When it comes to saving for college, scholarships are where it’s at. Some scholarships are significant (like a full-ride academic scholarship for being an amazing LaCrosse player or something) and others are less substantial, but as any parent paying for college will tell you, every little bit helps. With the rising cost of education, it’s a good idea to know about all the resources out there willing to fork over a few dollars to help you out.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but hopefully it will get your creative juices flowing, and you’ll start thinking outside the box when it comes to scholarships – and you’ll be ready when it’s time to apply. Also, keep in mind that different organizations hold their scholarship contests at different times of year, so not all of these are active right this moment, but most are offered every year.
For instance, there are several scholarships offered based on what type of person or student you are. Athletes aren’t the only ones who get free money. What are your interests? Make them work for you!
Scholarships Just for Being You
Some grants and scholarships you have to achieve, and others are offered just because of the things that make you yourself. These are just a few examples.
Having two X chromosomes
There was a time when women couldn’t go to college, or if they did, it was basically to become a nurse or a teacher. Now there are scholarships for women with all kinds of varying criteria, from being over 40, to a mother, or a Native American (or Asian American, Hispanic… you get the idea). Speaking of which, there are also quite a few scholarships for minorities of both genders out there.
Serving Your Country
If you’ve served in the military, or are currently serving, there is a long list of scholarship opportunities available to you. This includes scholarships for military spouses (your job is hard too!) other dependents, children of fallen patriots, orphans, veterans seeking specific educational goals, veterans of specific conflicts, and many more.
Did you know there’s a Little People of America scholarship for those of smaller stature? What if you’re a southpaw? Yep, there are scholarships for lefties too. Is there something else unique about you? Do some research, you never know what kind of tuition assistance is out there!
Scholarships for your accomplishments
These types of tuition assistance are based on your skills, talents, admirable activities and the like.
If you love to volunteer, serve the underserved, and work in your community, there may be assistance available for your education. The work itself is always rewarding, and as a bonus there are often scholarships available for doing it, such as the Jesse Brown Scholarship which honors volunteers who serve veterans. Or, The Heroes of the Heart Scholarship Awards Program, awarded each year to a student for extraordinary community service. These are just two on a long list.
Excellence in Prose
If you’re great with a pen (or a keyboard), and love to express yourself on paper, put that passion to work. There are a wide variety of essay scholarships out there, awarded to students whose essay answers stand out from the crowd. Greater Nevada offers one every year. My favorite is the “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” Seussville Scholarship (although it wasn’t offered this past year, but it may be again) because who doesn’t love Dr. Seuss? There are lots of others out there, with essay topics that run the gamut from relating a comedic story to writing a zombie apocalypse plan of action.
The niche scholarships
Quite a few scholarships are aimed at helping students achieve specific dreams. If you’re talented and pursuing a career in art, writing, dance, or a variety of other fields, there is probably someone out there willing to pay you to learn about it.
For many people, their faith is the most important part of their life (I’m one of those). Some may go to colleges specifically to learn more about theology, or may pursue another course of study at a religious-based institution. Whatever your goal, students of faith have scholarship opportunities too.
Love the environment? Passionate about recycling or just have a green thumb? There are grants and scholarships for you. You could win funds for excellent recycling or just helping spread the word.
The really really niche scholarships
Some scholarships are so weirdly specific in their criteria, you have to wonder why they exist. But they do exist!
If you’re an aspiring student, Duck Dynasty fan, and duck calling aficionado who is willing to travel to Stuttgart, Arkansas, you may be eligible for the $2,000 Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Scholarship. Okay, you don’t really have to be a Duck Dynasty fan; it just seems likely that you are.
If this one sounds a little out there, that’s because – well, it’s a little out there. This scholarship is offered by Duck Brand Duck tape. To win one of several scholarships (first prize is $10,000), contestants must attend prom wearing an entire outfit made of Duck Tape (although other accessories are permissible) and submit photos from prom night. Honestly, I could spend all day browsing the gallery of students’ amazing Duck Tape creations.
No, I’m not joking. Whatever you’re into, whether it’s Dairy, Beef, or Asparagus, there’s a scholarship for it! These aren’t as weird as they seem though and are usually directed to students studying agriculture or pursuing careers in specific industries. These can be pretty good chunks of change, too. For instance the National Potato Council Scholarship awards a $10,000 scholarship each year.
Being named Gatling or Zolp:
I told you these scholarships were weirdly specific. In this case, the John Gatling Grant Program offers funds to would-be students who want to attend North Carolina State University, and who were born with the last name of Gatling or Gatlin. Similarly, if you happen to be Catholic, have been accepted to Loyola State University, and have the last name of Zolp (by birth of course) you could win tuition. Other name-based opportunities exist, for Harvard folks named Baxendale, Hudson, Thayer, Downer or Bright, and descendants of Van Valkenburg.
A word of warning, though. If you intend to seek any of these out-there funding opportunities, do beware of scams. There are plenty of legitimately strange scholarships, but there are also companies that will try to scam you into paying a processing fee for their assistance in searching out and applying for tuition. Definitely pay a visit to your school of choice’s financial aid office, and make sure you do your own research on any scholarships you plan to apply for.