Education office offers one-stop shop to obtain degree

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Stacy Sanchez
  • 48 Fighter Wing Public Affairs
With education being of the utmost importance in our Air Force today, the 48th Force Support Squadron Education and Training Center wants to remind Team Lakenheath that they are a one-stop shop for all educational needs. 

The education center here is responsible for helping Airmen as well as their spouses attain voluntary off-duty post secondary education. 

"One of our main jobs is to give tuition assistance to active-duty personnel to persue a degree, whether it is an associate, bachelor or master," said Hildegard Baun, chief of education and training. "We are here to help map out a plan of action to help you obtain your degree." 

There are five schools contracted on base which offer undergraduate and graduate programs. All of these schools have different areas they focus their degrees in. 

Central Texas College offers vocational technical courses and degrees such as Early Childhood Development and Criminal Justice as well as Microsoft Office certifications. The University of Maryland offers general education courses students need in order to complete a Community College of the Air Force degree. Through this university, Airmen can attain an associate, bachelor and master degree. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University allows individuals such as pilots and maintenance Airmen an opportunity to earn a degree in the professional aeronautical areas. The University of Oklahoma offers master programs in Human and International Relations. The University of Phoenix offers master degrees such as Business Administration. 

"These schools offer classroom as well as distant learning courses, which is so important when many Airmen deploy they are still able to pursue their education without having to stop for a period of time," Ms. Baun said. 

However, Airmen on base are not limited to just these schools. In 2008, more 1,454 students here attended 46 different schools. Airmen have their choice of school, the only condition is that the college or university be accredited. 

As long as a student stays within their tuition assistance cap of $250 per semester credit or $4,500 per fiscal year, the only expense for a student will be their time and effort, Ms. Baun said. In 2008, Lakenheath used $2.1 million in tuition assistance. 

"I cannot stress enough the importance of a degree, especially Airmen who can earn their Community College of the Air Force degree," said Daisy Jones, education counselor. 

With the number of credits Airmen receive from basic training, plus their technical school and obtaining their five level, Ms. Baun said some Airmen, without even knowing it, are just a few credits from earning their CCAF degree. 

"This is why we do our best to brief people, whether it is at First Term Airmen Center, Airman Leadership School or just stopping by a squadron, about the importance of getting a CCAF degree," Ms. Baun said. 

For those who are great at exams and who only need a few more credits to complete a CCAF degree, Ms. Baun said the education center is an official DANTES and CLEP Test Center. 

"If you want to finish up some classes, you just study for the exam instead of taking a full semester on that subject," Ms. Baun said. "The Air Force has a website where study guides can be downloaded. The Library on base has also just purchased $8,000 worth of study material for DANTES and CLEP preparation. The best part is that these exams are completely free to service members." 

Not only is the education center on base to offer assistance to Airmen, but to their families as well. Sponsored by the Air Force Aid Society to overseas spouses, The Spouse Tuition Assistant Program offers a spouse of an active-duty Airmen up to $300 per term or 50 percent of tuition for five terms totaling up to $1500 in tuition assistance. 

The education center is also the point of contact for any questions relating to the Montgomery GI Bill, the Post 9/11 Montgomery GI Bill and veterans education benefits. 

"Now a days, having a degree and not having a degree can be the deciding factor if an Airman is going to get the job or not," Ms. Baun said. "When you apply for a job in the civilian sector, an interviewer will look to see if you, as a Airmen, took the educational opportunities given to you." 

Airmen are more than welcome to walk-in and ask questions and take literature and brochures from the center, or they can make an appointment with a counselor and a CCAF advisor. Just about every day of the week appointments are available. 

"Earning a CCAF is the stepping stone towards earning a bachelors," Ms. Baun said. "I wouldn't be in this job if I didn't think education was important. I think this is one of the most important decisions you can make. Come to our education center, start with your CCAF degree and build on that."

For more information about educational opportunities, call 226-3851.