Scholarships are the most sought after form of financial aid. Their appeal is basic bottom-line attraction. Scholarships are free money for your college education. They never have to be paid back.
There are literally hundreds of millions of dollars in scholarship available every year to suitable college (and prospective college) students. The vast majority of that money is earmarked for outstanding students with exceptional skills like being top ten in your graduating class, or the reigning state champ in 200-meter freestyle, or first chair clarinet since the tender age of 13.
But what if stellar isn’t your middle name? Panic not! You can still land some hefty scholarship dollars. That’s because amidst the hundreds of “best of” scholarship programs, there are more than a few just good enough ones.
If your only claim to fame is being a surfer, skater, sci-fi geek, bug-freak, bowler or big man, there are still scholarships made for you. The very things that your parents always rode you for and your friends always teased you for can now earn you big bucks for college. As big as $20K a year!
The Top 10 Most Unusual Scholarship Program in America
Just check out this Top 10 list of most unusual scholarships. Here’s betting there’s one for you on the list (and if you don’t find the perfect fit, jump on-line to find some of the dozens more unusual scholarships):
#1. Southpaws Only
The Frederick and Mary F. Beckley Scholarship is probably the most often cited oddball scholarship out there. This $1,000 award is just for left-handed people (who also just happen to be attending Juniata College.) For more information, contact the Juniata College Office of Student Financial Planning at 1700 Moore Street, Huntington, PA 16652.
#2. Talk About Sticking to It
Are you a fashion-forward individual? Do you enjoy getting a bit sticky? If you answered yes to both there questions, here’s an easy way to earn $3,000 for college: Go to your high school prom dressed entirely in duck tape. Seriously. The Duck Brand Duct Tape Stuck at Prom Contest is open to U.S. citizens 14 and older who attend their spring prom dressed in complete attire or accessories made from duct tape. Apply with a picture of you and your date. Winners are chosen for their originality, workmanship and quantity of Duck Tape used.
#3. Big & Tall
Did you think that being extra tall was only good for shooting hoops? Well, think again. Tall Clubs International (TCI) gives $1,000 each year to a tall person attending college for women, that means 5’10” or taller; men must be at least 6’2″. If your largeness is more horizontal in nature, check out the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, which awards an annual $1,000 scholarship for fatties involved in fat activism (or related topics).
#4. Junk Food Junkies
If eating candy is what helped you qualify for the fat scholarship in #3, here’s another oddball award for you: The American Association of Candy Technologists (AACT) is giving away $5K to candy-holics. Specifically, the scholarship is for college students who have demonstrated an interest in confectionary technology. Relevant majors would be food science, chemistry, biology or related area. Slackers needs not apply; the scholarship requires a minimum 3.0 GPA.
#5. Ode to the Top 10 Father
No Top 10 list would be complete without David Letterman, who, believe it or not, has his own scholarship for average telecommunications students at his alma mater, Ball State University. Letterman is looking for creativity over academic prowess in awarding students for original video, audio, written, graphic or film presentations. The winner gets ten grand. Runners up win $5,000 (2nd place) and $3,333 (3rd place).
#6. Calling All Fountain Heads
Did reading Ayn Rand rock your world? If so, you might be able to win $10,000. (If you are running to Google Ayn Rand right now, skip it. This scholarship isn’t for you!) The Ayn Rand Institute’s Fountainhead Essay Contest awards thirteen scholarship prizes each year to winning amateur essayists sharing their thoughts on the philosophy of The Fountainhead. If you preferred Atlas Shrugged, there’s an essay contest for you, too.
#7. Musical Space Cadets
Are you a budding musician with rather “out there” tastes? Then the Society of Performers, Artists, Athletes and Celebrities for Space Exploration, Inc. (SPAACSE) has a $1,000 for you. The SPAACSE Galaxy Music Scholarship is open to graduating high school seniors who have recorded (in your bedroom is fine, no need for professional recording studios) space music. Not sure what that is? Space music, according to the SPAACSE website, reflects the inspiration and beauty of the universe. Your application clip should be 4-6 minutes in length.
#8. Clean-Cut Couch Potatoes
The Gertrude J. Deppen Scholarship Fund is earmarked for undergraduate students from Mount Carmel who are attending Bucknell University. To qualify, you must have graduated from a Mount Carmel public high school and have lived in Mount Carmel for at least 10 years. Eligible candidates must also eschew smoking, drinking and narcotic drug use…not to mention “participation in strenuous athletic contests.”
#9. What’s in a Name?
Well, if the name is Zolp, Scarpinato, Gatling, Baxendale, Hudson, Thayer, Downer, Bright or Van Valkenburg, the answer may be a couple thousand dollars for college. That’s because families with these last names have endowed scholarships at various universities, which are just for those students who carry their same name. Say, for example, your last name is Zolp, you are Catholic and you’re planning on attending Loyola University in Chicago. Say hello to free, full tuition for four years. At Texas A&M University, the last name Scarpinato likewise gets you a full ride. A Gatlin or Gatling attending North Carolina State University can earn $9,000 if they are in-state, or $18,000 if they are out-of-state students. Any Van Valkenburg – or one of the half a dozen variations on that name – can get $1,000 to go to college anywhere. And even the illustrious Harvard University has several name-based scholarships, including for students named Baxendale, Hudson, Thayer, Downer or Bright.
#10 Surfers, Skaters and Other So-called Slackers: Unite!
How many times has your mom disparaged your pastime, calling it a waste of your time and brainpower?Â Well, now is your chance to prove her wrong. The Patrick Kerr Skateboard Scholarship awards one $5,000 scholarship and three $1,000 scholarships to high school seniors who are skateboard activists. Winners must have a minimum GPA of 2.5 and be enrolled as full-time students for the fall after graduation. If shooting pool is your passion, you might also be in the money. The Barry Lefkowitz Scholarship Billiards Tournament awards $1750 in scholarship each semester to University of Akron students who can win a pool tournament. Even golfers (see: Evans Scholars Foundation) and bowlers (see: US Bowling Congress Scholarships) have their own funds, ranging up to $10,000 a year in scholarship assistance.
Whatever your talent, passion or odd-ball quirk, these days there is likely a scholarship for you. If you didn’t find the perfect fit on our Top 10 List, get Googling. Free money for college is out there, just ripe for the taking!
Additional Weird and Unusual Scholarships >>>
There’s nothing like free money – especially when it can be applied to something as productive as college tuition. However, the best free college money – scholarships – can often be difficult to obtain because of their strict guidelines.
But before you decide to give up on the idea of getting your own scholarship, take a look at 45 of the weirdest college scholarships out there. With scholarships as strange as these, you may be eligible for more free college funding than you think!
- Tall Clubs International Scholarship – If you’re a male 6’ 2” or taller, or a female 5’ 10” or taller, you just may qualify for this $1,000 scholarship. To qualify, you simply need to write an essay entitled “What Being Tall Means to Me.”
- Scholar Athlete Milk Mustache of the Year (SAMMY) Award – This $7,500 scholarship, free trip to Disney World and spot in a Milk Mustache ad are available to 25 student-athlete high school seniors with 3.20 GPAs who participate in school or club sports.
- Van Valkenburg Memorial Scholarship – You can win $1,000 if you’re a descendant through birth or legal adoption of Lambert and Annetje Van Valkenburg.
- Potato Industry Scholarship –The National Potato Council awards annually one $5,000 scholarship to a graduate student pursuing Agribusiness, which enhances the potato industry.
- Duck Brand Duct Tape Stuck on Prom Contest – Who would ever think that creating prom outfits out of duct tape could win a lucky couple $3,000 in scholarship money?
- American Welding Society Scholarships – Are you a talented welder – or have an interest in being one? If so, you may be eligible for welding scholarships that could help pay for education in soldering, brazing, joining and thermal spraying.
- Society of Vacuum Coaters Foundation Scholarship – $2,500 is awarded to one or more students annually who love the art of vacuum coating. Is this for you?
- Frederick and Mary F. Beckley Scholarship – Scholarship funds are awarded each year to sophomores, juniors and seniors attending Juniata College in Huntingdon, PA. To quality, you must be left-handed, have financial need and a good GPA.
- Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest – If you love ducks season you may be eligible for $2,000 in scholarships. So get your favorite duck call and get prepared to win some money!
- David Letterman Telecommunications Scholarship– Students attending Ball State University could win up to $10,000 in scholarship money by submitting a variety of creative media.
- Excellence in Predicting the Future Award – You don’t have to be a fortune teller to win this $400 award. You just need to be good at predicting the financial market and have a desire for economics.
- The Billy Barty Foundation – This scholarship is awarded to students who are short in stature – under 4’ 10” – and have proof of dwarfism.
- National Marbles Tournament Scholarship – This contest for eight to 14 year olds awards between $1,000 and $2,000 scholarship money to those skilled in the game of marbles.
- Common Knowledge Challenges – If you know a lot about a lot then you may be eligible for a series of Common Knowledge Scholarships that range from $250 – $3,000.
- Vegetarian Resource Group Scholarship – Looking for $5,000 in college scholarship money? Simply be a vegetarian high school student who promotes vegetarianism in your school or community.
- National Make It Yourself Wool Competition – Do you consider yourself a fashion guru with a special taste for wool? If so, you may qualify for one of four scholarships with the American Sheep Industry.
- Discover Scholarship Award – Thisscholarship for high school juniors requires a 2.75 GPA and proof of a significant roadblock to earn $40,000 for post-high school education, training, certification or licensing.
- Alice Mcarver Ratchford Scholarship – This special scholarship goes to single female undergraduate students in financial need who live on campus, don’t have a car and no other scholarships.
- KLI Academic Award: The Kor Memorial Scholarship – If you’re a “Trekky” then you’ll love this $500 scholarship from the Klingon Language Institute for students in the field of language study. Luckily, you don’t need to know Klingon to qualify!
- Dannie Jasmine Mule Deer Foundation Scholarship – This $500 scholarship is eligible to students who love of nature, are enrolled at University of Nevada, Reno and have studied Environmental and Resources Science for at least two semesters.
- John Gatling Scholarship – Do you plan to attend North Carolina State University and have the last name Gatling or Gatlin? If so, you may be eligible for this full-ride scholarship.
- School Bank and Orchestra Magazine Scholarship – By writing a simple essay you could qualify for $1,000 in scholarship money. 2009’s entry essay is “I believe music must remain a part of the school curriculum because.”
- American Association of Candy Technologists Scholarship – College sophomores, juniors and seniors could qualify for $5,000 in scholarship funds if they carry a 3.0 GPA and major in food science or other related areas. Sounds like a sweet deal!
- Writers and Illustrators of the Future Contest – If you didn’t get the Klingon Scholarship, you may qualify for this contest that awards student authors and illustrators in the genre of Science Fiction.
- National Rifle Association YES Scholarship – After being accepted to the NRA Youth Education Summit, contingents may apply to the scholarship that awards up to $30,000 in college aid – no rifle shooting required.
- American Society for Enology and Viticulture Scholarship – Being a grape lover has definite benefits, especially when it comes to this scholarship that awards undergrad and grad full-time students majoring in viticulture or encology.
- Ayn Rand The Fountainhead Scholarship – If you enjoyed the book The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand and are in the 11th or 12th grade, you could receive up to $10,000 in scholarship money by writing the best essay concerning the novel.
- Hood College Heritage Scholarship– If you have a parent or grandparent who received a bachelor’s degree from Hood College, you may be eligible for a $5,000 one-year scholarship.
- OP Loftbed Scholarship – This $500 scholarship only requires that you attend an accredited college or university and answer a few quirky questions (ex. What will you type in your next TEXT, Tweet, or Instant Message to your best friend?).
- Evans Scholars Foundation Scholarship – Golf lovers could benefit from this WGA-sponsored scholarship that gives young caddies with financial need (and a great caddie record) the opportunity to pay for college.
- Zolp Scholarship – Here’s another lucky last name scholarship. This one is from Loyola University and asks that your last name be Zolp and you be Catholic in order to qualify.
- Gertrude J. Deppen Scholarship Fund – To qualify for this scholarship, you must have resided in Mount Carmel, PA for 10 years, attended Mount Carmel Public High School, stay away from tobacco, liquor and narcotics, and steer clear of strenuous athletic contests.
- Carnegie Mellon University Bagpipe Scholarship – This highly uncompetitive scholarship offers $7,000 yearly to bagpipe major students.
- Eileen J. Garrett Scholarship– The desire to study parapsychology along with proof that you’ve written about it before is all you need to qualify for this $3,000 scholarship.
- Starfleet Academy Scholarship – If you’re an active Starfleet member (an organization modeled around Star Trek) who attends any type of post-high school learning institution you could earn $500 in scholarship money.
- United States Bowling Congress (USBA) Scholarships– USBA offers a number of scholarships to bowling fans with dollar amounts ranging from $1,000 to $2,500.
- American Nudist Research Library Scholarship– If the nudist in you is itching to get out – and you don’t mind living in a nudist colony – then you could benefit from $1,000 for college.
- Surfrider Foundation Scholarship Program – This grassroots organizations awards scholarships to undergrads, grads and PH-D students who are members of the Surfrider Foundation.
- Michigan Llama Association (MLA) Scholarship– Being an MLA member or being the child of a member is all you need to qualify for this scholarship.
- Tylenol Scholarship– Tylenol offers $5,000 to $10,000 awards to 40 lucky students each year. How to qualify? Desire a career in the medical field.
- American Fire Sprinkler Association Scholarship– High school students who don’t mind reading an essay about fire sprinklers then taking a 10-question test could qualify for a $2,000 scholarship.
- Collegiate Inventors Competition– Students who have you been enrolled full-time at a U.S. or Canadian college or university for at least 12 months and have a new idea, process or technology could qualify for $15,000 in scholarship money.
- LaFontaine Aquatic Entomology Scholarship– The Federation of Fly Fishers (FFF) $500 scholarship is for aquatic entomology lovers and scholars performing research in the field.
- Mycological Society of America Scholarships– $2,000 scholarships are available to students, teachers and researchers who study mycology (the study of fungi).
- Hiram College Hal Reichle Scholarship– Talk about quirky. This scholarship comes from the Secret Society of Serendipitous Service to Hal (SSSSH), which loves students dedicated to community service.