Q&A on Service Academies
with U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley
Q: What are the federal service academies?
A: The United States has five federal service academies: the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, N.Y.; the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md.; the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo.; the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, N.Y.; and, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, New London, Conn. These elite institutions of higher learning educate and train the nation’s next generation of military leaders. Graduates of the service academies earn college degrees and receive a commission as an officer in one of the five branches of the armed forces, which include the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. Not long after the Revolutionary War, the United States Military Academy was founded on March 16, 1802, to develop leaders who reflect the values of “duty, honor, country” in service to their country as career officers in the army. Each of the academies provides academic and technical training for graduates to serve, succeed and lead in their commissioned assignments and professional careers.
Q: Who is eligible to attend a service academy?
A: The highly competitive selection process is open to U.S. citizens ages 17 to 23. Typically, interested high school students who are juniors in high school begin the nominations process during their spring semester. Candidates must receive an authorized nomination from either the Vice President or a member of Congress or via a military service- connected nomination. Representing Iowa in the U.S. Senate, I have the opportunity each year to make nominations for a select few service academy placements. The Air Force, Military, and Naval service academies each select at least one qualified student from my nominations. The Merchant Marine Academy makes selections in proportion to each state’s representation in Congress. The U.S. Coast Guard does not require a congressional nomination. Those who receive an appointment would serve among a prestigious corps of young men and women from across the United States. For generations the nation’s service academies have earned a reputation of excellence, drawing upon a highly motivated talent pool that includes the best and brightest among America’s youngest generation of leaders. The nominating process vets candidates based upon the highest standards of excellence and personal achievement, including outstanding moral character, scholarship, leadership, physical aptitude and community service. 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. For example, a graduate of the U.S. Military Service Academy serves five years of active duty and three years in the reserves. This service obligation reflects the nation’s return on a fully funded, four-year, top-ranked college education.
Q: What criteria do you take into account during the nominations process?
A: Applicants should rank at least in the top half of their high school class in a college preparatory curriculum. Candidates should have ACT scores in the 25-36 range in math and science, and in the 22-36 range in English. They should have extensive extracurricular activities, such as participation in school clubs, academic or athletic teams, community activities, volunteer service or work experience. 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, 2015.
Q: How can interested Iowans apply for your nomination?
A: Every year an impressive corps of student leaders and young scholar-athletes from across Iowa answers the call to serve their country by applying to a service academy. It’s difficult to choose from among the highly qualified and self-motivated candidates who apply. The nominees are outstanding representatives for our home state. Interested students should complete and submit the form located on my website at http://www.grassley.senate.gov/students/academy_nominations.cfm. Note the following materials also are 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; and, the applicant’s high school transcript. Applications for the 2015-2016 school year must be submitted to my Cedar Rapids office by October 1, 2014. Nominations will be made by February 2015. Appointments will be announced when they are offered by the academies.