Active Duty Degrees: The Air Force Virtual Education Center
Education Benefits in the US Air Force
The Air Force offers its personnel a world-class education system called the Air Force Virtual Education Center (AFVEC). The AFVEC virtually gives Airmen the freedom to fully participate in every aspect of their education.
The Air Force Virtual Education Center
The AFVEC provides online access to a number of education opportunities to help personnel advance careers, obtain industry credentials, and prepare for transition to the civilian world.
The AFVEC hosts seven primary services that support the educational needs of Air Force members. They are:
- AF COOL (Air Force Credentialing Opportunities On-Line)
- AU – ABC (Air University – Associate to Baccalaureate Cooperative)
- GEM (General Education Mobile)
- CCAF (Community College of the Air Force)
- DoD Skillbridge
- TA Decide
- MilTA (Military Tuition Assistance program)
Using these programs, Airmen are able to achieve their education goals, to include getting a degree while on active duty.
The Air Force Credentialing Opportunities On-Line program allows enlisted members to earn industry certifications and licenses that can enhance their service or prepare them for civilian employment.
This opportunity is available to all active Air Force, Space Force, AF Reserves and Air National Guard members. All service members must meet the following eligibility criteria:
- Possess a 5-skill level in their Primary AF Specialty Code
- Do not have a UIF, are not on a Control Roster, and are current on their Fitness test.
- Have a profile in AFVEC with an approved credentialing goal.
- Must obtain supervisor approval and complete the credential while on active duty status.
There is a maximum allowable lifetime benefit of $4,500 for AF COOL. It can also be used to complete one program outside of one’s AF Specialty Code and one degree-related credential.
Air University – Associate to Baccalaureate Cooperative
The Air University – Associate to Baccalaureate Cooperative (AU-ABC) program allows Air Force members who have earned an Associate in Applied Science degree from the Community College of the Air Force to choose from a collection of colleges and universities to obtain a Bachelor’s degree.
By building upon an Associate’s degree from the CCAF, this program maximizes both the career training and the education credits earned by Air Force enlisted personnel.
Each student in the ABC program receives a “binding degree completion contract” that ensures applicable transfer credits are accepted and states the remaining requirements for the bachelor’s degree.
There are currently more than 55 accredited colleges and universities participating in the Air University program. Additionally, these schools award over 200 bachelor’s degrees in critically important subject areas, like:
- Computer Science
- Electronics Engineering
- Intelligence Studies
- Logistics & Supply Chain Management
- Strategic Leadership
- And many more…
Learn more about the Air University – Associate to Baccalaureate Cooperative here.
General Education Mobile (GEM)
GEM is a partnership between the Community College of the Air Force and accredited institutes of higher learning who provide general education courses to CCAF students.
Because of this partnership, students can satisfy their general education requirements from any of the participating schools. Students also do NOT have to complete all of their GenEd courses from the same school every time.
Through their AFVEC portal, students can search for schools that meet their education goals and enroll in courses as needed. All general education courses can be completed online, which is crucial to those personnel who are deployed or TDY during the course of their careers.
Learn more about the General Education Mobile here.
Community College of the Air Force
The Community College of the Air Force (CCAF) is considered the Enlisted Member’s College. Through this initiative, the Air Force grants enlisted personnel the freedom to advance their education through a variety of programs leading to vocational or educational degree programs.
Through the CCAF, enlisted members can obtain an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree by following a simple formula:
BMT + Tech Training + PME + General Education = CCAF Degree
The BMT is the physical education requirement, while the PME is the leadership and military studies requirement. These two requirements are easily satisfied by all military students.
The Technical Training and General Education courses are those that can be satisfied by taking courses at any of the accredited institutions that partner with the CCAF.
Within the CCAF domain fall the GEM and AU-ABC programs detailed above.
There is one cool opportunity that many do not know about. Personnel wishing to obtain both a vocational degree and a civilian education degree can work on both in tandem. The general education courses from the civilian degree can be transferred to the CCAF degree, which cuts down the number of classes required. This approach gets both degrees completed and resume ready!
Check out the CCAF 2022-2024 General Catalog to learn more about what’s available.
The Community College of the Air Force is part of Air University. Air University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). This grants AU the privilege of awarding associate, master’s and doctor of philosophy degrees.
Find out Why College Accreditation Matters for Military and why regional accreditation is the highest accreditation available to any institution.
Other AFVEC Programs
Through the Virtual Education Center, personnel can also access the DOD Skillbridge program. Through this program, Transitioning Service Members can gain valuable work experience in the civilian world through training, internships, and apprenticeships. All of this takes place within the last 180 days of service.
Tuition Assistance (TA) Decide
This offering by the Department of Defense is a comparison tool designed to aid in the decision making process for service members wanting to use TA for education programs.
Data from the tool is funneled from numerous sources who partner with the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Education, and the DoD. This creates a tailored experience for the participant and gives them the most relevant information available.
The information provided by TA Decide includes educational costs and comparative outcomes based on the institute of higher learning selected by the service member.
To begin searching for information on TA, head over to DoD’s TA Decide search tool.
Military Tuition Assistance Program
Air Force personnel can also access the MilTA program through the AFVEC.
Currently, the Air Force pays 100% of tuition costs up to $250 per semester hour and $166 per quarter hour. There is a $4,500 annual cap that applies to this and other educational programs.
All TA actions must take place within and through the AFVEC. Login to your account to apply for TA.
You may also want to check out the Best Online Schools for Military Tuition Assistance and the Top Schools for Utilizing Military Tuition Assistance Benefits for more information.
A Powerhouse of Active Duty Education
The Air Force Virtual Education Center is an impressive focal point for service members seeking to advance their education.
Whether you’re looking for a professional credential, a degree, or transition assistance, the AFVEC has something that will benefit you for life.
I encourage you to take advantage of these amazing educational opportunities while you can. This proves that getting an Active Duty Degree for anyone who wants it.
About the author
Robert Haynes is a retired Army infantryman who has a squad of kids and is married to an active duty Soldier. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, who spent his last few years in the Army as a Drill Sergeant. He is now a full-time dad, freelance writer, and out-of-work comedian.