Academic scholarships are based on school and Scouting participation, academic performance, and financial need. Applicants must score a minimum 1800 SAT or 28 ACT to apply. These include a varying number of $5,000 NESA scholarships, and a varying number of $5,000 Mabel and Lawrence S. Cooke scholarships. The Mabel and Lawrence S. Cooke scholarships are awarded annually and include four $25,000 scholarships (payable at $6,250 per year) and one $48,000 scholarship (up to $12,000 payable for four years), plus a varying number of others.
NESA offers an additional academic scholarship called the $50,000 NESA STEM scholarship (up to $12,500 payable for four years) to an applicant who plans to major in a science, technology, engineering, or math field.
NESA academic scholarship applicants must be Eagle Scouts applying during their senior year of high school. Exception: Scouts whose Eagle Scout boards of review are held after October 31 of their senior year may apply during the next scholarship cycle in the following year even though they may be in college by this time. Winners may receive a scholarship one time only.
Scholarship committees are formed each year in each of the four BSA regions (Northeast, Southern, Central, and Western) to recommend recipients of these scholarships, with the final determination made by the national NESA Scholarship Committee.
The second type of NESA scholarships are the merit scholarships. Merit scholarships are based on school and Scouting participation, and community service. These awards cover the $2,000 and $4,000 Bailey scholarships, the $2,500 Robert and Rebecca Palmer scholarships, and the $5,000 Hall/McElwain merit scholarships. Each BSA region reviews applications and awards a varying number of these scholarships to local Scouts.
NESA merit scholarship applicants must be Eagle Scouts graduating high school or undergraduate college students no farther than completion of the junior year. Recipients may receive the scholarship one time only.
About 10,000 NESA scholarship applications are received annually, and fewer than 100 are awarded, so the competition is stiff. Plans are being formulated to greatly increase the amount of funds available to award NESA Eagle Scout scholarships throughout future years.