No matter what your unique passion may be, there is likely to be a scholarship out there focused on it. Take Scouting, for example: If you've spent years reciting the Scout Oath or The Girl Scout Promise, there are many opportunities to apply for funding to help you achieve your academic goals.
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Awards for Eagle Scouts
According to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), "dozens of universities, BSA local councils, and religious, civic and military organizations" offer scholarships to Eagle Scouts.
The National Eagle Scout Association awards 150 scholarships annually, ranging from $1,000 to $50,000, to eligible Eagle Scouts. Scholarships are for tuition, room, board, and books only, and are limited to use at a four-year accredited college or university. The deadline for Eagle Scouts to apply for both NESA Merit and Academic Scholarships is Dec. 31, 2012; recipients will be notified by July 15, 2013.
Eagle Scouts who are active members of a synagogue may be eligible for the National Jewish Committee on Scouting Eagle Scout Scholarship Programs. The National Jewish Committee on Scouting awards five scholarships each year; two of the five scholarships require recipients to demonstrate financial need as well as merit.
All five scholarships--ranging from $500 to $4,000--require applicants to have demonstrated practical citizenship in his synagogue, school, Scouting unit, and community; be enrolled in an accredited high school and in his final year at time of selection; and be a registered, active member of a Boy Scout troop, Varsity Scout team, or Venturing Crew.
Scholarship awards may be used to attend any accredited college, university, or school selected by the student. Applications must be received by Feb. 28, 2013, and recipients will be notified in early May 2013.
The American Legion also supports Eagle Scouts. At their national convention, they honor the Eagle Scout of the Year with a $10,000 scholarship. Three runners-up each receive $2,500.
Qualifications include being a registered, active member of a Boy Scout Troop; Varsity Scout team; or Venturing Crew chartered to an American Legion post, Auxiliary unit, or Sons of The American Legion squadron, or being the son or grandson of a Legionnaire or Auxiliary member. The deadline for nomination for the scholarship is March 1, 2013.
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Funding for Girl Scouts
Girl Scouts also have a wide variety of scholarship options at the national, state, and local levels, and the Girl Scouts of the USA offers both an online scholarship search and a college planning resources page that recommends starting to plan as early as middle school.
The scholarship awards range from $250 (one-time award) to $59,200 ($14,800 renewable for up to four years). Most are institution-based, so be sure to search for each college you're interested in attending to see whether they offer a Girl Scout scholarship. Criteria and deadlines vary.
Janine Fugate, the recipient of numerous scholarships at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, holds a bachelor's degree from the College of Saint Benedict, Saint Joseph, Minn., and a Master of Public Affairs from the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota--Twin Cities. Fugate joined Scholarship America in 2002.