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Ordinary students often ask whether there are any scholarships available to students who don't have an A average. This page lists some scholarships for average students. Although these scholarships don't require a high GPA, they do require excellence in a non-academic area. Every scholarship sponsor is trying to find the students that best fulfill their selection criteria. If the selection criteria don't depend on academic merit, then they might depend on athletic or artistic merit, community service, extracurricular activities, or on skill in a non-academic discipline. The winners are always the students who best reflect the goals of the scholarship sponsor. Candidates don't necessarily need to be academically talented, but do need to be extraordinary and amazing in other ways. No scholarship sponsor gives away money simply for breathing, except perhaps the US government.

Of these scholarships, the David Letterman scholarship is the one most often cited by news media.

The following list of scholarships is intended to be representative, not comprehensive. To find other scholarships for students with specific interests or abilities, search the FastWeb scholarship database. See also FinAid's list of unusual scholarships, as these often include awards that don't require a 4.0 GPA.

Other sources of non-academic scholarships include your employer or your parent's employer, your church, synagogue or mosque, hobbyist groups, local businesses, community service organizations, fraternal organizations, unions and minority groups. There are also many essay contests.

Many education lenders and other businesses also use scholarship lotteries to attract students to their web sites. Usually the winners are selected by a random drawing.


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.

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 $2,500 scholarship for each member of the winning couple and a $2,500 cash prize to the school that hosted the prom. Other prizes include $1,000 for second place, $500 for third, and Duck Tape sportswear for honorable mentions. 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.

Overcoming Adversity

Horatio Alger Association Scholarships
The Horatio Alger Association provides scholarships for students who have demonstrated integrity and perseverance in overcoming adversity. Other selection criteria include strength of character, financial need, a good academic record (a GPA of 2.0 or higher), and a desire to contribute to society. The association awards 100 $10,000 scholarships and 150 $1,000 scholarships each year to high school seniors. US citizenship is required. Several states also have state scholarship programs. The deadline is October 15.

Patricia M. McNamara Memorial Scholarship
The Patricia M. McNamara Memorial Scholarship awards one $1,000 scholarship to current college students who have had to overcome obstacles to achieve their goals. The deadline is December 31.

Community Service

Information about AmeriCorps and additional community service awards can be found in FinAid's list of scholarships for community service.

The Do Something Awards
The BRICK Awards by Do Something provide community grants and scholarships to "change-makers" age 25 and under who work with Do Something to improve their communities. The competition is open to US and Canadian citizens and permanent residents. Five Do Something Award nominees will receive at least $10,000 in community grants and scholarships. Of the five winners, one grand prize winner will receive a total of $100,000 in community grants. The nominees also participate in a live VH1 TV show and will receive continued support from (The community grants are paid to the nominee's organization or a not-for-profit organization of the nominee's choice. All winners have the option of receiving $5,000 of the total award in the form of a college scholarship.) The deadline is March 1. For more information, send email to

Discover Card Tribute Award
The Discover Card Tribute Award awards up to $1 million in scholarships annually to high school juniors nationwide. Discover awards up to 300 state scholarships of $2,500 and up to ten national $25,000 scholarships. The scholarships may be used for postsecondary education at two and four-year colleges and trade/technical schools. Winners are selected on the basis of community service, special talents, leadership, and overcoming an obstacle. Candidates must have a GPA of 2.75 or better in the 9th and 10th grades. The deadline is January 31. For more information, call 1-866-756-7932.

Prudential Spirit of Community Awards
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards recognize children in grades 5-12 who have engaged in volunteer activities and have demonstrated exceptional community service. The program is sponsored by Prudential in conjunction with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). State winners receive a $1,000 award. National winners receive a $5,000 award. The student application deadline is in late October. Tylenol Scholarship
The Tylenol Scholarship program awards ten $10,000 scholarships and thirty $5,000 scholarships to students pursuing careers in healthcare, life sciences or related fields. The Tylenol Future Care Scholarship is awarded based on leadership qualities, academic excellence and community involvement. The deadline is May 31. The program is administered by International Scholarship and Tuition Services, Inc.

Acts of Kindness

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.

Non-Academic Achievement

AXA Achievement Scholarship Program
The AXA Achievement Scholarship Program awards more than $1.3 million a year to high school seniors who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in non-academic activities in school, community or workplace. The award is sponsored by the AXA Foundation. US citizenship or legal residency is required. The program includes scholarships of $25,000, $10,000 and $2,000. Information and applications are available at the AXA Achievement Scholarship Program web site.


Girls Going Places Scholarship
The Girls Going Places Scholarship is sponsored by Guardian Life Insurance Company of America. It awards prizes totalling $30,000 to 15 girls aged 12-18 who have demonstrated budding entrepreneurship. There is one first place award of $10,000, one second place award of $5,000, one third place award of $3,000 and twelve $1,000 awards. The competition starts September 1. The deadline is March 1.

Essay Contests

AFSA National Scholarship Essay Contest
The AFSA National Scholarship Essay Contest is sponsored by the American Fire Sprinkler Association. The national winner receives a $4,000 scholarship, with second and third place winners receiving $3,000 and $2,000 scholarships. The four remaining regional winners each receive $1,000 scholarships. Information is available starting in the fall. The deadline is in early January.

Akademos / Scholarship Contest
Akademos Inc. offers spring and fall scholarship essay contests to help publicize the web site, a source of new and used textbooks. The contest is open to undergraduate and graduate students. The grand prize winner receives $2,000, and two runners-up receive $250 gift certificates for The fall deadline is October 31. The spring deadline is April 30.

Americanism Essay Contest
The Americanism Essay Contest is sponsored by the Fleet Reserve Association (FRA) National Committee on Americanism-Patriotism. Awards include a grand national prize of a $10,000 US Savings Bond, and $5,000, $3,000 and $2,000 US Savings Bonds awarded to the first, second and third place winners in each grade category. The contest is open to students in grades 7 through 12. Entrants must be sponsored by a FRA member or by a chartered branch or unit. The deadline is December 1.

College Prowler Essay Competition
The College Prowler Essay Competition awards a monthly $1,000 scholarship to current high school and college students for the best original college application essay. The deadline is the last day of each month. For more information, send email to

Environmental Essay Contest
The aBetterEarth Environmental Essay Contest is sponsored by the Institute for Humane Studies. Candidates should be full-time undergraduate or graduate students or under age 25 as of May 15. High school students are not eligible. The contest awards one first place award of $2,000, one second place award of $1,250, one third place award of $750, and four runner up awards of $250 each. The deadline is May 15. For more information, send email to

Holocaust Remembrance Project Essay Contest
The Holocaust Remembrance Project Essay Contest is designed to encourage and promote the study of the Holocaust. Ten first place winners receive an all-expense-paid trip to Washington DC to visit the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and scholarships of $1,000 to $5,000. The contest is open to all residents of the United States and Mexico, and also to US Citizens living abroad. Candidates should be enrolled in high school (grades 9-12) and age 19 or younger. The deadline is April 15. For more information, send email to

Maryknoll Student Essay Contest
The Maryknoll Student Essay Contest awards a $1,000 first place scholarship in each division (grades 6-8, grades 9-12). MaryKnoll is a US-based Catholic mission movement. The essay contests are usually on religious topics. The deadline is December 1. Scholarships
The scholarship involves an essay on a financial theme. It is open to college freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors attending college in the US or Canada. A GPA of 2.3 or higher is required. One $300 scholarship will be awarded. The deadline is August 31.

OP Loftbed Scholarship
The OP Loftbed Scholarship awards one $500 scholarship to a college student each year. US citizenship is required. The essay topics vary from year to year. The deadline is July 31.

School Band and Orchestra Magazine Scholarship
The School Band and Orchestra Magazine Scholarship awards ten $1,000 scholarships (five to students in grades 4-8 and five to students in grades 9-12). The essay topics focus on music. Entry forms are available online starting September 1. The deadline is December 31.

Teenage Vision for America Essay Contest
The Teenage Vision for America Essay Contest is sponsored by American Spirit Publishing. The first prize is $300. The contest is open to students aged 13 to 18, inclusive. The deadline is June 1.

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

Voice of Democracy Essay Contest
The Voice of Democracy Essay Contest is sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW). The audio essay contest is open to high school students in grades 9-12. The first-place national winner receives a $25,000 scholarship. The essay topics always involve a patriotic theme. The deadline is November 1.

Video Contests

Christopher College Video and High School Poster Contests
The Christophers hold an annual video contest for college students and an annual poster contest for high school students. The video contest provides cash awards of $3,000, $2,000, and $1,000 for first, second and third place winners. The poster contest provides a cash award of $1,000 for the first place winner. See the web site for contest theme. The deadline is in early June.

Dance Scholarships

American Harlequin Dance Scholarship
The American Harlequin Dance Scholarship is sponsored by Harlequin Floors. Twenty $25,000 scholarships are awarded by random drawing. The deadline is November 1.

Art Contests

Federal Junior Duck Stamp Art Competition
The Federal Junior Duck Stamp Art Competition is sponsored by the US Department of the Interior, US Fish and Wildlife Service. Students in grades K-12 may submit a drawing, painting or sketch of any North American waterfowl species. Each state, territory or district has its own competition, with the "Best of Show" winners submitted to the national competition. One of the 53 Best of Show images will be selected as the next Junior Duck Stamp. The national awards include a first place $5,000 cash award, a second place $3,000 cash award, and a third place $2,000 cash award. The contest is open to US ctizens, resident aliens and nationals. The deadline is March 15.

Miscellaneous Activities

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.


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