MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. (AFNS)
The Community College of the Air Force awarded 23,206 associate of applied science degrees in 2015, breaking the record for number of graduates for the sixth consecutive year.
“CCAF had an amazing year in 2015. We think CCAF is more relevant and more popular than ever before,” said Lt. Col. Nathan Leap, the CCAF commander. “The education helps our Airmen form better habits of mind, improve critical thinking skills, increase their diversity of thought and become more innovative.”
CCAF is the largest community college in the nation with 2,000 courses and more than a quarter of a million students.
Every CCAF degree makes Airmen more proficient and increases their performance within their primary Air Force specialty, Leap said. These degrees are earned through Air University, which is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The prestigious accreditation means that they meet the same strict standards as other SACS schools such as the universities of Georgia and Florida.
Over the years, CCAF has adapted to better serve Airmen by adding programs like Air Force Credentialing Opportunities On-Line, which enables Airmen to earn industry-recognized certifications.
“One of the most exciting developments within CCAF in 2015 was the emergence and expansion of the AF COOL program. We stood up AF COOL last year and made available nearly 1,000 new certifications to our enlisted Airmen,” Leap said.
The Air Force is also in the process of changing its policy to allow enlisted Airmen to obtain an unlimited number of credentials, books and prep material as long as the overall cost doesn’t exceed a lifetime cap of $4,500.
In 2015, CCAF improved the speed at which it loaded civilian credit to student’s records by 60 percent. This was achieved by embracing new technologies and improving processes.
Despite the improvements, Leap admitted that it still takes too long to load civilian course credit to student’s records.
“Our civilian employees have worked an enormous amount of overtime during the past seven months,” Leap said. “Despite the progress we made, we know we still have room for improvement and we’re looking for innovative ways such as electronic transcripts and a new student information system to continue to provide better support to our students.”
Looking back, CCAF awarded 9,276 degrees in 1987. Since then the numbers of graduates have more than doubled despite the fact that there were almost 100,000 more enlisted Airmen back then.
“The success of our CCAF graduates last year epitomizes the Air Force’s emphasis on the deliberate development of our enlisted members,” said Chief Master Sgt. Andrew Hollis, the CCAF vice commandant. “We distinguish ourselves as the most capable enlisted force in the world because generations of senior leaders prioritized our development and CCAF is an extraordinary instrument of that.”