Changes to Military Academy Nominations

March 28, 2024

Upcoming changes to military academy nominations rules mean that students applying to Department of Defense military service academies will have more chances of receiving a nomination. Starting with the classes entering in the 2025-26 academic year, each member of Congress will be authorized to nominate 15 candidates at a time, instead of 10.

This was part of the National Defense Authorization Act passed in December 2023. Let’s unpack these changes to military academy nominations and who they will help.

Image of the US Capitol and the words Changes to Nominations

More Congressional Nominations

Each member of Congress can have up to five cadets or midshipmen at each of the three Department of Defense military academies. This the the number of appointees that are “charged” or assigned to each Senator or Representative at the US Military Academy (West Point), US Naval Academy, and US Air Force Academy

Each time a cadet or midshipman assigned to a member of Congress leaves, that opens up a vacancy. Most years, each Senator and Representative has at least one vacancy to nominate new candidates towards. 

Previously, Senators and Representatives could nominate up to 10 candidates per vacancy. Now they can nominate up to 15 candidates for each vacancy.

More Candidates Will Get Nominations

The obvious consequence is that more students will receive nominations than before. This is a 50% increase in congressional nominations. Instead of a maximum of 5,350 students getting a congressional nomination, 8,025 could get one. 

This will be a big improvement for candidates who live in areas that are highly competitive, either because they have large populations or because interest in academies is high.

More Appointments to Qualified Alternates

When a candidate is offered admission to an academy, we say they were offered an appointment. In addition to the appointments charged to each member of Congress, there are also appointments offered to qualified alternates based on each candidate’s order of merit. 

Basically all the congressional nominees who don’t fill a vacancy get thrown into a big pool and ranked in order of their overall qualifications. Then the academy offers the top candidates additional appointments.

The new law also increased the appointments from the qualified alternate pool from 150 to 200. 

Related Article: Guide to Military Academy Nominations

Will Appointments Become More Competitive?

How this change to military academy nominations will affect appointments depends on who you are and where you live. Obviously, more nominations means more competition to be the candidate assigned to a particular member of Congress’ vacancy. 

More nominations and the increased number of appointments to qualified alternates also mean more students will have a chance of appointment. 

But, these increased chances aren’t evenly distributed. Districts with many highly qualified candidates will probably continue to see more appointments than districts with candidates who have lower academic profiles.

Apply for Each Nomination You’re Eligible for

It’s easy to get lost in the weeds on this topic. Don’t obsess over these changes to military academy nominations. You can’t control how many vacancies your Representative has or which students you’re competing against.

Concentrate on what you can control. Apply to each nomination you’re eligible for, with the strongest possible application package. Make sure you submit each nomination request by the posted deadline and that it includes every item required. 

Make sure your academy applications are as strong as possible. Do well in rigorous academics, get good standardized test scores, demonstrate leadership and athletic ability, and pass the fitness test.

I’m a Naval Academy graduate and former admissions liaison. Let’s work together to ensure your applications present a clear picture of your potential as a future officer. Reach out now so we can schedule an initial meeting.

Related Article: ROTC Scholarships for College – another path to becoming a military officer and paying for college