The hard work, dedication, and service that it takes to become an Eagle Scout are not without their advantages. Scholarships might seem hard to come by, but there are many more scholarship opportunities for Eagle Scouts than one might expect!
Eagles Scouts have unique opportunities for scholarships based on their academics, religion, and service record. The largest Eagle-exclusive financial awards are granted by the National Eagle Scout Association (NESA). However, the skills that Eagle Scouts develop can be advantageous for any scholarship application.
There are tens of thousands of scholarship opportunities available to college and university students, and Eagle Scouts are known to have a competitive edge in the application process! Finding and applying for scholarships can be a daunting process, but the extra funds for your education will be well worth the time and effort.
As a college graduate who’s received scholarship packages myself, my top tip for prospective scholarship seekers is to apply to everything you can find! Also, don’t turn your nose up at scholarships in the hundreds or low thousands of dollars. These awards can add up. Often, you’ll even find that they have far less competition.
In this article, I’ll first be walking you through the best scholarship opportunities available exclusively to Eagle Scouts. However, since there are so many opportunities out there, I’ll also be giving you some pointers on how to use your Scouting experience to win financial awards that aren’t exclusively for Eagles! Let’s get into it. 🙂
What are the Types of Scholarships Available to Eagle Scouts?
In addition to the typical scholarships available to prospective university students, Eagle Scouts are also eligible to apply to scholarships that are not otherwise available to the public. The largest Eagle-only scholarship categories are:
- Religious Scholarships
- Service-Based Scholarships
- Academic Scholarships
- Merit Scholarships
- National Eagle Scout Association (NESA) Scholarship Programs
Since NESA is the largest scholarship-granting organization tailored to eagle scouts, we’ll begin with them. Keep in mind, to win a NESA scholarship, you’ll need to become a registered member soon after earning your Eagle award. However, NESA has many other benefits outside of just scholarships.
What Scholarships are Offered by The National Eagle Scout Association (NESA)?
There are three types of scholarships that are offered directly to Eagle Scouts through the NESA. Scholarships are awarded based on academic achievement and merit, and NESA streamlines the application process. One application submission gives a scout the opportunity to be awarded for either the Academic, Merit, or World Explorer scholarships.
The application process for NESA scholarships begins on August 1st and closes on October 31st each year. Personal information and proof of one’s Scouting record are required for the online-only application process. Also, ACT or SAT scores, a personal statement, and academic records are required for the application.
Detailed information about each of these scholarship opportunities is available on the NESA scholarship website. By visiting the NESA website you’ll be able to create a saveable account and begin your scholarship application.
NESA’s Academic Scholarships
The academic scholarships offered by the NESA are very selective, but can significantly lessen the financial burdens of attending university. The Cooke scholarships offer one annual award of $48,000 and four annual awards (one for each region) of $25,000.
NESA’s academic scholarships often reward driven, competitive students. The minimum requirements for these awards are an SAT score of at least 1290 or an ACT score of at least 28. Applicants can learn more about application materials and awards by creating their own NESA Scholarship Account.
There is also a STEM scholarship available through NESA for students pursuing an education in science, technology, engineering, or math. There is one annual award of $50,000 for STEM students. Scouts who wish to be considered for STEM scholarships must submit a reference letter in addition to their other application materials.
NESA’s Merit Scholarships
While NESA’s merit-based scholarships don’t carry the large monetary awards that their academic scholarships do, Eagle Scouts will be considered for both of these awards with one simple application with the NESA.
The Hall/McElwain scholarship awards 40 scouts with $5,000 each year. The Robert and Rebecca Palmer Scholarship awards 3 scouts with $2,500 each year. The Bailey scholarship has two levels; the first is one award of $2,000 and the second is one award of $4,000. Merit awards are granted based on one’s Scouting participation and community involvement.
There is also a scholarship available to Eagle Scouts who pursue an education in journalism. The Michael S. Malone/Windrush Publishing scholarship awards $2,500 annually to one Eagle Scout studying journalism.
The NESA World Explorer Program
NESA’s World Explorer scholarship opportunities connect Eagle Scouts to world-class researchers around the globe! Scouts who are lucky enough to become NESA world explorers are given the opportunity to join amazing programs and study their chosen disciplines in exotic locations around the world.
Additionally, Eagles will be partnered with leading researchers in fields like ornithology, biology, astrobiology, paleontology, or speleology, depending on their research interests. These programs are not entirely paid for, however, they are heavily subsidized. NESA’s website says that accepted scouts will likely pay around $600 to help offset the costs of their incredible program.
Religious Scholarships for Eagle Scouts
For Eagle Scouts who are active in their religious communities, there are quite a few opportunities available for financial support! Keep in mind that since new scholarships are always being created, the best way to find recent religion-based scholarships is to Google, “(your religion) Eagle Scout scholarships.”
These awards are granted based on service to community, school, church, and Scouting. In most cases, your application should include a detailed log of the time you’ve spent working on service projects for your organizations. Also, be prepared to write about how your religion has positively impacted your life!
Jewish Scholarships for Eagle Scouts
The National Jewish Committee on Scouting offers multiple aid-based scholarships to Jewish Eagle Scouts. Applications for scholarships from the National Jewish Committee on Scouting are all due on January 31st each year.
The Chester M. Vernon Memorial Eagle Scout awards $4,000 to one scout annually, to be disbursed over four years. The Rick Arkans Eagle Scout Scholarship is one $1,000 award and the Frank L. Weil Memorial Eagle Scout Scholarship distributes one $1,000 and two $500 runner-up awards annually.
Catholic Scholarships for Eagle Scouts
The National Catholic Committee on Scouting awards seven scholarships to catholic Eagle Scouts annually. There are a number of criteria that scouts have to meet in order to be eligible for these awards.
The 1st place award in $5,000, 2nd place is awarded $4,000, and 3rd is awarded $3,000. There are four additional $2,000 runner-up awards. The deadline to apply for these scholarships is March 1st of each year. The application for these awards is different from the NESA application process.
Eastern Orthodox Scholarships for Eagle Scouts
The Eastern Orthodox Committee on Scouting offers an annual scholarship of $1,000 to Eagle Scouts who are active members of a branch of the Eastern Orthodox church; they award up to two Eagle Scouts with this scholarship each year. Applications are due on May 1st.
Civic Scholarships For Eagle Scouts
Civic scholarships are granted based on how deeply a scout is involved in their communities. Experience volunteering within your church, school, and Scouting organization can give you a leg up when applying for these service-based awards.
The American Legion awards four Eagle Scouts with large scholarships. One scout is awarded $10,000 and three others are awarded $2,500. Applications for the American Legion Eagle Scout Scholarship are due on March 1st of each year.
The Veterans Of Foreign Wars (VFW) organization also offers multiple generous scholarship opportunities. Their top three applications are awarded $5000, $3000, and $1000, in that order.
As you’ve probably noticed, there’s a TON of scholarships out there. I’d suggest applying to all of them! The best list for Eagle-specific scholarships I’ve found is at Unigo.com. However, you’ll need to make an account with them to view the scholarship details.
Super pro-tip: I’d suggest copying the names of each scholarship from Unigo and pasting them into Google to find the actual awarding website!
Crafting Scholarship Applications and Essays
From personal experience, I can tell you that the application process for most scholarships is pretty similar. Once an Eagle Scout has prepared their application materials for one, they can use those to apply for multiple scholarship opportunities! Just be sure to tweak them to accordingly to fit the organization.
Improving your community and school, as a part of Scouting, can translate to an impressive scholarship applications. When preparing your application materials, be sure to mention all awards you’ve earned, as well as any volunteer work experiences and academic successes.
Scholarship applications also almost always require a personal statement essay. These essays should be well-written and free of errors, but, more importantly, they should showcase the passion for service and education that each scout has.
The speaker in the video (8:44) below does a fantastic job of outlining some key tips you should keep in mind while writing your personal statement.
Successful scholarship application essays are documents that focus on the student’s passion for their chosen field of study. Keep in mind that the application review board often wants to know how the scholarship money will be utilized. Be sure to mention if you’ll be applying the scholarship award funds to tuition or if they’ll be going towards books, housing, technology, or other expenses associated with higher education.
On a final note, there is no substitute for the passion that a student expresses for their chosen major. Even if you think that your course or field of study might change, you’ll want to demonstrate your passion and describe, in detail, what truly inspires you to pursue a higher education.
Other Scholarship Opportunities
Remember that 4-year universities are by no means the only path to an Eagle Scout’s future success. Earning the Eagle award also helps young, ambitious individuals be admitted into highly-ranked military service academies. Unsurprisingly, Eagle Scouts make up a high percentage of these institution’s acceptances!
If an Eagle Scout desires to pursue a career in the military, they’ll begin as an E-3 instead of an E-1! Typically, it takes a new recruit at least a year to climb two ranks and reach E-3, so this is a substantial benefit. In terms of pay, this amounts to an extra $500 or so, per month, right off the bat. Not too shabby!
Once you’ve perfected your application materials for Eagle Scout scholarships, you can easily adapt them and apply for other awards. The scholarship search tool from CareerOneStop.org is a great place to begin searching for scholarships. Be sure to read the requirements of each scholarship carefully before applying!
While scholarship applications can be a long and tricky process, by crafting a fantastic application and locating less-competitive award opportunities, you’ll definitely be able to lower the costs of your education! Now that you’re aware of the many scholarships available to Eagle Scouts, go out there and get them. 🙂
Frankly, winning scholarships takes time, and this article is just your first step in a lengthy practice. If you’re serious about obtaining award money, I’d highly recommend reading my Guide on Writing n Amazing Eagle Scout College Application Essay and then completing these 15 tips for a successful scholarship application. Best of luck on your journey to university!