And how does it differ from an appointment? I'm sure I don't understand something significant about this. Thanks.
The other academies offer highly qualified candidates a Letter Of Assurance, which is nothing more than a conditional appointment. If the condition(s) is/are met, (usually a nomination) an appointment is offered.
USNA, USAFA, USMA, and USMMA use them to try to "lock up" highly qualified applicants early in the process, to make them "feel wanted" and to try to convince them early that they have a spot all reserved for them. As many candidates apply to multiple academies, they are competing among themselves as well as civilian colleges for top-quality freshman.
USCGA does not use LOA's, mainly because no nomination is needed, therefore they can give out 50%-60% of their full appointments earlier than the other academies, who must wait until the MOC's submit their nomination candidates, which are not due until Jan 31.
USCGA attempts to get those highly qualified candidates by having them submit their completed applications early (by Nov 1). Then they can get those files before the CCEB to review so a list of appointments can be forwarded to the Superintendent to approve, usually by Dec 15th.
Sometimes, USCGA will use a "conditional" appointment under Early Action as well, but this is usually for a medical condition that must be resolved before the appointment to take effect.