What Is the Army College Fund?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

The Army College Fund (ACF) provides monies for college to members of the United States Army who meet special criteria. It is an enlistment benefit above the basic GI Bill assistance provided to members of the military who want to go to college. To receive assistance through the ACF, Army enlistees must determine eligibility and receive documentation at the time they join the service. Once they are enlisted, they should receive additional documentation to fill out so they can claim their benefits.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

This program was started experimentally in the late 1970s and made permanent in the 1980s. It provides additional funding as an incentive to people who fill key roles, such as specialties with a critical shortage. Enlistees who agree to serve in qualified specialties and meet the standards can receive Army College Fund benefits on top of their GI Bill funding. Additional enlistment benefits may be available depending on the timing and the specialty.

Funding amounts are determined by the length of enlistment. People can discuss their options with a recruiter to learn more about the different options. With longer enlistments, more money is made available through the Army College Fund, because of the increased commitment. Recruiters can also provide information about other incentives that may be available. It can be helpful to get an overview of all options from a recruiter, to understand the available choices and the implications of different enlistment terms.

Recipients of Army College Fund assistance must serve on active duty to receive funds, and should be careful to retain all their documentation. This should include enlistment paperwork, along with a written confirmation that the enlistee is entitled to ACF assistance. Verbal promises from recruiters are not sufficient. If members of the Army do not receive paperwork to fill out after joining, they can talk to their supervising officers to request it and start generating a paper trail to document their eligibility for benefits.

Standards to determine who is eligible for the Army College Fund enlistment bonus can vary from year to year. The listed specialties change depending on conditions and current shortages. It is important to make sure a recruiter is using the most recent information, to confirm that quoted details on benefits and bonuses are correct. Enlisted members of the military can talk to human resources and career advisers to get more information about their benefits if they have questions or concerns.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


@Markerrag -- I do not know the exact statistics, but I do know that the percentage of people who do take advantage of the G.I. Bill and Army college fund is fairly small. A lot of people enlist to serve their country and even those who do go in because they want money for college wind up staying in the military so they can retire after 20 years.

And a lot of those folks who go into the military and retire get enough training to do very well in the civilian workforce. And if they don't want to work, they can retire in their 40s, draw a military pension and never work again.

Not bad at all.


@Soulfox -- I can't help but agree, and should point out that making money available for higher education in exchange for military service is a great way to keep people out of trouble down the road.

Let's face it. College is expensive and costs keep rising every year. Telling people they can avoid student loans in exchange for enlisting is a the right thing to do.

The only thing that concerns me is that those opportunities could dry up if too many people take advantage of them. After all, there is only so much money available for those programs, right?

Programs like this are downright essential to attract people to the Army. In the United States, we have a volunteer army and that means that it is crucial to offer incentives to entice people to join.

There are few better incentives than the chance to get an education after leaving the service. Good for the folks who came up with the Army College Fund and the G.I. bill. Those people who sign up and risk going to war ought to be rewarded.

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