You may have thought that scholarships were only for those who had great grades or were top athletes. Well, think again! There are a lot of organizations willing to give you some college cash in recognition of your interesting habits, unusual attributes, or willingness to do something a little bit quirky!
Here's a complete collection of the best weird, unusual scholarships we could find. The good news is they're often a lot easier to apply to than other scholarships.
Why Do These Weird Scholarships Exist?
These scholarships mostly come from three main sources:
Special Interest Groups and Clubs
These organizations are very passionate about certain topics—like agriculture or the Klingon language—and they love to see students who share those passions. By offering these crazy scholarships, they're encouraging students to actively stay involved in these areas of interest.
People Who Want to Help People Just Like Them
You'll notice a number of unique scholarships based on last name or physical features. These tend to be from people or groups who feel they are special for some reason, and want to share the wealth with others who are lucky enough to have the same trait.
Quirky Companies Out for a Laugh
Some of the most unusual scholarships are from companies that are just looking to have a good time, and they want to share the love with students who get their sense of humor and are willing to do something a little daring.
So even if you didn't think you were the scholarship-winning type of student, remember that there are scholarship opportunities out there for almost anyone, including...
Scholarships for People With Interesting Physical Attributes
This scholarship is awarded to a natural red-head who is a junior or senior in high school with a GPA of 2.5+. You have to submit two photos to prove the authenticity of your gingery locks, and also create a creative piece—can be an essay, picture, or video, that tells what it means to you to be a red head.
The deadline this year is April 4th, and the prize is a one-time award of $500.
The Tall Club Scholarship is awarded to exceptionally tall high school seniors. If you are female and over 5'10", or male and over 6'2", this scholarship could be for you! Apply through your local Tall Club (there are 53 branches nationwide). You'll have to provide transcripts and test scores, letters of recommendation, details about extracurricular activities and awards, a photo and an essay. Awards vary by chapter but are up to $1,000. The deadline is March 1.
If you're left-handed, you're in luck! The Frederick and Mary F. Beckley Scholarship from Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania is for you. The college selects a left-handed student with a top academic record to receive the award which ranges from $1,000-$1,500. Grades and financial circumstance are also taken into consideration.
Scholarships for People Who Have Prepared for the End of the World (or Want to Save the World)
If you've spent time thinking over how you would fare if the world were overrun by the walking dead, then the Zombie Apocalypse Scholarship is for you! Students aged 13 and older can apply by writing a 250 word essay about what would happen if their school were overrun by zombies.
The deadline is October 31, and the award is $2,000.
The Superpower Scholarship awards $2,500 to a student who, in 250 words or less, best answers the question, "Which superhero or villain would you want to change places with for a day and why?" You have to be 13 years of age or older to apply. The deadline is March 31st.
Scholarships for People Who…Sound Like a Duck
High school seniors are eligible to compete for this scholarship in Stuttgart, Arkansas every fall. The student best able to woo ducks will be awarded $2,000. There are also prizes for second place ($1,000), third place ($750), and fourth place ($500). The competition is usually at the end of November, though a 2020 date has not been announced yet.
Scholarships for People Who Love Sweets, or Want to Be Sweets
College sophomores, juniors, and seniors who love candy so much that they want to study it should apply for this scholarship. You'll need to be majoring in food, chemistry, or biological sciences with a GPA of 3.0 or higher and have shown an interest in candy technology through a project or research.
One student will win a scholarship of $5,000. The deadline is in April.
The Flavor of the Month Scholarship is open to students aged 13+ who write a 250-word essay that answers the question, "If you were an ice cream flavor, which would you be and why?"
The prize is $1,500 and the deadline is July 31st.
Scholarships for People Who REALLY Love Star Trek
Trekkies are in luck when looking for college funding. The Starfleet Scholarship Program awards up to $1,000 scholarships to students (senior year of high school or above) who have been Starfleet members for at least a year prior to applying. Applications are open January 1st to June 30th of each year.
If you are a Trekkie and a language lover, you are even more in luck. Students majoring in a foreign language can receive scholarships from the Klingon Language Institute for showing a love of international languages. You do not need to know Klingon to qualify. Awards are $500 and the deadline is in June.
Scholarships for People Who Have a Lucky Last Name
This scholarship at North Carolina State University awards $10,000 to in-state students and $15,000 to out-of-state students who are lucky enough to be born with the last name "Gatling" or "Gatlin". You need to be able to show proof that you were born with the name, and the application is turned it at the same time you apply for financial aid. The next application deadline is February 15th.
This scholarship gives students attending Harvard and who have the last name "Downer" a chance to get some money. Preference is given to students from Vermont and who are descendants of Harvard graduates of the class of 1889. Award amount and submission date varies.
The Leavenworth Scholarship at Hamilton College in New York is for—you guessed it—students with the last name "Leavenworth." The award amount isn't specified, and applications are accepted through the school.
This competition awards $1,500 every two years to a student who can prove they are related to the Van Valkenburg family who immigrated to the USA from the Netherlands in 1644. The last name can have slight variations, but you'll have to be able to prove the lineage. Applicants must write a 500 word essay about what the family heritage means to you. The award can be used at any university, and the deadline is March 1st.
Catholic students attending Loyola University Chicago with the last name Zolp are in for a treat—they are eligible to win money if they file their birth certificate along with their applications. Award amount varies depending on availability of funds and the number of applicants. The deadline is March 1st.
Scholarships for People Who Have a Sense of Humor About Fashion
The Stuck at Prom contest rewards students who create entire prom outfits from Duck Tape, and then wear them to a school-organized prom. Applicants must submit photos of their handiwork—which is usually quite impressive! One student in each category, dress or tux, gets a full scholarship for themselves, plus one individual grand prize winner gets a bonus. Every year there are 21 winners. Keep in mind that this contest is not open to students in Maryland, Quebec, Vermont, or Colorado. First place is $10,000 and 8 runners up get $500. The individual bonus is $500. The contest period ends June 8th.
Scholarships for People Who Are Hard-Core Gamers
This scholarship is for fans of Magic: The Gathering. High school applicants must write four essays about how Magic has influenced them, how to improve the game, and what their academic and career goals are. Up to two awards of $5,000 will be given, and applications are due on March 31st.
Scholarships for People Who Are Lazy and Sober
Do you stay away from drugs and alcohol? Do you also stay away from physical activity? If so, Bucknell University in Pennsylvania offers two endowed scholarships to students who fit that description and have also lived in Mount Carmel, PA for ten years and attended a Mount Carmel public high school. This scholarship is awarded by the scholarship committee after you've been admitted to Bucknell University.
Scholarships for People Who Love to Write Essays
If you want to get some practice writing essays on really long books, never fear! Short essays (of around 1,000 words on Ayn Rand's really long books can make you eligible to win some serious cash. Different topics are available depending on grade level, and awards vary. This year, the fund expects to give out over 230 prizes totaling $70,000. The deadline for this scholarship is April 29th.
Scholarships for People Who Hate to Write Essays
The No Essay Scholarship claims to be the easiest scholarship out there—no tedious essay writing here! College students (or prospective college students) simply need to enter their details online for a chance to win $2,000. A new winner is chosen every month, and you can re-apply as much as you like!
Scholarships for People Who Love Sprinklers
This scholarship is open to almost anyone willing to put in a bit of effort! High school seniors can fill out the application form for the scholarship. Ten randomly chosen winners will get $2,000 each in scholarship money. The deadline for this award is April 21st.
No longer a high school senior? No problem. Enter the second chance contest for college students, and five winners will be awarded $1,000 scholarships. This scholarship has been cancelled for 2021 due to COVID-19, but it will be available again in 2022.
Scholarships for People Who Are Gay Pilots
The National Gay Pilots Association gives LGBT students and allies who are interested in professional aviation a chance to help cover some college costs. Students should be at least 18 years old, have a private pilot license, have accomplishments in aviation, and have contributed to the LGBT community. Students must also be an NGPA member at the time of application. Scholarship amounts vary, and there are multiple submission windows throughout the year. The next deadline to apply for this award is October 31st.
Scholarships for People Who Are Passionate About Specific Kinds of Food
Students who are committed to promoting a peaceful world through a vegetarian lifestyle can win up to $10,000 for school from the Vegetarian Resource Group. You'll have to write an essay about your experience being vegetarian and promoting it within your community, and at least three letters of recommendation. One award of $10,000 will be given, as well as two $5,000 prizes. The deadline is February 20th.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Beef Industry Scholarship awards ten $1,500 scholarships every year to high school seniors or undergrads who are pursuing careers in the beef industry. You'll have to have demonstrated a commitment to the beef industry, write an essay about solving a problem in the beef industry, and have two letters of recommendation from professionals in the beef industry. And if your love affair with beef is long-lasting, you can re-apply every year!
The National Grocers Association awards this scholarship to college juniors and seniors who are pursuing careers in the grocery industry. Scholarships are $2,000 per semester and can be renewed for up to four semesters if a 2.5+ GPA is maintained. Five scholarships are awarded per year.
Scholarships for People Who Like to Make Others Laugh
This scholarship for you budding comedians out there. Students over the age of 13 can apply for a $1,500 scholarship by telling a funny or embarrassing story (real or made up) in 250 words or less that makes the judges laugh out loud. Deadline is November 30th.
Scholarships for People Who Love Golf But Don't Play It
If you are dedicated to the art of being a golf caddie, you are in luck. The Western Golf Association Evans Scholars Foundation gives out hundreds of full-ride scholarships to students who can show a record of successful and regular caddying throughout high school (spanning at least two years). You should also have strong academics and a good ACT score, and be able to demonstrate financial need. The scholarships are available at 18 colleges across the country that have scholarship houses—winners are expected to be active members in the house. Applications are due October 30th.
Scholarships for People Just Love Applying for Scholarships
Debt.com sponsors this scholarship. The main idea? They want to award students who have shown persistence and courage in applying for all the free college money that is out there. All you have to do is apply for loads of scholarships (past winners have applied for over 30 each—and don't worry, you don't have to win them!) and send copies of the submission receipts, along with a letter saying a bit about yourself, your goals, and how you felt doing all those applications. You can win $500. The best part? They choose a new winner every 2 months, so you have a lot of chances to try for this one!
Did you know that sometimes getting a scholarship is as easy as applying to your school of choice? Check out this list of schools that automatically offer scholarships based on grades and test scores.
Need a letter of recommendation for a scholarship? Here's how to get one.
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Mary Ann holds a BA in Classics and Russian from the University of Notre Dame, and an MA from University College London. She has years of tutoring experience and is also passionate about travel and learning languages.