One cannot have the ACF without participating in one of these two GI Bill programs, as the two programs run hand-in-hand. The ACF adds to the monthly education benefits payments made by these two programs.
For example, in 2009, the active duty Montgomery GI Bill is worth $47,556 in education benefits that are broken down to 36 monthly payments $1,321 for someone who goes to college full-time. In 2009, the maximum Army College Fund is $87,756 (when one speaks of the maximum ACF amount, this always means the amount of the college fund, plus the amount of the GI Bill, together). Therefore, if you enlist with the maximum ACF, and then attend college full-time under the MGIB, you would receive $2,437.66 per month for 36 months of education.
For 2009, the maximum ACF (which includes the ACF and the MGIB) is:
- 2-year enlistment - $44,028
- 3 years - $63,756
- 4 years - $70,956
- 5 years - $78,156
- 6 years - $81,756 (the maximum)
The Army restricts the ACF only to MOSs (enlisted jobs) that are experiencing significant shortages. This list of jobs, and the amount of ACF offered changes all the time, based on the current needs of the Army. Usually, if one accepts the ACF, this will decrease the amount of enlistment bonus(if any) that may be offered for enlisting in that specialty.
One must contact an Army Recruiter or the Army jobs counselor at the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) in order to find out current amounts, and which MOSs the Army is offering the benefit to.
The Army College Fund was approved by Congress as a test-program by Public Law 94-502, in Fiscal Year 1979. The Army and Navy adopted the programs permamently in Fiscal Year 1981. The Air Force does not have a college fund program (other than the MGIB and Tutition Assistance program which are available in all of the services).
The ACF is not a program for which an individual becomes eligible after entry on active duty. It must be included in the initial enlistment agreement. The program is not authorized for officers.
Soldiers offered the ACF as an incentive to enlist should have received documentation verifying entitlement to ACF on Department of Army (DA) Form 3286-66 which is part of the enlistment contract. Only certain MOS are authorized the ACF. The ACF is available for 2 year, 3 year and 4 year enlistments. Soldiers who enlist for greater than 4 years with the ACF option receive the 4 year ACF.
ACF must be earned. It is accrued monthly as long as the servicemember obtains and remains qualified for the MOS for which originally enlisted.
The ACF is an enlistment incentive. Anyone offered the ACF must meet the eligibility criteria listed below:
- Have no prior service
- Enlist in the active Army from July 1, 1985 to present.
- Have a high school diploma at time of entry to active duty.
- Have an Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) score (See ASVAB article) of 50 or higher.
- Enlist in a specified MOS designated under the ACF program offered at the time of enlistment.
- Enlist with ACF as part of the enlistment agreement.
Forfeiting the ACF
Servicemembers forfeit ACF eligibility for:
- Failing to obtain and remain qualified in the MOS for which individual enlisted.
- Failing to complete the minimum time-in-service requirements.
Want to learn more about Army enlistment incentives? See our Army Enlistment Incentives Menu.