18 College Scholarships You’ve Never Heard Of

Updated: November 29, 2018

Paying for college is one of the most difficult things to survive financially. The average cost of tuition for the 2017-2018 year was $34,740 for private universities, and it’s only expected to climb from there. While you have likely already explored student loans and the big scholarship opportunities that are available, you would be remiss in not exploring the huge number of more esoteric scholarships that are available as well.

We’ve rounded up 18 of the weirdest college scholarships we could find. Do you surf? Are you a vegetarian? There might just be a scholarship for you.

1. Thomas Pratte Memorial Scholarship From the Surfrider Foundation

Established by the Surfrider Foundation, which works to protect oceans around the world, to apply for this scholarship you must be interested in studying natural resources, marine affairs or oceanography.

A whopping $10,000 is awarded every year: $2,000 goes to undergrad students, $3,000 to master’s degree students and $5,000 to a PhD student. For more information visit the Surfrider Foundation website.

2. Collegiate Inventors Scholarship

Sponsored by the The National Inventors Hall of Fame, this scholarship centers around the idea of encouraging students to pursue new processes and in particular technological innovations.

In total the scholarship prize money given out is $25,000: $15,000 to a graduate student, and $10,000 to an undergraduate. For more information visit their website.

3. John Kitt Memorial Scholarships

Founded by The American Association of Candy Technologists, this scholarship goes to students interested in the technology of confections, or in layman’s terms candy. They pay out $5,000 in scholarships yearly. Head to their website for more information.

4. Theodore Gordon Flyfishers, Inc. Founders Fund Scholarship

This nonprofit promotes environmental protections and awards a $3,500 scholarship every year to a student who is majoring in environmental studies (think zoology, biology, etc.). You can find out more information on how to apply for this scholarship on their website.

5. The Vegetarian Resource Group Scholarships

Does scoring a major scholarship for being vegetarian sound too good to be true? The Vegetarian Resource Group (a group of physicians and dietitians who raise awareness about vegan and vegetarian diets) awards two $5,000 scholarships every year, judging applicants on their commitment to peace in the world through their vegetarian lifestyle. Learn about their goals and their scholarships on their website.

6. Oregon Space Scholarship Program

Majoring in math, engineering, technology or science? The Oregon Space program offers $4,000 scholarships, with the aim of finding students who have an interest in advancing the US space program down the road. Read more about The Oregon Space Scholarship Program on their website.

7. Nordstrom Cares Scholarship

Live near a Nordstrom store? Then you might be eligible to apply for this scholarship. This fund chooses 80 students who live in states with Nordstrom stores and awards them each $10,000. The big other requirement is that you have participated in extracurricular activities or volunteer service, have a GPA better than a 2.7, and that you truly need assistance to pay for college. Head to Norstrom to learn more about this scholarship opportunity.

8. Writers of the Future Scholarship

Sponsored by L. Ron Hubbard, this scholarship is aimed at science fiction writers and awards $1,000, $750, $500, and an annual grand prize of $5,000. Head to their website for more information.

9. The Davidson Fellows Scholarship

This scholarship fund is on the hunt for extraordinary people under the age of 18 who have made a significant contribution to fields including philosophy, music, literature, mathematics, engineering, technology, and science. The awards are big–$10,000, $25,000 and $50,000. To learn more about the scholarship head to The Davidson Fellows website.

10. Kerope Zildjian Scholarship

This scholarship is awarded to an outstanding percussionist who is currently an undergraduate and in a music program. The scholarship winner gets $5,000 along with a trip to the Zildjian factory to pick a free set of cymbals. Learn more at the Zildjian website.

11. John Gatling Grant Program at North Carolina State University

This is one for the books, if your last name is either Gatling or Gatlin, you might be eligible for this special scholarship. This is offered at North Carolina State University to students with this last name and grants range from $9,000 to a whopping $18,0000. The NCSU financial aid website has more information.

12. Willy the Plumber’s Scholarship

Recipients of this scholarship must have a parent who has been habitually imprisoned, or imprisoned for a long period of time. The scholarship is either for $1,000 for college or $500 for a technical school. Learn more about the scholarship offering on their website.

13. Rolex Diving Scholarship

Are you a graduate student between the ages of 21 and 26 who hasn’t already earned a graduate degree and doesn’t have a set career path in mind, while having completed 25 or more dives n the last two years and is a certified rescue diver? You might be eligible for the Rolex Diving Scholarship, a $25,000 scholarship awarded to grad students. Pretty sweet if you qualify. To learn more visit their website.

14. J.D. Salinger Award

Named after iconic writer J.D. Salinger, this scholarship is given by Ursius College (attended by J.D. Salinger) in recognition of “creative writing geniuses.” The scholarship winner walks away with $30,000 in scholarship money per academic year, so it is quite hefty. Learn more about the scholarship at Ursius College’s website.

15. Patrick Kerr Scholarship for Skateboarders

Are you a skateboarder? You might be eligible for the Patrick Kerr Scholarship, which awards three $1,000 scholarships and one $5,000 scholarship to high school seniors with a 2.5 GPA and above who are also skateboarders. See, all of that time at the skateboard park might just pay off after all. Learn more at their website.

16. Mycological Society of America Scholarships

If you are interested in fungus, spores and mold (who isn’t) you might be eligible The Mycological Society’s two scholarships. They give away two $2,000 graduate scholarships and one $500 Backus award. Their is more information about these scholarships available on the society’s website.

17. William Cullison Scholarship

A scholarship related to papermaking and pulp? Yup, you’ve read that correctly. The William Cullison Scholarship is for college sophomores looking to pursue a career in paper. Scholarship winners get $4,000 for their final two years of college, money that can be used at colleges with paper and pulp programs. Learn more about this scholarship at the TAPPI website.

18. Illustrators of the Future Contest

Are you an artist? You might be eligible for the Illustrators of the Future scholarship. To enter the competition you need to send in three black and white fantasy or science fiction illustrations that are unpublished. Win and you could walk away with $4,000 in scholarships. Their website has additional information.

Feature Illustration: Laura Caseley For The Money Manual