finance

17 bizarre scholarships: YOU may qualify

Calling all Klingon speakers, duct-tape fashion designers, duck callers, ghost hunters and woolen garment makers: Thick wads of scholarship money are waiting for you.

Endowment funds are waiting to be claimed by everyone from golf caddies to pagans. There's cash for the tall, the short, the fat and the determinedly nonathletic.

Would-be college kids with extremely specific skills, talents or qualifications can find scholar dollars, and it seems that the crazier your interest, the better chance you have!

Here's a look at some of the quirky, odd and specialized virtues that will be rewarded with college cash, chosen by publisher Dr. Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of FinAid.com, and Baird Johnson, vice president of FastWeb.com, two leading Web sites free to students looking for ways to finance their educations.

You can cash in if you:

Look Ducky at the Prom. The makers of Duck Tape brand duct tape hand out cash to the best-dressed couple at a high school prom -- if they're wearing duct tape costumes or accessories. Originality and workmanship are taken into account, and even the students' school can pocket a $2,500 prize. Send a picture.

Communicate with the other side. Ghost hunters and others with interest in the paranormal can spirit one of several scholarships away from the sponsors, the New York-based Parapsychology Foundation. The authors of the right study of the spooky or the creator of a paper on anything from life after death to telepathic spying can qualify.

Want to go where no man has gone before. You might need to speak Klingon. "Star Trek" fans know the warrior Klingon aliens speak in a guttural, spitting and barking manner, but the Klingon Language Institute's scholarship was not claimed last year despite the fact that the institute's motto is "Language opens worlds." (In Klingon that's: "qo'mey poSmoH Hol." You need not even speak Klingon, but you must be a language student and be creative. Value: $500, in Earth money.

Are short, tall or obese. The Little People of America (4-feet, 10-inches or shorter); Tall Clubs International (women 5-feet, 10-inches or better, men over 6-feet, 2-inches) and the New England chapter of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance all offer college funds for suitably-qualified candidates. A short essay on being tall can pick up a fat check of $1,000.

Are artistically spaced-out. The SPAACSE (Society of Performers, Artists, Athletes and Celebrities for Space Exploration) Scholarships offer $1,000 cash to high school seniors interested in space music and space art works. You must keep the art three-dimensional, though.

Wear milk mustaches. Got milk money? Twenty-five SAMMY (Scholar Athlete Milk Mustache of the Year) awards of $7,500 go to graduating high school seniors who are the cream of their class. Skim the whymilk.com site to see winners with their milk mustaches.

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Throw southpaw. On the other hand, left-handed students enrolled at Pennsylvania's Juniata College can apply for the Frederick and Mary F. Beckley Scholarship, to palm a $1,000 handout.

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