Each branch of the U.S. military has its own minimum standards when it comes to the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) scores and education levels needed to qualify for enlistment. As of 2018, these are the standards for each of the services for scoring on the ASVAB as well as education levels.
Air Force ASVAB and Education Requirements
Air Force recruits must score at least 36 points the 99-point ASVAB. The overall ASVAB score is known as the AFQT score, or Armed Forces Qualification Test score. Exceptions may be made, however, for a handful of high school graduates who can score as low as 31. The vast majority, some 70 percent, of those accepted for an Air Force enlistment achieve a score of 50 or above.
Your chances of joining the Air Force without graduating from high school are slim. Even with a GED, the chances are not good. Only about half of one percent of all Air Force enlistments each year are GED-holders. To even be considered for one of these very few slots, a GED-holder must score a minimum of 65 on the AFQT.
The Air Force allows a higher enlistment rank for recruits with college credit.
Army ASVAB and Education Requirements
The Army requires a minimum AFQT Score of 31 to qualify for enlistment. To qualify for certain enlistment incentives, such as enlistment bonuses, an Army recruit must score a minimum of 50.
The Army allows more recruits to enlist with a GED than any other branch. The Army even has a special program, called Army Prep School, that allows individuals to enlist who have no high school diploma or GED.
Like the Air Force, the Army also offers a higher enlistment rank for recruits with college experience. Unlike the Air Force, where the maximum initial enlistment rank for college credits is E-3, the Army offers the rank of E-4 for those with a bachelor's degree.
Marine Corps ASVAB and Education Requirements
Marine Corps recruits must score at least 32 on the ASVAB. Very few exceptions are made (about one percent) for some otherwise qualified recruits (exceptionally qualified, that is) with scores as low as 25.
As with the Air Force, those without a high school education are generally ineligible. The Marine Corps limits GED enlistments to no more than five percent per year. Those with a GED must score a minimum of 50 on the AFQT to even be considered.
The Marine Corps offers advanced enlistment rank for college credits. However, the Marines are the most restrictive of all of the branches in this area. The maximum advanced rank for college credits is E-2, where the other services will give college credit advanced rank up to E-3 (E-4 in the Army).
Navy ASVAB and Education Requirements
Navy recruits must score at least 35 on the AFQT. Reserve enlistment programs only require a score of 31. Like the Air Force, the Navy accepts few recruits who don't have a high school diploma.
To be considered for enlistment with a GED, you must score a minimum of 50 on the AFQT. You must also have no drug use on your record, and at least three references from influential members of the community. Any police involvement, other than minor traffic offenses will also disqualify a GED applicant.
Like the other services, the Navy offers advanced enlistment rank (up to E-3) for college experience.
Coast Guard ASVAB and Education Requirements
The Coast Guard requires a minimum of 40 points on the AFQT. A waiver is possible if a recruit's ASVAB line scores qualify them for a specific job, and the recruit is willing to enlist in that job.
For a very few (less than 5 percent) who will be allowed to enlist with a GED, the minimum AFQT score is 50.
The Coast Guard offers advanced enlistment rank of E-2 for 30 college credits, and E-3 for 60 credits.