for an education specialty consultation. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options.