The United States Air Force Academy and its Preparatory School offer dynamic opportunities for our sharpest enlisted troops to enter the commissioned ranks. Airmen possess both military knowledge and proven reliability, and as such, are the archetypal cadet and commissioned officer we are looking for at the Academy.
Every year, there are appointments reserved for enlisted airmen applicants. Sadly, every year a majority of these slots go unfilled. When this happens, both the Air Force and airmen lose out on a great opportunity.
Prior-enlisted cadets attending the Academy and its Preparatory School are indisputably amongst the best the Air Force has to offer. We ask Commanders and Chiefs to find and nominate superior performing airmen, and encourage airmen to investigate for themselves. Specifically, we seek top performing airmen with the highest moral character, strong academic ability, leadership ability and physical fitness.
The Leaders Encouraging Airman Development (LEAD) Program is an ongoing effort to give our best and brightest airmen the opportunity to excel by offering them appointments to the United States Air Force Academy. There are 170 appointments available for the Academy and the Academy Prep School for regular and reserve airmen.
The program, initiated by Gen Fogleman in 1995, delegates authority to Unit and Wing Commanders to nominate highly qualified airmen to attend the Academy or Prep School. Commanders have the opportunity to identify outstanding and deserving airmen with officer potential for this commissioning program.
Admissions Liaison Officer Support
We have Admissions counselors at our headquarters as well as Admissions Liaison Officers (ALOs) in every local area who will help Airmen navigate the application process. For more information, see Find Your ALO.
Our LEAD point of contact at the Academy can be reached at 719-333-8987 (DSN 333), and is available to answer any questions you may have.
Additional information about the Academy and the Prep School may also be obtained by calling 1-800-443-9266.
How To Apply
Interested airmen should ensure they meet eligibility requirements. If so, they must complete AF Form 1786, complete and submit an online application (Pre-Candidate Questionnaire) and contact their local Base Education Office for assistance in the application process. Refer to AFI 36-2019 to get directions for applying for direct appointment to the Academy and AFI 36-2021 to get directions for applying to the USAFA Preparatory School.
As with any applicant, enlisted airmen must ensure they meet the eligibility requirements for appointment to the Academy or Prep School. You must:
- Be U.S. Citizen, or be able to obtain citizenship before entry into the Academy the following year
- Be 17 years of age for direct entry but not have reached your 23rd birthday by July 1st of year of entry
- Be 17 years of age for Prep School but not have reached your 22nd birthday by July 1st of year of entry
- Be unmarried
- Bear no legal obligation to support a child or other individual
- Not be pregnant
- Be of good moral character
AF Form 1786
AF Form 1786 is the Application for Appointment to the USAF Academy Under Quota Allotted to Enlisted Members of the Regular and Reserve Components of the Air Force. To compete for appointment to either the Academy or the Prep School, you must complete AF Form 1786, have your unit commander complete a statement on your character, ability and motivation to become an officer and complete and submit an online application (Pre-Candidate Questionnaire).
The completed form must be received by the Admissions Office no later than December 31st for the class entering the following June. Submit the form and commander statement through your unit commander and Military Personnel Flight and forward it to:
Office of Admissions
2304 Cadet Drive, Suite 2300
USAF Academy, CO 80840-5025
Active duty and reserve airmen are allocated slots for each entering class based on their enlisted status. Thus, they do not need a presidential, vice presidential, or congressional nomination as do the vast majority of students entering the Academy each year. The AF Form 1786 is the formal paperwork required to obtain their individual nomination.
The AF Form 1786 should (1) be completed by the member, (2) endorsed by the squadron commander, and (3) processed by the Military Personnel Flight. The squadron commander, not wing commander, must provide a separate endorsement letter, which must be included with the AF Form 1786 (in some MAJCOMs, the wing commanders have directed their own involvement, but we require only the immediate commander’s endorsement).
If an airman has already submitted an online application earlier in the year, his/her application package would have already identified the need for transcripts, therefore, transcripts are only required as part of the AF Form 1786 package if this is the first correspondence with the Academy.
We’ll evaluate your leadership potential through your record of participation in athletic activities, including team or individual sports and nonathletic activities, such as class offices, public speaking, Civil Air Patrol or scouting.
Your grade transcripts from high school and from any preparatory school or college you may have attended after high school will determine your academic potential.
We’ll also consider your performance on active duty and recommendations from supervisors.
We consider all candidates (regular or reserve) on a competitive basis for all 170 appointments to the Academy and the Preparatory School. Examination results and previous performance determine selections.
We’ll notify you of your qualification and selection status in early May. Airmen not accepted for direct entrance into the Academy are automatically considered for the Prep School.
Applying to the Academy requires dedication. Are you ready?
Applying to the Academy requires dedication. Are you ready?