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If college is in your future, you’re probably hoping to pay for it without racking up tons of student loan debt. Scholarships are one of the best ways to pay for college since they are free money that doesn’t need to be repaid.
However, many students only apply for large or well-known awards. Those are certainly useful, but by focusing on awards that cater to a niche audience, you’ll likely face less competition.
Here are 11 of the most unique scholarships and the eligibility criteria you’ll need to meet before you apply.
1. Beans For Brains Scholarship
Students who enjoy the fiber arts are eligible for the Beans for Brains scholarship. They must submit a picture of a knitting, crocheting or weaving project to be considered. Other important factors include financial need, academics, community service and more.
There will be four scholarships awarded, each worth $2,000. Students must have a 3.0 GPA or higher. This scholarship is open to incoming college freshmen, undergraduates, graduate students and professional school students.
2. Stuck at Prom Scholarships
As far as weird scholarships go, this one takes the cake. Fashion-conscious teens can apply for the Stuck at Prom scholarship, which requires that students create a dress or tux from Duck Brand duct tape to wear at prom. The grand prize winner in the dress and tux categories will each receive $10,000, while four runners-up in each category will receive $500 each.
Students must submit high-resolution photos showing off their creation along with a written essay or video. While all high school grades are eligible for this award, students from Maryland, Tennessee, Colorado, Vermont, Nebraska or North Dakota are not eligible.
3. Global Lift Equipment Scholarship
Most scholarship applications ask students the same questions, but the Global Lift Equipment Scholarship is truly one of a kind. To enter, students must write a short story from the point of view of an inanimate object. The object must be one of the forklifts, scissor lifts, loaders, boom lifts or attachments listed on the Global Lift website. The winner will receive $500.
The maximum word count is 2,000 words, and you must have at least two characters in the story. The story must be told in the first-person.
4. My Crossword Maker Scholarship
Students who prefer crosswords over sudoku should apply for this wacky scholarship. Instead of writing an essay, students have to create their own 15×15 crossword to apply for the My Crossword Maker Scholarship. The crossword can’t use generic clues; it should reflect your personal passions and interests.
The winner will receive $1,000. Current and incoming undergraduate students are eligible for this scholarship.
5. Ayn Rand Essay Contest
Writing a book report has never been so lucrative. High school, college or graduate students can win $2,000 to $10,000 in the Ayn Rand Essay Contest. Read one of three novels by Ayn Rand, then submit an essay based on the provided prompts. You can even request free eBooks of the selected novels through the Ayn Rand Institute.
Essays are graded based on clarity and organization as well as your understanding of the novel’s philosophic themes.
6. Stop the Bleed Scholarship Program
Stop the Bleed is a national initiative that teaches people how to stop bleeding during an emergency situation. To apply for the Stop the Bleed scholarship, students must write a 250 to 500 word essay or create a one to two minute video about one of three prompts related to the Stop the Bleed campaign.
The first-place winner will receive a $3,000 scholarship, the second-place winner will receive a $1,500 scholarship and the third-place winner will receive a $500 scholarship.
Stop the Bleed also offers students whose parents are front-line workers the opportunity to apply for the Front Line Families Scholarship, which offers a $1,000 award. Applicants must submit a short essay or video describing their parent’s or guardian’s work on the front lines during the Covid-19 pandemic.
7. Love Your Career Scholarship
While many scholarships are focused on showing off your academic prowess, others are more unique. The Love Your Career Scholarship is awarded to a student who can explain why they’re passionate about their future career.
The scholarship is given out twice a year, and each award is worth $1,000. Students must write a 1,000-word essay and interview a professional who works in their future career. Any U.S. college student can apply.
8. Foreclosure.com Scholarship Program
Foreclosure.com sponsors a scholarship that asks students to explain how buying a foreclosed property can be a solid real estate opportunity. The essay must be between 800 and 2,000 words. Only current undergraduate students are eligible, so high school and graduate students will not qualify.
The first-place winner will receive a $4,000 scholarship, and the second- and third-place winners will get $1,000 each.
9. Evans Scholars Foundation
Students who have worked as golf caddies can apply for the Western Golf Association’s Evans Scholars Program. Students must have worked as caddies for at least two years. They must also have a strong academic record and demonstrated financial need. Only high school seniors or college freshmen are eligible to apply.
Students will have to complete both the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the CSS financial aid forms to be eligible. Students must also attend a qualifying college in their state to qualify for this scholarship program. The list of colleges can be found here.
While the requirements for this award are strict, applying could pay off: Winners receive a four-year scholarship that covers all tuition and housing costs. In 2021, 860 caddies applied, and 315 scholarships were awarded.
10. Vegan Teens Are The Future Scholarship
Students passionate about veganism can apply for the Vegan Teens Are The Future Scholarship, which offers awards up to $1,000.
To apply, you must be a high school junior or senior and have been a vegan for at least a year. Applicants must write a 300- to 600-word essay about why the vegan movement is important and how you will use your college education to further the vegan cause.
11. Debt.com Scholarship for Aggressive Scholarship Applicants
Debt.com wants to reward students for consistently applying to scholarships, so it’s giving out $500 to students who’ve applied for multiple awards. There is no specific amount of scholarships you need to apply for—and you don’t have to win any of them. Simply provide confirmation emails proving you applied for other awards.
You must also include a short letter explaining why you’re applying for scholarships, what you have learned through the scholarship application process and what your plans are. This scholarship is awarded every two months, so students have plenty of chances to apply.
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