If you're going to compete,
give it your all.

We encourage a diverse array of applicants to compete for an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy. Some may need to take specific preparation or application steps. All should prepare to be the most competitive applicant possible. Get insights for your application, here.

Need More Help?

Get insights and answers from an Admissions Liaison Officer (ALO) near you. 

Find Your ALO

Enlisted Airmen

The United States Air Force Academy and its Preparatory School offer dynamic opportunities for our sharpest enlisted Airmen 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.

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 recommend 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.

LEAD Program

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 appointments available to the Academy and the Academy Prep School for Active Duty, Reserve and Guard Airmen.

The program, initiated by Gen Fogleman in 1995, delegates authority to Unit Commanders to recommend 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 719-333-8811 (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 Enlisted Commissioning Program eligibilities by reviewing AFI 36-2013 and legal requirements listed below. If eligible and meet legal requirements, they must complete AF Form 1786, complete and submit an online application (Pre-Candidate Questionnaire).

Eligibility Requirements

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 high 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

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.


1 Mar (year prior to entry): Application opens
31 Dec: AF Form 1786 submitted
31 Jan: Completed Candidate Package due

Previous Performance

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.

Selection Criteria

We consider all candidates (regular or reserve) on a competitive basis for all opportunities 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?

Start Your Online Application