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Costs for Cadets

One of the most common questions that parents have about Civil Air Patrol is how much it will cost. Although every cadet is a bit different, the following breakdown will give you an idea of how much to budget for cadet membership in Civil Air Patrol.

Initial Costs

When a new member joins Civil Air Patrol, the following expenses are typical

Item Estimated Cost
National Dues (paid as part of membership application) $45 for cadets in California (2022). See the current dues here on the National site.
Squadron Dues (collected by some squadrons) $25 for cadets (2021). Can be waived by the squadron on a case-by-case, hardship-based need.
ABU (camouflage) uniform items
ABU uniform shirt and blouse

$0 to $85.65*

*if your squadron does not have your size, you would need to purchase them online through one of many possible retailers

ABU uniform accessories (e.g. hat, belt, t-shirt) $32.65
ABU uniform boots

$35 to $110*

*prices vary, but options for black, plain-toed combat boots are available online for as low as $35 and up.

Blues (Service, Class B) Uniform items
Blues uniform items (e.g. shirt, pants, belt, hat, and emblems) $68.15*

*total cost for these items is $168.15 on in 2021, but cadets receive a $100 voucher on completion of their first achievement to offset the cost of uniforms. 

Blues shoes

$0 to $100*

*cadets are authorized to wear combat boots with the blues uniform per regulation, but many opt to wear black, plain-toed low quarters instead. Footwear choices vary by cadet preference.

Physical Training (PT) Uniform items
Shirt, shorts, shoes

$0 to $20*

*cadets can wear the same tan t-shirt for PT as they wear with their ABU uniforms. The PT uniform consists of blue shorts or sweats and athletic shoes. These items are commonly found and it would impose an additional expense of families to require this as the official uniform.


The estimated total out-of-pocket cost for dues and uniforms related to joining Civil Air Patrol is typically between $205 to $300.

More information about uniform expenses including links to uniform items can be found in the Cadet Uniforms section on this website.

Recurring Costs

The main expenses that members incur for continuing their membership in CAP are the following:

  • $45 annually for National Dues (as of 2021)
  • $25 annually for Squadron Dues (as of 2021)
  • Replacing uniform items as cadets outgrow them or they wear out (Squadrons may replace any uniform item for free if they have the item on-hand, otherwise this is the responsibility of the member)
  • Rank, ribbons, and insignia when cadets promote. (Some squadrons regularly purchase insignia and ribbons for cadets. However, the member is responsible for purchasing any insignia not provided by the squadron)

Activity Costs

Many activities at Civil Air Patrol are offered for no cost. For example, cadet orientation rides are free. For other activities, where lunch is provided, the hosting unit will typically charge a small fee (generally around $10) to cover the cost of food.

Major activities, such as overnight events, typically charge a registration fee to offset the cost of lodging, transportation, T-shirts, graduation certificates, etc. These activities are optional, except for encampment. Encampment is not required until a cadet is advancing to the grade of Cadet Second Lieutenant (which generally happens during the cadet's second year in CAP). Financial assistance, sometimes including cost-free registration, for encampment is available through Civil Air Patrol's Cadet Encampment Assistance Program (CEAP).

 Cost breakdown for example OPTIONAL activities (in 2021):

  • Encampment 6/28/2021 - 7/6/2021 - $300
  • Aerospace Education STEM Academy 7/19/2021 - 7/23/2021 - $235
  • Ultimate Bear and Wings Challenge 9/13/2021 - 9/14/2021 - $70
  • Noncommissioned Officer School 10/22/2021 - 10/24/2021 - $60
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