United States Air Force Academy Admissions Statistics

Learn About USAFA and the GPA and SAT/ACT Scores You'll Need

United States Air Force Academy
United States Air Force Academy. PhotoBobil / Flickr

Admission to the Air Force Academy is highly selective. The school's acceptance rate is 12 percent, one of the lowest in the country. Unlike traditional colleges, applicants must be nominated by a member of congress, and they must complete and pass a fitness evaluation. The application also requires SAT or ACT scores, a writing sample, and an in-person interview.

Why the United States Air Force Academy?

  • Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Campus Features: USAFA's 18,455-acre campus is both an operational Air Force base and undergraduate university. The iconic Cadet Chapel stands against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains.
  • Student/Faculty Ratio: 8:1
  • Athletics: The Air Force Falcons compete in the NCAA Division I Mountain West Conference.
  • Highlights: USAFA delivers a high-quality education for no cost, but it is not for everyone. Students work hard both physically and intellectually, and they must serve at least five years in the Air Force upon graduation.

USAFA Admissions Statistics 2017-18

For students who entered the United States Air Force Academy in the 2017-18 academic year, the acceptance rate was 12 percent. Below are SAT and ACT score percentiles for admitted students.

SAT Score Percentiles
Section 25th Percentile 75th Percentile
ERW 600 690
Math 610 700
ERW=Evidence-Based Reading and Writing

An average SAT score is a little over 500 per section, so you can see that USAFA students consistently score above average. None of the other military academies is more selective than USAFA.

ACT Score Percentiles
Section 25th Percentile 75th Percentile
English 27 34
Math 27 32
Composite 28 32

The SAT is more popular than the ACT among applicants to the United States Air Force Academy, but the admissions folks are happy to accept either exam. An average ACT score is a 21, so as with the SAT, admitted students scored well above average.

USAFA GPA, SAT Score, and ACT Score Graph

United States Air Force Academy GPA, SAT score, and ACT score data for admission
United States Air Force Academy GPA, SAT score, and ACT score data for admission.  Graph courtesy of Cappex

The GPA, SAT score, and ACT score data in the graph was self-reported by applicants to the United States Air Force Academy. Grades are unweighted. You can see the real-time graph and calculate your own chances of getting into USAFA with a free Cappex account.

Discussion of USAFA Admissions Standards

With high standards and an extremely low acceptance rate, you'll need grades and standardized test scores that are well above average to get into this selective military academy. In the graph above, the blue and green dots represent accepted students. You can see that the majority of successful applicants had high school grades of "B+" or higher, combined SAT scores of 1250 or better (ERW+M), and ACT composite scores above 26. The higher your grades and standardized test scores, the better your chances of getting an acceptance letter.

Note that there are quite a few red dots (rejected students) and yellow dots (waitlisted students) mixed in with the green and blue throughout the graph. Some students with grades and test scores that were on target for the United States Air Force Academy did not get accepted. Note also that several students were accepted with test scores and grades a bit below the norm. This is because the Air Force Academy is evaluating much more than numerical data. The Academy has holistic admissions, and the admissions officers are looking for students who have demonstrated strength of character, leadership skills, athletic ability, and interesting extracurricular involvement. You will also need a nomination from a member of congress. Even students with 36 ACT composite scores and 4.0 GPAs might be rejected if they don't demonstrate the physical and personal attributes that make for a promising officer in the Air Force.

More USAFA Information

For the right student, USAFA represent an excellent value and opportunity. Your four years of college will be free, but you need to be prepared for hard work and a five-year service requirement after graduation.

Enrollment (2017)

  • Total Enrollment: 4,276 (all undergraduate)
  • Gender Breakdown: 74 percent Male / 26 percent Female
  • 100 percent Full-time
  • Almost all of the undergraduates are under age 24, with only 1 percent at the ages 25 and over. 

Costs and Financial Aid

All of the expenses of the cadets are paid for by the federal government. This includes tuition, books and supplies, and room and board. Medical care is also covered and there is a monthly stipend as well. Students have access to interest-free loans if emergency situations arise. The student also can take part in a low-cost, government-sponsored life insurance program.

From the USAFA website: "There is no financial cost to attend the Academy. But there is a hefty price tag. You will pay for your education with sweat, hard work, early mornings and late nights. You will be held to the highest standards, without exception. And afterward, you will be required to serve at least five years in the Air Force."

Of note, if a cadet is voluntarily or involuntarily separated from the Academy, the government has the option of requiring the former cadet to serve on active duty or to require repayment of the costs of the education they received.

Academic Programs

  • Most Popular Majors: Aerospace Engineering, Behavioral Sciences, Biology, Business Administration, Economics, Political Science, Systems Engineering

Graduation and Retention Rates

  • First-Year Student Retention (full-time students: 94 percent
  • 4-Year Graduation Rate: 75 percent
  • 6-Year Graduation Rate: 78 percent

Intercollegiate Athletic Programs

  • Men's Sports: Baseball, Basketball, Boxing, Cross Country, Fencing, Football, Golf, Gymnastics, Ice Hockey, Lacrosse, Rifle, Soccer, Swimming & Diving, Tennis, Track & Field, Water Polo, Wrestling
  • Women's Sports: Basketball, Cross Country, Fencing, Gymnastics, Rifle, Soccer, Swimming & Diving, Tennis, Track & Field, Volleyball

If You Like USAFA, You May Also Like These Schools

Students interested in the Air Force Academy for its engineering programs may also be interested in MITCaltechCornell UniversityPurdue University, or Stanford. All highly selective with top STEM programs.

For those interested in school affiliated with a branch of the US Military, other options include the Coast Guard Academy, the Merchant Marine AcademyWest Point, or the Naval Academy at Annapolis. These school have similar admissions procedures to the Air Force Academy, and have highly selective admissions. 

Data Source: Graph courtesy of Cappex; all other data from the National Center for Education Statistics