The United States Air Force Academy is a public university and military service academy located just outside of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Founded in 1954, the Air Force Academy trains cadets to serve as commissioned officers in the United States Air Force in the core areas of air, space, and cyberspace. The youngest of the service academies, the Air Force Academy charges its students zero in tuition for an education valued at more than $416,000. The application process is extremely competitive and the admission requirements are tough.
Unlike regular public universities, there are age requirements to be eligible to attend the Air Force Academy. To apply you must:
- Be at least 17 years old
- Not turn 23 by July 1st of the year you enter the Academy
You must also be a United States Citizen to be eligible to attend the USAFA. If you were not born in the United States you must submit proof of citizenship and citizenship must be finalized before entering the Academy.
You’ll also need a social security number to apply and you must use the legal name as it appears on your birth certificate.
In order to attend the Academy, you must be unmarried with no dependents. Dependents include:
- Birth child
- Step child
- Adopted child
If you choose to get married or become a parent during your time at the Academy, you could face disciplinary action as an officer.
If you meet all of the eligibility requirements to apply to the United States Air Force Academy, the next thing required to be considered is a nomination. Everyone who wishes to be considered for an appointment at the Academy must acquire a nomination. Although a nomination is required to be admitted to the Academy, it does not guarantee you will be accepted and offered an appointment.
There are 5 nomination categories:
- Vice Presidential
- Military Affiliated
- U.S. Territory
Most nominations awarded are Congressional nominations. Each member of Congress is allowed to have 5 cadets attending the Air Force Academy at a time. However, when a vacancy arises, such as when a cadet graduates or drop out, members of Congress may nominate up to 10 nominees to be considered by the Academy to fill the vacant position.
You must request a nomination from the U.S. Senator or Representative from the state or congressional district of which you are a legal resident but it is not necessary to personally know the member of Congress.
Like any other institution of higher education, the Air Force Academy has academic performance standards for admission. The Air Force Academy is an intense educational experience and applicants must possess both leadership potential and perform well academically. Academic potential is evaluated using 2 criteria:
- Prior Academic Record (PAR)- composed of class rank and GPA. When class rank is not available, your PAR will be evaluated based on your transcript, school profile, and senior academic schedule.
- College Admissions Test Scores (SAT or ACT)- applicants must score at least 580 verbal and 560 math on the SAT and at least 24 English/reading and 25 math/science reasoning on the ACT to be competitive for admission.
The Air Force Academy takes these two categories and together they make up the most important part of a student being selected to attend.
In addition to rigorous academic screening, the Air Force Academy also wants to ensure it only admits people of high moral character. They use the following to determine if your character aligns with the Air Force Core Values:
- Admissions Liaison Officer Interview
- Teacher’s Evaluation
- Writing Sample Submission
- Personal Data Record Review
- Drug and Alcohol Abuse Certificate
While not required for admission to the USAFA, participation in a variety of extracurricular activities can make you a more competitive candidate for selection. The Academy looks for consistent participation and leadership in the same few activities. These activities can be athletic or non-athletic in nature and should demonstrate that the applicant is well-rounded.
There aren’t many schools in the US that require their applicants to pass a physical fitness assessment prior to admission. However, for the USAFA, the Candidate Fitness Assessment is an important and required element. Successful completion can help determine the applicant’s ability to keep up with the rigorous physical demands of Academy life. The Candidate Fitness Assessment is pass/fail and consists of the following components:
- Basketball Throw
- Pull-Ups/Flexed Arm Hang
- Shuttle Run
- Modified Sit-Ups (Crunches)
- One Mile run
Your fitness assessment may be overseen by a physical education teacher, Service Academy Liaison Officer, or JROTC Instructor. In addition, any active duty commissioned officer may conduct the CFA for service members. It is your responsibility to arrange for a qualified person to conduct your assessment.
All candidates must also meet medical and weight standards in order to attend the USAFA and commission in the United States Air Force. The Department of Defense Medical Examination Review Board (DODMERB) is the agency responsible for determining the medical qualification of all Academy applicants. You must take your examination at one of the designated examining centers on or after June 1st of the year preceding your year of admission.
Together, all of these admission requirements are reviewed and scored by a selection panel. Your overall competitive standing is determined using the following scores:
- Academic Composite (50%)- a combination of Prior Academic Record and SAT/ACT scores
- Extracurricular Composite (20%)- activities in high school including athletic and nonathletic activities, community service, work experience…etc.
- Selection Composite (30%)- combines all admission factors into an overall competitive standing consisting of your Weighted Composite score plus your holistic Selection Panel Rating. This rating includes all the qualitative components and intangibles in your application.
There you have it – the Air Force Academy requirements in a nutshell. Their high standards may be daunting now, but if you develop a plan to be competitive and start early, you should have a decent chance at being accepted. Good luck!