College tuition more than doubled between 1985-2018, accounting for inflation. This price increase drove degree-seekers to take out approximately $1.5 trillion in federal and private student loans. Loans present many financial disadvantages for college graduates, so prospective and current college students should explore alternative financial aid options.
The internet provides access to numerous scholarships for college, including unique scholarships. These financial aid opportunities cater to degree-seekers with specific interests and talents. The following sections detail just a few of these unusual scholarships, links to the sponsoring organizations’ websites, and tips for obtaining as many scholarships as possible.
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Scholarships to Help Pay for School
American Board of Funeral Service Education National Scholarship Program
Who Can Apply: The ABFSE National Scholarship Program awards five scholarships to learners majoring in mortuary science or funeral service. Application materials include official transcripts and two recommendation letters. Only U.S. citizens may apply. Interested students apply online by the March 1 or September 1 deadline. The ABFSE awards funding for the following semester.
American Fire Sprinkler Association Scholarship
Who Can Apply: The AFSA Scholarship targets high school seniors applying to college and nontraditional learners returning to school. The scholarship does not consider GPA, financial need, demographics, or recommendation letters. Instead, a computer program selects winners at random. AFSA uses an April 1 and September 1 application deadline and announces winners shortly after.
Central Arizona Tall Society Tall Club Scholarship Program
Who Can Apply: Arizona high school seniors planning to attend college in the fall can apply to the C.A.T.S. Tall Club Scholarship Program. The scholarship restricts applicants to men at least 6’2″ and women at least 5’10” in height. Application materials include an essay, two recommendation letters, and a photograph submitted by the March 1 deadline.
Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest
Who Can Apply: The Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest awards funding to high school seniors talented in duck calling. The annual competition takes place at the Stuttgart Chamber of Commerce in Stuttgart, Arkansas. Scholarship recipients may use the award to pay for tuition or education-related expenses at any U.S. institution.
Create-A-Greeting-Card Scholarship Contest
Who Can Apply: High school and college students with a talent for greeting card design and writing apply to this competitive scholarship. A public vote determines finalists before the scholarship committee reviews the remaining submissions’ aesthetics, quality, and creativity. The scholarship uses a March application deadline and announces the recipient in early May.
Debt.com Scholarship for Aggressive Scholarship Applicants
Who Can Apply: Debt.com rewards degree-seekers who apply for multiple scholarships for college with this unique opportunity. Required materials include other scholarships’ application confirmation emails and a 500-word essay. Applicants with more confirmation emails possess an advantage during consideration. Debt.com accepts applications six times annually and announces recipients 10 days after an application window closes.
DutchCrafters Amish Furniture Heritage Scholarship
Who Can Apply: The DutchCrafters Amish Furniture Scholarship recognizes high school seniors and college students with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Other application requirements include submitting the FAFSA, and U.S. citizenship or legal residency. Learners whose parent or spouse works for JMX Brands do not qualify. Students apply March 1 – May 1.
Who Can Apply: Foreclosure.com supports the next generation of real estate professionals with this annual scholarship. Applicants submit an 800- to 2,500-word essay on the COVID-19 pandemic’s short- and long-term impact on the U.S. housing market. Enrolled college students must apply by December 15 and may major in any academic subject.
Gamers Helping Gamers Scholarship
Who Can Apply: College students with a passion for Magic: The Gathering apply to the Gamers Helping Gamers Scholarship. Application requirements include FAFSA results, official transcripts, a personal statement, and an essay detailing applicants’ interest in the game. The scholarship uses a March 31 application deadline and does not renew.
Getting Real About Distracted Driving Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Unlike other scholarships for college, this scholarship asks prospective and current college students to create a humorous safe driving advertisement. Acceptable advertisements may include a commercial, poster, or mock radio ad. The scholarship committee does not consider applicants’ GPA or financial need and accepts applications until December 31.
How to Improve Your Chances of Landing an Unusual Scholarship
Applying for unusual scholarships starts with researching the latest college scholarships and determining how they affect eligibility for other financial aid programs. The following sections describe just a few ways learners obtain scholarships for college.
- Don’t Be Deterred by Typical Scholarship Requirements
- Learners should not disregard any scholarships for college just because of not meeting every application requirement. Some awards do not receive enough applications, so the scholarship committee may consider “unqualified” applicants. In other cases, candidates not meeting all criteria may impress a scholarship committee with their essay or recommendation letters.
- Know How To Search
- Finding unique scholarships requires researching sponsors, such as companies and organizations awarding scholarships aligned with their industry, product, or service. Other avenues include researching clubs, hobby groups, and honor societies. Their application requirements may involve joining the organization and meeting a high school or undergraduate GPA cutoff.
- Consider Applying for Scholarships That Don’t Match Your Skills
- Some college student scholarships limit applications to candidates with a unique interest or talent. However, these awards may consider degree-seekers not highly skilled in that area. Applicants should demonstrate interest in their essay, such as describing how they only recently started learning the skill, but plan to continue honing it.
- Make Sure You Align Scholarships with Financial Aid
- Scholarships for college may affect institutional financial aid. When researching unique scholarships, learners should explore their school’s financial aid policies and contact advisors with questions. Other steps include examining scholarships’ stipulations for recipients, such as maintaining a satisfactory GPA for renewal purposes. Determine whether aid goes to the recipient or the school.
Other Scholarships for College Students
Thomas Broderick is a freelance writer and the owner of Broderick Writer LLC. He creates study guides, informational websites, and blog posts for clients in the education field. Thomas is also a published author of over 20 short stories and a member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.
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