Each branch of the military has its own set of educational benefits that only apply to members of that branch. The Air Force wants to ensure the academic success of its service members. This includes those serving on active duty and those in the reserves, which consists of both the Air Force Reserve and the Air National Guard. This article expands on educational benefits that are only available to members of the Air Force. You may also be eligible for military-wide educational benefits.


Benefit Name Active Duty Reservist
Community College of the Air Force X X
Airman Scholarship and Commissioning Program X
Leaders Encouraging Airman Development Program X X
Professional Officer Course: Early Release Program X
Nurse Enlisted Commissioning Program X
Scholarships for Outstanding Airman to ROTC X
Air Force Technical Degree Sponsorship Program Anyone who meets the requirements is eligible to apply.

Community College of the Air Force

Enlisted airmen are automatically enrolled in a degree program that matches their occupational specialty at the Community College of the Air Force when they first join the Air Force; this is a degree-granting college that is open only to members of the Air Force. There are five degree paths offered, each leading to an Associate of Applied Science degree: aircraft and missile maintenance, allied health, electronics and telecommunications, public and support services, and logistics and resources.

  • Award amount: Students receive college credit for physical education during basic training. When they begin technical training, students receive credit toward their degree track. There is no further financial assistance granted to students, but airmen are eligible to use Tuition Assistance to fund the rest of their degrees.
  • Eligibility: All enlisted active duty, Reserve, and Air National Guard members are automatically enrolled in the program. Airmen complete the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery and their score places them within one of the five degree tracks. Airmen must complete one civilian college course and submit their transcripts or take a national test applicable to their degree tracks and submit their scores to become an active participant in the college. Airmen have six years from enrollment to complete their degrees. Should an airman separate or retire from the Air Force or commission as an officer, he or she will no longer be eligible to complete an AAS degree at the Community College of the Air Force. Those who transfer into the Reserves will maintain their eligibility.

Airman Scholarship and Commissioning Program

This program is open to enlisted soldiers who are currently serving on active duty but want to return to school to complete their bachelor’s degrees and receive a commission. Chosen applicants will separate from the Air Force and join the Air Force ROTC program at their selected school for the duration of their degree programs; they will lose all military pay and benefits for the duration of their education. Students will commission as a second lieutenant after graduation and incur a service commitment of four years on active duty and four years in the Reserves.

  • Award amount: The Air Force scholarship will cover up to $18,000 in tuition and fees and provide both a book allowance and a monthly stipend between $300 and $500. Students can also use Montgomery GI Bill benefits to supplement the scholarship.
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be U.S. citizens able to pass the Air Force Physical Fitness Test, with at least one year in the service and half of an overseas tour, who would commission before the age of 31. Enlisted airmen must already have at least 24 credit hours of college coursework, a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0, and a minimum ACT score of 25 or SAT score of 1180 (math and verbal), or a minimum score of 55 on the Academic Aptitude portion of the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test. Applicants must be able to complete their bachelor’s degrees and commissioning requirements within two to four years. Airmen who have already completed one bachelor's degree cannot participate in this program to earn a second bachelor's degree or a graduate-level degree.

Leaders Encouraging Airman Development Program

This program is for enlisted active duty and Reserve airmen who apply and are nominated by their commanders as being the best choices to become commissioned officers. The selected airmen (170 total) receive places at the U.S. Air Force Academy and the Academy Prep School. Following graduation, airmen commission as active duty officers and incur a service commitment.

  • Award amount: Airmen will receive free education as well as military pay and benefits commensurate with their prior enlisted rank.
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be U.S. citizens between the ages of 17 and 23 (or 22 for Academy Prep School). Airmen will be required to submit their SAT or ACT scores, high school GPA and/or class rank, high school transcripts, and letters of evaluation from their military supervisors. Gaining a Congressional, Vice-Presidential, or Presidential nomination will further strengthen an airman's application. Additionally, applicants must be of high moral character, unmarried, not pregnant, and with no legal dependents.

Professional Officer Course: Early Release Program

This program gives active duty enlisted airmen the chance to finish their bachelor’s degrees and receive a commission as an officer. To do so, they must complete two years of Air Force ROTC at a participating institution. Upon acceptance into the program, airmen are separated from the Air Force (and no longer collect military pay and benefits) to join an ROTC program. Following completion, airmen commission as second lieutenants and incur an eight-year service commitment (four years on active duty and four years in the Reserves).

  • Award amount: Airmen receive a monthly stipend. Montgomery GI Bill benefits can supplement the cost of education.
  • Eligibility: Airmen must be U.S. citizens able to pass the Air Force Physical Fitness Test, who will commission by the time they turn 30 years old. Airmen must already have served at least one year and completed at least half of an overseas tour. Additionally, airmen must have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.5, be enrolled as a full-time student, and be able to complete their degree in two years. Those hoping to complete a second bachelor's degree or a graduate degree are not eligible.

Nurse Enlisted Commissioning Program

This program allows active duty enlisted airmen the chance to return to school to complete a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Airmen must be able to complete their degree within two years. While at school, airmen will participate in an ROTC program. After graduating and taking the National Council Licensure Examination, airmen will commission as second lieutenants in the Nurse Corps.

  • Award amount: Airmen will remain on active duty while completing their degrees and thus will continue to receive military pay and benefits. Additionally, the Air Force will cover up to $15,000 annually in tuition and fees and up to $600 annually for textbooks.
  • Eligibility: Airmen must be U.S citizens on active duty and rank as a senior airman/sergeant (E-4) or higher, and be able to commission by age 42. Airmen must also have completed prerequisite courses (59 semester hours minimum) at an accredited university and have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.75.

Scholarships for Outstanding Airman to ROTC

These scholarships are available to enlisted active duty airmen who want to complete their bachelor’s degree and commission as an officer. Airmen will separate from the Air Force (losing their military pay and benefits) and return to school as an Air Force ROTC cadet for between two and four years. After graduating, they will commission as second lieutenants with eight-year service commitments (four years on active duty and four years in the Reserves).

  • Award amount: Scholarships are available for between two and four years, depending on how long it will take the airman to finish the degree. Scholarships provide up to $18,000 annually for tuition and fees, as well as a textbook allowance and a monthly stipend of between $300 and $500. Airmen must be working toward Air Force-desirable degrees to receive a scholarship. Montgomery GI Bill benefits can supplement the scholarship to cover the cost of education.
  • Eligibility: Airmen must be enlisted U.S. citizens serving on active duty able to finish their degrees and commission by the time they turn 31 years old. Additionally, airmen must have at least one year of service and have completed at least half of an overseas tour. Before acceptance, airmen must have at least 24 hours of college credit and a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0. Applicants are required to have a minimum overall ACT score of 25, SAT score of 1180 (math and verbal), or at least a 55 on the Academic Aptitude portion of the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test.
    • By graduation, airmen must have completed 24 semester hours of math or physical science or at least four semesters of the same foreign language; the minimum accepted grade in each class is a C-.

Air Force Technical Degree Sponsorship Program

This program is open to both undergraduate and graduate students who are currently enrolled in an accredited institution and working toward a degree in computer or electrical engineering. Students must be within 24 months of graduating. Prior or current service with the Air Force is not required, so long as the student agrees to enlist in the Air Force for the duration of his or her degree and commission as a second lieutenant following graduation and serve four years on active duty and four years in the Reserves.

  • Award amount: Students will receive the full pay and benefits associated with being an airman first class (E-3); this amounts to $1,729.80/month in base pay plus additional allowances. This includes health and dental insurance, a housing and food allowance, and tax-free shopping privileges on a military base. Students must continue to cover the costs associated with their education.
  • Eligibility: Students must be enrolled full-time at an accredited degree-granting institution and spend at least one summer taking classes or interning in a field relevant to their degrees. Students must be at least 18 years old but younger than 34 at the time of commissioning. Additionally, students must maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 and score at least 25 on the verbal and quantitative portions of the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test.

Airmen who are hoping to continue education and training in a medical field (physicians, nurses, and dentists) can learn more about educational opportunities here. Airmen who are hoping to return to graduate school for engineering and management or cyberspace research can learn more here.

Page last updated: 05/2017