Academy Applications

U.S. Naval Academy officials say the number of high school students applying there has declined for the second straight year.

But they say it's just a leveling off after big gains in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The nation's other top military service academies are seeing the same trend.

West Point and the Air Force Academy also saw their numbers reach five year lows after dramatic increases in the initial years after the attacks.

But some suggest the decline may reflect the drawn-out conflict and increasing violence in Iraq.

At Annapolis, application numbers hit the lowest point in five years at 10,726, a five percent decline from a year earlier.

The decline was sharper in 2005, dropping more than 20 percent.

Officials at all three military academies say the declines don't affect the quality of applicants, who face among the most exacting admissions standards in the country.

There is one in 11 who make it receive free room, board and tuition in exchange for five years of military service after graduation.