the congressional nomination process

In order to attend one of the United States Service Academies, a candidate needs a nomination. Sources of nominations include U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators. Each Member of Congress may have five cadets at each of the service academies at any one time. Vacancies at each academy vary depending on the number of cadets graduating and number of leaving each year. For each vacancy, I may nominate up to 10 students. There are three methods for nominating students and I use the competitive method.

When determining my nominees I take into consideration a student’s academic record, extracurricular and athletic activities, physical aptitude, ACT and/or SAT scores, leadership ability, and medical qualifications. These are the factors taken into consideration by the admissions authorities at each academy as well.

This is a very competitive process and each applicant is encouraged to apply for nomination to each academy they are interested in attending and through all means by which they qualify for nomination.

The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy has different nomination specifications. Members may nominate ten candidates each year to compete for admission. 

Process Details

Steps for Applying

  1. Write and request nomination to the appropriate academy.
  2. Complete application for Congressional nomination.

The Nomination 
To be considered for an appointment to a service academy, an applicant must have a nomination from an authorized nominating source. Title 10, U.S. Code, establishes two nomination categories – Congressional and military service-connected. Applicants who meet eligibility requirements may apply for and receive nominations in both categories. Members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives may nominate applicants who meet the eligibility requirements established by law. Senators nominate from applicants in their entire state. Representatives nominate from applicants living in their congressional districts. Applicants may apply for and receive nominations from both their United States Senators and from their Representative. Applicants may also apply for a nomination from the Vice President of the United States who can nominate applicants at-large. 

Applicants should apply to the service academy or academies of their choice in the spring of their junior year in high school and request a nomination from the appropriate nomination source shortly thereafter. 

Who is Eligible?
See the qualifying factors for a nomination and appointment.

General Admission Standards

Before selecting my nominees, with assistance from a board of prior military officers, academy graduates, local educators, and concerned local citizens, I carefully evaluate each candidate. I ensure that they live in the 12th Congressional District and consider the qualifications that academy officials will examine. The academies look for evidence of character, scholarship, leadership, physical aptitude, medical fitness, goals and motivation when considering each nominee's "whole-person" evaluation. 

Character. Determining the nature of a candidate’s character is critical. Absence of good moral character is cause for disqualification. Candidates are considered to have good moral character unless evidence exists to suggest otherwise. 

Scholarship. Each element of a candidate's academic record is carefully evaluated by a service academy's admissions board. The elements evaluated include an official high school transcript (and college record, when applicable), class standing and SAT or ACT scores. All strengths and weaknesses in a candidate's academic background are taken into account. Applicants are encouraged to take required examinations as early as possible in the testing cycle. This may help them to qualify for an earlier appointment, and it also gives them a chance to retake the tests in an effort to improve their scores.

 Participation and achievement in organized athletics, student government, clubs, extracurricular activities, scouting, boys/girls state, church or other community-related activities demonstrate evidence of leadership potential. Candidates who work are considered to have demonstrated desirable leadership potential, as well. 

Physical Aptitude.
 Measuring strength, endurance, agility and coordination, the Army's and Navy's physical aptitude examination and the Air Force's candidate fitness test are designed to determine each candidate's readiness to undertake the rigorous athletic and physical education program at the academies. Each academy has its own test requirements. Results of the examination are evaluated, assigned a numerical score and included in the whole-person evaluation by West Point. The Air Force and the Naval academies evaluate the results on a pass/fail basis. 

Medical Fitness. Candidates who meet minimum scholastic standards will be scheduled to take a service academy qualifying medical examination at a military or civilian contract facility near the candidate's home. Although medical qualification standards vary between the academies, only one exam is required. However, different tests may be necessary depending upon the academy. Scheduling and evaluation of the exam is accomplished by the Department of Defense Medical Examination Review Board (DODMERB). Candidates who have questions about their medical exam results should direct them to: 

8034 Edgerton Drive, Suite 132 
USAF Academy, CO 80840-2200 
Phone: (719) 333-3562 

Medical scheduling and evaluation are time-consuming processes, especially if consultation, retesting or corrective action is required. The process may take from six weeks to four months. 

Motivation. Motivation is an intangible quality and difficult to evaluate. However, motivation is most frequently the factor that determines an appointee's success or failure at a service academy. An attempt to measure motivation may be made through observation of the candidate's interest level in attending an academy and serving as an officer in the armed forces. Motivation may be measured through an evaluation of correspondence and personal contacts. 

Whole-Person Evaluation. All of the preceding factors are part of the "whole person" evaluation used by each of the academies. The qualities are required of an individual in order to meet the challenges of the academy programs and, following graduation, as commissioned officers. 

Applicant Evaluation. Each academy uses a questionnaire to make an initial assessment of an applicant's potential for appointment. The results of this evaluation are provided by each academy to Members of Congress to assist them in screening their applicants. An eligible applicant should write or call the appropriate academy or complete an application request card, and forward it to the appropriate academy. Soon after the applicant returns the questionnaire, the admissions office will reply to the applicant with an evaluation of the applicant's demonstrated ability to meet admissions standards. Applicants who meet the standards are declared candidates; those who do not meet the standards at that point may later submit additional test scores or information to the academy for re-evaluation. The applicant must provide the following information: academic standardized test scores (ACT, PSAT, SAT), rank in class and grade point average, social security number and participation in high school extracurricular activities.

Application for Congressional nomination.

What To Include in the Application Packet

  1. Application linked above
  2. Official SAT/ACT test scores
  3. Two letters of recommendation from teacher, employer, coach, etc.
  4. A small photograph (max. size 3 ½" x 3 ½")
  5. Official high school transcripts
  6. A brief essay stating interests, goals, and reasons for wanting to attend an academy
  7. List special honors received, extracurricular activities

Nomination and Appointment Timeline
Information about deadlines and a general look at when components of the application process should be completed.

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