College scholarships aren’t just for people with high GPAs and great SAT scores. Some scholarship awarding organizations have decided to buck the trend of rewarding academic achievement, and instead offer scholarships based on unique talents, unorthodox interests, creativity, or just unusual circumstances. These scholarships range from simply unique, to quirky, to downright bizarre, but all of them are worth applying for if you meet the requirements, because any scholarships you get now will decrease your college payments in the long term.
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Update: We’ve added 10 more weird and unique scholarships to our list! Check them out in our Honorable Mention section!
Jif Peanut Butter holds the Jif Most Creative Sandwich Contest as a fun way to award students preparing to attend college. The award includes a scholarship worth $25,000, as well as a Jif Peanut Butter Basket worth $50.
Apply : Jif
Duck Brand products holds an annual contest to see who can make the best Prom outfit from Duck Tape. The winners receive a $5,000 scholarship.
Apply : ShurTech Brands, LLC
The Kerope Zildjian Scholarship is designed for students pursuing a four-year degree at an accredited university and awards a $5000 scholarship. Applicants also win a trip to Zildjian’s world headquarters and win completmentary cymbals. In order to qualify, students must send an audio recording playing a complex snare or four-mallet marimba solo.
Apply : Avedis Zildjian Company Inc
The Western Golf Association Evans Scholars Foundation Scholarship is designed for golf caddies around the country. The Western Golf Association who oversees the Evans Scholar Foundation also runs three large golf tournaments.
The Gertrude J. Deppen Scholarship Fund is designed for students who do not habitually use tobacco, alcohol, narcotics, and are not involved in strenuous athletic contests. The applicant must have lived in Mount Caramel for 10 years and graduate from Mount Caramel Public High School as well.
Apply : Bucknell University
The AMIA Scholarship Program is for those planning on graduate school with majors in moving image studies, library or information science, archival administration, museum studies, or a related field. Selected students will then be awarded scholarships from Sony Pictures, Rick Chace Foundation, or Universal Studios.
The American Fire Sprinkler Association has scholarships totalling $20,000 that are awarded to students who submit the required documents, including an essay on automatic fire sprinklers.
The National Coalition of Estheticians, Manufacturers/Distributors & Assocations award a number of scholarships every year. The NCEA’s Esthetician Scholarship awards esthetician students a $1,000 incentive scholarship while attending esthetic school, but students must be currently enrolled and maintain at least 80% attendance and grade average.
Only open to students in select Pennsylvania counties, the Northern Tier Hardwood Association Scholarship awards $500 to two high school students planning on pursuing a career in forest resources or a field in the wood industry.
For students with artistic flair, scrapbooking acumen, or a love for design, the Annual Create-A-Greeting-Card Scholarship from The Gallery Collection is a great way to get $10,000 for college. Competitors must design the front of a greeting card to be designed for business and consumer use.
Apply : The Gallery Collection
The Archibald Rutledge Scholarship Program is for students involved in the arts and awards five scholarships at $2000 each in areas of Creative Writing, Dance, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts. Students must submit an original piece, graduate high school in South Carolina, and go to college in South Carolina.
The North American International Auto Show High School Poster Contest awards 16 students prizes of varying amounts, from as little as $100, to as much as $1000. The only stipulation is that a 25” x 21” poster must be submitted.
The Associated Male Choruses of America Scholarship awards candidates $1000-$1200 each for applicants enrolled in university music programs for the upcoming school year. Candidates must be sponsored by a member chorus of the Associated Male Choruses of America.
The Shaw-Worth Scholarship from the Humane Society of the United States awards $2,500 to selected high school seniors who have made significant contributions to animal protection over extended periods.
The International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association awards special scholarships to college students working at an IDDBA-member company at least 13 hours a week. The requirements include majoring in a food-related field, such as culinary arts, baking/pastry arts, or food science.
The American Association of Candy Technologists awards a $5000 scholarship over two installments to a recipient who is a college sophomore, junior, or senior that has a demonstrated interest in confectionery technology. Evidence must be presented in the form of research projects, work experience, or formal study.
The American Association of Railroad Superintendents is open to any student in the United States or Canada. The student must be a full-time college student and have at least a 2.75 Grade Point Average. The scholarship is awarded is $1000 and preference is given to applicants enrolled in the transportation field.
Scholarhips up to $5000 are awarded by the Music Publishers Association of the United States as part of their Copyright Awareness Scholarship. Students must submit a written essay, audio or video recording, or pictoral compilation expressing why they believe copyright is so important.
Apply : Music Publishers Association
The Friends of the NRA selects 45 outstanding high school sophomores and juniors from around the country to come to Washington D.C. for a week of educational seminars and activities stressing the importance of being active in civic affairs. Additionally, those selected for this Youth Education Summit then compete for a total of $30,000 in scholarships.
Apply : Friends of NRA
The CBC Spouses Heineken Performing Arts Scholarship is awarded to students interested in drama, dance, opera, marching bands, and other performing arts pursuits. Applicants must also meet the other requirements stipulated on the online application page.
The Alaska Travel Industry Association awards a number of scholarships each year to various students around Alaska, in communities of all sizes. The goal is to better invest in citizens to preserve the Alaskan tourism industry. Scholarships are awarded in increments from as little as $500 and as much as $3000.
Apply: Alaska Travel Industry
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo awards numerous scholarships with varying requirements and sizes. Some requirements include a minimum of a 19 on the ACT, be a resident of Texas, and plan to go to college in Texas at a not-for-profit school. Most of the awards are $18,000 four year scholarships.
Apply : Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
The Central Arizona Tall Society gives a scholarship to a girl of at least 5’10” and a boy at least 6’2″ in an award of $250. The student must live in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area.
Apply : Central Arizona Tall Society
The Central Florida Orchid Society awards an annual scholarship to students to encourage the pursuit of careers in Horticulture and the Agricultural and Life Sciences. The scholarship is $3000 and reside in a central Florida county.
Apply : Central Florida Orchid Society
The Boren Awards for International Study is awarded to students who wish to study abroad in areas typically underrepresented. The scholarships can be as large as $20,000 and are only for students attending school at an accredited university.
The CIEE Study Abroad Scholarships award over $3 Million each eyar to help students with the cost of studying abroad. They require students to fill out a form entailing their special circumstances, write an essay, and also a summary of their current financial aid situation.
Apply : CIEE Study Abroad
The Nordstrom Cares Scholarship selects 80 students in states with a Nordstrom or Nordstrom Rack store and awards them a $10,000 scholarship. The requirements include past volunteer service, community service, or extracurricular activities and a minimum of a 2.7 GPA. Recipients must also plan on applying for financial assistance in order to attend college.
Apply : Nordstrom
The Marian A. Smith Costume Scholarship Award from the Southeastern Theatre Conference awards $2,000 to a student entering graduate school for costume design and/or costume technology. The student must submit a portfolio of ten samples and three to five references to be considered.
Apply : Southeastern Theatre Conference
The Davidson Fellows Scholarships are considered to be among the most prestegious and largest in the world. They award $50,000, $25,000, and $10,000 to students who have completed a significant piece of work before 18 in areas such as Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Literature, Music, Philosophy, or “Outside the Box.”
Stuttgart, Arkansas awards scholarships at the Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest. First place wins a scholarship of $2000, second place wins $1000, 3rd receives $750, and 4th receives $500.
Apply : Stuttgart
The IDC Scholarship Program from Ocean Divers awards 4 students per 3 month period to take, for free, a number of scuba diver classes and then work on environmental conservation and reef identification.
Apply : Ocean Divers
The Corinna Jeannine Schillings Foundation awards scholarships to help students study abroad. An award of $1000 is issued to a Silver or Gold Girl Scout who plans to study abroad and maintains at least a 3.0 GPA.
The Alexia Foundation grants scholarships to students to help produce picture stories that promote the foundation’s views of world peace and cultural understanding. The undergraduate winner recieves full tuition payment for a study abroad program, along with various funds for equipment and expenses.
Apply : Alexia Foundation
The Entertainment Software Association Foundation Scholarship Program gives up to 30 scholarships annually, 15 to graduating high school seniors and 15 to current college students. The award is for up to $3000 and the applicant must be a woman or minority student pursing a degree and career in computer and video game arts with a minimum 2.75 GPA.
Ayn Rand Novels, a site specializing in the writings of author and philosopher Ayn Rand, has an annual essay contest awarding between $50 and $10,000 to over 200 students who write essays on chosen topics about Rand’s well known work, The Fountainhead. While not strictly a scholarship, these contests are only open to 11th and 12th grade students, and the winnings could provide a great headstart toward paying for college.
Apply : Ayn Rand Novels
The American Academy in Rome Scholarship, titled the Rome Prize, is designed for students specializing in a variety of studies, such as Architecture, Visual Arts, Ancient Studies, and other areas. Each winner is provided with a stipend, meals, a bedroom with a private bath, and a study or studio. The stipends are $15,000 for 6 months or $27,000 for 11 months.
Apply : American Academy in Rome
The United States Bowling Congress offers scholarships to many young students who have shown a passion for bowling. Leagues and member organizations of the USBC offer scholarships as well, so anyone involved in USBC activities should look into the possibility of a college scholarship.
Apply : United States Bowling Congress
The Brett Ratner Tuition Grant through the New York Film Academy offers 100 scholarships for grants of up to $15,000. Students must show evidence for need of financial assistance and a personal statement on why they would like to attend the New York Film Academy.
Apply : New York Film Academy
The Fund of Investigative Journalism meets almost quarterly to review grant applications for those wishing to pursue investigative endeavors focusing on domestic issues or issues focuses on the US government. Grants average $5000 and are issued in two parts, the latter when evidence of progress is submitted.
The Institute of International Education awards the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to students who have received a Pell Grant for the term they are applying for as well. Students are also not allowed to study in countries with a U.S. Department of State Travel Warning.
The Glenn Miller Birthplace Society, based in Clarinda, Iowa, holds an annual scholarship competition in honor of Glenn Miller. The contest is in its 37th year and awards two scholarships of $4000, $2000, and $1000, each to a one vocalist and one instrumentalist. Audition CD’s or tapes must be submitted in order to qualify.
Apply : Glenn Miller Birthplace Society
The American Culinary Federation awards culinary scholarships to high school students, college students, and professional chefs looking to further their education. Requirements vary based on the scholarship applied for, but a strong passion for culinary arts goes a long way.
Apply : Aermican Culinary Federation
The Robert J. Marriott Scholarship Grant from the International Federation of Fly Fishers awards $500 to an undergraduate or graduate student majoring in biology or a similar field, such as fishery management.
The Fashion Scholarship Fund awards numerous scholarships in honor of Geoffrey Beene, Jim Edleman, and others. Required application materials include a case study and personal statement.
Apply : Fashion Scholarship Fund
Campus Discovery has a scholarship for $2,500 called the “Advice to Your High School Self” Scholarship. Students approaching graduation from college or recent college grads who finished an Associates or Bachelor’s Degree are eligible.
Apply : Campus Discovery
Cancer Monthly has scholarships honoring James O’Connor, with over $10,000 in awards. All that is required is an essay on how Mr. O’Connor’s story of surviving 5 years longer than predicted is so inspiring and what you would do if faced with similar challenges.
Apply : Cancer Monthly
The National Dairy Shrine awards one $1500 and six $1000 scholarships to encourage undergraduates to pursue careers in dairy product marketing. Students must have a minimum of a 2.5 GPA.
Apply : National Dairy Shrine
The Davis Law Group awards $100 scholarships to two high school seniors from January to March and then invites those students to enter a Sportsmanship Essay Contest for a chance to win an additional $1000 scholarship.
Apply : Davis Law Group
Theodore Gordon Flyfishers is a non-profit angling organization that promotes environmental protection, conservation, and various activities attached to activism and education. A Founders Fund Scholarship is awarded for $3,500 annually and the applicant must be planning on majoring in environmental studies, in areas such as biology, natural resource management, zoology, and other relevant fields.
Apply : Theodore Gordon Flyfishers, Inc.
The Washington State Potato Foundation awards scholarships to students who live in either Washington of Oregon and plan on pursuing a two/four year degree, with preference given to those pursuing agriculture-related fields.
The National Poultry & Food Distributors Association selects students from across the country for scholarships amounting to $1500-$2000. In order to qualify, students must be college juniors or seniors at a U.S. Institution and pursuing an agriculture-related field, along with letters of recommendation, a sealed transcript, and a one-page letter describing her or his goals and aspirations.
The Geneseo Migrant Center runs a scholarship to support art scholarships for migrant farm workers. This was implemented by Berrien Fragos Thorn and many $500 scholarships are issued and semi-annually, a review is done for grants up to $2,500.
Apply : National PASS Center
The Poetry Foundation supports five $15,000 scholarships to young poets through a national competition also sponsored by The Poetry Foundation. Applicants must be at least 21 years old, no older than 31, and follow the guidelines on the website.
Apply : Poetry Foundation
The F. Lammot Belin Arts Scholarship is given preference to students in Northeastern Pennsylvania and aims to support artists with exceptional talent in the fine arts. The award is $15,000 and a detailed explanation must be given for how the funds will be used.
Apply : Waverly Community House
The Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage has awarded scholarships to students for over 25 years and students are awarded these scholarships based on personal performance and achievements.
Krylon, a company specializing in art products, awards five $1,000 Krylon Clear Choice Art Scholarships. Additionally, each school will receive a gift package worth $500 of art products. Applicants must submit a portfolio of 3-6 images of artwork on CD.
Apply : Krylon
The Two Ten Footwear Foundation awards scholarships to over 400 students amounting to over $700,000. The scholarships come in various forms, such as those for footwear employees and also those who are studying footwear design in college.
Apply : Two Ten Footwear Foundation
The Screen Actors Guild Foundation created the John L. Dales Scholarship Fund in 1973 and helps aid Screen Actors Guild members’ children with educational funds to attend college.
Apply : Screen Actors Guild
The ICDD has awarded 181 scholarships since 1991. It’s an award to support the education and research program of promising graduate students in crystallography-related fields.
Apply : Ludo Frevel Crystallography
The United States of America Snowboard and Freeski Association has a Chuck Allen Snowboard Scholarship Award. The Scholarship is typically used for academic endeavors, but is also allowed to be used for club or organizational equipment.
The Vegetarian Resource Group has two $5,000 Scholarships that it gives out annually. Applications will be judged on students ability to demonstrate compassion, courage, and a strong commitment to world peace through a vegetarian lifestyle.
Apply : The Vegetarian Resource Group
The Kodak Student Scholarship Program gives a Student Cinematography and Student Scholarship Award each year to students who can demonstrate exceptional skills in the relevant field. Students can be awarded as much as $9,000.
Apply : KODAK
PowerPoetry.org has a “Slam What You Will” Contest, which awards a $1,000 scholarship to the winner. Rules include becoming a member of the poetry community and submitting a poem.
Apply : Power Poetry
DutchCrafters founded The DutchCrafters Amish Furniture Heritage Scholarship in 2011 and each year provides five students with $500 scholarships over two disbursements of $250. Students must have a minimum of a 3.0 GPA and currently be a high school senior applying to college in the fall.
Apply : DutchCrafters
The Astrid Thalheimer Memorial Vocal Scholarship, dedicated to the founder of The A Cappella Singers who established the group in 1963. The scholarship awards $500 to a woman preparing to graduate from high school and major in either vocal performance or music education with a concentration on vocals.
Apply : The A Cappella Singers
The American Water Ski Educational Foundation started awarding scholarships in 1983 to students currently enrolled in their sophomore, junior, or senior year of college. Students must write an essay of 500 words, include two letters of reference, work/school records, along with community activities.
The Women’s Jewelery Association awards scholarships each year in amounts ranging from $500 to $7000. There are three separate categories students may qualify in and each applicant must submit an essay detailing why they believe they deserve the award.
Apply : Women’s Jewelry Association
The Oregon NASA Space Consortium Scholarship Program gives $4000 scholarships to students majoring in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math. The intention is to promote the advancement of the space program while rewarding academic excellence.
James Beard is remembered for his commitment to advancing culinary arts and the James Beard Foundation serves to carry on his legacy by awarding a large number of scholarships to students seeking careers in culinary arts, be it at a culinary institution or a university.
Apply : James Beard Foundation
The National Business Aviation Association established, in conjunction with Conklin & de Decker, the Alan H. Conklin Business Aviation Management Scholarship, an annual $5000 award to an undergraduate student who is enrolled in an aviation management program.
The Ronald H. Brown Memorial Scholarship awards a $3000 scholarship to a minority undergraduate who is focused on a career in the travel industry.
Apply : U.S. Travel Association
Little People of America focuses on awarding scholarships to students who have been diagnosed with dwarfism and are currently part of Little People of America. Additionally, scholarships are awarded to the children of those diagnosed with dwarfism and range from $250-$1000.
Apply : Little People of America
The Boyd N. Lyon Scholarship was founded by The Ocean Foundation in conjuction with The Boyd Lyon Sea Turtle Fund. It was designed for Masters or PhD students to apply and the award is $2500.
Apply : The Ocean Foundation
The Parapsychology Foundation founded a scholarship in memory of Eileen J. Garrett and is for undergraduate and graduate students who are currently pursuing an academic path for a career in parapsychology. The scholarship is for $3000.
Apply : Parapsychology Foundation, Inc.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s Wildlife Leadership Awards to juniors and seniors in college who have a proven record in leadership and a passion for wildlife conservation. The scholarship is for $2000 and includes a one-year membership to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
Apply : Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Printing Industries of America began The Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation in order to assist undergraduate women and men who are interested in graphic communication careers.
Apply : Printing Industries of America
Ball State University founded The David Letterman Scholarship in honor of late night television host David Letterman. It is designed for juniors in college who are currently majoring or minoring in telecommunications. The amount of each scholarship varies, based on the creativity the scholarship committee feels was achieved.
Apply : Ball State University
The American Society for Enology and Viticulture Scholarship Program is for students currently enrolled in a four-year program at an accredited university in North America. The minimum grade point average is 3.0 for undergraduates and 3.2 for graduate students. The applicant must also currently be enrolled in enology or viticulture, or in a curriculum emphasizing a science basic to wine and the grape industry. Students recieve a quarterly or per-semester stipend.
The National Potato Council Scholarship awards a scholarship each year for $10,000 to a graduate student who is currently conducting research to benefit the potato industry.
Apply : National Potato Council
The Electronic Document Scholarship Foundation was started in 1999 to support the next generation of Document Management and Graphic Communication Professionals. A minimum of 40 scholarships are available per year and are awarded in amounts ranging from $1000-$5000.
The Professional Bowlers Assocation awards The Billy Welu Scholarship annually to male and female bowlers whose extraordinary qualities, partnered with competing in bowling events, show that they are fantastic recipients of the $1,000.
Apply : Professional Bowlers Association
The United Negro College Fund set up a Michael Jackson Scholarship to honor the late performer and it awards up to $4000 to students majoring in ther performing arts, English, or communications.
Apply : United Negro College Fund, Inc.
The American Quarterhorse Assocation Foundation Scholarships are awarded to students who have underlined academic achievement, financial need, and very importantly, involvement in the American Quarter Horse Foundation. The amount of the scholarship is announced annually.
The Central Florida Jazz Society awards three scholarships per year, amounting to $3000. Students must submit a written recommendation, along with a recording of an improvised chorus.
Apply : Central Florida Jazz Society
The Julia Burke Foundation awards the Students Rising Above Scholarship to help low-income, first-generation students who need more than a tuition check to successfully graduate from college. SRA provides one-on-one advice, along with academic support to help students not be restrained by any financial setbacks.
Apply : Julia Burke Foundation
The Klingon Language Foundation awards students who are able to implement a creative use for the fictional Star Trek language of Klingon. Winners recieve a $500 scholarship.
Apply : The Klingon Language Institute
The Optimist International Scholarships are earned by students who win essay contests on a number of topics, typically promoting self-worth and confidence in youth. Awards range from a medallion to $2500.
Apply : Optimist International
Each year, American Harlequin awards four $250 scholarships through the Harlequin Floors’ Dance Scholarship. The goal of the program is to promote better opportunities for dancers.
Apply : American Harlequin
Design Sponge’s Annual Scholarship aims to support the growing next generation of artists and designers through an implementation of up to $10,500 in scholarships.
Apply : Design Sponge
The Bel Canto Vocal Scholarship Foundation works with students with exemplary vocal talents to equip them with the resources needed to succeed as a professional vocalist.
The Wendy Jackson Hall Memorial Scholarship commemorates beloved animator Wendy Jackson Hall and helps students who can demonstrate financial need, while simultaneously having been accepted into an arts program from an accredited university. The scholarship is a two-year, $10,000 award.
The Women Divers Hall of Fame has annual scholarships specifically for undergradate and gradate women who work in Marine Conservation. Graduate students receieve $2000 and undergrduate students recieve $1000.
Apply : Women Divers Hall of Fame
The American Institute of CPA’s Scholarship for Minority Accounting Students awards $5000 to undergraduate minority students currently on the academic course to become CPA’s.
Apply : American Institute of CPAs
The World Sport Chicago Scholars Program awards students $20,000 over their 4 years in college, in increments of $5000. The students must live in Chicago, attend school in Chicago, and have participated in summer Olympic or Paralympic events for two out of the last three years.
Apply : World Sport Chicago
The American Fence Association provides scholarships for the children of families in the fence industry. The student must have a minimum GPA of a 3.0, work or have parents who work in the fence industry, and have contributed 40 hours of documented community service over the past 4 years. The scholarship is for $1,500.
Apply : American Fence Association
The National Gay Pilots Association awards scholarships to members of the LGBT community who have a desire to pursue a flight education.
Apply : National Gay Pilots Association
Foreclosure.com holds an annual scholarship contest in which students are given a hypothetical scenario that they must write an essay detailing how they would navigate the particular situation.
Apply : Foreclosure.com
Each year P.E.O. awards an International Peace Scholarship to help women pursue graduate degrees in college. The scholarship is worth $10,000 and has particular restrictions barring early doctoral candidates from the award.
Apply : P.E.O. Sisterhood
Legacy for Health founded the Alma S. Adams Scholarships, named after the founding Legacy for Health Board Member of the same name. The scholarship awards $5000 to two individuals and the foundation typcially aims to award those students whose ethnicity or income status make them targeted by the tobacco industry disproportionately.
Apply : Legacy for Health
The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Scholarships and students must submit a film or video production they completed or a script if they’re writers. A short essay must be submitted, along with a statement of financial need, and the most recent transcript.
In our search, we discovered so many unique scholarship resources that we found it difficult to limit it to only a handful. We’ve gathered 10 more of the most unique scholarships imaginable. The additional resources we’ve researched offer more opportunities for students to apply for scholarships. College is expensive, so you shouldn’t limit your efforts in earning a scholarship to just a few places!
Scott Hawksworth is YesCollege.com's founder and editor. He writes with a focus on the challenges faced by students entering higher education, with an eye to making our readers aware of the pitfalls and opportunities that await all would-be graduates. Scott has a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from The Ohio State University.