When most of us think of college scholarships, we picture those awarded to students for academic achievement or athletic prowess. However, there are plenty of unusual scholarships out there as well, and you could qualify for them if you do a little digging and meet some interesting criteria. While not all quirky scholarships will work for every type of student, off-the-wall options are still worth exploring if you need some college cash.
13 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 Tape or the company’s crafting tape, then take a picture. From there, you can fill out an entry form and submit your photo. The grand prize for a dress or tux is $10,000 each, and the runner-up in each category can win $500. You can learn more on the Duck Brand website.
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 it requires a sample of writing 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. You can learn about the scholarship here.
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. You can read more or apply here.
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. You can apply for this scholarship on the Little People of America website.
5. Celebrate being tall
Conversely, Tall Clubs International awards college scholarships for people who are considered unusually tall, which starts at 5 feet, 10 inches for women and 6 feet, 2 inches for men. Scholarships are worth up to $1,000 each, and multiple awards are given each year. You can learn more about how to apply on the Tall Clubs International website.
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. You can download an application form and learn more about how to apply by heading to this page.
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. This scholarship is worth $1,500, and you can learn more on the Michael Moody Fitness website.
8. Apply for other scholarships
Debt.com wants to reward you for trying to win scholarships, and it’ll give you $500 for simply applying for more scholarships elsewhere. It hands out this scholarship throughout the year, with a new winner chosen every two months. 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. You can learn more about the process on the Debt.com website.
9. Live long and prosper
STARFLEET members can apply for an array of scholarships, provided they have been a member for more than a year. Awards are worth up to $1,000 each depending on the scholarships you apply for. Students studying engineering, technology, writing, business, arts and more are eligible. You can learn more about these scholarships on the STARFLEET website.
10. Write about homeownership
Foreclosure.com offers a scholarship for students who are willing to write an essay on a topic relating to homeownership. The top award is for $2,500, but runners-up can win scholarships worth $500. The essay must be 800 to 2,000 words and written in English. You can read over additional rules and apply online at Foreclosure.com.
11. Dive deep into Magic: The Gathering
Gamers Helping Gamers offers a scholarship for students who love and play Magic: The Gathering. This scholarship requires you to write an essay on a Magic: The Gathering topic, and you’ll also need to submit your FAFSA form and a high school transcript. This scholarship is only for undergraduate students and U.S. residents, and the award amount may vary. You can read more about it on the Gamers Helping Gamers website.
12. Look into grocery
Planning a career in the grocery industry? If so, you may want to check out all of 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 each for up to four semesters. Learn more on the NGA Foundation website.
13. Support the potato industry
The National Potato Council offers a scholarship worth $10,000. Students who want to apply 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. The National Potato Council offers more information on its website.
Other ways to get financing for college
Paying for college may seem like an impossible task, but there are a lot of resources you can access to help. Here are other strategies to consider as you plot out your next steps:
- Fill out a FAFSA form. The first step you should take is filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or a 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 federal 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, provided 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 you take 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.