When most of us think of college scholarships, we imagine a sum of money awarded to students for academic achievement or athletic prowess. But some scholarships are awarded for far quirkier reasons — and you may even qualify for some with a little digging.
While not all options will work for every type of student, these odd scholarships are still worth exploring if you need some college cash.
14 weird college scholarships you may qualify for
1. Look fabulous at the prom
The makers of Duck 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. To apply, you have to fashion a prom outfit using Duck brand duct tape or the company’s crafting tape, then take a picture. From there, you can fill out an entry form and submit your photo.
Amount: $10,000 for the grand prize, $500 for runners-up
Deadline: June 9
2. Show an interest in psychic phenomena and paranormal claims
The annual Eileen J. Garrett Scholarship is geared toward students who study parapsychology, which includes the study of psychic and paranormal activity. This scholarship is worth $2,000 and requires a writing sample on the subject matter, an academic transcript, a letter stating what the student hopes to accomplish and three letters of recommendation. A previous scholarship winner wrote her dissertation on near-death experiences, so feel free to apply if you’re interested in the extraordinary.
Deadline: July 1
3. Doodle a killer Google homepage
The Doodle for Google scholarship allows students to create a Google homepage that will be judged by an expert panel. Prizes include $30,000 in scholarship money for the winner and a $50,000 tech package for the winner’s school. Additional prizes include Google hardware and swag.
Amount: $30,000 for the national winner and $5,000 for national finalists
Deadline: March 5
4. Celebrate being short
Little People of America offers college scholarships to people who are on the shorter side (usually 4 feet, 10 inches or shorter). You’ll have the best chance of qualifying if you’re a member of LPA and you or an immediate family member have a medically diagnosed form of dwarfism. Awards can range from $250 to $1,000 or more.
Amount: $250 to $1,000
Deadline: May 31
5. Celebrate being tall
Tall Clubs International awards college scholarships for tall people — in other words, women who are taller than 5 feet, 10 inches and men who are taller than 6 feet, 2 inches. Scholarships are worth up to $1,000 each, and multiple awards are given each year.
Deadline: March 1
6. Stop eating animals
The Vegetarian Resource Group offers two $5,000 scholarships and one $10,000 scholarship each year for college students who don’t eat animals. Applicants are judged on their compassion and dedication to the vegetarian or vegan cause.
Amount: $10,000 for the first prize, $5,000 for two runners-up
Deadline: February 20
7. Pursue health and fitness
If you’re pursuing a career in health and fitness, you can apply for the Michael Moody Fitness Scholarship. Requirements include excellent academic performance and participation in school and work activities.
Deadline: August 1
8. Apply for other scholarships
Debt.com offers a $500 scholarship for … applying to scholarships. All you have to do is apply for as many other scholarships as you can, then compile the application emails and write a short essay about yourself. The website hands out multiple scholarships throughout the year, and a new winner is chosen every two months.
Deadline: April 30
9. Live long and prosper
STARFLEET members can apply for an array of scholarships, provided they’ve been a member of this “Star Trek” fan organization for more than a year. Students studying engineering, technology, writing, business, arts and more are eligible for this scholarship. Awards are worth up to $1,000 each depending on the scholarships you apply for.
Amount: Up to $1,000
Deadline: June 15
10. Write about homeownership
Foreclosure.com offers a scholarship for students willing to write an essay on a topic relating to homeownership. For 2021, the essay topic is the impact of COVID-19 on foreclosures in the U.S. housing market. The essay must be 800 to 2,000 words long.
Amount: $2,500 for the first prize, $500 for runners-up
Deadline: December 15
11. Dive deep into Magic: The Gathering
Gamers Helping Gamers offers a scholarship for Magic: The Gathering enthusiasts. This scholarship requires you to write an essay on a Magic: The Gathering-related topic, and you’ll also need to submit your FAFSA form and a high school transcript. Only undergraduate students and U.S. residents are eligible, and the award amount may vary.
Deadline: March 31
12. Look into grocery
Planning a career in the grocery industry? If so, you may want to check out all the available scholarships from the National Grocers Association (NGA). Multiple scholarships are available, some of which are awarded to more than one student or for multiple semesters. For example, Asparagus Club Scholarships are available annually for up to four semesters each.
Deadline: April 1
13. Support the potato industry
The National Potato Council offers a scholarship worth $10,000. Applicants need to be pursuing graduate-level education and research that aims to benefit the potato industry. Academic achievement and extracurricular activities are considered, but the main qualification requirement is a dedication to potatoes as a staple food.
Deadline: June 15
14. Show off your sense of humor
If you have a hilarious or embarrassing story, it’s time to share it with the world — and get some money out of it. Unigo offers a $1,500 scholarship for the student with the funniest story, either real or fake. The story must be written in 250 words or less and submitted in English. Students must be at least 14 years old to apply. You must also be either currently enrolled in college or planing to enroll by the fall of 2026.
Deadline: August 31
Other ways to get financing for college
Paying for college may seem like an insurmountable task, but there are a lot of resources available to make the process easier. Here are some strategies to consider as you plot out your next steps:
- Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. This form helps state and federal agencies determine the aid you may qualify for, which can even include grants. You also need to fill out a FAFSA form to apply for federal student loans, which come with fixed interest rates and benefits like deferment, forbearance and income-driven repayment plans.
- Look into work-study jobs. There are a variety of work-study programs available, which can help you pay for school as you go if you’re willing to work part time. You’ll need to fill out the FAFSA form to see which work-study opportunities are available for the college you’ve chosen.
- Take out private student loans. While federal student loans are usually the best place to start after taking any scholarships or grants into account, many students fill the gap with private student loans. Student loans from a private lender can come with incredibly low interest rates if you have good or excellent credit or a co-signer, so they’re worth exploring.