Sep 15, 2019
Hello all,

I received a LOE from USMA yesterday but after reading numerous threads, I’m confused by the differences? I am only waiting my medical qualifications to be updated and finished with everything else including an interview.

any advice will be appreciated.

thank you.
An LOE is a letter of encouragement. USMA is encouraging you to complete your application because based on what they’ve seen so far, you appear competitive. It is not binding in any way — just simple encouragement that you should take as a good sign.

An LOA is a letter of assurance. USMA is assuring the recipient that an offer of appointment will be granted as long as certain conditions are met. Those conditions could be any number of things, from CFA to DODMERB to a nom. (USMA sent DD an LOA conditional on verification of her CFA — she had an unusually fast shuttle-run time.) This letter is binding, as long as the recipient fulfills the specified conditions to the satisfaction of USMA.
Don't worry about LOEs, LOAs, etc. Very few applicants that are accepted and actually attend receive either.

Worry about putting forth a very strong app, getting 3Q'd and getting a nomination.
Agree with MidCakePa. Also, once in a while, an LOE may be converted to an LOA. Don’t worry if it is not. In any event, I’d recommend not worrying about not having an LOA no matter what else has happened. The appointment is what matters. I’ve always assumed you need to fit into some pretty narrow categories to get one. I’ve also assumed those categories can change depending on WP’s or other SA’s specific needs. Good luck. Finish strong.
LOA's at some other SA's are far more significant than at USMA. USMA uses LOA's primarily for recruited athletes and diversity candidates. Some are also issued to candidates that USMA is highly confident will win an appointment, but for the most part USMA prefers to let the competition play out. An LOA may go to a superior overall candidate or may also go to a good candidate in a very weak district.

An LOA is great. It means if you are qualified, you automatically get an offer of appointment. It also means you almost certainly would have gotten the appointment without the LOA. The advantage is that if a better candidate comes along with a higher WCS score, admissions has to find an appointment for you from another source.

Not getting an LOA is not a big deal for USMA (not as true for USNA). An LOA holder does not take a spot from you. If your WCS score is higher you win the slate or the appointment as a Qualified Alternate before the LOA holder.