USAF Professional Officer Course: Early Release Program
The Professional Officer Course-Early Release Program (POC-ERP) offers active-duty airmen who can complete all degree and commissioning requirements within two years an opportunity for an early release from the active duty Air Force to enter the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC).
Waiver requests are due no later than 15 August each year. Packages are due no later than 15 October each year. Late packages or waiver requests will not be accepted and will be returned to the applicant.
Selections are based on AF officer production requirements. The majority of the offers will be given to individuals pursuing a degree in Technical Tier 1, Technical Tier 2, or Technical Tier 3 majors. There will be an opportunity for individuals pursuing degrees in Non-technical Tier 4 majors, however, opportunities will be limited and competitive. All academic majors are grouped into tiers, based on the critical needs of the associated career field or technical AFSC. The following tiered academic majors are listed in descending order of importance and are subject to change:
- Technical - Tier 1: Electrical Engineering, Meteorology/Atmospheric Sciences
- Technical - Tier 2: Aerospace, Aeronautical, Architectural, Astronautical, Civil, Computer, Environmental, and Mechanical Engineering
- Technical - Tier 3: All other ABET-accredited engineering majors, Architecture, Chemistry, Computer Science, Mathematics, Operations Research, and Physics
- Non-technical - Tier 4: All other majors
If selected, you would separate from the active duty Air Force, join an Air Force ROTC detachment and become a full-time college student. You can pursue a bachelor's or higher degree and will be commissioned as a second lieutenant upon graduation and completion of the two-year program. You will then be returned to active duty (typically within 60 days of commissioning) for at least four years.
POC-ERP Selections boards consider applicants using the "whole person" concept. This means the board considers such factors as college grade-point averages, Air Force Officer QualificationTest (AFOQT) scores, commander recommendations, EPRs (Enlisted Performance Reports), military decorations, and other aspects of the member's military records.
- Be a United States citizen.
- Meet the age requirements. For non-scholarship applicants, you must be under age 30 by the application date or have obtained an age waiver (available if you can commission before age 35). To be eligible for an AFROTC scholarship you must be under age 31 on December 31 of the year you will graduate and earn your commission. There are no age waivers for this.
- Have at least one year of Time-In-Service (waiverable except for pipeline technical school students; note that waivers are not guaranteed and that packages with waivers must reach HQ AFROTC NLT 15 August).
- Have at least one year of Time-On-Station (waiverable; note that waivers are not guaranteed and that packages with waivers must reach HQ AFROTC NLT 15 August).
- Be recommended by your immediate commander.
- Have at least a 2.5 cumulative college grade point average.
- Have 24 hours or more of college graded coursework and must be able to complete their degree within two years. If you have not earned 24+ semester hours in graded college work, you must have earned an ACT composite score of 24 or higher or an SAT1 combined Verbal and Math score of 1100 or more. This requirement is not waiverable.
- Be admitted to a school offering Air Force ROTC (including cross-town schools) and the academic major you desire to study. If you are unable to obtain a letter of acceptance by the application date, you must provide documentation from the university as to when acceptance will be determined.
- Earn Air Force Officer Qualifying Test (AFOQT) scores of 15 or more on the Verbal scale and 10 or more on the Quantitative scale. NOTE: AFOQT scores may be waiverable for those who have taken the test twice and failed both times.
- Pass the Air Force ROTC Physical Fitness Test.
- Meet all the requirements for commissioning (physical, moral, fitness, etc.) listed in AFI 36-2013, chapter 1, and AFI 36-2005.
- Must not be selected for reassignment prior to submission of the application. Applicants must resolve assignment issues in coordination with their AFSC Functional Manager at HQ AFPC.
- Meet the requirement for overseas retainability. For individuals at an OCONUS location, IAW AFI 36-2013, Table 1.2, rule 10, the applicant may not apply if the applicant does not apply before the 25th day of the 8th month before the date eligible for return from overseas month....translated: applicants must have approximately 8 months left on station by the package due date. The MPF can help the applicant determine what the new DEROS will need to be to be eligible to apply. If the applicant does not, they must request an extension through their normal base channels. If the applicant does not have enough time remaining on their assignment, they will be ineligible to apply for a commissioning program.
What are your chances of being selected for the program, assuming one meets the above requirements? Below are the past selection rates. As you can see, the program has become more competitive in recent times:
- December 2002 - 11%
- September 2002 - 48%
- August 2002 - 39%
- June 2002 - 14%
- May2002 - 79%
- April 2002 - 86%
- February 2002 - 100%
- December 2001 - 100%
- November 2001 - 100%
- Jan 01-Oct 01 (all selection boards) - 97%
- November 2000 - 100%
- April 2000 - 75%
- November 1999 - 69%
- July 1999 - 83%
- February 1999 - 75%
- July 1998 - 76%
- February 1998 - 75%
If selected for POC-ERP, you will separate from the Air Force. You will no longer be collecting military pay and benefits and will be living in the civilian economy like any other college student. If you meet the age criteria for a scholarship (see above), you may be eligible to receive an ROTC "stipend" of between $250 and $400 per month. Additionally, if you participated in the Montgomery G.I. Bill while on active duty (had $100 per month deducted from your pay for your first year of service), and meet the eligibility requirements (honorable discharge and at least three years of active duty service), you can use your Montgomery G.I. Bill Benefits.
For complete information about this program, and application packages, active duty airmen should contact their local Air Force Education Office.
Above Information Courtesy of United States Air Force.