It is truly an honor to nominate outstanding young leaders throughout our state who excel in the classroom and also in their communities to be considered for appointments to United States service academies. Our U.S. service academies allow young people the opportunity to serve our country while receiving a full four-year scholarship from some of our nation’s finest institutions of higher learning.


Senator Ernst may nominate up to ten eligible Iowa students for each U.S. service academy. Each U.S. service academy allocates five vacancies to be filled by students selected from Senator Ernst’s nominations over a four-year period.

NOTE: Students from the state of Iowa apply to fill four vacancies at the Merchant Marine Academy because the Merchant Marine Academy allocates the number of appointments per state based on each state’s representation in Congress.

U.S. service academies

U.S. Air Force Academy

Colorado Springs, CO

U.S. Merchant Marine Academy

Kings Point, NY

U.S. Military Academy

West Point, NY

U.S. Naval Academy

Annapolis, MD

U.S. Coast Guard Academy

New London, CT*

*NOTE: The U.S. Coast Guard Academy does not require a congressional nomination to apply.

Application Process

NOTE: Applicants must also apply directly to the U.S. service academies in addition to seeking a nomination from Senator Ernst.

Applicants must excel in academics and extracurricular activity, demonstrate leadership traits, interest in the military, and meet physical fitness and medical standards as outlined by the U.S. service academies. 

Admittance to a U.S. service academy is highly competitive and students are highly encouraged to apply to all academies in which they are interested.

Iowa high school students should also seek nominations from Senator Chuck Grassley, their member of Congress and the Vice President.

Information for Iowa students interested in applying to a U.S. service academy in 2021, for matriculation into the Class of 2026

Are you eligible?

Applicants seeking a nomination from Senator Ernst must be:

  • A legal resident of Iowa OR a dependent of military service members that are Iowa residents
  • A U.S. citizen
  • Unmarried with no children or dependents
  • At least 17 years old, but not older than 23 years of age on July 1, 2022 (Please note the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy requires applicants be not older than 25 years of age on July 1, 2022)

What do you need to apply?

Applicants seeking a nomination from Senator Ernst must complete an application and submit the completed application to our Des Moines office with the required supporting material listed below.

Download application here:

Required supporting material:

  • High school transcript
  • Recommendation letter from a teacher
  • Two additional recommendation letters from Iowans
  • 30-60 second video
  • ACT or SAT test score

NOTE: ACT or SAT test scores must be sent directly to our Des Moines office by ACT (ID #7130) or SAT (ID #6287).

Please mail completed applications to our Des Moines office:

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst
Attn: Brenda Safranski
733 Federal Building
210 Walnut Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50309

Application deadline for the 2022-2023 school year:

October 20, 2021

NOTE: Late or incomplete applications will not be considered.

Senator Ernst will announce nominations by January 2022.

Do you have further questions?

E-mail or call Brenda Safranski in our Des Moines office: or (515) 284-4574.