When you think of big college scholarships, some high-profile names come to mind: Coca-Cola, General Motors, Dell and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to name a few.
But the list of lucrative college funders also includes the likes of the Horror Writers Association, the United States Bowling Congress, Tall Clubs International and the makers of Duck Tape.
If you’re worried about how you’re going to pay for college, consider expanding your scholarship application list to the unusual, offbeat and sometimes downright weird competitions that also pay thousands of dollars.
While the big awards from corporations are long shots for even the brighest of the bright, the chances of winning college cash can be substantially greater by applying to some of the lesser-known scholarships. Some of these organizations often go begging for qualified candidates to give money to.
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I came across dozens of unusual scholarships in a quick online search, which included a list compiled by FastWeb.com.
For example, does your high school senior have a particular talent for duck calling? If so, he or she may want to enter the Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest. This year’s contest will be held Nov. 28 in Stuttgart, Ark.
The winner will receive a $2,000 scholarship, while the second place contestant will receive $1,000. The third and fourth place finishers will get prizes of $750 and $500, which will cover a lot of book fees and meal tickets for a year.
Then there’s the scholarship program sponsored by the American Fire Sprinkler Association, which pays out $2,000 each to 10 winners annually who are high school seniors or eligible home-schooled students.
What do you have to do to win? Read (not write) a short essay online about sprinklers and fire safety and complete a 10-question quiz on the material.
The United States Bowling Congress offers one of the more lucrative scholarships. And no, you don’t need to bowl a perfect game to apply. The Earl Anthony Memorial Scholarship pays $5,000 to five winning students. Applicants must be youth members of the bowling association and have a minimum 2.5 grade point average.
Any talented puppeteers in the family? Consider the $700 prize from Union Internationale de la Marionette-USA. According to the organization’s website, the funds support study “with a recognized puppetry professional or professional program outside of North America.”
Another unusual scholarship comes from the Tall Clubs International Foundation. It annually awards a number of scholarships of up to $1,000 to tall students who are under 21 and attending their first year of college. The height requirement is a minimum of 5 feet 10 inches for women and 6 feet 2 inches for men. Also, the nonprofit Little People of America pays from $250 to $1,000 or more in educational scholarships to applicants who are no taller than about 4 feet 10.
If your student has an aptitude for writing horror stories, consider applying to the Horror Writers Association. It awards two $2,500 scholarships to young members.
Also, just in time for Halloween, my favorite — the Halloween Duck Tape scholarship contest sponsored by ShurTech Brands. Contestants must submit a photo of a pumpkin, costume or craft they have creatively decorated using Duck Tape. The winner gets $1,000.
Afraid you’ll miss the Oct. 31 deadline? Circle back in the spring for the Stuck at Prom Duck Tape Scholarship contest. Use the tape to create prom outfits and accessories, submit a photo and score a $5,000 first place prize. No essays required.