The AF COOL is a Total Force enlisted program. The program is available to all RegAF, USSF, AFRES, and ANG members on Title 10 or Title 32 (502F) active duty orders. AFRES and ANG members not on Title 10 orders may receive payment from their respective components. You can get a maximum of $4,500 in benefits during your career.
What is Credentialing?
Credentialing has two purposes. First, it helps to make the service more professional and educated by training enlisted members in up-to-date industry-recognized skills. Second, it provides a way for airmen to prepare for civilian life by ensuring that they are ready for work in the civilian sector. There are many aspects to credentialing including certifications and licenses.
Enlisted members participating in the Air Force COOL program must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- Possess a 5-skill level in their Primary Air Force Specialty Code
- Do not have an UIF, are not on a Control Roster, and are current on their most recent fitness test at the time of application
- Have a profile in AFVEC with an approved credentialing goal
- Must obtain supervisor approval and complete the entire credential while on active duty status
Although the AF COOL program has expanded to allow Air and Space professionals to obtain unlimited credentials and licenses with their $4,500 cap, eligible members may attain only one credential at a time per category, i.e., Primary AFSC/Leadership, at AF expense. AF COOL does not pay for preparatory classes, boot camps or coursework.
AF COOL will pay for the exam(s), up to $500 for books, admin/application fees, and recertification fees necessary for that one credential. Once the credentialing goal has been approved by the supervisor and supporting documentation uploaded into the educational goal, the member must create a separate funding request for each item – exams and/or books – and ensure the request matches the provided price quote.
Senior NCOs (E-7 through E-9) may also be eligible for leadership and management credentials. The AF COOL Program has recently expanded to allow for one non-AFSC related credential and one completed degree-associated credential, bachelors or higher.
If a member fails the non-AFSC credential, they will be required to repay the cost of the credential. However, the maximum allowable lifetime benefit per Air and Space professional is still $4,500. This includes Senior NCO leadership, non-AFSC, and degree-associated credentials, and any re-certifications (if applicable, and with certain restrictions).
Some exams may be very expensive while others are relatively inexpensive. Regardless of the cost, Air and Space professionals may only complete one AFSC-related credential, non-AFSC credential, or degree-associated credential at a time and, if eligible, one leadership credential. (NOTE: Recertification costs are paid by AF COOL only if the initial certification was also paid for with AF COOL funding).
Applying for the Air Force COOL Program
You can visit the Air Force COOL website to get a variety of information about credentialing and licensing. The website will let you:
- Get background information about civilian licensure and certification in general and specific information on individual credentials including eligibility requirements and resources to prepare for an exam.
- Identify licenses and certifications relevant to Air Force Specialties
- Learn how to fill gaps between Air Force training and experience and civilian credentialing requirements.
- Learn about resources available to Airmen members that can help them gain civilian job credentials.
AF COOL also has a section that allows you to look at all credentials for all enlisted AFSCs. While you can only receive tuition assistance on approved credentials, you may view other occupations that may interest you for future planning. Search results will include the certifications and licenses related to those AFSCS and other information such as related civilian occupations. Airmen can also search by civilian career area, credential name, and credentialing agency name.
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