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Understanding enlisted education program updates

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The Air Force has several programs to support enlisted Airmen toward achieving their educational goals and progress in their careers. This update is meant to help Airmen understand how two recent policies could impact their planning.

According to the Barnes Center for Enlisted Professional Military Education Academic Affairs, "students are allowed to self-enroll for the first and second course enrollment without supervisor and/or commander involvement."

However subsequent enrollments will require engagement with the member's supervisor, squadron commander and group commander.

Previously, disenrollment incurred a required waiting period before members could reenroll.

"A previous policy removed the waiting periods and this new policy requires supervisor involvement for the third or more enrollment," said Catherine Lovelady, Peterson Air Force Base Education Services Specialist. "The changes ensure supervisors are aware if a member is having issues so they can support them through the process."

The policy applies to all enlisted distance learning professional military education programs such as Airman Leadership School or Course 3 for Reserve and Guard members, as well as Noncommissioned Officer Academy (Course 15) and Senior Noncommissioned Officer Academy (Course 14).

"Enlisted PME is a voluntary effort, it's incumbent upon the member to take the initiative and to complete the courses," said Senior Master Sgt. William Miller, Reserve Peterson AFB Education Services Specialist. "This helps them not be an island upon themselves through the process, especially if they're struggling."

Members can find additional information and instructions for completing the required coordination for third through fifth reenrollments at www.aueducationsupport.com.
In addition to the above, the Community College of the Air Force reiterated its policy on skill level code requirements for applied science degree eligibility.

CCAF degrees require Airman to have attained a 5-level skill code in their primary career specialty in addition to academic requirements. However CCAF also allows members to earn degrees in a secondary skill code area as long as they still maintain at least a 5 skill level in that specialty.

This primarily affects Airmen who have cross trained or are in a special duty status. A 5-skill level denotes an Airman has mastered the skills and can perform at least at a journeyman skill level. Once a member is no longer actively performing that mission for a period of time those skills tend to deteriorate.

Military officials recognize this deterioration. According to current military personnel policy, Air Force Specialty Codes are downgraded after years of nonperformance.
"This is not a change in policy, rather just a reminder to Airmen and those processing CCAF registration requests," said Lovelady. "[Downgrading] doesn't happen automatically, it requires a manual update and previously some of these have been missed."

The education office personnel as well as those at the college will double check to ensure Airmen are still proficient in the specialty area associated with their targeted degrees.

"This protects the validity of the degree and the credibility of the college, not only for that individual but for all Airmen who have earned CCAF degrees," said Lovelady.
Airmen who want to pursue a degree in a previously held career field should be aware of the timelines to ensure they can complete the required academic portion before their skill levels are downgraded.

Airmen with a 5-skill level will be downgraded to a 3-skill level after four years, Airmen with a 7-skill level and 9-skill level will be downgraded to a 3-skill level after six years of nonperformance. Airmen must have a current 5-skill level in order to earn the associated CCAF degree.

Members should know but can confirm through their duty history to see when their 5-skill level eligibility will expire.

"The Air Force continues to support Airmen by offering several opportunities to complete education and leadership training," Verna Maul, the Peterson Education Services Officer. "Our consolidated education center is ready to help members access those opportunities."

The education center is open Monday - Friday 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m., call 556-4996 for more information.

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