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Unusual Scholarships
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This page lists some of the more interesting, esoteric and unusual scholarships FinAid has encountered. The scholarship for left-handed students is the one most frequently mentioned by news media, but the duct tape contest is gaining in popularity.

To find other scholarships for students with specific interests or abilities, see the profile-based aid section of FinAid or search the FastWeb scholarship database. See also the list of cancer scholarships.

The list of scholarships is 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.

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Physical Characteristics

Scholarship for Left-Handed Students
The only scholarship for left-handed students is the Frederick and Mary F. Beckley Scholarship of up to $1,000. This scholarship is awarded to left-handed students who will be attending Juniata College. This scholarship is only available to students who are enrolled at Juniata College. For more information, write to Office of Student Financial Planning, Juniata College, 1700 Moore Street, Huntington, PA 16652.

Little People of America Scholarship
The Little People of America (LPA) association offers the LPA Scholarship for members of its organization. LPA is a nonprofit organization that provides information and support to people of short stature and their families. Membership is offered to people who are 4'10" or less in height. The deadline for the LPA Scholarship is April 1.

LPA was founded by Billy Barty, the 3'9" actor who starred in Rumplestiltskin and Willow. The Billy Barty Foundation also sponsors a scholarship for college students who have a medical form of dwarfism.

Tall Clubs International (TCI) Scholarship
Tall Clubs International (TCI) offers a $1,000 scholarship for tall people, the Kae Sumner Einfeldt Scholarship. Individual chapters may also offer local awards. Women who are at least 5'10" and men who are at least 6'2" are eligible for the award. Candidates must be under 21 years old and plan to attend college in the fall.

Creativity

Duck Brand Duct Tape Stuck at Prom Contest
The Duck Brand Duct Tape Stuck on Prom Contest is open to students age 14 years or older who are attending a high school prom in the spring. US citizenship is required. Entrants must enter as a couple (two individuals) and attend a high school prom wearing complete attire or accessories made from duct tape. The submission must include a color photograph of the couple together in prom attire. The first place prize consists of a $5,000 scholarship for each member of the winning couple and a $5,000 cash prize to the school that hosted the prom. Other prizes include $3,000 each for second place, $2,000 each for third, and $500 each for the remaining top 10 couples. The winning couple will be selected based on a variety of criteria, including originality, workmanship, quantity of Duck Tape used, use of colors, and creative use of accessories. The Duck Tape contest web site includes photographs of the winning costumes.

Seussvile: Oh, The Places You'll Go! College Scholarship
Random House, the publisher of the Dr. Seuss books, sponsors a $5,000 essay competition for high school seniors age 21 or younger. Essays must be original, typed, double-spaced, written in English, at most one page, in at least 12 point type and no more than 500 words. The essay must answer the essay question fully. The deadline is February 15.

National Make It Yourself with Wool Competition
The National Make It Yourself with Wool (NMIYWW) competition awards $2,000 and $1,000 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. For more information send a self-addressed stamped envelope to:
National Make It Yourself with Wool Competition
Box 175
Lavina, MT 59046

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. The winner receives a $10,000 scholarship. The first runner-up receives $5,000. The second runner-up receives $3,333.

Collegiate Inventors Competition
Sponsored by the National Inventors Hall of Fame, the Collegiate Inventors Competition (previously known as the BFGoodrich Collegiate Inventors Program) seeks to encourage undergraduate and graduate students to pursue new ideas, processes and technological innovations. The invention must have been reduced to practice and patentable. It may not have been made available to the public as a commercial product or process or been patented or published more than one year prior to the date of submission to the competition. Submissions are judged on originality and inventiveness, as well as on their potential value to society (socially, environmentally, and economically), and on the range or scope of use. Up to four students may work together as a team, but only one prize will be awarded per entry. The grand prize winner receives $25,000. There is also one Graduate Collegiate Inventors Competition prize of $15,000 and one Undergraduate Collegiate Inventors Competition prize of $10,000. The deadline is June 1. For more information, write to The Collegiate Inventors Competition, c/o The National Inventors Hall of Fame, 221 S. Broadway Street, Akron, Ohio 44308-1505.

Rube Goldberg Machine Contest Scholarship
The Milwaukee School of Engineering runs an annual Rube Goldberg 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 $1,000 scholarship, renewable for up to 4 years. Recipients must maintain at least a 2.25 GPA on a 4.0 scale to retain the scholarship. The application deadline is March 1. Applications are available on the MSOE financial aid web site.

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 four-year scholarship of $30,000 per year, 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. Candidates must be nominated by a high school teacher or guidance counselor for their "quirky brilliance". Recipients are selected on the basis of a portfolio of 10 to 15 pages of creative work in fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction or hybrid genres. Although grades are not weighted as heavily, candidates should be able to achieve admission to Ursinus College (i.e., class rank in the top 25%, GPA of B or better, and SAT score of 1,210 or better). The deadline is January 15.

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 first prize is $2,000. There are three 2nd prizes of $500 and five 3rd prizes of $200. There are a total of 229 awards. The deadline is in mid-March.
  • 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 first prize is $10,000. There are five 2nd place prizes of $2,000 and ten 3rd place prizes of $1,000. There are a total of 244 awards. The deadline is in mid-April.
  • 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. The first prize is $5,000. There are three 2nd prizes of $1,000 and five 3rd prizes of $400. There are a total of 49 awards. The deadline is in mid-September.
Essay topics and other information about these contests can be found at www.aynrand.org/contests. For more information, send email to essays@aynrand.org.

Last Name

Zolp Scholarships
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. The scholarship provides full tuition for four years.

Other scholarships for students with particular last names include:

  • Scarpinato at Texas A&M University. Scholarship pays full cost of attendance at Texas A&M University for anyone whose last name is Scarpinato by birth or marriage.
  • 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. The scholarship provides up to $9,000 for in-state students and $18,000 for out-of-state students. (There is no known relationship between John Gatling and Richard Jordan Gatling, the inventor of the Gatling machine gun. John Gatling made his fortune as a real estate developer in Raleigh, NC.)
  • Harvard University has several scholarships based on the student's last name, including Baxendale, Hudson, Thayer, Downer, Bright.
  • Van Valkenburg. The Van Valkenburg Memorial Scholarship awards $1,000 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.

Sports

Patrick Kerr Skateboard Scholarship
The Patrick Kerr Skateboard Scholarship awards one $5,000 and three $1,000 scholarships to skateboarders who are high school seniors with a GPA of 2.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale. Recipients must enroll as a full-time undergraduate at an accredited college or university the fall after high school graduation. US citizenship is required. The award is given to skateboard activists. The deadline is in late April. For more information visit the web site.

Barry Lefkowitz Scholarship Billiards Tournament
The Barry Lefkowitz Scholarship Billiards Tournament is open to University of Akron students each fall and spring and awards a $1,000 first prize, $500 second prize and $250 third prize. The pool competition has been held twice a year since February 2002. The tournament is sponsored by Barry Lefkowitz, a 1966 graduate of the University of Akron who was the university billiards champion in 1965-66.

Scholar Athlete Milk Mustache of the Year (SAMMY) Award (application)
The Scholar Athlete Milk Mustache of the Year (SAMMY) Award is open to graduating high school senior scholar athletes. Candidates must demonstrate excellence in academics, athletic performance, leadership and community service. Candidates must also be a resident of one of the 48 contiguous states or the District of Columbia. There will be one scholarship of $7,500 awarded to each of 25 regional winners. The deadline is in early March. The whymilk.com web site includes photographs of previous winners with their milk mustaches.

Evans Scholars Foundation
The Western Golf Association sponsors the Charles "Chick" Evans Jr. Scholarship for golf caddies. Caddies must be nominated by their club, rank among the top 25 percent of their high school class, have a superior caddie record for two or more years, 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. The scholarships include:

In addition, the SMART Program & Scholarships Web site lists more than $6 million in scholarships offered by bowling associations and councils, tournaments and proprietors.

National Marbles Tournament Scholarships
The annual National Marbles Tournament awards $5,000 in scholarships to mibsters (marble shooters) aged 8 to 14. The tournament is held in June each year. The children crowned King and Queen of Marbles each receive a $2,000 scholarship. A $1,000 scholarship is awarded to the boy and girl who win the spontsmanship award. For more information, write to National Marbles Tournament, 811 Roeth Avenue, Cumberland, MD 21502.

Surfrider Foundation Thomas Pratte Memorial Scholarship
The Thomas Pratte Memorial Scholarship is sponsored by the Surfrider Foundation for for students with an interest in coastal environmental science, such as oceanography, marine affairs, environmental sciences, public policy, community planning and natural resources. The Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of the world's waves, oceans and beaches. A total of $10,000 is awarded each year: one $2,000 scholarship for an undergraduate student, one $3,000 fellowship for a master's student, and one $5,000 fellowship for a PhD student. The deadline is March 15. For more information, write to Surfrider Foundation, Attn: Pratte Application, PO Box #6010, San Clemente, CA 92674-6010, or send email to prattescholarship@surfrider.org.

Other scholarships with a connection to surfing include:

Field of Study

LaFontaine Aquatic Entomology Award
The LaFontaine Aquatic Entomology Award is available to graduate students conducting a research project in aquatic entomology. The award amount is $500.

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. The deadline is March 1. For more information, write to:
AWS Foundation
550 NW Lejeune Road
Miami, FL 33126

Mycological Society of America
The Mycological Society of America offers several graduate fellowships for students who are studying mycology (spores, mold and fungus). Awards include the $500 Backus Award and two $2,000 MSA Graduate Fellowships.

TAPPI Scholarships
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 scholarship provides $4,000 per year for the last two years of the winner's undergraduate program. The award is tenable at two dozen colleges that have pulp and paper programs or which have TAPPI Student Chapters. The deadline is May 1. The TAPPI web site also lists a variety of other scholarships, ranging from the best paper award to scholarships for corrugated packaging. Most of these awards have a January 31 deadline. For more information, call 1-800-291-3145.

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. The award amount is $3,000. The deadline is July 15. To request an application form send email to office@parapsychology.org. Application forms are also available on the web site. The Parapsychology Foundation also offers the Frances P. Bolton Fellowship and the D. Scott Rogo Award.

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. The $500 award is open to undergraduate and graduate students. Nominations must be submitted by academic department chairs and/or deans. Only one undergraduate student and one graduate student may be nominated by each department chair or dean. The deadline is June 1.

Starfleet Academy Scholarship
The Starfleet Academy Scholarship offers several $500 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. The deadline is July 1.

SPAACSE Scholarships
The Society of Performers, Artists, Athletes and Celebrities for Space Exploration, Inc. (SPAACSE) offers two $1,000 scholarships.

  • The SPAACSE Galaxy Music Scholarship is available to graduating high school seniors who are pursuing an interest in space music as a means of expressing the beauty and inspiration of the universe. The music submission must be recorded on either a cassette or CD and should be 4-6 minutes in length.

  • The SPAACSE Liliane Webb Art Scholarship is open to graduating high school seniors who have an interest in space art. Candidates must provide an original two-dimensional space artwork to be considered for this award. Candidates must also include a 1-2 page description of prior artistic and other school activities and awards.

Illustrators of the Future Contest
The Illustrators of the Future Contest is open to artists from all nations. An entry consists of three black and white works illustrating a science fiction or fantasy story with no recurring theme. Entries may not have been previously published. The award is up to $4,000. Additional information can be found on the web site.

Animal Appreciation

Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest
The Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest awards a $1,500 scholarship to the winner. The first runner-up receives a $500 scholarship, the second runner-up receives a $300 scholarship and the third runner-up receives a $200 scholarship. The 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 submissions in the NRA Wildlife Art Contest, and visiting the National Firearms Museum. Recipients of the NRA Youth Award Certificate are eligible for the NRA National Prizes. First place receives $3,500, second place receives $2,500, and third place receives $1,500. Participants in the NRA Youth Education Summit (YES) are also able to compete for the YES Grand Scholarship. The NRA also offers the Jeanne Bray Memorial Scholarship for children of law enforcement officers who are NRA members. For more information, call the NRA Youth Programs Department at 1-703-267-1505, write to NRA Youth Programs Department, Outstanding Achievement Youth Award, 11250 Waples Mill Road, Fairfax, VA 22030 or send email to youth_programs@nrahq.org.

Mule Deer Foundation Scholarships
The Dannie Jasmine Scholarship is sponsored by the Mule Deer Foundation, a conservation foundation established to conserve mule and blacktail deer. The Dannie Jasmine Scholarship consists of a $500 award to a student at the Department of Environmental and Resource Sciences at the University of Nevada at Reno. The deadline is June 15. For more information, fax 1-775-322-3421 or write to Mule Deer Foundation, Attn: Dannie Jasmine Scholarship Fund, 1005 Terminal Way, Suite 170, Reno, NV 89502.

Food-Related

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. The cash prizes include $2,500 (1st place), $1,200 (2nd place) and $800 (3rd place). The scholarships, which are sponsored by the American National Cattlewomen Foundation, include $1,000 (1st place), $750 (2nd place), and $500 (3rd place). For more information, write to American National Cattlewomen, P.O. Box 3881, Englewood, CO 80155.

Vegetarian Resource Group Scholarship
The Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) offers two $5,000 scholarships each year to graduating US 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. The deadline is February 20. Applications are available on the VRG web site. For more information, call 1-410-366-8343, write to The Vegetarian Resource Group, PO Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203, or send email to vrg@vrg.org.

AACT National Candy Technologists Scholarship
The American Association of Candy Technologists (AACT) sponsors an annual $5,000 scholarship for college freshmen, sophomores and juniors (for use in the next academic year) who have demonstrated an interest in confectionary technology. Candidates should be attending an accredited, four-year college or university in North America, be majoring in food science, chemical science, biological science or related area, and have a GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. The deadline is March 31.

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. The deadline is March 1. Amounts vary. Applications are available on the ASEV web site. For more information, contact:
ASEV Scholarship Committee
PO Box 1855
Davis, CA 95617-1855
Email: society@asev.org
Fax: 530-753-3318
Phone: 530-753-3142

Activity-Related

DePauw University
The Icy Frost Bridge Scholarship at DePauw University is restricted to female music students who can sing or play the national anthem with sincerity. Icy's brother, Jack Frost Bridge, is an alumnus of DePauw University.

Students for Organ Donation Youth Leadership Award
The Students for Organ Donation Youth Leadership Award is available to full-time high school or undergraduate college students. One or two $500 to $1,000 scholarships will be awarded. Candidates must have made a commitment to raising awareness of organ donation and transplantation. Selection is based on effectiveness, leadership, creativity and sustainability of efforts. Applications may be based either on a report of previous events that have successfully raised organ donation awareness, or a detailed and realistic plan to raise donor awareness. (Receipt of the award is contingent upon confirmed execution of the plan.) The deadline is May 31. (As of April 2010, the organization's web site www.studentdonor.org appears to be defunct.)

Tupperware Home Parties Scholarship
Tupperware offers a scholarship to independent Tupperware dealers, managers, franchised distributors and their dependent children. The amount of the award varies. The deadline is January 15. For more information, write to:
Tupperware Home Parties
PO Box 2353
Orlando, FL 32802

Coven of the Sacred Waters
The Coven of the Sacred Waters offers two scholarships for Pagan and Wicca students. The Karma Award is a $500 scholarship for Pagans. The Community Service Award is a $400 scholarship. The application deadline is November 30.

Good Works

Miles "Thank a Professor" Scholarship
The $10,000 Norman A. Miles Scholarship is awarded annually at Rochester Institute of Technology to the junior with the highest GPA. The student, in turn, gets to pick a professor to receive the same amount for professional development.

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. There is no application for this scholarship. Instead, the selection committee relies on an army of stealthy observers, the Secret Society of Serendipitous Service to Hal (SSSSH!), to identify students of strong moral character with a spirit of giving and dedication to others.

What You Don't Do

Gertrude J. Deppen Scholarship
The Gertrude J. Deppen scholarship at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania is restricted to Bucknell University students demonstrating financial need who have resided in Mount Carmel for 10 years, graduated from Mount Carmel Public High School in Pennsylvania, who are not habitual users of tobacco, intoxicating liquor, and narcotics, and who do not participate in strenuous athletic contests. (It is sometimes referred to as the "unathletic scholarship" in the news media because of the latter restriction.) It was established by Joseph H. Deppen, Class of 1900, in memory of his sister, Class of 1902.

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.

Twins

Colleges that currently offer special scholarships or discounts for twins and triplets include:

Valparaiso University in Indiana previously had a scholarship for twins, where each twin would get a full ride in alternate years and the other was dependent on whatever aid they otherwise qualified for. This program was funded by an alumni set of twins. However, the alumni stopped funding it in the late 1990s.

The Illinois Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs, Inc. sponsors a scholarship for four parents of multiples in Illinois who are continuing their education.

Legacy Scholarships

Hood College's Grandma Scholarship
Hood College offers a heritage scholarship in which selected incoming freshmen pay the same first-year tuition as their alumnus parent or grandparent.

 

 
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