Scholarships are just free money, as are grants. They have specific terms you must meet, but if you are eager to go back to school as an adult or you are a parent eager to find ways to cut educational costs for your kids, scholarships and grants are the way to go. After all, they are free money!
However, you might also know that they can be very difficult to obtain and the competition is often fierce. Fortunately, there are scholarships that nobody applies for and alternative scholarships and grants for non-traditional students.
In fact, most of us have read or heard about the many strange college scholarships, as well as odd ways that people pay for their educations.
For instance, Starbucks has its CAP program that helps employees by paying tuition fees associated with obtaining a degree from Arizona State University. To get this free education you have to be an employee, find an enrollment counselor and apply to the university. You register for classes and work with your educational team and get reimbursed for your schooling. The only caveat is that you need to have worked 160 hours over the previous two months (that’s totally part-time, by the way) to quality.
Of course, not everyone can work at Starbucks or wants to be an ASU graduate. Does that mean there are no other scholarship opportunities? No, not at all – there are scores of bizarre scholarships and scholarships nobody applies for because they are not widely enough publicized. Let’s first look at the lesser known and easiest scholarships to win and then those bizarre scholarships that focus on very specialized applicants.
Adults Getting Educated
Perhaps one of the groups most likely to want to learn all about the scholarships nobody applies for are adults looking to return to school. Whether or not you already have a degree, the idea of attending college as an adult can be quite daunting, particularly the financial aspects of it. Fortunately, there are many grants and scholarships for nontraditional students, and some of the most appealing to adult learners include:
- Return 2 College Scholarship – Explain in three sentences just why you are returning to college and you can receive a $1k scholarship. You must be enrolled in school and over the age of 17 to qualify. The emphasis of this scholarship is supporting those with important pursuits and reasons for seeking an education as an adult.
- ASIST – This is from the Executive Women International’s Adult Students in Scholastic Transition fund. It is for people of either gender who are eager to boost their economic status through education. A school must have a chapter of the EWI in order for you to apply, but there are 13 scholarships available in amounts from $2k to a staggering $10k.
- Surety Bonds Small Business Scholarship – Do you already have a small business? Maybe you are part of a family running a small business? If so, you can submit an essay up to 1000 words to explain how small business experience is going to guide your future and your education. Three applicants get $1500 each.
- $10k Unigo Scholarship – Just why is college a worthy investment? If you can explain this in 250 words or less, you are in the running for this $10k scholarship. If you win, you have until 2022 to enroll and use it!
- $2k No Essay Scholarship from NICHE – If you are already enrolled in college, you need only create an online account (free) and you are entered into the pool of potential recipients. No essays, just a simple and fast enrollment and you could get $2k towards tuition!
- $5000 Dr. Angela E. Grant Scholarship – This goes out once per year to a cancer survivor actively pursuing a college education, OR with an immediate family member struggling with the disease. It requires a well-written essay outlining goals and achievements.
- SuperCollege Random Drawing – Do nothing more than enter this random drawing for $1k to use towards your tuition, books or other educational fees.
- CollegeAmerica Adult Student Scholarships – You need to maintain good grades (a 3.0 GPA) to continue with your funding, but there are different scholarship options and a wide array of students are accepted. The typical amount ranges from $3k to $5k and students attend one of the schools in Arizona, Wyoming or Colorado.
- ASL Scholarships – Available as one of the best grants and scholarships for nontraditional students are those from Alpha Sigma Lambda. This is an honor society that hands out 12 different scholarships to people already enrolled and with at least 24 hours of work already done.
- AfterCollege Succurro – This is a $1k scholarship to those with a GPA of 2.5 and who submit an essay explaining their goals. You must already be enrolled in a program, but that is really the only limitation. They also have more opportunities and each is well worth exploring.
- College JumpStart – This is another $1k opportunity among the grants and scholarships for nontraditional students. This one is merit-based rather than needs-based and is ideal for those who can explain how their studies are going to be of benefit to their family and/or communities.
- Courage to Grow – This is a monthly prize of $500 awarded to students enrolled in accredited schools and with GPAs of 2.5 or higher. The applicants have to explain why they should receive the scholarship, and a winner’s funding is sent to the school’s financial office.
- Imagine America Foundation grants – This is among the most appealing grants and scholarships for nontraditional students, and it offers a $1k award to students who complete the National Center for Competency Testing Student Success Assessment. They must also be enrolled in an ASEP program. This is strictly for adult students and emphasizes trade school education.
- HotelsCheap – This innovative scholarship is for $10k and is for military veterans or family members seeking a degree (graduate or undergraduate) in the technology field. Ten applicants are given funding each year and must submit an essay with their application.
- Scholarship Detective Launch – In honor of the launch of their new college scholarship search engine, this site is accepting 140 character “essays” about how you would use the funds if given the $1k prize. It takes moments and is a tidy sum.
- Walmart Scholarships – Do you work for this global firm? If so, you should apply to their scholarship program as it could net you from $1k to $3k in funds. It could even be a reason to take on some part-time hours!
- Of course, there are also grants and scholarships for nontraditional students that emphasize specific situations and scenarios. Women-only opportunities are a good example of free money for schooling, and options include:
- Society of Women Engineers Scholarship – This has more than 200 options with amounts varying widely. You must be a full-time engineering, technology or computer science student to apply.
- Philanthropic Educational Organization Sisterhood Scholarships – These are $3k scholarships available exclusively to women who have had their educational experiences interrupted for any number of reasons. An in-person interview is done to determine if a student is a candidate and the funds are available for use to pay for tuition, supplies, books, child care and transportation.
- Jeanette Rankin Scholarship – This is for women over the age of 35 and who live in low-income situations. They must be working toward a vocational or technical education and their first degree. There are more than 50 grants and scholarships for nontraditional students awarded by this group each year.
So, if you are an adult looking to get a college degree, particularly a female adult, you will find a lot of good opportunities. Now, those are some of the lesser known of the grants and scholarships for nontraditional students and even some of the scholarships nobody applies for – at least not adult learners – but there are also a lot of “creative” scholarship opportunities that adults, parents and high school students should know about. There are also those for people with special skills, and whether that’s knitting, thumb wrestling or backseat driving, it too could net you one of the scholarships nobody applies for. Here are some of the most exciting and rewarding:
Unigo’s Zombie Apocalypse Scholarship – Sure that the end of days is upon us or a distinct possibility? If so, this could net you $2k. This annual scholarship asks you to come up with a plan in the event that Z Day hits and to be eligible requires you be enrolled in an accredited university. The site also has 55 other “weird” scholarship options, 78 “unusual” grants and scholarships for nontraditional students, and more.
DoSomething – This never-ending list of scholarship opportunities provides almost everyone with a likely shot at money. You can write about history missing from most textbooks for $5k or whip up a playlist to encourage daily showering for $2k, and so much more.
Duct Tape Prom Clothes – This may seem bizarre, but Duck Brand Duct Tape gives out $1k to $25k in prizes for those who create prom outfits using only duct tape!
Letterman Telecommunications Scholarship – Those attending Ball State University can apply for an annual $10k scholarship (there are also $5k and $3k prizes) by submitting any sort of creative project focused on writing, media, graphics and more.
Hallmark Greeting Card – The company that is responsible for the vast majority of greeting cards is happy to reward students who submit an original design. An annual prize, it pays up to $10k to the winner.
Though these super creative ways to get free money with scholarships nobody applies for because they may not know about are interesting, you can also get money for your special interests. These are just as surprising. Consider getting funding for being a Star Trek fan. That would reward you with up to $1k from the Starfleet! Vegetarians can find funding through the Vegetarian Resource Group that has two $5k and one $10k prize each year. You need to submit an essay and explain how you show “compassion, courage, and a strong commitment to promoting a peaceful world through a vegetarian diet/lifestyle”. There are programs for beef enthusiasts, nudists, amateur radio operators, bowlers, boxers and much more.
There are also grants and scholarships for nontraditional students based on the demographic or special societies and organization to which they belong. The options include:
Juniata Left-Handed Scholarship – Also known as the Frederick and Mary F. Beckley Left-Handed Scholarship, it is open to students who are naturally left-handed and rewards them with scholarships ranging from $1k to $1500 every year.
Scholarships for twins and multiples – These are actually quite abundant and you can find many experts writing about them. They are available from schools that include Lake Erie College, Painesville, Ohio; Randolph College, Lynchburg, Virginia; Sterling College, Sterling Kansas; Wilson College, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania; Carl Albert State College, Poteau, Oklahoma, and dozens more.
Tall people – There are actually scholarships for people of exceptional height! The Central Arizona Tall Society (CATS) gives a $250.00 scholarship each year to a member of their group and works with a national organization, the Tall Clubs International (TCI) National program,that gives $1,000.
Little people – At the other end of the human spectrum is the Little People of America that awards students who qualify with scholarships from $250 to $1000, or more.
Don’t think you can’t get into school due to financial strains, and don’t overlook the financial gain that a degree may offer to you. For many, a college degree brings higher earning potential in addition to the pride in such an accomplishment. There are many scholarships nobody applies for because they just don’t know about them, and just as many (if not more) grants and scholarships for nontraditional students. Use websites and search engines to find them, and you will soon see yourself enrolled full or part-time thanks to your Pokemon scholarship or your strength and conditioning scholarships!