Back to school with the Base Education Office

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Dalton Williams
  • 45th Space Wing Public Affairs Office

Back to school season is here and that means a chance to start a path toward a degree or to continue pursuing further educational opportunities by visiting the Patrick Air Force Base Education Office.

The Base Education Office is a way to help those looking for resources and guidance on everything educational related.

Whether you are active duty or not, they are here to help in an educational and vocational capability.

“Education is the most important aspect of a successful Airman,” said Glenn Smith, Force Development Flight Chief, 45th Force Support Squadron. “Without a strong education and training focus, we could not accomplish the mission.”

Because education is important to both the United States Air Force and achieving the mission, there are a multitude of ways on base for those seeking to further their education.

There are two schools on base, Columbia College and Keiser University. They were chosen to have locations at Patrick Air Force Base because they meet the needs of the local service population and are both regionally accredited. 

Regionally accredited is the "golden ticket" for institutions of higher learning, Smith said.

Regional accreditation means that a school has met certain standards determined by the 7 regional accrediting agencies located in the United States and its courses will provide education that has value to its students. Regional accreditation is more common in the United States than national accreditation.

One of the most common fears of going to college is how to actually pay for it. Airmen and civilians do not have to worry about having to pay large sums of money towards their tuition, because they are both eligible for significant benefits toward their educational pursuits.

Airmen and civilians are eligible to receive tuition assistance, with officer and enlisted having 100% tuition assistance, up to $250 per semester hour, with a maximum amount of $4,500 per fiscal year. Airmen can use tuition assistance up through earning their Master’s degree. Civilians receive 75% tuition assistance, up to $250 a semester hour, with a maximum amount of $4,500 per fiscal year. Civilians can use it up through earning their Doctoral degree.

For enlisted Airmen looking to start their degrees, Smith recommends completing the remaining credits required for their Community College of the Air Force degree and then seeking out a university that offers the Air University-Associate-to-Baccalaureate Cooperative program, or AU-ABC. 

“The AU-ABC program is perhaps a little-known opportunity that can offers big rewards,” said Smith.

 The AU-ABC was created to assist enlisted Airmen pursue advanced education beyond the associate degree they earn through the CCAF program.

“The program links CCAF graduates to accredited civilian academic institutions that offer online or distance learning bachelor's degrees, where all 64 hours of credit are applied to a BS Degree so basically the Airman begins as a junior in the university they are applying to,” said Smith. 

There are many paths available for those at Patrick Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to further their education. Visiting the Base Education Office and setting up a plan can be the first step on a rewarding journey.

For more information, visit the Base Education Office, which is open Monday through Friday, 0730-1630, or call (321) 494-2071.