While definitely the most popular, unusual scholarships are oftentimes the most exclusive. Their eligibility requirements are strict, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find an unusual scholarship for which you qualify.
This list of scholarships s organized according to some of the more common subcategories of unusual scholarships, such as physical characteristics, creativity, last name, sports, field of study, the final frontier, animal appreciation, food-related, activity-related, good works, what you don’t do, twins and legacies.
Little People of America Scholarship
The Little People of America (LPA) association offers the LPA scholarship to members of its organization, which works to provide information and support to people of short stature and their families. Membership is offered to people who are 4’10” or less in height.
Tall Clubs International Scholarship
Tall Clubs International (TCI) offers a $1,000 scholarship for tall people, and individual chapters may also offer local awards. Women who are at least 5’10” and men who are at least 6’2” as well as under 21 years old with plans to attend college in the fall are eligible to apply.
Duck Brand Duct Tape Stuck at Prom Contest
This contest is open to students’ age 14 years or older who are attending a high school prom in the spring and are U.S. citizens. Entrants must enter as a couple (two individuals) and attend a high school prom wearing complete attire or accessories made from duct tape and include a color photograph of their duct tape attire in their entry. The winning couple will be selected based on a variety of criteria, including originality, workmanship, and quantity of Duct Tape used, use of colors, and creative use of accessories.
National Make It Yourself with Wool Competition
The National Make It Yourself with Wool (NMIYWW) competition awards scholarships for knitting wool garments. Winners are selected based on the appropriateness to the contestant’s lifestyle, coordination of fabric/yarn with garment style and design, contestant’s presentation and creativity.
David Letterman Telecommunications Scholarship
The David Letterman Scholarship was established by David Letterman in 1985 to provide scholarships for telecommunications students at Ball State University. The awards are intended for average students who nevertheless have a creative mind. Winners are selected primarily based on creativity. Projects may involve a variety of media, including written work, research, audio, video, graphics and film.
Collegiate Inventors Competition
The Milwaukee School of Engineering runs an annual Rube Gold Machine Contest in early March each year. Students who participate in the Rube Goldberg Machine Contest during high school and who enroll as a freshman at the Milwaukee School of Engineering are eligible for a scholarship.
J.D. Salinger Award
The J.D. Salinger Award at Ursinus College is intended to recognize and support “oddball geniuses” in the field of creative writing. The unconventional award is named after the renowned author of The Catcher in the Rye, who attended Ursinus College in 1938. Besides a scholarship, the winner will also get to live in the same dorm room previously occupied by Mr. Salinger. The competition is open to high school seniors.
Ayn Rand Institute Essay Contests
The Ayn Rand Institute sponsors several essay contests:
• The Anthem Essay Contest is open to high school freshmen and sophomores. It provides annual cash awards for short, original, unpublished essays on the philosophic themes in Ayn Rand’s novel, Anthem.
• The Fountainhead Essay Contest is open to high school juniors and seniors. It provides annual cash awards for short, original, unpublished essays on the philosophic themes in Ayn Rand’s novel, The Fountainhead.
• The Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest is open to all college students. It provides annual cash awards for short, original, unpublished essays on the philosophic themes in Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged.
UNIMA Grants and Scholarships for Poetry
UNIMA Grants and Scholarships for Poetry enable members of UNIMA the chance to study either domestically or internationally the art of puppetry in a workshop of their choice. Applicants must be U.S. citizens and have some experience in puppetry and/or a university degree showing an interest in puppetry.
The Zolp Scholarship is restricted to students at Loyola University in Chicago who are Catholic and whose last name is Zolp. The student’s last name must appear on their birth certificate and confirmation certificate.
- Gatling at North Carolina State University. The John Gatling Grant provides scholarships for students who were born with a surname of Gatling or Gatlin to attend NC State University.
- Harvard University has several scholarships based on the student’s last name, including Ellis, Hudson, Thayer, Downer, Bright.
- The Van Valkenburg Memorial Scholarship awards a scholarship to a descendant (by birth or legal adoption) of Lambert and Annetje Van Valkenburg, who emigrated in 1643. Variations in the surname Van Valkenburg are acceptable, including Van Valkenburg, Van Valkenburgh, Van Volkinburg, Van Falkenburg, Valkenburg, Vollick and Van Velkinburgh.
Evan Scholars Foundation
The Western Golf Association sponsors the Charles “Chick” Evans Jr. Scholarship for golf caddies. Caddies must have a superior caddie record for two or more years, above a B average, demonstrate financial need, and have outstanding personal character. More than 200 new Evans Scholars are chosen each year. Another scholarship for golf caddies is the Francis Ouimet Caddie Scholarship.
US Bowling Congress Scholarships
US Bowling Congress sponsors several scholarships for bowlers in varying amounts for males and females as well as high school and college students.
National Marbles Tournament Scholarships
The annual National Marbles Tournament awards scholarships to mibsters (marble shooters). The tournament is held in June each year. The children crowned King and Queen of Marbles, as well as a boy and girl who display superior sportsmanship, each receive a scholarship.
East Coast Surfing Scholarship
The Buddy Pelletier Surfing Foundation is open to members of the East Coast Surfing community. All students are eligible, whether rising senior, undergraduate students or returning students.
San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo Scholarship
The San Angelo Stock and Rodeo Foundation awards scholarships to students who are members of 4H or FFA. They must attend an accredited Texas university, college, or technical school.
USA Rugby Scholarships
USA Ruby provides a list of private and university-sponsored scholarships for students that play or plan to play rugby in college.
Field of Study
American Welding Society Scholarships
The American Welding Society Foundation offers several scholarships, fellowships and loans for students enrolled in a welding-related educational or training program.
Mycological Society of America
The Mycological Society of America offers several graduate fellowships for students who are studying mycology (spores, mold and fungus).
TAPPI awards several scholarships relating to the pulp and papermaking industries. The William L. Cullison Scholarship is open to college sophomores who are interested in pursuing a career in the pulp, paper and converting industry. The TAPPI web site also lists a variety of other scholarships, ranging from the best paper award to scholarships for corrugated packaging.
Eileen J. Garrett Scholarship
The Eileen J. Garrett Scholarship is restricted to students attending an accredited college or university who are studying the science of parapsychology.
Bernard Steur Scholarship
Available to students at Philadelphia University, applicants must be a textile engineering major with an interest in knitting.
The Final Frontier
Klingon Language Institute Scholarship
The Kor Memorial Scholarship is awarded by the Klingon Language Institute to recognize and encourage scholarship in the field of language study. Familiarity with Klingon or other constructed languages is not required, but creativity is preferred.
Starfleet Academy Scholarship
The Starfleet Academy Scholarship offers several scholarships for active members of the Starfleet Academy. Fields of study include medicine, veterinary medicine, teaching, writing, law enforcement, engineering, acting, dance, music, foreign languages, international studies, business and management. They are available for students at community colleges, technical schools, four-year colleges and graduate schools.
Writers and Illustrators of the Future Contest
The Writers and Illustrators of the Future Contest is open to new and amateur writers and artists from all nations. An entry consists of a work of prose or three black and white mediums illustrating a science fiction or fantasy story with no recurring theme.
Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest
The Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest is open to any high school senior in the United States who can call ducks. Contestants have 90 seconds to use four calls (hail, feed, comeback and mating).
National Rifle Association Scholarships
The National Rifle Association (NRA) sponsors several scholarships for NRA Junior Members. NRA Junior Members can qualify for the Outstanding Achievement Youth Award for such activities as participating in shooting or hunting clinics, participating in an NRA Postal Match, entering a submission in the NRA Wildlife Art Contest, and visiting the National Firearms Museum.
National Beef Ambassador Program
The National Beef Ambassador Program is a national public speaking competition for students aged 16 to 19. Winners are selected to represent the beef industry and win college scholarships and cash prizes.
Vegetarian Resource Group Association
The Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) offers scholarships each year to graduating U.S. high school seniors who have promoted vegetarianism in their schools and communities. The application requires an essay about how the applicant promoted vegetarianism in their high school or community.
AACT National Candy Technologists Scholarship
The American Association of Candy Technologists (AACT) sponsors an annual scholarship for college freshmen, sophomores and juniors (for use in the next academic year) who have demonstrated an interest in confectionary technology.
American Society for Enology and Viticulture
The American Society for Enology and Viticulture awards several scholarships to students studying grapes or winemaking. Candidates must be pursuing a degree in enology, viticulture or other curricula emphasizing a science relevant to the wine and grape industry.
University of Texas at Dallas Chess Scholarship
UT Dallas supports its chess team through competitive scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students. Chess team members may apply by submitting a recruitment form.
Hiram College Hal Reichle Memorial Scholarship
Hal Reichle took great pleasure in helping others and would do so secretly and serendipitously. In his memory, family and friends funded a scholarship at Hiram College to reward students for their random acts of kindness. Recipients are chosen on the basis of their humanitarian efforts, community involvement, and volunteerism.
What You Don’t Do
Alice McArver Ratchford Scholarship
The Alice McArver Ratchford Scholarship is a need-based scholarship for female undergraduate students at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro who must be single, live on campus, don’t own a car, have never been married and have no other scholarships.
Colleges that currently offer special scholarships or discounts for twins and triplets include:
- Carl Albert State College in Oklahoma (Paula Nieto Twin Scholarship)
- George Washington University in Washington, DC (50% discount for second sibling)
- Lake Erie College in Painesville, Ohio (each twin gets the scholarship in alternate years)
- West Chester University of Pennsylvania (Bonnie Evans Feinberg Scholarship)