The Community College of the Air Force, established in 1972, is a two-year institution that offers applied science and other credentialing programs meant to improve mission preparedness, contribute to recruitment, and help to support career transition of enlisted Air Force members. The academic focus of the institution is one of job-related training and education.
The school is partnered with over 90 affiliated Air Force schools and more than 80 education service offices worldwide. It is also affiliated with over 1500 civilian academic institutions.
Most students receive an Associate Degree in Applied Science in one of five predetermined areas:
- Aircraft & Missile Maintenance
- Allied Health
- Electronics & Telecommunications
- Logistics & Resources
- Public & Support Services
A minimum of 64 semester hours is required to receive such degrees, including 24 in technological education, six in leadership and military studies, four in physical education, 15 in general education and 15 in elective credits. Students who receive an Associate in Applied Science graduate with the tools necessary to be successful in the Air Force and the civilian business world. Graduates may also choose to continue study in four-year institutions, transferring their CCAF credits towards a bachelor’s degree.
A number of licensing and certification programs are offered in a wide array of areas, ranging from occupational instruction to airframe and power plant technology. In providing degrees and certifications to Air Force enlisted personnel, the college provides its students with the tools necessary for both the military and the civilian world and recognizes their efforts as men and women who serve.
This is a federally chartered degree-granting institution that serves the U.S. Air Force’s total enlisted force, currently serving around 320,000 active, guard and reserve enlisted personnel attending at any one of 90 affiliated schools or 1500 affiliated civilian educational institutions. It is, in fact, the world’s largest community college system.
Besides its excellent academics and affordable programs, what sets this school apart from other community colleges worldwide is the fact that it serves only Air Force enlisted members. Located on the Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama, CCAF is the only federally chartered institution in the United States that awards college degrees only to United States Air Force personnel.
The admissions policy has one specific requirement – that all students be enlisted members of the Air Force itself. Those interested in attending must meet with recruiters and sign enlistment contracts before entering.
This detail renders consideration of attending this school quite serious. Though it is a great option for some, it is not for all, and those thinking of attending must be sure that they are ready for a military-oriented career.
Because of its association with the Air Force and the availability of military-related scholarships and educational funding, in terms of financial aid and economic accessibility, this school excels. Its tuition is low and affordable, and those who have trouble paying will be met with several financial aid options to ensure their ability to attend.
Four most popular aid options are:
- Air Force Tuition Assistance (TA): Air Force Tuition Assistance provides financial assistance to active-duty officers looking to pursue voluntary, off-duty educational opportunities. The Air Force promises 100% funding under this program; however, students must beware of the rules and regulations that come along with it.
- Post-9/11 Bill: Effective after August 1, 2009, this bill guarantees 36 months of benefits for education and training (ranging from tuition to housing) of Air Force officers and enlisted personnel. Air Force members are eligible for these benefits for up to 15 years following release from active duty, and these benefits can be transferred to spouses or dependent children.
- Montgomery GI Bill: Similar to the Post-9/11 Bill, the Montgomery GI Bill provides 36 months of educational benefits for up to 10 years following release. These benefits cover areas more directly related to studies than the Post-9/11 Bill but are nevertheless extremely helpful. The Montgomery GI Bill is designed specifically to attract potential enlistees to the Air Force.
- College Loan Repayment Program: This program is important for those owing money from loans taken out to pursue past educational goals. Upon signing an enlistment contract, the Air Force will repay all school debts up to a total of $10,000.
All of the more than 300,000 students enrolled have one important thing in common – all of them are enlisted personnel of the Air Force itself. This renders the group of scholars attending this community college knit together in a unique and different way. Though they may not all know each other, and may not attend class at the same educational institution, they are all aware of the fact that they are working together under a single entity and towards a single goal.
The school does do its fair share to foster bonds between students beyond their military relations by offering students the chance to participate in a number of intramural sports. The list of intramurals available at CCAF includes basketball, golf and handball among others.
The student body here is quite diverse. While men outnumber women by a fair amount (80% of students are male and 20% are female), women are a significant presence on campus. The student population is diverse in terms of race and background as well, with students coming from all over the country to attend.
- Men’s Intramural Baseball
- Men’s Intramural and Women’s Intramural Basketball
- Men’s Intramural and Women’s Intramural Cross Country
- Men’s Intramural and Women’s Intramural Golf
- Men’s Intramural and Women’s Intramural Handball
- Men’s Intramural and Women’s Intramural Racquetball
- Men’s Intramural Soccer
- Men’s Intramural and Women’s Intramural Softball
- Men’s Intramural and Women’s Intramural Table Tennis
- Men’s Intramural and Women’s Intramural Track and Field
- Men’s Intramural and Women’s Intramural Volleyball
The Community College of the Air Force has been accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools since 1980.
Justine Ventimiglia graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Michigan – Dearborn. Currently residing in a 1950’s modest ranch in Metro Detroit, she enjoys researching and writing about Mid Century Modern furniture and decor as she works on restoring her home and documenting the process.