Yes, it’s that time of year again, folks, when we must look to the upcoming academic year and wonder how in the hell we’re going to afford it, especially considering that the cost of college in the United States has tripled in the last 20 years. Sometimes scholarships from weird sources are the only way students can get by.
Today, attending a four-year in-state public college averages just less than $26,000 per year; a four-year private institution can run almost $54,000 per year, according to EducationData.org.
But rather than concentrate on the gravity of the situation, I’ve decided to provide some levity in the form of the weirdest scholarships I could find. These are real and readily available.
Is your last night Zolp? Are you above average height? Do you enjoy puppetry? These are just some of the obscure personal details that can score you a financial edge in the education game. This list of odd scholarships will leave you wondering: Does anyone actually apply for these things?
The answer is yes, but not as many as you might think. So what do you have to lose?
Remember, the earlier you apply, the better. Scholarships are like a box of chocolates: You never know what you’re gonna get, and if you wait too long, you’ll end up with the crappy leftover fruit-filled abominations. Ew.
Applications and more information for these weird scholarships are available through the links provided.
1. Zombie Apocalypse Scholarship
Unigo grants a scholarship to the student (age 14 or older) who can, in no more than 250 words, describe the best zombie apocalypse survival plan on the campus of their chosen or current college.
I can’t imagine anything cooler than channeling your inner Rick Grimes on campus. It’s a dead good prize. Get it?
Deadline: October 31 each year
2. National Rice Month Scholarship
That’s right: If you’re a graduating high school student living in one of the rice-growing states (Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, or Texas), you can apply to this wacky scholarship.
To win, you must make a video of no more than three minutes about the importance of rice growing in America and, in particular, your state. Why don’t you rice to the occasion and apply?
Prize: Up to $5,000
Deadline: October 31 each year
3. UNIMA-USA Puppetry Scholarship
Are you a master puppeteer or well on your way to becoming one? Do you want to get away from the United States to really improve your marionette skills? Well, look no further.
The Union International de la Marionette (UNIMA) is offering a scholarship to North American student puppeteers who have some professional experience or a university degree in puppetry — or who can otherwise demonstrate a serious commitment to the art form — to further their puppetry studies abroad. No strings attached, really. Get it?
Just think: You could create the next Avenue Q!
Deadline: December 30 each year
4. Tall Clubs International Scholarship
Finally, being taller than everyone else is paying off! Are you a man who’s at least 6 feet, 2 inches tall, or a woman at least 5 feet, 10 inches tall? Tall Clubs International (TCI) wants to reward you for being above average height.
It’s about time you had an advantage other than just being the first one to know when it rains. All you have to do is check if your local TCI is offering the scholarship this academic year by going to its site. Not such a tall order to apply, huh?
Deadline: March 1, 2022
5. Create-a-Greeting-Card Scholarship Contest
Yep, you read that right. Fancy yourself a graphic designer? Or are you handy with a paintbrush? You can send in your best holiday, birthday, or get-well artwork for a chance to win a whopping scholarship prize with the Gallery Collection. The winner is chosen by popular vote, so make sure you get every member of your extended family on board!
Who knew you could get an entire semester of college paid for by showing off your artistic prowess?
Deadline: March 2, 2022
6. Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest
This is one of the quackiest, um, weirdest scholarships out there. Have an affinity for mocking the sounds that ducks make? Are you proficient with the use of a duck caller? This contest helps you pave the way for your education by showing off your waterfowl wonder.
If you’re set to graduate from high school in 2022, get on down to the Stuttgart Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas on November 26 to show off your ducking fantastic skills.
Prize: Up to $2,000
Deadline: November 26, 2021
7. Clowns of America International Scholarship
Boy, do I know some people from school who could have benefited from this hilarious grant. But seriously, Clowns of America International awards this scholarship to any student who’s enrolled in family entertainment educational programs that run for a minimum of 10 hours. No clowning around with these guys.
Deadline: Scholarship deadline is 60 days prior to the event for which the scholarship is requested.
8. Vegetarian Resource Group Scholarship
Are you already trying to save animals and the planet by not eating meat? Well, now you can benefit financially from it, too. If you can demonstrate that you promoted vegetarianism in your high school or local community, you may be eligible for this huge aid.
The Vegetarian Resource Group wants to reward hardworking individuals who have shown “compassion, courage, and a strong commitment to promoting a peaceful world through a vegetarian diet/lifestyle.”
You can’t beet this — it’s a salad-gold prize.
Prize: Up to $10,000
Deadline: February 20, 2022
9. The Lois Britt Memorial Pork Industry Scholarship
Who doesn’t love bacon and sausage? Okay, maybe not the vegetarians, but if you happen to be a pork connoisseur, this one will suit you well.
If you’re enrolled in a two-year swine or a four-year agricultural undergraduate program and see yourself playing a huge part in the pork industry following graduation, then you’re eligible for this weird scholarship. You might as well go whole hog. It certainly won’t be a boar!
I hope you’re enjoying these puns because I certainly am.
Deadline: January each year
10. Flavor of the Month Scholarship
We know you’ve thought about it: What flavor of ice cream best describes your personality? Write 250 or fewer words detailing whether you’re bland like vanilla (honesty counts!), nutty like pistachio, or fruity like strawberry. Heck, you could even be dark and unpredictable like black sesame, whatever that is.
Unigo will select the student who can best describe themselves as ice cream. Getting funds for education doesn’t have to be a rocky road.
Deadline: July 31, 2022
11. Doodle for Google Scholarship
Google Doodle 2021 winner: Milo Golding.
We all know and love the wonderful Google Doodles that change each day. Well, did you know that if you design a doodle and win, you get a scholarship fund of $30,000 for yourself and a $50,000 award for your current school to get some new tech?
Google picks a theme, and you design a doodle to that effect. The winner receives the money and gets their doodle on the homepage. The money is enough to make you go google-y eyed, right? (I know, that one was awful.)
Deadline: March each year
12. Stuck at Prom Scholarship
This is one of the weirder scholarships out there, and that’s saying something. Duck-brand duct tape offers this prize to whoever can create the most amazing prom outfit out of — you guessed it — duct tape.
In order to enter, you have to model the outfit and upload photos to its site, and then people can vote on their favorites. Not too much of a sticky situation to put yourself in for up to 10 grand.
Prize: Up to $10,000
Deadline: July each year
13. Foreclosure.com Scholarship
Yep, waxing poetic on the failings of the American real estate system and discussing how terrible renting is can lead to some cash to put toward your education.
Entrants must “Explain the impact of COVID-19 on foreclosures in the U.S. residential housing market” in 2,000 words or less in order to qualify. Foreclosure.com will then award the best essay with the prize.
Don’t let this opportunity pass you (rent or) buy. I don’t know, you guys, this one was tough. Leave me alone.
Prize: Up to $2,500
Deadline: December 15, 2021
14. The Twins Scholarship
Are you a twin? Do you love your sibling so much you couldn’t bear to attend a different college?
Heck, even if you hate your twin, this scholarship will make you think twice.
Lake Erie College in Ohio offers a scholarship for 50 percent of your tuition if both twins are enrolled in studies. Two for the price of one? You’ll be seeing double with all that money saved.
Prize: 50 percent off tuition for both twins
Deadline: Scholarship is renewable each academic year
15. Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship
If you’re already an established golf caddie with excellent grades, you can get a free ride with this amazing scholarship. You receive full tuition and board if you can demonstrate your experience, good character, and financial need, thanks to the Western Golf Association Evans Scholars Foundation.
This is the type of scholarship you will never fore-get. It’s definitely not a bogey.
Prize: Full tuition and board
Deadline: October 30 each year
16. Zolp Scholarship
This one makes me laugh so much. You can win this scholarship only if you’re a Catholic and your surname is Zolp. I’m not making this up. Loyola University in Chicago offers this prize to incoming students who can prove with birth and baptismal certificates that they meet the above criteria. This one doesn’t even need a pun.
Deadline: March 1 each year
17. Alice Mcarver Ratchford Scholarship
Talk about a weird scholarship! I can’t wrap my head around this one. The University of North Carolina offers it to undergraduate women who have never been married, don’t own a car, are single, live on campus, have not received any other scholarships, and agree to maintain these states of being for the remainder of their studies.
If that sounds like your idea of a good time, you should consider applying. It might also be for you if you have a car-free attitude.
Deadline: Varies each year
18. The National Potato Council Scholarship
As an Irish person, this one makes me unbearably happy. Finally, an organization dedicated to the best food known to humans: spuds.
This ain’t no mashy scholarship either: Worth a whopping $10,000, this award from the Potato Leadership, Education and Advancement Foundation goes to one graduate student whose research could directly improve the U.S. potato industry. If you’re a chip off the ol’ block baked into the idea of improving these tuber-ular starchy vegetables, look no further.
Deadline: In the spring each year
19. Veriheal’s Innovation in Cannabis Scholarship
This one comes with high praise from me. The medical marijuana company knows how expensive and stressful affording college can be, so it wants to help out 20 students with a $1,000 scholarship.
To enter, regardless of your major, you just need to write a 1,000-word (or more) essay on how to improve the cannabis industry. Those who show the most passion and knowledge for sustainability and innovation for the future of cannabis, both as an industry and medical tool, will be weeded out.
You can’t spell healthcare without THC, right? Thank you, I’m here all night.
Deadline: July each year
20. Asparagus Club Scholarship
It turns out vegetables aren’t just good for your health, but for your financial well-being, too. This scholarship supported by the National Grocers Association Foundation is intended for someone whose studies lead to a career in the grocery industry.
Why asparagus, you ask? The site so elegantly explains: “The name Asparagus Club was selected for the group to symbolize the concept that one single tip of asparagus standing alone would fall, but when tied together in a bunch could stand upright.”
Aside from the aforementioned career in grocery, other requirements are you must be enrolled in a four-year degree, with experience in grocery a plus, but not essential. Though this award is quite specific, it’s always good to have asparagus? (a spare, I guess? This one was hard, leave me alone.)
Deadline: April each year
21. Aggressive Scholarship Applicants Scholarship
If this list has taught you anything, it’s that there are tons of weird scholarships out there. But Debt.com has taken things to a new level.
The site will reward you for proving that you’ve applied to an aggressive number of scholarships. It couldn’t be any easier. Just show that you’re eager to get some free money!
This is one of the only times when being overeager pays off — literally. I have no other puns for this one. Sorry.
Deadline: Opens monthly from September
The Bottom Line
So there you have it. If you’re a 6-foot-tall puppeteer with a penchant for duck calling, vegetarianism, and applying for as many scholarships as humanly possible, you’ll never have to pay a penny toward college. Or you could just be a twin, and half of your problems will be solved!
The point is: There are so many weird scholarships available out there — you just have to do your research and apply early. Give yourself plenty of time. You can probably get something — even if your last name isn’t Zolp.