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Grassley Q & A:

United States Service Academies

July 29, 2010
Dysart Reporter





Q. What are service academies?

A. The U.S. service academies are armed forces academies that provide the education and training of commissioned officers for branches of the U.S. armed forces. The academies provide a rigorous academic, physical and military leadership curriculum. Cadets and midshipmen complete a 4-year degree program and then serve in the professional military for a predetermined amount of time.

Q. Which academies require a congressional nomination for prospective students?

A. Applicants need a congressional nomination to be considered for an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, NY; the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO; the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD; and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in King's Point, NY. Applicants who are already members of the military or children of retired military personnel may be eligible for presidential nominations.

Q. How many students do you nominate for each vacancy?

A. Each year, I am able to nominate 10 students to the Military Academy, the Air Force Academy, and the Naval Academy. Every fourth year, I am able to nominate 20 students to those academies. Each year, I have the opportunity to nominate five Iowans to the Merchant Marine Academy.

The quality of young Iowans who apply to our military academies is exceptional, and each year at least one of my nominees has been chosen by each academy.

Iowa students also may seek recommendations from Senator Harkin or their Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives. Go to to find your representative.

Q. How can interested students apply?

A. I recommend that students interested in obtaining an academy appointment begin the application process in the spring of their junior year of high school. But, it's possible to start later, too. Applicants should apply directly to the academy of their choice and ask that a pre-candidate file be opened on their behalf. To be considered for one of my nominations for the 20112012 school year, applicants must be legal residents of Iowa (or dependents of members of the military who are legal residents of Iowa), unmarried with no children or legal obligation for a child, and between 17 and 23 years of age on July 1, 2010. The application deadline for 20112012 school year nominations is October 1, 2010. I will announce my nominees for the 20112012 school year by February 2011.

To be considered, applicants should complete and submit the form located on my website at Additional required materials include: a letter of recommendation from the applicant's high school guidance counselor; three additional letters of recommendation; an essay, written by the applicant, of not more than 300 words that describe two outstanding qualities the applicant wishes to emulate which have been exhibited by the person the applicant most admires; the applicant's ACT scores (SAT optional); the applicant's school transcript; and the applicant's class size and rank.

Q. On what basis do you select the nominees?

A. I look at the student's overall achievements. Applicants should rank in the top half of their high school class in a college preparatory curriculum, have ACT scores in the 25-34 range in math, science and English, have demonstrated leadership in and outside of school, and have outstanding records of extracurricular activities and/or job experience. Applicants also should have completed the physical requirements described in the individual academy catalogs.



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