What is Air Force Tuition Assistance?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 04 April 2020
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Air Force tuition assistance is a benefit provided to members of the United States Air Force Reserve and active duty members of the United States Air Force. In order to qualify for this benefit, it is necessary to be a member in good standing, without any pending disciplinary actions. This benefit is designed to improve the Air Force as a whole by providing educational opportunities to members of the United States Air Force who wish to pursue degrees.

Under the Air Force tuition assistance benefit, the Air Force will pay 100% of tuition for classes taken during off duty hours, as long as tuition doesn't exceed $4,500 United States Dollars (USD) each year. Students must apply for Air Force tuition assistance before the start of classes, and they are held responsible for the funds if they decide to drop a course after the refund date. There are some additional restrictions on the situations in which a member of the Air Force is eligible for benefits.

Since the Air Force would like to see people earning degrees progressively, it will not pay tuition for classes below the level of someone's current degree. This means that someone with a bachelor's degree would need to take classes which will help earn a master's degree, that someone with an associate's degree must take classes which will count toward a bachelor's, and so forth. While the Air Force does not discourage people from earning second associate's and bachelor's degrees, it won't pay for them.


Students are also ineligible for Air Force tuition assistance if they do not have a degree plan. In other words, someone who wants to take a few classes for fun at a community college will need to pay out of pocket, while a student who demonstrates a genuine intent to earn a degree will be eligible. Additional restrictions on Air Force tuition assistance may apply in some cases; people can get more information from the benefits office on their Air Force Base.

Tuition assistance is also offered to members of other branches of the United States Armed Forces. It is often cited by members of the military as a reason for enlisting or re-enlisting, since it provides members of the armed forces with skills which they can use in civilian life, in addition to giving people access to personal and academic enrichment. Additional assistance is available to veterans who would like to earn degrees, along with members of the military who intend to earn advanced professional degrees such as a JD, MD, DVM, or DO.


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