Education Program History
Although most know us for helping active duty members and their families cope with short-term financial needs, for over 70 years, the Air Force Aid Society has been dedicated to helping dependents of eligible Airmen to meet their post-secondary education expenses. Dating back to our very beginnings during WWII, the Society has extended significant financial assistance for education programs, offerings made possible by the establishment of the Air Force Aid Society Education Fund. That this fund continues to thrive is a tribute to the wisdom and foresight of General Henry "Hap" Arnold and General Carl "Tooey" Spaatz who were instrumental in its creation.
During the period from 1945 to 1979, the Society's Education Fund was able to provide over $31 million in direct education loan assistance to 19,000 Air Force families. A change of direction came in 1979 when the Society phased out its internally managed loan program in an attempt to broaden access to educational assistance through the Department of Education's Guaranteed Student/Parent Loan programs. These programs were initially of enormous benefit to Air Force families, particularly in the first two years when 23,000 applicants qualified for $52 million in guaranteed loans. Unfortunately, increasingly restrictive needs tests diminished the value of these programs to the point where the Society decided to explore additional educational assistance initiatives to meet Air Force community needs. Beginning in 1988, the Society launched the first of its own grant and loan programs that would eventually supplant participation in government sponsored programs. Guaranteed Student/Parent Loans were phased out in early 1993 as new emphasis was put on revitalizing the Education Fund to support more direct value programs.
The revitalized Air Force Aid Society Education Fund allowed the Society to create and sustain an extremely popular grant program, the General Henry H. Arnold Education Grant Program. This program provides grants ranging from $500 to $4,000 based on need to full-time college undergraduates who are dependent children of active duty Air Force members, retirees or deceased members. Spouses of active duty members, and surviving spouses of deceased personnel are also eligible to compete for these grants.
The Education Fund also supports other education programs, such as our Merit Scholarship and the Supplemental Education Loan Program.
Details on all of these programs may be accessed from the main menu under Education.
There are several ways tax deductible donations can be made to the Air Force Aid Society's Education Grant Program. You may donate to one of the established named awards, create a new named award in perpetuity, or fund a one-time award. For more information about contributing to the Education Fund, please continue to our Education Donations Page.