What is a Letter of Assurance?
A Letter of Assurance (LOA) is a conditional appointment offered by Service Academy Admission offices provided the candidate is qualified academically, physically (as measured by the Candidate Fitness Exam), and medically (through DODMERB) and receives a nomination from their Member of Congress.
The Academies send LOAs early in the admission process to highly qualified candidates to entice them to strongly consider the Academies. These students often have many college options to choose from and providing an early assurance of admission can help sway these students to choose an Academy over other highly ranked schools.
Who wins a Letter of Assurance?
To offer the LOA, the Service Academy must be confident that the candidate will be the selected appointee for their Congressional district OR be one of the following:
- Qualified Alternate (QA)
- Additional Appointee (AA)
- Service Connected
A Qualified Alternate (QA) is a candidate in the top 150 by whole candidate score who were not selected to fill a Congressional vacancy. Use one of our calculators to get an idea of your whole candidate score.
An Additional Appointee (AA) is selected at the complete discretion of the Service Academy. (This is where “blue-chip athletes” and diversity candidates come into play).
Someone who is Service Connected is typically the child of military personnel including regular and reserve component servicemen and women.
What does an LOA look like?
Here’s a sample letter of assurance for you to view.
The typical profile for a West Point LOA recipient
When we looked at West Point candidates for one randomly selected state, we were able to find the following data points:
- Total LOAs offered: 10
- Recruited Athletes: 1/10
- Diversity: 2/10 (African American and Native American)
Setting aside the recruited athlete and diversity candidates, the following can be gleaned from the eight remaining candidates (ACT scores were converted to SAT):
- Average SAT Math: 750
- Average SAT Verbal: 720
- Average Date File opened: April 1st
- Average Date LOA Sent to Candidate: Late August
If you are not a diversity candidate, a recruited athlete, or cannot obtain a service-connected appointment, you must do the following:
- Score well into the 700s on the SAT or equivalent on the ACT (32+). Read more in our post on SAT/ACT scores. Complete as many SATs/ACTs you can before August of your senior year
- Complete the main (second) part of the application before August 15th, including:
- Post SAT/ACT test scores
- Have transcripts and class rank submitted by your guidance counselor
- Continue to make progress on other parts of the application process (medical, physical)
The few candidates who receive an LOA are virtually assured of admission. By getting an early start on the application and coming in with high SATs or ACTs by mid-August of your senior year, you increase your chances of obtaining a highly coveted LOA.