It’s no secret that college is expensive. Tuition costs have skyrocketed, and many students are left with a significant amount of debt once they graduate from college. Scholarships are a great way to help reduce student debt and offset the costs of attending college. One great scholarship is the Samsung American Legion Scholarship, which offers students that attend Boys or Girls State the opportunity to win $20,000. The scholarship program began in 1996, when Samsung, a worldwide electronics leader, endowed a $5 million scholarship fund to be administered by the American Legion. The endowment was given to show appreciation for U.S. veterans who came to Korea’s aid during the Korean War, and each year, the interest from the endowment is used for scholarship funds. Since its inception, over 5.3 million dollars has been awarded to almost 2,000 applicants. In 2016, 10 $20,000 scholarships and 89 $750 scholarships were awarded to Boys and Girls State participants. Read on to find out how you could win up to $20,000 from the American Legion.

How can I win a $20,000 scholarship?

The eligibility requirements include:

  1. Mandatory attendance at a Boys or Girls State program following your junior year of high school.
  2. You must be a direct descendent of a wartime veteran who actively served in one of the following wars:
    1. World War I – Apr. 6, 1917 – Nov. 11, 1918
    2. World War II – Dec. 7, 1941 – Dec. 31, 1946
    3. Korean War – June 25, 1950 – Jan. 31, 1955
    4. Vietnam War – Feb. 28, 1961 – May 7, 1975
    5. Lebanon/Grenada – Aug. 24, 1982 – Jul. 31, 1984
    6. Panama – Dec. 20, 1989 – Jan. 31, 1990
    7. Persian Gulf War – Aug. 2, 1990 – Until cessation of hostilities Includes Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, & War on Terrorism
  3. The application must be completed and submitted by the end of the first day of Boys or Girls State.
  4. Direct descendants of Korean War veterans will receive a slight advantage.

What does direct descendant mean?

A direct descendant means you are a child, grandchild, great-grandchild or a legally adopted child of a veteran who served in one of the wars listed above, and their service must be verifiable by acceptable documents.

What type of documentation do I need?

The following forms are acceptable for documentation of service.

  • Form DD214 (Official discharge certificate)
  • Official “Honorable Discharge” certificate
  • Form DD1300 (Official military death certificate)
  • Official record of burial in a military cemetery issued by the National Cemetery Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Current or former military ID card
  • Current or former LES (Leave and Earnings Statement)
  • Official logbook entries from a military unit

Where do I find an acceptable form of documentation?

If you are unable to obtain the documentation from the wartime veteran, you may contact the National Archives and Records Administration, the County Clerk and Recorders office where the veteran resided, or the State Director of Foreign Affairs. If you have questions as to if the document is official or not, you may ask your American Legion Service Officer in the state you reside.

How does the American Legion select the winners?

Each state chooses one application from Boys State and one application from Girls State to advance to the national competition. If your application is selected to advance, there is no additional application and you will be competing against ninety-seven other individuals. Scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic achievement, community service, involvement in school and community activities and financial need. The scholarship can be used for undergraduate or graduate school. It may be applied to tuition, fees, books, and room and board.

Do they have an awards ceremony?

In 2013, the American Legion and Samsung Electronics began a new tradition of honoring the recipients of the scholarship by hosting a luncheon in Washington, D.C. Recipients are awarded an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. in June following their senior year of high school. They enjoy a tour of the National Mall, breakfast at the Legion’s D.C. offices, and conclude with a luncheon where they are recognized for their accomplishment. Since this tradition began, students were also given a Samsung tablet and a book entitled “Korea Reborn: A Grateful Nation Honors War Veterans for 60 Years of Growth”

What do past scholars have to say about the Samsung Scholarship?

“When I applied for the scholarship, I did not expect to get it so when I opened the email with the subject line ‘Samsung American Legion Scholarship’ I was shocked to find out I had been one of the chosen recipients. I was excited to tell my grandpa, who served in the Korean War, and thank him for his service to our country. I was also excited because receiving this scholarship meant less financial strain on my family and an opportunity to focus wholeheartedly on my studies during college instead of trying to juggle school, a job, and the stress of taking out loans.” Marie, 2012 Samsung National Scholar

“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see Washington, D.C. through the eyes of veterans. You can visit memorials whenever you wish, but this kind of exposure is special. It’s not the script of a tour guide nor the carefully thought out words on the placards. No, it’s raw, unabashed passion for our country as you travel from one memory to the next”.  Samantha, 2014 Samsung National Scholar

Where can I find more information about the scholarship?

You can find more information about the Samsung American Legion Scholarship or from your local American Legion. The American Legion offers several other scholarships including the American Legion Legacy Scholarship, the American Legion Baseball Scholarship, as well as scholarships through the American Legion Oratorical Contest. To learn more about Boys and Girls State , Girls or Boys Nation, or the American Legion Oratorical Contest, visit our blog, or visit the American Legion website where you can learn more about their programs and scholarship opportunities. Here at CollegeVine, we want to help you discover opportunities that will help you achieve your dreams and aspirations. Our mentorship programs  help students find scholarships and opportunities like the Samsung American Legion Scholarship, and the services we offer range from help with the application process, essays, and interviews to paying for college and more.

Tammy Goerger

Tammy Goerger

Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Tammy Goerger is a long-time educator and geo-circle lead for the Joyce Ivy Foundation. She is the mother of three children who attended Yale, Stanford, and Princeton, and she has a passion for helping students achieve their dreams and aspirations. She has been a resource for students and parents about the application process, financial aid, and scholarships. She enjoys sharing her love for music with others and volunteers as an EMT on her local ambulance squad. She strives to teach her students about the importance of community service, as well as the importance of living with an attitude of gratitude.
Tammy Goerger