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  • Writer's pictureLTC Brechin, USAF, Ret.

Service Academy Nominations & the "Committee"

Updated: Mar 28

Members of Congress routinely use a "Nomination Committee" to make their selections



Recently I was asked about the 'nomination committee' for a U.S. Congressional Representative. With the question, it occurred to me that the committee itself is a bit of a mystery to most candidates for the U.S. Service Academies: USAFA, USMA, USNA and USMMA. In this blog, I will provide some insights around the nomination committee.


Most MoC's use a nomination committee to evaluate the nomination applications submitted by candidates from their Congressional district or their home state. The committee allows the MoC to maintain transparency around the selection process and avoid being accused of any unfair favoritism or preferential treatment. This approach allows the process to be apolitical.


Nomination committees are usually volunteers organized by the staff member who runs the process for the MoC. Often, the committee members are LOs, BGOs, FFRs, retired military officers and/or reserve officers from the different military service branches. Members commit time to review files, read essays, interview candidates and select the roster of up to 15 nominees for each appointment slot that the MoC has for the current year. Note that this number is due to a March 2024 action by Congress moving the nominations from 10 to 15 for each appointment slot for USAFA, USMA and USNA. Note that USMMA nominations are tied to each state and are handled differently.


The most visible part of the nomination committee is the candidate interview. Most Representatives conduct interviews for their applications. However, only about half of the Senators use interviews since they 'cover' the entire state and its population. For many states, conducting in-person interviews would be impractical; however, some will use a video conference or a phone call to conduct an interview. This approach may be the only way to conduct some interviews for students that are in different states or countries for school, or other reasons, who are legal residents of the MoC's district or home state.


Interviews will usually consist of two to five members that are either part of the committee or constitute the entire group. Senators of larger states will likely have multiple interview committees with each dedicated to a specific academy choice. Usually only candidates who are determined to be competitive will be invited to an interview. On rare occasions, I've seen well qualified candidates not invited to an interview to save time as their nominations were a given, and the interview was simply unnecessary.


By the way, in an earlier blog, I reviewed the different nomination details and types of nominations that Members of Congress (MoC) may use. You may want to refer to it for details concerning nominations.


Nomination committees are used widely and allow your MoC to maintain an open and fair process to choose nominees for the service academies. I hope this blog provided some valuable insight and helps you prepare for the nomination process that you are about to enter. Good luck with your journey!


[ I would welcome a chance to discuss details with you. I offer tailored coaching services to prepare you (and your parents!) for the nomination process as well as for the entire application itself for all of the U.S service academies. Contact me at chris@cbbrechin.com, 503.515.7406 or complete my contact form on the home page. ]

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