While you are probably aware of most of the biggest national scholarships, these opportunities are highly competitive. Scholarships are often merit-based, which means you need a special skill, talent, or academic or athletic ability to get them.
There are, however, many unusual scholarships that may not depend on grades or test scores at all. Many of these opportunities are less mainstream; therefore, you might have a better chance of getting them due to less competition.
Scholarships can range from a few hundred dollars in gift aid that you don’t have to pay back, all the way up to the full cost of your tuition. Scholarships are offered by:
- State and federal governments
- Colleges and universities
- Community organizations
- Charitable foundations
- Nonprofit agencies
- Private donors
You can often qualify for more than one scholarship at a time. Start your research early, and look far and wide for all of the opportunities that could exist. Large amounts of scholarship dollars go unclaimed every year, as people often don’t know they even exist.
To get started in your scholarship search, meet with your high school guidance counselor, ask around within your local community, inquire with your parents’ employers, and check in with any local or national organizations you belong to. Most importantly, fill out your Federal Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to find out if you can qualify for federal, state, or institutional aid based on your financial situation.
Here is a list of 10 of the weirdest scholarships you can find in 2020 and how to apply for them.
- Create-A-Greeting Card Scholarship: Hosted by The Gallery Collection, this scholarship does not require you to have a specific GPA or test scores. Instead, it gives you the opportunity to explore your creative side. Are you artistic? Have a good eye for photography? Then, this is a great non-merit-based option for you.
To be eligible, you need to be at least 14 years old and a U.S. high school, college, or university student. To enter, submit a JPEG file of your original design or photograph to The Gallery Collection, and fill out the online application form. You can only submit one design per contest period. Winners will come up with a creative greeting card that will be made into an actual card.
This scholarship awards $10,000 to the winning student, as well as $1,000 to their school.
- Vegetarian Resource Group Scholarship: The Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) awards one $10,000 and two $5,000 scholarships to vegetarian high school students graduating in spring 2020. If you are a vegetarian and have promoted vegetarianism in your school, you can apply for this unique scholarship.
Applicants should be committed to creating a peaceful world through a vegetarian lifestyle, and show courage and compassion to the cause. To apply, you will need to submit the following:
- Your personal and school information
- Copy of your transcripts (for the past two years)
- List of extracurricular activities
- Information related to any other vegetarians you know
- Your favorite subject in school
- How you heard about the scholarship
- Three letters of recommendation, one of which needs to be a teacher
You will also need to complete an essay answering 16 specific questions. If you have any documentation on how you have promoted vegetarianism in your school, that is helpful as well. The application form and details can be found here.
- American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) Scholarship: In an effort to educate the public about the importance and safety of fire sprinklers, AFSA offers a $20,000 scholarship to a graduating high school senior to be used toward a college degree or trade school program. They also offer a $5,000 Second Chance scholarship for students who have already graduated high school and are wanting to pursue a college or trade school education.
Sound strange? Too good to be true? This is a legitimate scholarship that doesn’t take into account your grades, accomplishments, race, or ethnicity. Instead, a random generator is used to pick the winners. All you have to do is read the essay on fire sprinklers, take the online quiz, and submit your entry form to be considered.
- Tall Scholarship Program: Who would have thought that being tall would have so many perks? If you are a 5-foot-10-inch woman or 6-foot-2-inch man (or taller), you can receive a college scholarship from Tall Clubs International (TCI). You need to be a member of a local TCI chapter in North America, as nominations come from within the organization.
Applicants must be younger than 21 and entering their first year of higher education. To find out if your local TCI chapter participates in the scholarship program, check here.
- STARFLEET Scholarships: Do you love “Star Trek” and consider yourself a big fan? STARFLEET is an international “Star Trek” fan club that offers members several scholarships in amounts of up to $1,000 per year for higher education aspirations. You will need to have been a member of STARFLEET for at least one year before applying. For 2020 applicants, you will need to have joined before June 15, 2019.
You need to submit your application form along with the following:
- An official transcript and/or letter of acceptance at your school
- Letter of recommendation from a STARFLEET member in good standing
- Two additional letters of recommendation
- Resume that details work experience and/or volunteer activities
- Details of participation in STARFLEET activities, extracurricular activities, and career goals through a two-page personal essay
Winners are announced during the summer international conference.
- Doodle for Google Scholarship: This is another scholarship that allows you to get creative. This scholarship awards big money toward college every year to national winners. Have you ever wanted your artwork featured on the search engine’s homepage? This is your chance.
To enter, simply create an original doodle. You can use any medium you want, as long as you submit it through the supplied entry form. You also need to include an artist’s statement explaining your doodle and what inspired it. Doodles are judged on creativity, artistic skill, and communication of your theme.
- American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE) Scholarship: Often, specific fields of study can open the door to odd or unusual scholarships. If you are looking to enter a career in mortuary science or funeral service, you can apply for the ABFSE scholarship. This scholarship can give you between $1,500 and $2,500 to use toward your college tuition.
You will need to have already completed at least one semester or quarter in classes related to mortuary science education or funeral service in an ABFSE-accredited program and have at least one term left. To apply, use the application form. This scholarship is granted twice a year – once in the spring and once in the fall.
- Niche “No Essay” Scholarship: If you are looking for a scholarship that doesn’t require an essay, look no further. This scholarship, offered by Niche, determines one randomly selected winner and gives $2,000 to be used toward college tuition, school fees, books, or supplies. All high school, college, and graduate students are welcome to apply.
All you have to do is submit an entry form to enter the sweepstakes. You can only enter once, and you need to be planning to attend school within a year of winning. You don’t have to purchase anything to enter. The deadline for 2020 is January 31st.
- Future Farmers of America (FFA) Scholarships: FFA supports students who are passionate about agriculture and leadership. FFA is an international youth organization that helps to prepare students for careers in agriculture.
This doesn’t just mean farming. Members have gone on to become chemists, teachers, bankers, government officials, business leaders, veterinarians, and entrepreneurs.
Members and nonmembers alike can apply for FFA scholarships. Here are some specific offerings:
- John Deere: $2,000 scholarship
- America’s Farmers Grow Ag Leaders: $1,500 scholarship
- RAM Trucks: $2,000 scholarship
- Ford Built Tough: $1,000 scholarship
- AGCO: $1,000 scholarship
Academic excellence is important for most of these scholarships, as FFA reported that the average GPA of its 2019 recipients was a 3.8 on a 4.0 scale. That being said, 1 of 4 students who applied for a scholarship was able to get one.
FFA membership can have its perks. If you are interested in anything related to agriculture, look into your local FFA chapter for more information on college scholarships and other opportunities.
- CoffeeForLess.com “Hit the Books” Scholarship: Does coffee help you power through your day or study longer? If so, and you write an essay detailing this, CoffeeForLess.com (an online retailer of Keurig K-Cup pods and coffee products) can award you a $500 scholarship to help cover books and supplies.
To apply, you need to be between the ages of 18 and 25 and enrolled in an accredited university or college. You will need to send in proof of enrollment and your essay to email@example.com to be considered. Winners are chosen in the spring and fall.