Health care, education, travel, leadership skills, housing and, of course, a paycheck. The benefits of an Air Force career are many.
In the Air Force, the learning never stops. The Air Force has many financial assistance programs. We’re committed to education, and you’ll have the opportunity to take your training as far as you’d like — on or off base. To learn more, contact your local recruiter.
Plus you won’t have to pay for it on your own. We help you meet your goals and reach your true potential. Whether you enlist straight out of high school or join with an advanced degree, the Air Force offers exclusive programs and hands-on experience to help you succeed.
Commissioned Officer Education:
Money for School
The Air Force Tuition Assistance (TA) program is designed to help active-duty personnel pursue voluntary off-duty educational opportunities. Currently, the program pays 100 percent (up to $250 per semester hour or equivalent) of the cost of college tuition, with a limit of $4500 per fiscal year. Courses and degree programs may be academic or technical and can be taken from two- or four-year institutions on base, off base or by correspondence.
Scholarships for Outstanding Airmen to ROTC (SOAR) are offered to enlisted Airmen who would like to attend college. SOAR nominates up to 50 people for ROTC scholarships, which pays most tuition and all fees. You will separate from the Air Force while earning a degree. SOARs are awarded for two to four years, depending on how many years you have remaining in your bachelor’s degree program. Scholarships are awarded in a variety of fields, including technical (engineering, meteorology, architecture, etc.), nontechnical, nursing, pre-health and foreign language areas.
The Post-9/11 Bill is an educational assistance program that provides eligible Airmen up to 36 months of benefits for education and training opportunities outside of the Air Force while they are on active duty. These benefits may be used for undergraduate and graduate degree programs, vocational and technical training, tutorial assistance, books, supplies and monthly housing. Generally, benefits are payable for 15 years following release from active duty and may be transferred to spouses or dependent children.
The Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) is an assistance program that provides eligible Airmen with up to 36 months of benefits for education and training opportunities outside of the Air Force. These benefits may be used for degree and certificate programs, flight training, apprenticeship/on-the-job training and correspondence courses. Generally, benefits are payable for 10 years following release from active duty.
The College Loan Repayment Program (CLRP) is for all non-prior-service persons considering enlistment in the Air Force. If you have taken some college courses and have accumulated debt, this program may be for you. Participants must sign up for this program when signing the enlistment contract. Under CLRP the repayment maximum is $10,000 per recruit.
The Air Force Technical Degree Sponsorship Program (TDSP) offers money to those working on an engineering or meteorological degree who are within 24 months of graduation. Each candidate must successfully complete an evaluation by an Officer Training School (OTS) board. Once selected, each candidate receives active-duty E-3 (Airman 1st Class) enlisted pay, along with housing and food allowances. Candidates are also eligible for medical and dental benefits. Upon graduation you’ll be commissioned as an officer and get started in an Air Force job that utilizes your skills.
Health Professions Scholarship Program offers scholarships for healthcare professionals and includes one- and two-year benefits for Biomedical Science Corps specialties (Pharmacists, Optometrists, Clinical Psychologists and Public Health Officers), two- and three-year benefits for Nurse Corps specialties and three- and four-year benefits for Medical Corps and Dental Corps. This scholarship covers tuition and required fees, textbooks, small equipment items and supplies needed for study. You’ll also receive a monthly allowance for living expenses. While on scholarship, you’ll spend 45 days on active duty in the Air Force. And once you graduate, you’ll serve on active duty (one year for each year of scholarship, with a minimum of three years).
Financial Assistance Program
The Air Force Financial Assistance Program for medical and dental residencies can help you complete your residency without having to worry about finances. You’ll receive more than $45,000 for every year you participate in the program and a stipend of over $2000 a month to cover living expenses. Upon completion of your residency, you’ll have a one-year obligation for each year of participation, plus one extra year.
The Air Force strives to provide salaries that are competitive with those in the civilian sector. Pay increases with rank and time in service. You’ll also receive a yearly cost-of-living increase.
Additional benefits include signing bonuses, specialty pay, vacation with pay, low-cost health and life insurance options, retirement plans and more.
To learn more, contact your local recruiter.
The Air Force retirement plan is impressive. Airmen are eligible to retire after only 20 years of service and begin receiving benefits the day they retire. The Air Force retirement plan requires no payroll deductions. And Airmen are also eligible for the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), which allows participants to place a portion of their monthly pay into an account similar to a 401(k) investment plan.
TSP contributions are considered pretax dollars and therefore reduce the amount of income subject to tax, and the accounts grow tax-free. Enrollment is available when members first join the military and anytime thereafter. Money invested in the TSP belongs to individual members, no matter how many years they serve. Income contributed to the TSP is not taxed until withdrawn from the account; however, withdrawal before age 59-1/2 may be subject to penalty. The TSP account can be rolled over into an IRA or another employer’s retirement account.
Our Airmen receive excellent rates, comprehensive medical and dental care, plus full pay and allowances for sick days and low-cost life insurance up to $400,000. If you’re ever temporarily disabled due to illness or injury, you’ll still receive a salary. Family members may receive medical care at military or civilian facilities through various options for little or no cost.
And if you’re a member of the Air Force healthcare professional team, you won’t ever have to worry about malpractice insurance.
Along with tax-free allowances, the ability to earn 30 days of vacation with pay per year, free housing and excellent benefits, you could receive an Air Force signing bonus. Please contact your local recruiter for bonus availability, qualifications and individual details.
Effective October 1, 2010, enlistment bonuses are available to qualified applicants for the following careers. The number of available bonuses is limited per fiscal year.
Bonuses for officers are not offered at this time.
The Air Force currently offers accession bonuses and loan repayments to qualified medical applicants. Please contact your local recruiter for bonus availability, qualifications and individual details.
Food & Housing
Living expenses, including utilities and maintenance, are covered for those who choose to live in on-base housing or apartments. A monthly tax-free housing allowance based on rank, family status and geographic location is provided for off-base residents.
Airmen also receive food allowances, and single Airmen may opt to receive meal accounts that allow them to eat as many as four meals a day in the on-base dining facility for free. These facilities provide a large selection of home-cooked meals along with fast-food options. You’ll also save by shopping at the tax-free on-base department and grocery stores. Learn more about life in the Air Force.
Wherever you go on any base, you’ll find social activities and recreational programs for you and your family:
- Enlisted and officer clubs feature a full calendar of social events for members, spouses and guests.
- Bases sponsor youth activities, including teen functions, and generally have youth centers where children can spend time in a safe environment.
- Most bases have golf courses, arts and crafts facilities, bowling alleys, tennis courts and swimming pools — which you can use for free or cheaper than similar facilities off-base.
As for vacation and travel, all Airmen receive 30 days of vacation with pay during which they can take advantage of available space on Air Force aircraft. We offer access to many international destinations as well as almost any state in the U.S. If your destination is near a military facility, you can enjoy hotel-quality lodging on base for as little as $6 a night.
Of course, if you’re stationed abroad, you’ll have the freedom to spend your free time and weekends exploring your local area. Learn more about life in the Air Force.