If you served in the military and you have a high school student who is interested in attending a service academy, then this post is for you. Earning a service academy nomination is tough. Thousands of students are vying for nominations and eventual appointments each year.

We will go over the criteria for receiving a Presidential Nomination to one of the service academies and how to request the nomination. The Presidential Nomination is just one of several nominating authorities for a military academy.

Criteria a parent must meet

The first step is to understand the criteria for receiving a Presidential Nomination. Eligibility criteria are based on a parent’s service. In order for your child to be eligible, you must meet one of these criteria:

  • Currently on active duty and have served continuously on active duty for at least 8 years
  • Retired with pay or have been granted retired or retainer pay
  • Currently a reservist or National Guard member for at least the equivalent of 8 years (or 2,880 points)
  • Have died after being retired with pay or being granted retired or retainer pay

Note that there is no requirement for parents to be commissioned officers to get a service academy nomination. Children of enlisted members are also eligible for a service academy Presidential Nomination.

It takes a pretty long time to accumulate 2,880 points. However, a number of our readers may be serving in the Reserves and National Guard. Here’s a quick summary on computing points:

  • 1 point for each day of active service (active duty or active duty for training)
  • 15 points for each year of membership in a Reserve Component
  • 1 point for each unit training assembly
  • 1 point for each day in which a member is in a funeral honors duty status
  • Satisfactory completion of accredited correspondence courses at 1 point for each 3 credit hours earned

If you meet all of the above criteria, then your student is eligible to apply for a Presidential Nomination. The next step is to fill out an application, which can be found on the website of each service academy.

What if you aren’t a legal guardian?

In order to be eligible for a Presidential Nomination, you must be the natural or adopted parent of the student.

If you’re considering adopting a child and that child may or may not want to go to a Service Academy, plan around their 15th birthday. In order to be eligible for a Presidential Nomination, you must have begun adoption proceedings before the student’s 15th birthday.

Your best bet here is to have official paperwork with dates that indicate you began on time that you can provide with the nomination application.

The next step is to apply for the nomination.

The steps to submit your presidential nomination for each Service Academy

Each Service Academy handles the Presidential Nomination process differently. If you’re applying to all 5 Service Academies: West Point, the Naval Academy, the Air Force Academy, the Merchant Marine Academy, and the Coast Guard Academy; you will need to submit your nomination 3 times. You can use this nomination for more than one academy.

Since the Coast Guard Academy does not use the nomination process, and the Merchant Marine Academy does not accept service-connected nominations, you cannot submit a Presidential Nomination to USCGA or USMMA.

However, this still leaves the other 3 Service Academies. Here are the steps for each:

Submitting your Presidential Nomination to West Point

You can request a nomination form from the candidate portal, once you’re granted candidate status and you open a file with West Point.

A form will be auto-generated that includes this information. You can upload the completed version of this form to your portal.

The Presidential Nomination form for West Point is due mid-December.

Submitting your Presidential Nomination to the Naval Academy

You can request a nomination from July to January of the year before admission.

To request a Presidential Nomination for the Naval Academy, submit USNA Form 1110-21 and mail the nomination form to the Naval Academy. You’ll need to attach a statement of service signed by a personnel officer, a copy of your DD 214, VA documentation, or other proof of service depending on how you qualify.

Submitting your Presidential Nomination to the Air Force Academy

To request a Presidential Nomination to USAFA, compose a letter similar to this example. Mail the letter to:

2304 Cadet Drive, Suite 2400
USAF Academy, CO 80840-5025

The nomination request must be made by January 31st of the year you will enter the Air Force Academy.

You’ll need to attach a statement of service signed by a personnel officer, a copy of your DD 214, VA documentation, or other proof of service depending on how you qualify.

Does a Presidential Nomination change chances of appointment?

The average student who earns a Presidential Nomination looks very similar to the average student who earns a Congressional Nomination. Keep in mind there are only 100 vacancies in each Service Academy class for Presidential Nominations.

Admissions will still look at the Whole Person Concept. Is your student a scholar, athlete, and a leader?

Admissions will consider your student’s academics record, SAT/ACT scores, transcripts, resume, the input of teachers and other adults, essays, and candidate fitness assessment results, among other things.

At the end of the day, we recommend students aim for the 75th percentile of accomplishments/achievements of past admitted appointees. In general, a Presidential Nomination does not lower the requirements of admission.

Should my child still apply for other types of Service Academy nominations?

The short answer is, YES! Your child should apply to every nomination type they are eligible for.

There are two main types of service academy nominations, with many subsets:

  • Service Connected Nominations:
    • Presidential Nomination
    • Active Duty Nomination
    • Honor JROTC / ROTC Nomination
    • Children of Medal of Honor Recipients
    • Children of deceased or 100% disabled service-connected veterans, along with children of POW/MIA veterans
  • Congressional Nominations

The nomination and appointment process is highly competitive, and we encourage students to seek out as many nominations as possible. The more nominating sources your child has, the better their chances are of earning an appointment to a service academy.

Thank you for your service and best of luck to your child in their future endeavors.

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Trisha Dach

Former Air Force Captain Trisha Dach served as an Intelligence Officer from 2011-2018. A graduate of the Air Force Academy, Trisha has helped hundreds of candidates earn a service academy appointment or ROTC scholarships, with over a 90% success rate with clients. Click here to learn more about Captain Dach.

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