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Unique Scholarships for
College Students Unusual Scholarships & Awards You Didn’t Know Existed

There are countless scholarships out there designed to reward athleticism, a high GPA, or community engagement, but what about all the students who do not fall into these categories? Are they supposed to work through college without financial support? Of course not! Here’s your chance to finally cash in on the quirky, weird, and unique traits that make you your own person: someone who is entirely their own. Stressed about finding these scholarships? Not to worry, because we’ve already done the work for you and gathered the top unique and unusual scholarships for the 2018-2019 schoolyear. Check below and apply for your funding today.

Meet the Experts

Abril Hunt Manager of Outreach & Financial Literacy for ECMC

Written By:

Wacky Scholarship Spotlight

So what does a wacky scholarship look like, and what makes it so unique? Well, these scholarships seek to reward unique student traits that may have otherwise gone overlooked. Check below for a few examples of strange scholarships that have been popular over the last few years.

Want to look so fresh for prom that you can’t unstick yourself from your date? The Duck Brand Duct Tape Stuck at Prom Contest has your name on it.

Amount: $100 runner up; $10,000 grand prize

They call it paranoia; you call it being prepared. Anyone who’s eager to fight off the living dead should jump at this Zombie Apocalypse Scholarship – if your doomsday bunker has internet, that is.

Amount: $2,000

Geppetto has nothing on you. Calling all puppet and marionette enthusiasts: the UNIMA (Union Internationale de la Marionnette-USA) Scholarship

Amount: $1,000

Looking to extend your research into the realm of the paranormal? Land the Parapsychological Association Research Endowment endowment and you could be a parapsychology expert in no time.

Amount: $2,000-$5,000

If April is the cruelest month, then why can’t May be the coolest? Write a letter addressed to the number five each May with the Fifth Month Scholarship, just to remind it how much you care.

Amount: $1,500

34 Unique Scholarships to Help Pay for School

Are you an amateur ice sculptor or a potato enthusiast? Or do you maybe enjoy writing musical theater numbers, or learning about Romani lore in your free time? Below is our full compiled list of 34 different scholarship programs that can earn you money based on your personal interests. So put down your Magic: The Gathering cards and turn off Star Trek, because it’s time to put some money in your pocket.

Amount $500-$2,500
Deadline Early March and Early September

In hopes of garnering young applicants into the field of funeral and mortuary sciences, the American Board of Funeral Service Education has put together this scholarship program for four undergraduate students and two graduate students. Applicants must have completed at least one full semester of coursework focusing in funeral and mortuary sciences to be eligible.

Amount Up to $2,000
Deadline Late August

This scholarship is available to students who are brand new to college, as well as students who may be returning to college after some time away from school. Ten prizes are awarded for selected students with the goal of increasing awareness for the automatic fire sprinkler and the benefits it provides.

Amount $2,000
Deadline Mid-April

With up to ten scholarships available per year, the Asparagus Club offers funding to any student interested in pursuing an education in a field related to the grocery industry. Applicants must be full-time students and maintain a GPA of 2.5 or higher.

Amount $1,000
Deadline Early March

Exceptionally tall students living in the central Arizona territory may be eligible to apply for this unique scholarship. To be allowed to apply, students must be a member of the Central Arizona Tall Society (C.A.T.S.), an honor that comes with meeting specified height requirements.

Amount $2,000
Deadline Late November

For nearly 40 years, the Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest has awarded high school students who are able to call ducks. Funding is applicable to any field of learning available at 32 participating colleges. Applicants must be able to exhibit skill in hail, feed, comeback, and mating calls.

Amount Varies
Deadline Early June

For nearly 30 years, the Collegiate Inventors Competition (CIC) has been providing funding for young inventors from more than 180 different countries. Have a great, innovative idea? Build and submit your invention and you could be one of the next students to be rewarded for their imagination and ingenuity.

Amount $10,000
Deadline Early March

This contest is designed to give high school and collegiate-level students the opportunity to flex their creativity and design an original greeting card. All artwork must be original and can include photography and graphic design. Non-winning greeting cards may still be selected for publishing, in which case the artist will be compensated.

Amount $500
Deadline Early July

Debt.com seeks to encourage students to apply for as many scholarships as they are able. With the goal of reducing overall student debt, this program provides students with additional funds based on how many other scholarships they have applied for. If you’re able to rack up enough scholarships, you may be able to add this funding in as a nice bonus.

Amount $30,000 college scholarship and $50,000 tech package for the winner’s school or non-profit organization
Deadline Early March

In addition to receiving a monetary prize, the national winner of the Doodle 4 Google Scholarship program will also have their artwork exhibited as Google’s daily featured logo design. Applicants will be organized into five groups: K-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, and 10-12. Applicants should be able to demonstrate artistic skill, creativity, and an ability to communicate the theme of the contest.

Amount $500
Deadline Early May

Looking to reconnect with your Amish roots while also making a bit of money for your schooling? The DutchCrafters Amish Furniture Heritage Scholarship is designed for students with Amish ancestry studying in any academic field. Students will be required to write a short essay discussing how their heritage has played a role in shaping their future aspirations.

Amount $2,000
Deadline Early July

This scholarship, named in honor of the late medium and parapsychologist Eileen J. Garret, provides funding for students who are interested in studying in the field of parapsychology. In addition to providing a writing sample explaining prior interest in parapsychological studies, students will also be required to submit three letters of recommendation.

Amount $250
Deadline Varies

A scholarship truly designed for the rest of us, the Festivus Scholarship is available to anyone who is no longer in school and has a strong foundation in common knowledge. Turn your normally useless collection of fun facts into cash with this quirky biannual quiz contest.

Amount Varies
Deadline Late January

High school music students can diversify their skill set with this scholarship program, designed specifically to transform young musicians into aircraft pilots. Students who are interested in spreading their wings will be required to receive a nomination from their high school music instructor. Students must be 16 years of age or older and exhibit a passion for both music and aviation.

Amount $2,500
Deadline Mid December

The debate regarding homeownership differences between the Boomer and Millennial generations has been a hot point for discussion recently. This scholarship allows students to express their opinions on their controversial matter by discussing the pros and cons of renting versus buying a home. Essays are required to be a minimum of 800 words.

Amount $5,000
Deadline Late March

The Gamers Helping Gamers program disperses up to two non-renewable scholarships annually for students who enjoy playing Magic: The Gathering. Applicants will be required to submit a written statement discussing their favorite and least favorite Magic cards, as well as the reasons they feel Magic: The Gathering can teach lessons that are applicable to the real world.

Amount $1,000
Deadline Late May and Late December

Offered in both the spring and fall semesters, this scholarship program is working with students to raise awareness for how dangerous distracted driving can be. Applicants will be required to develop some kind of advertisement discussing this issue, whether it be a commercial, PSA, or billboard design.

Amount $500-$1,500
Deadline TBA

Proper lighting can make all the difference in the visual appeal of any setting. The Illuminating Engineering Society Scholarship is specialized for students who exhibit an interest in the science of lighting and illumination. Applicants will be expected to be pursuing an academic program that lines up with the art of illumination, including engineering, interior design, or architecture.

Amount Varies
Deadline Early July

This contest gives students the chance to discuss the importance of intellectual properties, including patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. The contest is broken into age groups, ranging from 13-15, 16-18, and 19+. Applicants will submit a 60 second video demonstrating the importance of intellectual property and the positive effects it has had on the world.

Amount $2,000
Deadline Late June

Having the ability allows the individual to have a say how the big picture plays out. Unfortunately, thousands of people every year neglect their civic duty to cast their votes. Students who run their own online voter registration drive through dosomething.org will be entered to win some cash for their schooling.

Amount $2,500
Deadline Mid-October

Graduate students who are interested in pursuing a specialization in X-ray crystallography may be interested in this scholarship. Named in honor of renowned scientist Ludo Frevel, this scholarship seeks to bolster interest in the study of X-ray diffraction and how it applies to fields such as biology, chemistry, and material science.

Amount $1,500
Deadline Late August

This stress-free scholarship only requires one thing from applicants: submission of a story (250 words or less) detailing a funny or embarrassing incident you have experienced in your life. If you can make the folks at Unigo laugh, you may just walk away with a bit more money in your wallet.

Amount $500
Deadline Late October

Students who are interested in Gypsy or Romani history may be able to achieve two goals with this program: receive funding towards their academics and have their work published in the journal Romani Studies. Students will submit a paper between 30 and 40 pages discussing any topic relevant to either Gypsy or Romani studies. Applicants can be in their undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral level of learning.

Amount $2,000
Deadline Mid-November

Everything looks more interesting when seen underwater. Sponsored by the Women Divers Hall of Fame, the Morgan/O’Neill Underwater Photography Grant is awarded to female photographers interested in the unique and beautiful art of underwater photography. Applicants must have diving experience to be eligible for funding.

Amount $10,000
Deadline Mid-June

Interested in conducting research that applies to everyone’s favorite starch? The National Potato Council provides annual funding to graduate research students who exhibit both leadership qualities and overall academic prowess. Awards are typically dispersed in August of each year and is applicable to both fall and spring semesters.

Amount $500
Deadline Late December

While this scholarship is geared towards students studying in fields such as marketing, communications, or health science, the real crowd PeakPicker is looking to recognize are darts aficionados. Applicants will write a 1,000-word minimum essay discussing the, “Future of Darts Board Games.” Earn yourself some money while supporting everyone’s second favorite barroom pastime.

Amount $1,500
Deadline Late September

Shout It Out gives students the opportunity to express thoughts and opinions that may otherwise go unspoken. With the prompt, “If you could say one thing to the entire world at once, what would it be and why?”, students are given the opportunity to think deeply about how their messages can affect others. Applicants must be 13 years or older and must be a resident of a US state or territory.

Amount Up to $1,000
Deadline Mid-June

Trekkies need help paying for college, too, you know? STARFLEET seeks to reward avid Star Trek fans for their enthusiasm, providing students who have been STARFLEET members for over one year with the chance to earn some extra cash towards their degree. Most STARFLEET scholarships require students to be studying in a specific field, but a miscellaneous scholarship is also available to those who do not fall into these categories.

Amount Up to $1,000
Deadline Early March

Students of above-average height may be able to benefit from the Tall Clubs International Student Scholarship. This particular scholarship is geared towards students that are under 21 years old and meet or exceed certain height specifications (5’10’’ for women and 6’2’’ for men). Applicants must be entering their first semester of college-level coursework.

Amount $1,000-$15,000
Deadline Early December

Named in honor of the “father of amateur golf”, the Francis Ouimet Scholarship fund disperses need-based financial assistance packages annually to students working in the golf industry. Applicants must have at least two years’ experience working as caddies, course attendants, or pro shop employees. This scholarship is renewable up to four years.

Amount $1,000-$2,000
Deadline Early December

This scholarship is provided through the United States Postal Service, and seeks to honor Rita Lloyd Moroney, who served as U.S. Postal Service Historian for nearly twenty years. Prizes for this scholarship come in both Junior and Senior packages, and each seeks to reward students for their knowledge of the U.S. Postal Service. Submissions will discuss the postal history and may be in the form of articles, papers or book chapters.

Amount $1,500
Deadline Late July

Many people agree that ice cream is one of the best desserts, but how might they go about describing themselves as an ice cream flavor? This scholarship requires a 250-word description explaining which ice cream flavor the applicant most closely relates with and why they chose this flavor.

Amount $33,000 per year
Deadline Early November

Grab your red hunting hat and keep your eye out for phonies. This writing award is looking for creative writing students who are able to channel their inner Salinger. In addition to a cash monetary prize towards their college expenses, the winner will also be given the privilege of living in J.D. Salinger’s own dorm room for one academic school year.

Amount $5,000 or $10,000
Deadline Late February

The Vegetarian Resource Group awards $20,000 annually—varying in prize amounts—to high school students who are practicing vegetarians or vegans. Qualities of a competitive applicant include empathy, a commitment to one’s personal beliefs, and a resolve to promote peaceful living.

Amount Varies
Deadline Early March

Are you a Catholic student attending Loyola University in Chicago who happens to have the last name of Zolp? If so, this scholarship will be a perfect opportunity for you to earn some extra funding for your academics. Applicants must provide proof of surname as well as Catholic faith.

How to Improve Your Chances of Landing a Weird Scholarship

While it’s good to have a selection of scholarships to choose from, it can also be beneficial to hear from qualified individuals working in the financial aid field. We interviewed Abril Hunt, a financial aid expert, to get some tips on how students can give themselves the best shot at receiving academic funding.

1. Don’t Be Deterred by Typical Scholarship Requirements

This is your time to shine! Yes, many scholarships focus on funding individuals who exhibit specific talents or academic prowess, or are geared towards students who are in need of funding, but that shouldn’t prevent you from applying for financial backing. “For example, it’s not uncommon to see scholarships targeted to recent high school graduates,” says expert Abril Hunt. “However, it’s important to note that recent high school graduates only represent about 15% of all college students… “weird” scholarships are great for everyone involved!”

The benefit of these unique scholarships is that without strict GPA requirements, meeting the minimum application requirements can be a bit easier. “Scholarships are free money,” says Hunt. “If you meet the basic eligibility requirements, go for it…Even if it’s for a small amount, say $500, and you spend three hours completing the application, you were just paid $166/hr for your efforts.”

While we’ve put in a lot of work to find some unique scholarships for our students, we also recognize that you may not fall into niches found on this list. Fear not, because you still have plenty of options. “I start all the students I work with out on Google,” says Hunt. “I have them write down personal interests, clothing brands, foods, companies, hobbies, talents, or skills and then add the word scholarship to their search. In my 20+ years of higher education experience, I’ve seen some really cool scholarships appear.”

The beauty of unique scholarships is in their flexibility and low applicant pool. Hunt says, “It’s also important to remember that lesser known means less competition. Would you rather have a one in a thousand odds or one in a hundred?” The fact that there are fewer students applying for these financial opportunities puts you in the unique position to try for scholarship that might not entirely match your interests or experience. “When I was in school,” Hunt continues, “I received a scholarship from the American Quarter Horse Association, and I didn’t even own a horse!”

Just because these scholarships are quirky doesn’t mean some of them might be too good to be true, and it’s important to keep your eye out for red flags. “If a request for money is made by phone, the operation is probably fraudulent. Beware of telephone numbers with a 900 area code. A dishonest operation might put pressure on an applicant by saying that awards are on a first-come, first served basis. Fraudulent operations may also claim endorsements by groups with names similar to well-known private or government organizations. For instance, the Better Business Bureau and government agencies do not endorse businesses.”

Students who are applying for unique scholarships may also be receiving some other forms of financial coverage provided directly through their school. Outside scholarships can affect this funding, so it’s important to stay in touch with your school’s financial aid office. Hunt says, “A school cannot refuse outside resources. They do, however, have to account for scholarships in the student’s total financial aid package. So, if a student brings in several outside scholarships, and their aid exceeds their cost of attendance, a student might see a reduction in non-need-based aid like unsubsidized loans.”

Other Scholarships for College Students

Looking for other scholarship options? We’ve compiled lists just like this one for a wide variety of student populations. Check below and you’ll find some scholarship lists that may help you to score a few more dollars.