Service Academy Nominations

The privilege of nominating Idaho's best and brightest students to our Nation's service academies is one of the most important and enjoyable aspects of being a Congressman. Unfortunately, many young men and women in Idaho are not aware of the tremendous opportunities that await them at the service academies. Academy graduates receive a first-rate undergraduate education, equivalent to that provided by a top-tier, Ivy League school; have many options to pursue advanced degrees; are guaranteed a job; and spend a minimum of five years on active duty as a military officer with many career opportunities available. The full four-year scholarship is valued at more than $350,000 which includes tuition, room and board, medical and dental care and a monthly salary. Students learn discipline, moral ethics and teamwork in a structured environment that fosters leadership and character development. If you are highly motivated, looking for a challenge in your life and want to serve your country, I hope you will consider attending a service academy.

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Applicants interested in opening an nomination file must meet the basic eligibility requirements for a nomination and submit the following materials:

  • Completed on-line application for academy nomination
  • Essay – no more than 500 words explain why you are seeking a nomination
  • Three Recommendation Forms with references letters attached
  • Principal/Guidance Counselor Evaluation Form – completed form must be in a sealed envelope signed by the originator across the flag.  The originator may not complete one of the recommendation forms.
  • Office copy of high school transcript, including GPA at end of junior year and class rank in a sealed envelope signed by the originator across the flag.  Office copy of college transcripts if applicable.
  • Official copy of SAT or ACT scores.  If scores are not included on transcript you may make arrangement to have test scores sent to my Twin Falls office.
    • Direct reporting test scores codes: SAT 4787 or ACT 7372

Recommendation forms, principal/guidance form, transcripts and test scores should be mailed to my Twin Falls office in one packet by November 15th. 

TWIN FALLS ID 83301-5259

If you have any questions, please contact my Twin Falls office at (208) 734-7219


Common Questions and Answers

What is a service academy?
A service academy is a federal educational institution that prepares officers for our Nation's Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Merchant Marines and Coast Guard.

How many service academies are in the U.S. and where are they located?
There are five. Three within the U.S. Department of Defense:

One within the U.S. Department of Transportation

One within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

How do I attend an academy?
Admission to an academy is a competitive two-step process. The first step is to obtain a nomination from an authorized source. The second step is to receive an appointment from the academy. The nomination allows you to compete for the appointment but does not guarantee an appointment.

What is a nomination?
A nomination is the selection made by an authorized source. Title 10 of the U.S. Code establishes two types of nominations: 1) congressional and 2) presidential/military service connected.

Congressional nominations include selections made by 1) the Vice-President, who nominate candidates from any part of the nation, 2) U.S. Senators, who nominate candidates from their entire state, and 3) U.S. Representatives, who nominate candidates that reside within their congressional district.

What is an appointment?
An appointment is a selection made by the individual academies after you have received a nomination and competed with other nominees in the areas of academics, leadership potential and physical aptitude. An appointment allows you admission to an academy.

What are the basic eligibility requirements for a nomination?
To be eligible for nomination, you must meet the requirements as of July 1st of the year of admission to an academy:

  • You must be at least 17 years old, but not past your 23rd birthday.
  • You must be a U.S. citizen.
  • You must be unmarried, not pregnant, and without legal obligation to support children or other dependents.
  • You must reside within the legal boundaries of the 2nd Congressional District of Idaho if you are applying for a nomination from Congressman Simpson.

Can I apply for a nomination from more than one source?
Yes.  Because the nomination and appointment process is competitive, you should seek all the nominations for which you are eligible. Every candidate is eligible for the four congressional nominations –one from the Vice-President Joe Biden , one from U.S. Senator Mike Crapo , one from U.S. Senator Jim Risch and one from Congressman Simpson.

Can I also apply for a presidential nomination?
Yes, if you are eligible. Presidential nominations are reserved for children of career military personnel. To qualify, the parent must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Be on active duty and have served continuously on active duty for at least eight years, or
  • Be retired with pay or been granted retired or retainer pay, or
  • Be a reservist or National Guard member (see Section 12733 Title 10 USC for details), or
  • Have died after being retired with pay or being granted retired or retainer pay;
  • Have begun adoption proceedings before the child's 15th birthday

Who can apply for the military service nominations?

  • Children of a deceased or disabled member of the Armed Forces may apply for nomination if the parent was killed or is 100% disabled by wounds or injuries received or diseases contracted while in active service.
  • Children of armed services members or civilian employees in active government service who are in an officially determined status of missing in action may apply for a nomination.
  • Children of Medal of Honor recipients from any branch of the armed services may apply for nomination.

How do I apply for a presidential or military service nomination?
Contact the academies for specific instructions.

Can I apply for a nomination if I am active duty in the armed services or reserves?
Yes. Active duty armed service members are eligible for the four congressional nominations, in addition to a nomination through their branch of the armed services. For more details, contact your commanding officer.

How many candidates can Congressman Simpson nominate?
Each Member of Congress is allowed five appointees at each academy. This means that in most years, Congressman Simpson will be making nominations for one vacancy at each academy. For each vacancy, he is allowed to nominate ten candidates.

When should I apply for a nomination?
January of your junior year of high school is the best time to apply.  However, you may also apply in your senior year, as well as after you graduate from high school, as long as you meet the basic eligibility requirements.

What is the deadline for completing my nomination file?
You need to return the initial three-page application as soon as possible, as formal candidacy is established upon receipt of the application. The remainder of the file, which includes reference forms, a principal/guidance counselor form, high school transcripts, SAT or ACT scores and a personal one-page letter/essay stating why you are seeking a nomination, must be submitted by November 15th.

Why is a personal letter/essay needed?
Your personal letter/essay is very important – this is your chance to explain why you want to attend a service academy.  It doesn't have to be long or elaborate; keep it short, no longer than one page. Be yourself; don't try to impress with fancy language.  Remember to proofread – have someone you trust like Mom, Dad or your English teacher check your grammar and spelling.

What if I miss the November 30th deadline?
The nomination process is competitive so to be fair to all applicants, if you fail to submit information by the deadline, you will not be considered for an academy nomination.

Who should complete the three reference forms?
The reference forms are designed to be completed by a high school counselor, teacher, principal, employer, clergy/church member, coach or an adult family friend. It's a good idea to ask three people who know you in three different settings such as a teacher, an employer and a family friend.

How should I submit my SAT/ACT scores?
More often than not, test scores are recorded on your high school transcripts.  However, you may also have the test results sent directly to Congressman Simpson's office by the testing agency. The direct reporting code is 4787 for SAT and 7372 for ACT.

Can I be nominated to more than one academy?
Yes. It is possible to be nominated to more than one academy. On your application, you will be asked to rank in numerical order your academy preferences. Keep in mind that the nomination process is competitive.  How well you compete among the pool of candidates will determine if you are nominated to your first choice. Therefore, only indicate your preference for academies that you are truly interested in attending.

Do I need a nomination to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy?
No. The USCGA is the only service academy that does not require a congressional nomination. To be considered for an appointment to the USCGA you must submit an application and supplemental information to the academy by March 1st of the year of entrance. Since, you are already collecting much of the supplemental information requested by the USCGA, such as high school transcripts, ACT/SAT test scores and evaluations, it is a good idea to submit an application to the USCGA. For more information about the USCGA, visit or contact Shirley Nayden, USCGA Idaho Admissions Partner at (208) 939-8752.

Should I apply for an ROTC scholarship?
Because the nomination and appointment process is competitive, not all candidates will receive a nomination or an appointment, so it is also a good idea to apply for an ROTC scholarship.

What are the basic qualifications for a nomination?
Candidates are evaluated in five areas: moral character, academic record, leadership potential, physical and medical fitness and commitment to the military. The information you provide through your personal letter/essay and references should reflect these basic qualifications:

  • Moral character - All candidates are considered of good moral character, unless evidence suggests otherwise.
  • A strong academic record - Your high school/college transcripts, class rank and SAT/ACT scores will be evaluated.  However, please keep in mind even if you are not a top student, prep school opportunities are available from the USMA, USNA, USAFA and the USCGA.
  • Demonstrated leadership potential - List all of your extra-curricular activities, such as participation in sports, school government, clubs, church activities and employment. Also, your references will be asked to provide information about your leadership qualities.
  • Physical and medical fitness - The individual academies will make this determination through a physical aptitude and medical examination.
  • A commitment to live a military lifestyle – Attending a service academy is not like a normal college. When you accept an appointment to a service academy, you become a member of the U.S. Armed Services, so you must have a desire to serve in the military while obtaining your education.

Who is eligible to attend the prep school at the USMA, USNA, USAFA, and USCGA?
Prep school candidates are students who receive a nomination, but do not meet the academic standards to attend an academy.  These students have been deemed to have the ability to benefit from a year at prep school with the goal of admission to an academy. Attendance at a prep school does not guarantee an appointment but prep school graduates are very successful in obtaining a future appointment.

How will I know if I am nominated?
Nominations will be made by mid-December. You will be notified by mail.

Does a nomination guarantee an appointment?
No. A nomination is the selection made by an authorized source and allows a candidate to compete for an appointment.

When will I know if am appointed?
The Academies will begin making appointments in late December. All appointment offers are generally completed by May.

If I do not receive a nomination or an appointment, can I apply again?
Yes. Candidates who apply a second time are very successful in securing a nomination and an appointment.

How can I improve my chances of qualifying academically for a nomination and an appointment?
Your high school preparation should include:

  • Four years of mathematics courses – including geometry, algebra, and trigonometry. Pre-calculus and calculus courses are also encouraged.
  • One year of chemistry, with lab if possible.
  • Four years of English – with special attention on the study and practice of effective writing. English and American literature courses are also helpful
  • Two years of a foreign language.
  • One year of physics, with lab if possible.
  • One year of U.S. history; and, if possible one year of European or world history.
  • Computer skills – know how to use personal computers, including Windows, word processing, spreadsheets and the Internet.

Can homeschooled students attend an academy?
Yes. While only a small percentage of homeschooled students attend the academies, the numbers are increasing. To be competitive for a nomination, a homeschool curriculum should include all of the courses listed above, in addition to a few courses at a community college, so that the student has traditional classroom experience. It is also important that the student's transcript include:

  • Course/class title
  • Length of course and date completed
  • Grade and grading scale
  • Cumulative GPA
  • Curriculum/course description
  • Text/material use

It is also important to let the academies know if your homeschooling is recognized by your local school board or the Idaho State Board of Education.

Why should I participate in extracurricular activities?
Your participation in athletic and non-athletic extracurricular activities will help to demonstrate your ability to meet the physical, time management and leadership demands of four years at an Academy. It's also a good idea to get in excellent physical condition while still in high school. Physical exercise is part of every day life at an Academy. Your first year at an Academy is not the time to whip yourself into shape. Your participation in these activities, as well as a record of part-time employment, will help to show your versatility and your ability to accept responsibility.

Are homeschooled students required to participate in extracurricular activities?
Yes. Homeschooled students face the most challenges in this area. Some local school districts allow homeschooled students to participate in athletics; if not, you will have to be creative to meet this requirement. You will need to participate in some kind of organized athletic activity such as:

  • Join a local swim, tennis, or gymnastics club and participate in competitions
  • Compete in community/club organized soccer or lacrosse matches
  • Play in summer baseball leagues affiliated with Babe Ruth, Little League or American Legion
  • Run 5K and 10K races
  • Play basketball with the YMCA or the Boy and Girls Club

Non-athletic activities are also important and should not be overlooked.

  • Participate in leadership of your church youth group
  • Work towards an Idaho Congressional Award
  • Participate in Boys Scouts/Girl Scouts
  • Participate in Boys State/Girls State
  • Join a local band, orchestra or theatrical production

Is it possible to visit the academies?
Yes. Each academy hosts tours for prospective candidates and their parents. These tours are highly advisable, as this will help you decide if academy life is right for you and which academy you would like to attend. For more information about the tours, contact the academies individually.