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Service Academy Nominations - FAQ

Frequently asked questions for those seeking a Service Academy nomination. You may also fill out a Service Academy Nominations Form.

What is a nomination?

Going to a Service Academy is going to college, while you are also training to be an officer in a branch of the military.  Applying for admission to a Service Academy requires all of the same elements as any college application, plus the extra step of seeking a nomination from your Member of Congress, your U.S. Senators, and/or the Vice President of the United States. 

If accepted into a Service Academy, your education and training will be fully funded by U.S. taxpayers, in exchange for which you will have a five-year service obligation after graduation.  The Academies ask Members of Congress to help determine the goals and motivations of people being accepted into these elite colleges, and to assure that they have the desire to serve their country.  This is the reason that they require a nomination on top of your application.  

Please be clear that your first step should be opening an admission application with the Academy (or Academies) that you would like to attend.  Once you have begun that process, then you can submit a nomination application from to this office.  You do not have to finish your admission application with the school before submitting your nomination application to this office, though the elements are the same. And remember that completing your nomination application with Rep. Bass’ office is separate from completing your admission application with each academy.  You have to do both.  

Who can make a nomination?

Members of Congress may nominate applicants who meet the eligibility requirements established by law. A candidate may seek a nomination from one or more of the following:

  • The member of the U.S. House of Representatives who represents the Congressional District in which the candidate resides.
  • Both U.S. Senators from the candidate’s state
  • The Vice-President of the United States

What are the basic eligibility requirements?

Each applicant for a nomination from Rep. Karen Bass must meet the following eligibility requirements as of July 1st of the year of admission to an academy:

  • Age: Be at least 17 years old, but not have passed the 23rd birthday
  • Citizenship: Must be a U.S. citizen
  • Marital Status: Must be unmarried, not pregnant, and without legal obligation to support children or other dependents
  • Residence: Must reside within the boundaries of the 37th Congressional District of California.
  • Skill / Fitness: Must meet the medical, physical, and academic requirements of the Academy.

Do I need to request a nomination application?

No.  All of the information you need to apply for a nomination can be found on this website, including the form to complete and print.  If you have questions, contact the District Office at 323-965-1422, or email to

When do I apply to each Academy for admission?

The admissions period at each Academy opens May 15th for candidates who are high school juniors and will be seniors the following school year, or who have already graduated from high school. You can apply for admission after high school graduation, as long as you will not be older than 23 by July 1 of the year you would be admitted to the Academy.  You have until late fall each year to complete your application for admission.  Each Academy is happy to answer questions and help you through the process once you open an application for admission.   

When do I apply to Rep. Bass for a nomination, and what is the deadline for completing a nomination file?

The deadline for submitting a complete nomination packet to Rep. Karen Bass’ District Office is November 30 and coincides with the California State University and University of California application periods. Nomination applications will be accepted any time after July 1. We will begin reviewing completed application files in September each year. Senators, the Vice President, and other legislative offices have their own deadlines.  Be sure to check each one, if you plan to seek nominations from multiple sources. 

What must be included in my nomination file?

A complete nomination file consists of the following items:

  • Current photo
  • High school transcript
  • American College Testing Program (ACT) results and/or College Board Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) results
  • Resume of extracurricular activities
  • An essay stating why you want to attend a service academy (500 words or less)
  • Minimum of three letters of recommendation

Please note that this office is interested in removing the barriers that can be presented by having to submit official school transcripts and official test scores as part of your nomination application.  We will accept copies or print-outs of these documents, as long as the applicant certifies that these are true and accurate versions of these documents.  You MUST send official versions of these documents to the Academy.

What happens after I have completed my nomination file?

Applicants who submit a completed nomination file by the deadline will be scheduled for an interview. This office generally begins reviewing packets in September as they are completed, with interviews likely to be scheduled starting in late October and continuing into December. A committee will review the packet and the interview results and make a recommendation to Congressmember Bass, who will make the final decision on which applicants will receive nominations.   

What criteria do you use in selecting candidates?

Nominations are based on a "whole person" evaluation. Factors such as life experience, academic achievements, extra-curricular activities, leadership skills, physical aptitude, challenges overcome, character and motivation are taken into consideration and compared with other applicants.  

How many academies are there?

There are five service academies.

Are the requirements the same for all of the service academies?

No. Although many of the qualifications are similar, each academy operates under its own admissions guidelines. Visit the academy of your choice via the websites noted for each academy's particular admissions qualifications. It is not necessary to seek a nomination to the Coast Guard Academy, as the U.S.C.G.A. accepts candidates based on their own testing criteria.

What is a recommendation letter, and who should I ask to write one on my behalf?

Letters of recommendation give the office a sense of who you are from someone who knows you.  They really matter.  You can help your recommender to write a strong letter by asking him or her well in advance of the deadline, and writing down for that person some details such as how he or she knows you, things you are particularly proud of, and challenges you have overcome. Some of the people applicants typically seek recommendations from include:

  • Teachers
  • Counselors
  • Employers
  • Coaches
  • Clergy
  • Scout or Youth Group Leaders

A specific recommendation form is not required, but the letter of recommendation must either be on letterhead, or clearly identify the writer and any organization they work with, how they know the applicant, and how to contact the writer.  

Will I automatically be selected by the academy after I receive a nomination?

No. You will be placed among a group of nominees, and the academy of your choice will make the final decision. If selected, you will receive an offer of admission (an appointment) directly from the academy.

What if I choose more than one academy? Will I be limited to a single nomination?

No. You can be nominated to multiple academies depending on how well you have competed among this year's pool of candidates. It is also possible to win multiple appointments.

When will I know if I have been offered an appointment by an academy?

Academies will begin to notify candidates of their admission status in February. All offers of appointment are generally sent out by May.