What do you mean I can’t get a CCAF degree?

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jarad A. Denton
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
It was Fall of 2009, I had just sworn into the delayed enlistment program and received my enrollment certificate for the Community College of the Air Force.

I looked at it as I suspect most future Airmen do - with the "well, this is nice" attitude.

I went through basic military training and technical school without giving my CCAF degree so much as a passing thought. I already had a goal in mind to commission and become an officer, so why would I need an associate degree?

However, once I reached my first duty station I had the opportunity to work under a supervisor who was extremely passionate about education. He encouraged me to get in school as quickly as possible, which I did.

I started exploring my educational options - what school would allow me to earn a bachelor's degree in a career-related field, would it accept any of my transfer credits and could I apply any College Level Examination Program or Dantes Subject Standardized Test scores I earned?

In my research I started thinking more seriously about my CCAF degree. I spoke with the Base Training and Education office about how the degree could benefit me.

"The board likes to see that the enlisted member has put in an effort to achieve as much as possible not only education wise, but as a person," said Susan King, 28th Force Support Squadron Base Training and Education Center education services specialist. "They believe that if an enlisted member puts in the effort to better themselves as a whole person, they will do so as an officer as well. It definitely increases their chances of being selected."

I also learned that while a CCAF degree would help me further my career, it was something that was unattainable. After the initial shock wore off, I started looking into why I was ineligible to receive a CCAF degree.

It used to be BMT provided graduating Airmen with four physical fitness and four residency hours toward their CCAF degree. However, in recent years CCAF stopped recognizing the residency hours. This wasn't a problem for Airmen who attended tech school on an Air Force base - since they were awarded the full 16 residency hours. However, my tech school was on a U.S. Army installation. This earned me 12 residency hours - four short of the 16 required to graduate with a CCAF degree.

Needless to say, I was upset. Until now, my CCAF degree had been more of an afterthought on the road to my bachelor's degree. However, since I was told I couldn't earn it unless I attended Airman Leadership School - which was not part of my career development plan, I wanted it even more. So, as I worked toward my four-year degree, I took CLEP and DSSTs which satisfied nearly all the requirements necessary for my CCAF.

As I got closer to earning all the credits I could I started looking for options to earning those four remaining residency hours. I also learned that this problem didn't stop within my career field - anyone who attended a multi-service tech school was in the same boat I was in.

I spoke with the Base Training and Education office again, this time armed with a nearly complete CCAF transcript. All I needed were the credits to transfer after I completed my 15-month on-the-job training and those elusive residency hours. However, in demonstrating I was serious about my education, it gave me a better leg to stand on when pleading my case for those residency hours.

Mrs. King promised to explore every option which may help me earn a CCAF degree before I was ready to submit my package to officer training school. She was able to find a work-around which allowed me to apply the on-the-job training I received while earning my journeyman skill level.

She said the remainder of my residency hours will be satisfied once my skill level increases, after the mandatory 15 months of OJT. For Airmen, OJT can be considered a recognized CCAF internship - which counts toward the residency requirement.

I finally felt a reward on the horizon for the effort I put in. I am excited to be taking advantage of all the educational opportunities offered by the Air Force on my road to becoming an officer.