The Chronicle of Higher Ed offers a small list of odd-ball scholarships, niche offerings for a small population. They include such amazing items as Loyola University's (of Chicago) scholarship for Roman Catholics with the surname Zolp. The amount available each year depends on the number of eligible Zolps presenting themselves. There is a scholarship for students graduating from any K-12 school on 13th Street in Reading, Pennsylvania at the Albright College, presumably because that's where the college is located, called the "13th Street Gang Scholarships." One supposes the name predates the rise of heavy gang activity. The amount available, though is $15,000, renewable annually. The deadline to apply to Albright College is March 1. The article is in print Jan. 14, 2011, at page A6, in the Tweed Column, if that makes it easier to locate, titled, "Dollars for Scholars, from Albright to Zolp." There are more than I list here.
The article is very nice because it tells you the requirements for each scholarship, some of which are quite quirky, as well as the amount available. Some are paltry sums, $1,000 (from the Tall Clubs), or as low as $250 from the Little People of America scholarship (is that appropriate or what?). Of course, you cannot control whether you are tall or short, and unless you change your name legally, cannot help what family or neighborhood you are born into. And many scholarships are tied to particular schools. But there are some portable scholarships you can get through your own efforts: The Stuck at the Prom scholarship, for instance, requires you to create your prom outfit from Duct Tape and send the photos for judging. The scholarships range from $500 - $5,000. Deadline is June 13. The American Fire Sprinkler Association scholarship is a cool $2,000 you can get by taking a multiple choice test on fire sprinklers by April 5. You don't even have to humiliate yourself and your prom date for this one!
At the higher end of the portable scholarships where you have some control, find Vegetarian Resource Group scholarship, for $5,000. Requires applicants to have shown "compassion, courage, and a strong commitment to promoting a peaceful world through a vegetarian diet/lifestyle." The deadline is February 20. And the biggest of the prizes in your control: Dr. Seuss's Oh, the Places You'll Go! Scholarship for $10,000. Note that this is only for high school seniors. Its deadline is January 15, so it may not be feasible to jump on this one for 2011. You must write a letter to someone who needs it on the theme of the famous book.
And a wonderful commenter on the website added this helpful link, which lists far more wacky and unusual scholarships: FinAid - Scholarships - Unusual Scholarships. This website organizes the scholarships by broad category: last name, sports, creativity, physical characteristics, field of study, the final frontier (includes Klingon Language Institute Scholarship and Starfleet Academy Scholarship! I have known many space cadets, but I didn't know you could get scholarships on that basis.)
Upon close examination, it turns out that the Klingon Language Institute Scholarship will accept nominations from chairs and faculty in language departments for undergraduate students and graduate students showing
...evidence of academic accomplishment and enjoy the high regard and respect of their supervising faculty. (snip) Familiarity with Klingon or other constructed languages is not required, however creative and innovative applicants are preferred.Since it requires a letter from the dean or chair, two supporting letters from faculty, a CV or resume, and a statement from the nominee, and still only offers $500, I will venture to guess that they don't get a ton of nominations at the Klingon Language Institute. Incomplete applications are discarded out of hand. I would have expected them to be torn to bits, stomped underfoot, and have blood wine poured on them, at least. Oh, and P.S., you have to have been a member of StarFleet for a year before applying for the StarFleet Academy scholarship. I didn't know I could join!
The list of amazing scholarships goes on and on. There is a scholarship with a duck calling contest (for high school seniors, under animal appreciation category, natch!) Scholarships for twins seem amazingly common. I don't know what you do if you are triplets, quads or more.
And don't overlook specialized scholarships and awards that are tied to service. If you have been a volunteer or are volunteering, look at the list of awards and scholarships that may help you pay for college, grad or law school, or pay for student loans. It's nice that all the good deeds you've been doing may finally pay off for you! They offer a list of special scholarships for Hispanic and Latino students, but no other ethnic groups. While this list does not include them, the UNCF has a list of scholarships for African-American students, and Black Excel offers a list of 200 Free Scholarships for Minority Students.
So, starving students, get your scholarship engines ready! You can at least get some spare change through these odd-ball scholarships. If you are lucky, you may score a good bit of money. Be sure to check on the less specialized list of scholarships as well. Best wishes!