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Q & A: Military and Service Academies

March 8, 2011
Dysart Reporter



Charles Grassley

Q. What are service academies?

A. U.S. service academies educate and train officers for the Army, Air Force, Navy, Merchant Marine and Coast Guard. Service academies give students the opportunity to serve while earning their college degree. Upon graduation, alumni serve in the active or reserve components of the military, the Merchant Marine or the U.S. Coast Guard for a minimum of five years.

Q. What is required to be considered for an appointment to a service academy?

A. Appointment to a U.S. service academy is an honor reserved for the most accomplished young men and women. Consideration for appointment to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in King's Point, N.Y., requires a congressional nomination. The U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., does not require applicants to obtain a congressional nomination.

Each year, Members of Congress can nominate 10 students to the Military, Air Force, Naval and Merchant Marine academies. Every fourth year, Members of Congress can nominate 20 students to the Military, Air Force and Naval academies. Interested Iowans can request nominations from their Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives, Senator Harkin or me.

Applications are highly competitive. Applicants should rank in the top half of their high school class and have ACT scores in the 25-36 range in math and science, and in the 22-36 range in English. They should also have extensive extracurricular activities, such as participation in school clubs, academic or athletic teams, community activities, volunteer service or work. Applicants must be legal residents of Iowa or dependents of members of the military who are legal residents of Iowa. Applicants must be unmarried with no children or legal obligation for a child, and at least 17 years of age but not past their 23rd birthday on July 1, 2012.

Q. How can interested Iowans apply for your nomination?

A. Iowa has such a large pool of impressive students that it gets more difficult to choose who to nominate for the few available slots each year. The young people chosen are outstanding representatives of Iowa. Interested students should complete and submit the form located on my website at The following materials are also required: four letters of recommendation from Iowans - one must be from the applicant's high school guidance counselor and one must be from a teacher; the applicant's ACT scores (SAT optional); the applicant's school transcript; the applicant's class size and rank; and an essay of no more than 300 words, written by the applicant. The essay should describe what the applicant hopes to gain from an appointment to a service academy and how the experience would be used in the future. Applications for nominations for the 2012-2013 school year must be submitted to my Cedar Rapids office by October 1, 2011. Nominations will be made by February 2012, and appointments will be announced when they are offered by the academies. I suggest that interested students start the application process in the spring of their junior year of high school.



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