To attend the United States Air Force Academy, we ask for something more valuable than tuition: your commitment. Because the United States Air Force values your service to this country, covering your expenses is an investment we’re willing to make.
In Return, the Country Gets a Leader
Attending the Academy is a commitment to serve your country, and an education at the U.S. Air Force Academy is provided at no cost to cadets. All that is required in return is your commitment to serve as an officer in the U.S. Air Force or U.S. Space Force.
The length of your commitment depends on your career path and other factors, but with your future secured, it will allow for focused ambition, purposeful self-discovery and impactful study during your college years.
Our investment in developing well-rounded leaders at the Academy pays untold dividends to our nation. You get a free, world-class education, free room and board, free medical and dental benefits and the opportunity for a rewarding career in your chosen field upon graduation.
When you arrive at the Academy, you’ll sign an agreement (with the consent of your parents or guardian if you are a minor) stating you’ll fulfill the following service obligations:
You will complete the course of instruction at the Academy, unless you are disenrolled by the proper authority.
You will accept an appointment and serve as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Air Force or U.S. Space Force for at least eight years after graduation, five of which must be active duty and the remainder can be served as inactive reserve.
You will become eligible to request a separation from the U.S. Air Force or U.S. Space Force after five years of service.
Once you arrive on campus, you will take the Oath of Allegiance. Failure to take the Oath of Allegiance will cancel all entitlements to travel expenses to the Academy as well as travel expenses back to your home.
If you entered the Academy from the regular or reserve component of any service and are discharged from the Academy before graduation, you will, under most circumstances, return to your former rank and branch of service to serve the rest of your obligation.
Graduates who complete pilot training incur a longer commitment. The U.S. Air Force policy in effect when you enter flight training determines the length of your commitment, which is currently 10 years after completion of training.
The policy requiring discharged cadets to serve in the U.S. Air Force or U.S. Space Force may vary depending on the manpower needs of the Department of Defense.
U.S. Air Force policy states:
Fourth- and Third-class Cadets
Fourth- and third-class cadets (freshman and sophomore) who are separated by the Academy, or whose resignations are accepted, will ordinarily be completely relieved from all military duty, active or reserve, unless separated for egregious conduct.
Second- and First-class Cadets
Second- and first-class cadets (junior and senior) who are separated by the Academy, or whose resignations are accepted, will normally incur a commitment for active duty. Exceptions will be made for humanitarian reasons and those few cases in which it is not in the best interest of the U.S. Air Force to call a cadet to active duty because of physical disqualification, misconduct or demonstrated unsuitability for military service in an enlisted status.
Second-class cadets who are disenrolled or resign on or after the first day of academics in the fall semester of the second-class year will incur a two-year commitment for active-duty service. This commitment is three years for first-class cadets on or after the beginning of the first class year academic semester.
First-class cadets who complete the entire academic program and then resign or refuse to accept a commission may be ordered to active duty for four years as enlisted Airmen.
If you incur a commitment, you’ll normally transfer to the U.S. Air Force Reserve component in an enlisted status and be ordered to active duty.
Cadets who fail to complete any period of active duty may incur a liability to reimburse the U.S. government for an appropriate proportion of the cost of their Academy education.
A cadet who submits a request to resign must state a specific reason for the action. The cadet will be counseled to determine if the problem can be resolved prior to action being taken to process the resignation.