The Academy Commitment


Want a world-class education and unrivaled career opportunity? It's not a matter of cost — it’s a matter of commitment.

Make your university experience matter.

In both war and peacetime, the United States Air Force is a critical component of a strong, innovative nation. Choosing the Academy is an act of patriotism — in troubled times more than ever. If you are called to serve, the United States Air Force Academy can position you to play a critical leadership role.

It is not a matter of affording the tuition or finding a scholarship or grant. An Academy education is valued at more than $416,000, yet we offer it at no cost to our cadets. All that is required in return is your commitment to serve as an officer in the Air Force. The length of commitment depends on your career path and other opportunities, such as graduate or medical school, that may extend it.

While others spend their college years unsure of their career outcomes and at great cost to their families, you will be on a fast track to something more. We’ll develop your skills, your character and your motivation. Your future with the Air Force 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, top-notch education, free room and board, free medical and dental benefits and the opportunity for an exciting career as an officer in the Air Force. Our country gets leaders with drive, smarts, character and motivation. Everyone wins.

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 that you’ll fulfill the following service obligations, which apply to all cadets except international students.

  • 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 Air 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 Air Force after five years of service.

Once you arrive, 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 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 Air Force may vary depending on the manpower needs of the Department of Defense. Air Force policy now states:

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.

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 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 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.

Do you want to Attend the Academy?

Understanding our admissions requirements is the first step.