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The Most Unusual Scholarships and Education Grants To Help You Pay For School

The thought of the cost of attending college is daunting, whether you’re a parent or a student. According to the College Board, costs of tuition in 2020-21 ranged from an average of $10,650 a year for a public, four-year in-state college to $37,650 for a private nonprofit four-year college.

But don’t let the sticker shock and the thought of paying student loans for years discourage you. These days, scholarships exist for just about everything and anyone; you don’t need to be an A-plus student, an awesome athlete or terrific on the tuba, either. No, you have opportunities to earn niche scholarships based on facts that include your heritage, your last name, your height, your life as a single parent, your artistic ability, your family status, your hobbies, your religion, your nontraditional career choices by signing up for email and even just by doing what is second nature — snapping a photo and sharing it.

The unique scholarships also are available to students of a variety of ages, not just those coming out of high school or following a traditional college path.

Here are some nontraditional scholarships that just might apply to you.

  • The Vegetarian Resource Group: One student graduating in spring 2022 will receive $10,000 and two others will earn $5,000 each. Scholarships are awarded to those who have promoted vegetarianism in their schools and/or communities. Deadline: Postmarked on or before Feb. 20, 2022.
  • The Gallery Collection Create-a-Greeting-Card Scholarship: Submit an original photo, artwork or computer graphics for the front of a greeting card. The contest is open to students 14 and older, who are enrolled in high school, college or are homeschooled. The winner of the selected card wins $10,000. Deadline: March 2, 2022, but don’t wait. Monthly public voting has started.
  • The UNIMA-USA Scholarship: This program is designed to offer a $1,000 scholarship to assist with continuing education in puppetry. Applicants should have a university degree or some professional experience in puppetry, or a “serious commitment” to the art form. Deadline: Dec. 30.
  • Foreclosure.com Scholarship: Three college undergraduates will win scholarships based on their essays describing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on home foreclosures in the United States. The top prize is $2,500, with two $500 scholarships awarded for the runners-up. Deadline: Dec. 15.
  • DoSomething.org Scholarships: The organization, which advocates for young people and social change, offers a variety of scholarships aimed at encouraging young adults to make the world a better place. A current scholarship is the Road to Self-Care, in which entrants share a checklist with a friend to help them stay safe on the road. Enter by uploading a screenshot or photo to show how you shared the checklist to be randomly entered in a drawing for the $2,000 prize. Deadline: Rolling.
  • Liz Daley Scholarship: Women interested in a career of alpine guiding can earn a scholarship of up to $2,800 to apply to specific courses at the American Alpine Institute. Applicants must submit a resume and letter that show why they would excel as an outdoor educator, trip leader or mountain guide. Deadline: Jan. 31, 2022.
  • Tattoo Journal Ink Scholarships: Submit an essay that addresses the topic “Behind the Ink: Myth and Reality” to win one of three scholarships, with $1,800 the highest award. You don’t need to be an aspiring tattoo artist to enter. Deadline: Sept. 30.
  • Zolp Scholarship: This is an endowed scholarship that will contribute toward the education of a Catholic student whose last name is Zolp who attends Loyola University Chicago. Deadline: March 1, 2022.
  • Discover Student Loans Scholarship Award: Sign up for emails from Discover to earn one of 12 scholarships worth $5,000 randomly awarded. Deadline: Rolling.
  • Twin Scholarship: Lake Erie College in Painesville, Ohio, has the solution for parents dreading paying two tuitions at once. Since 1982, the college has offered the Twin Scholarship, which divides a full tuition over the cost of twins, reducing the bill for each of them by 50%. Deadline: Rolling.
  • Ludo Frevel Crystallography Scholarship: The applicant should be enrolled in a graduate degree program in a crystallography-related field. In 2021, the award amount was $2,500 each. Deadline: Oct. 14.
  • Some scholarships are regionally based so check your local media for announcements. And some are specific to your college, so take a look at your school’s and grants page frequently.

By Kami Parkas

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