Gone are the days of trying to find time in your busy work-day to visit your local Air Force Base Education Office. Using the web-based system Air Force Virtual Education Center (AFVEC), you can do online what it took hours of waiting in line to do. AFVEC puts you and other Airmen in control of your academic dreams. This virtual center came online in 2003 and was designed to streamline the process of getting an off-duty education. This system is all about better customer service. We have put together the complete guide to all of the bells and whistles on AFVEC, so you can actively manage every aspect of your higher education journey.
What Is The Air Force Virtual Education Center (AFVEC)
The Air Force Virtual Education Center (AFVEC) is the Air Force’s “go-to” site for information about your educational benefits. The site offers a wide range of online services that empowers you to actively take part in all parts of your education—including the ability to create and manage your Tuition Assistance (TA) funding requests.
What Can I Do On AFVEC?
Once you set up an account on AFVEC, you can update your personal, view a complete history of the courses you are taking using Military Tuition Assistance (MilTA), grades and payment info, apply for tuition assistance, and even check your DANTES and CLEP results. Since AFVEC is tied closely to the Community College of the Air Force (CCAF), you can view your CCAF progress and send CCAF transcripts to other schools—a process that used to take six weeks now takes 24 hours.
Here are the things you can get done through the Air Force Virtual Education Center (AFVEC):
- Explore credentialing opportunities you qualify for (AF COOL)
- Find schools to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree (AU-ABC)
- Find online courses to meet your CCAF requirements (GEM)
- Start transitioning to the civilian workforce (SkillBridge)
- Explore the CCAF (CCAF)
- Help make informed decisions about attending schools (TA Decide)
- Apply for financial assistance for voluntary off-duty education programs (MilTA)
Air Force Credentialing Opportunities On-Line (AF COOL)
The AF COOL program provides you the chance to pursue civilian-industry professional credentials, such as an Accredited Business Accountant (ABA). These credentials are aligned with your Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC) and enhance your professional development while serving. It also provides job opportunities as you transition to the civilian world. The program provides funding opportunities up to $4,500 over your Air Force career. Click here to explore AF COOL credentials
How Do I Apply For A Credential?
- Log in to your AFVEC account and click on AF COOL.
- Go to the AF COOL homepage and explore the credentials you may be qualified for.
- Select the credential you wish to pursue through the AF COOL program.
- As you explore each credential, you’ll see the following tabs:
- Related Occupations
Once you found the credential you want to pursue, fill out the Credentialing Eligibility Letter with the Credentialing Agency. You’ll then upload the letter stating you’re eligible to take the exam and attach the required supporting documentation.
The next step is to click “Create Education Goal.”
This starts the funding request process. In your AFVEC account, find your AF COOL goal and click “Apply for Funding.” Just follow the prompts to complete the funding request application. You will need to provide the exam center, the cost for the exam, and the testing window (currently 120 days). After you complete the funding request, the system sends an email to your supervisor for approval.
Once the funding request is approved, it’s sent to the AF COOL office to make the payment for you.
The rest is up to you. You’ll study and take the exam. Make sure to provide the AF COOL office a copy of your grades and your Certificate of Completion by uploading the documentation on your AF COOL goal. Email them once this is completed.
Find Schools To Pursue A Bachelor’s Degree (AU-ABC)
What Is AU-ABC?
The Air University-Associate-to-Baccalaureate Cooperative program (AU-ABC) was created to help Airmen like you go after an advanced degree beyond the one you earned through the CCAF. AU-ABC links you to accredited schools that offer online or distance learning bachelor’s degrees. In the past 15 years, the program has helped more than 100,000 Airmen complete over 200,000 courses at civilian schools—resulting in nearly 4,500 bachelor’s degrees.
How Do I Enroll In AU-ABC?
- Log onto your AFVEC account and search for an AU-ABC school that meets your needs.
- Contact the school for advisement and to fill out appropriate application/paperwork.
Determine Your Category
- Cat I – Programs designed if you have your CCAF degree.
- Cat II – Programs designed if you’re currently enrolled in a CCAF AAS degree program.
- Cat III – Programs for CCAF AAS graduates who need to complete more than 60 semester hours of credit beyond their AAS.
Now it’s time to explore AU-ABC degree programs. AU-ABC programs are offered for the AFSC that you earned your CCAF degree in. Use the Explore AU-ABC degrees search feature to find the institution and program that you want to attend.
Once you have found an approved AU-ABC program for your AFSC, submit an Education Goal.
Once your Education goal has been approved, you can start a funding request by applying for tuition assistance from your approved goal.
Find Online Courses To Meet Your CCAF Requirements (GEM)
General Education Mobile (GEM) is a partnership between CCAF and regionally accredited schools to provide general education courses that meet CCAF requirements in an online format. GEM reduces the educational impact of deployments, PCS, and family commitments by offering courses in a mobile (distance) learning format. This allows you to complete a course anytime and anywhere. The goal if GEM is to reduce the average CCAF graduation time to less than 6 years by getting freshman/sophomore level general education instruction in the hands of all Airmen. This motivates students like you to finish your degree in the least amount of time.
How Do I Apply?
Log onto your AFVEC account and explore approved find approved GEM courses that will fulfill the general education requirements of your CCAF degree.
Create a CCAF Education Goal. Since you can take courses at different schools to complete your CCAF degree, picking a school is optional.
Now it’s time to start a funding request.
Start Transitioning To The Civilian Workforce (SkillBridge)
What Is SkillBridge?
Skillbridge helps takes the mystery (and stress) out of separating from the military and finding that dream job. The program is a great way for you to explore new job skills or expand on your current military skills. SkillBridge offers you the chance to gain valuable civilian work experience through specific industry training, apprenticeships, internships, and on-the-job training during the last 180 days of your military service. The program connects you with industry partners in real-world job experiences by matching civilian openings to your work experience and job training at the end of your military duty. You’ll get the chance to enhance your marketability and civilian career options by taking part in a Skillbridge opportunity.
Do I Qualify?
If you are an enlisted or officer member of the U.S. military, have fewer than 180 days of service or fewer remaining, and will be separated with an honorable discharge (including general discharge under honorable conditions), you’re eligible to apply for the SkillBridge program. You first have to complete a counseling session with a SkillBridge counselor and get your commander’s approval to participate in the Skillbridge program. Most programs are less than four months. This allows you not only to receive the industry-related training and set yourself up for direct entry into your new career but also to have time to use terminal leave to get the training.
Where Do I Find Approved SkillBridge Programs?
To check out DoD approved programs and providers, scroll to the bottom of the page after navigating to the Skillbridge Locations webpage. Even though there is an “Apply” button on this page, you still have to get proper counseling at your education office before you can submit an application.
How Do I Create An Application In AFVEC?
Once your education center updates your profile, it will reflect “Eligible to submit application” in your AFVEC account. You can then click “SkillBridge Applications” on the left side of the menu bar and select “Create New SkillBridge Application.” Just follow the instructions as you go through your application. After you submit your application, it will automatically flow through the chain of command. You’ll be notified of its status via the AFVEC messaging system.
Explore The CCAF
Once you login into your AFVEC account, click on the “Visit” bar. You’ll be directed to the Community College of the Air Force (CCAF) webpage.
Note: All of the elements of AFVEC can also be found in the CCAF Homepage.
What Is The CCAF?
The Community College of the Air Force (CCAF) is Headquartered at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, and is dedicated to the higher education needs of Air Force enlisted members. The CCAF is a federally-chartered degree-granting institution accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The CCAF helps you achieve your academic goals by using on-the-job training and traditional educational programs as part of a flexible degree program that grants military members an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science (AAS). The CCAF partners with more than 113 affiliated Air Force technical schools. The school has more than 250,000 registered active, guard, and reserve enlisted personnel who are stationed in 37 states and 9 foreign countries. This makes the CCAF the world’s largest community college system. The CCAF annually awards over 22,000 AAS degrees from 71 degree programs. Since it awarded its first degree in 1976, the CCAF has issued more than one million transcripts, and they have awarded more than 553,000 AAS degrees.
Get help in making informed decisions about attending schools (TA Decide)
The first step in your higher education journey is choosing the right school. The DoD has created the Tuition Assistance (TA) DECIDE tool to make it a breeze to compare schools and programs so you can achieve your higher education goals. More than 2,600 education institutions are eligible to receive military tuition assistance. TA DECIDE lets you search for schools using several factors and then compares the schools that fall within your parameters. For example, if you are interested in an associate degree in criminal justice, you can search by those filters and find schools that meet the criteria you think is important.
You can search for schools by:
- Accreditation Type
- School Type
- Learning Method
- Degree Level
The tool uses sources from the DoD and Veterans Affairs to provide you with information on the following:
- Tuition and fees
- Cost of attendance
- Programs and Institution accreditation
- Number of DoD tuition assistance participants
- Federal beneficiaries and funds
- Complaint information
- DoD memorandum of understanding
- Principles of Excellence
- Yellow Ribbon
- Service Members Opportunity Colleges
Apply For Financial Assistance For Voluntary Off-duty Education Programs (MilTA)
The Air Force Tuition Assistance (MilTA) pays up to 100% of your tuition for college courses you take while on active duty as long as it doesn’t exceed:
- $250 per semester credit hour,
- $166.66 per quarter hour, or
- $4,500 maximum per fiscal year.
Applying for and getting Tuition Assistance (TA) has become so easy. You no longer have to fill out the TA form and drive it to your local education office for processing. You also are in control of the process. You can track and manage your TA requests and education account through AFVEC. The great thing about this system is that there are no lines, the forms are easy to understand, and you can complete the entire process without leaving your home. In addition, it reduces time by letting you to track and manage your TA requests and account directly through your AFVEC logon.
How Do I Apply For MilTA?
You apply for TA online using your AFVEC logon. Here are the six steps to completing the AFVEC online MilTA process:
Select the reason for your request.
Select the School Name.
Enter the term dates.
Enter the course information. This is either preloaded for you or you can enter it manually. You can continue to add courses to the form until all courses that you will be taking for that school and term are added.
Note: Your unit may limit how many courses you can take in a semester.
Enter the registration fees from the drop-down list. These fees are only paid if payment of these fees is mandatory as a condition of enrollment.
Verify the TA information and submit your request
If TA cannot cover some or all of the tuition, you will be alerted and given the choice to elect the “VA Top-up” GI Bill option. This option lets you supplement any cost not covered by TA (you must be GI Bill qualified). Your application will flow to your Base Education Office for final approval.
After your request is approved, you will get a notification. You must also send a copy of the approved TA form to your school.
Jim spent 22 years on active duty, climbing the ranks from Airman Basic to a decorated Air Force Major. Stationed all over the world, he held many high-level posts, including Chief of Foreign Military Sales at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Jim earned his Ph.D. through the Montgomery Era GI Bill and spent 13 years teaching African Studies in Pennsylvania. Jim is also an award-winning travel writer.
|Air Force Education Benefits||Air Force Tuition Assistance Program|
|The Community College of the Air Force (CCAF)||Joint Service Transcript & CCAF Transcript|
|DoD SkillBridge||Air Force Specialty Codes|