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Webmaster Note:  I toyed with USAFA when I first entered the service.  I attempted to get into it right out of High school but it is very hard to get scholarships into the Academy.  By the time I joined the AF I already had a set of goals before I learned of LEAD.  I started the ball rolling,  but as life goes, my goals at the time didn't allow for the USAFA.  I kicked myself for not understanding what I could have done when I first entered the AF.   So cutting the chase, if you want to get into the USAFA and the scholarship is almost out of the question then LEAD might be for you.  Put your nose to the grind stone for the first couple years of your enlistment and build a GREAT package and you are just about a shoe into the Academy.  below is the note from the CSAF concerning LEAD:

Commanders and Command Chiefs

Our Air Force Academy and its Preparatory School offer fantastic opportunities for our best and brightest enlisted troops to enter the commissioned ranks.  Applications from our enlisted troops had declined consistently from 1995-2005.  But last year, thanks to your personal involvement, that trend was dramatically reversed.  In the spring of 2006, 349 of our enlisted Airmen applied for the Academy, more than triple the number of applicants a year prior and the highest number since 1995.  As a result, the number of enlisted Airmen appointed to the Preparatory School was nearly double the number appointed in each of the five years prior.  And the Academy also directly appointed more enlisted Airmen than it had in any year since 1995.  These impressive results are important for the entire Air Force, because the maturity and military experience our Airmen gain while they are enlisted make them ideal role models during their time as cadets and as commissioned officers.

        If you have young enlisted Airmen in your command who demonstrate outstanding character and values coupled with leadership potential, please urge them to consider the opportunity of a commissioning path through our Academy.  As of 1 July 2007, they must be under the age of 23 to apply for direct entry to the Academy; under 22 to apply for Prep School entry; and both options are limited to those Airmen with less than 6 years of service.  The deadline for completing the AF Form 1786, Application for Appointment to USAFA for Enlisted Members, is 31 January 07.  I realize this is not far away, so please get the word out quickly.  The Academy will entertain later submissions, but only on a case-by-case basis.

        More information about the USAFA portion of the LEAD program is attached for your use.  It is also available through any of our Education Flights.  <CHOMP>

        Thank you for what you do every day leading our Airmen to victory in this long war, and thanks for your help encouraging our best and brightest enlisted Airmen to apply for our Air Force Academy.


T. Michael Moseley
General, USAF




 USAF Academy Director of Enrollment Programs Letter……………………………..2

 Background Paper on LEAD Program………………………………………………….2

 AF Form 1786, Application for Appointment to USAFA Under Quota for Airman….3

 USAFA Counselors (By Region)………………………………………………………...4

 Answers to Commonly Asked Questions……………………………………………….4-5




             2304 Cadet Drive, Suite 215
             USAF Academy CO 80840-5025

SUBJECT: Leaders Encouraging Air Development (LEAD) Program

1.  To all of you, let me express my sincere appreciation for your significant part in the success of the LEAD program.  Your contributions are changing the lives of young men and women pursuing a commission through the United States Air Force Academy—one of the most selective and prestigious universities in the nation.

 2.  Although the number of enlisted applicants to the Academy and Prep School took a sharp rise when the LEAD program was introduced, those numbers have been steadily declining.  For the last couple of years, we have not filled the 50 LEAD Prep School slots.  In addition to the Prep School, we have 85 direct entry slots at the Academy reserved for airmen, many of which remain vacant every year due to lack of qualified applicants.  The program was established as a long-term commissioning option for our sharpest airmen—we must continue to seek them out.  Our commitment to you in the field is to assist your efforts in promoting the Air Force Academy while minimizing the paperwork associated with the LEAD program.

 3.  Once again, we appreciate your LEAD initiative.  The prior-enlisted cadets attending the Air Force Academy thank you for allowing them to excel.  Most importantly, the Academy thanks you for sending us your top airmen to enhance the Academy experience for all.



                                                                                    GREGORY J. MYERS, Lt Col, USAF
                                                                                   Director of Enrollment Programs



     The LEAD Program is an on-going effort to give our best and brightest airmen the opportunity to excel by offering them appointments to the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  The program, initiated by Gen Fogleman in 1995, delegates authority to Unit and Wing Commanders to nominate highly qualified airmen to attend the Prep School with the intention of Academy appointment to follow.  Commanders have the opportunity to identify outstanding and deserving airmen with officer potential for this commissioning program.

     Fifty slots are reserved at the Prep School for airmen who meet entry criteria.  Airmen must be a U.S. citizen or be able to obtain citizenship before entry into the Academy the following year, be unmarried and have no dependents, must not have passed their twenty second birthday by 1 July of the entry year (this cannot be waived as it is a stipulation of Title 10, United States Code), and be of high moral character.  There are also 85 slots available for active duty airmen for direct entry into the Air Force Academy.  These individuals must be no older than 23 on 1 Jul of the entering year to the Academy.

     Application:  Apply on AF Form 1786, Application for Appointment to the United States Air Force Academy Under Quota Allotted to Enlisted Members of the Regular and Reserve Components of the Air Force.  This form requires the airman’s personal information, immediate commander’s endorsement (no lower than squadron commander or equivalent), and Military Personnel Flight (MPF) Assignments coordination.  The completed form must reach the Air Force Academy Admissions Office NLT 31 Jan of the entry year.  Once your application has been processed, you will be notified by the Admissions office concerning additional requirements such as the physical aptitude exam, an extensive medical evaluation, completion of an interview with an Admissions Liaison Officer, completion of the writing sample, and attainment of qualifying scores on the Scholastic Aptitude Test or the American College Test.  Applicants should also be involved in the community and in athletic activities either in high school or after high school.

LEAD Timetable 

- Submit Pre-Candidate   Questionnaire on-line at    Mar – 31 Dec (Year prior)
 - AF Form 1786 submitted    NLT 31 Jan (Airman’s responsibility)
- Completed Candidate Packages NLT 1 Mar for USAFA direct entry
NLT 15 Apr for Prep School
- USAFA provides MAJCOMs list of qualified candidates   Apr
- MAJCOMs select airmen  

Notifies USAFA NLT 11 May

    - USAFA confirms selections   May

Guidelines:    SAT Verbal 480 and SAT Math 520.  ACT English 21, Reading 21, Math 23, and Science Reasoning 23.  Top 40% of high school class or about a 2.70 GPA if school does not rank.  Airmen scheduled by the Academy for a medical exam should complete it as soon as possible.  Airmen must list MAJCOM/DRU/FOA of assignment when applying.  Airmen should not have a leave deficit or indebtedness.  Applicants must be placed in AAC (05) at time of application, unless they are in student status.

          Any questions about the LEAD Program should be directed to either of the USAFA LEAD Program Directors, numbers and contact information available at Base Education Center

AF FORM 1786, Application for Appointment to the USAF Academy Under Quota Allotted to Enlisted Members of the Regular and Reserve Components of the Air Force

           The AF Form 1786 is an application for a nomination for appointment to the Academy and an appointment to the Prep School.  Active duty and reserve airmen are allocated “slots” for each entering class based on their enlisted status.  Thus, they do not need a presidential, vice presidential, or congressional nomination as do the vast majority of students entering the Academy each year.  The AF Form 1786 is the formal paperwork required to obtain their  “individual nomination”.

           The AF Form 1786 should (1) be completed by the member, (2) endorsed by the squadron commander, and (3) processed by the Military Personnel Flight.  The squadron commander, not wing commander, must provide a separate endorsement letter which must be included with the AF Form 1786 (in some MAJCOMs, the wing commanders have directed their own involvement, but we require only the immediate commander’s endorsement).

      The purpose of the letter is to verify that the information provided on the AF Form 1786 is correct and to provide the Academy with a positive or negative endorsement of the individual pursuing this commissioning program.  The airman’s personnel folder should be screened to see if any Unfavorable Information File (UIF) documentation, letters of reprimand, etc., exists.  The squadron commander is our “safety net” to ensure only our top airmen enter the Academy.  These commanders should subjectively analyze if an airman “has the potential” to become an Air Force officer.  Minor infractions such as a speeding ticket or missed appointment may not in themselves warrant disapproval but a “pattern” of misconduct might.

      If an airman has already submitted an on-line application earlier in the year, his/her application package would have already identified the need for transcripts, therefore, transcripts are only required as part of the AF Form 1786 “package” if this is the first correspondence with the Academy.

      AF Form 1786 is available on-line at:  

Go to “Short Title” and type in “AF Form 1786” to bring up the form to be downloaded and completed.


     The Air Force Academy receives tens of thousands of correspondence from young men and women interested in attending the Air Force Academy.  A “student file” is activated and maintained by one of the 10 counselors assigned to the Selections Office in the Directorate of Admissions.  Counselors also take inquires from students interested in the status of their file.  To minimize the amount of inquiries, only airmen should call their counselor; not supervisors, commanders, or even base education office personnel.  Which counselor to call is determined by base assigned (not home of record).  Supervisors, education offices, and commanders should call Ms Donna Najar, Selections LEAD coordinator, with any questions.  Students, supervisors, commanders may also contact their local Education Services Center for information and assistance.


1.  Are there videos and other media products available about the Academy?

Yes.  Videos were sent to all education offices in 1996.  Our Marketing Division, like most Air Force units, is running on a tight budget and is severely limited in what they can supply.  They send the latest Academy catalog and 100 “Academy is for Airmen” brochures to each base every year.

 2.  I have conflicting information on the current age requirement for the Academy.  What are they?

Applicants must be under 23 years of age on 1 Jul of the year that they enter the Academy and under 22 for the Preparatory School.

 3.  Is there any LEAD information available on the Internet?

Yes.  The Academy’s website at has information under Admissions Center, How To Apply, Airmen.

 4.  Are 50 slots at the Prep School and 85 at the Academy set in stone?

No.  We can increase the number of personnel that we take into the Prep School based on the number of qualified applicants.  The 85 direct entry slots at the Academy are set in stone and are based on nominations allotted by law.  However, this number can increase if highly qualified airmen use congressional, presidential, and vice presidential nominations.

 5.  How critical are test scores and high school GPAs?

Very critical!  Sixty percent of an applicant’s eligibility is based on their academic accomplishments.  The LEAD program takes into account the maturity and experience that an airman brings to the Academy and Prep School, but a student can not survive at the Academy without the basic academic knowledge and skills required for success.

 6.  How much does a person’s personnel file (EPRs, training records, etc) affect their appointment?

The selection panel never sees an individual’s personnel file.  We expect the individual’s commander to utilize this as a screening tool before signing the AF Form 1786.

 7.  What is the percentage of personnel who complete the Preparatory School who make it into the Academy?

Very High!  In the upper 90%.  Basically, we have invested a year of time and effort into a  “preppie” and make every effort to make it pay-off for us.  Unless there is some disciplinary or academic action involved, most who graduate from the Prep School and want to go to the Academy get an Academy appointment.

 8.  What if a commander is unwilling to sign the AF Form 1786 on an airman?

That is their prerogative and the basis of the LEAD program.  We assume that the commander knows who their good people are and will use that information to make an informed decision on who they nominate.  It is one of our check-and-balances.

 9.  Does an airman loose their Montgomery GI Bill (MGGIB) benefits upon entering the Academy?

A memo dated 2 Feb 96 from HQ USAF/DPXF to HQ USAFA/CC clarifies that the VA considers graduates eligible for MGGIB benefits if they establish eligibility prior to attending a service academy.  There are airmen who slip through the cracks without obtaining the full eligibility prior to entering the Academy, but they are the exception.  The time spent at the Prep School counts towards eligibility.

 10.  How do most airmen feel about an extra year at the Preparatory School as opposed to entering the cadet wing directly?

We have heard mostly positive comments from airmen who go through the Prep School first.  Most rave about an extra year to save money before taking a pay cut at the Academy.  Others cite the support network they develop before entering the difficult Fourthclass (Freshman) year as the school’s strong point.  In all cases, it is a great transitional school for airmen entering the Academy.

 11.  What does an airman make in base pay at the Prep School?

Airmen maintain their prior-enlisted pay while at the Prep School.  Once at the Academy, they convert to the cadet pay scale (around $800 per month) of which they will receive $60 per month as a freshmen and $120 per month as a sophomore, gradually increasing to full cadet pay in their senior year.  The amounts are after deductions for uniforms, books, a computer, and other miscellaneous fees charged to the cadet’s account.

 12.    Do I have to contact my Education Services Office before I send in my AF Form 1786?

Yes!  All applicants must be placed in AAC (05) at the time of application.  Your Education Services Center does that for you.  Take your completed application package to your Education Services Center when you request they change your assignment availability code to an 05.



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Page Added on: 30 November 2006