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8 unusual scholarships to help pay for college

That weird talent might be more useful than you think.

Scholarship applications don’t have to be boring. Companies like Unigo and special-interest organizations offer scholarships with a fun twist. While funding is often smaller than your typical award, it could prove less competitive than other big-dollar scholarship programs — and less of a chore to apply to.

8 unusual scholarships to help pay for college

ScholarshipWhat it isAwardEligibility requirementsDeadline
Stuck at Prom Duct tape prom dress contest$500 to $10,000
  • US or Canadian legal resident
  • Not from Arizona, Maryland, Tennessee, Vermont, Colorado or Quebec
  • Not a previous Stuck at Prom finalist
  • At least 14 years old
  • Not affiliated with ShurTech Brands, Cohen-Friedberg Associates or any other companies associated with the contest
July 9th
Zombie Apocalypse ScholarshipEssay contest on the zombie apocalypse$2,000
  • Enrolled or plans to enroll by 2025 in a college, university or trade school
  • US resident
  • Ages 13 or older
  • Not affiliated with Unigo or an immediate family member
October 31st
Tall Scholarship ProgramScholarship for being tall$250
  • At least 5’10” for women or 6’2″ for men
  • About to enter your first year of college
  • Under 21
  • Live near a TCI Tall Club participating in the scholarship program
Make Me Laugh ScholarshipFunny story essay contest$1,500
  • Enrolled or plans to enroll by 2025 in a college, university or trade school
  • US resident
  • Ages 13 0r older
  • Not affiliated with Unigo or an immediate family member
August 31st
Billy Welu ScholarshipCompetitive bowling scholarship$1,000
  • Amateur bowler
  • Enrolled in college
  • 2.5 GPA or higher
June 21st
Vegetarian Resource Group ScholarshipScholarship for vegetarian activists$5,00o to $10,000
  • Vegetarian or vegan
  • US high school senior
February 20th
Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Scholarship ContestDuck-calling contest$500 to $2,000
  • Able to make hail, feed, comeback or mating duck calls
  • Registration in Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest
  • High school senior
  • US citizen
November 29th
Unigo Flavor of the Month ScholarshipEssay contest on the ice cream flavor you identity with$1,500
  • Enrolled or plans to enroll by 2026 in a college, university or trade school
  • Ages 13 0r older
  • US student and resident
  • Not affiliated with Unigo or an immediate family member
July 31st

1. Stuck at Prom

Sponsored by Duck Brand Duct Tape, this scholarship contest awards prizes for the best prom dresses and tuxes made entirely out of duct tape. After you make your outfit, take a picture and upload it to the Stuck at Prom website.

A panel of judges chooses a group of 10 finalists for the dress and tux categories. After that, the public votes for the winners through the Stuck at Prom website. Two first-place winners earn $10,000 each, while eight runners-up get $500 in cash and a Duck Brand prize pack worth $100.

2. Zombie Apocalypse Scholarship

Obsessed with zombies? You could win up to $2,000 by writing a short essay on the top five things you’d bring to stay alive if your school was taken over by zombies.

In this contest sponsored by Unigo, judges select the winner based on writing, creativity, originality and overall excellence. The contest opens and closes on Halloween — because of course it does.

3. Tall Scholarship Program

That’s right — you can get a scholarship just for being tall. The Tall Club International offers a total $1,000 in scholarships each year to tall students entering college.

To qualify, you must be eligible to join a Tall Club that’s participating in the scholarship (not all participate every year). Contact your local branch for more details, but only if you meet the minimum height requirement.

4. Make Me Laugh Scholarship

Turn that funny story you pull out at parties into a $1,500 scholarship. Write a brief story of up to 250 words about an incident that made you laugh to enter this Unigo-sponsored essay contest. It doesn’t have to be real, as long as it’s original. Unigo uses similar criteria as the Zombie Apocalypse contest to judge these essays.

5. Billy Welu Bowling Scholarship

Think you’re a good bowler? You might get $1,000 by filling out a quick application and writing an essay of up to 500 words on how the scholarship will affect your bowling, academic and personal goals. A perk of this scholarship is that it may be open to international students, because qualification isn’t limited to US citizens or permanent residents.

6. Vegetarian Resource Group Scholarship

This sizable scholarship is for high school activists trying to promote plant-based diets. One senior will win a grand prize of $10,000, while two others will receive $5,000 each. Judges consider an essay on vegetarianism and your high school activism career, as well as your grades, recommendations and media presence when choosing winners.

7. Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Scholarship Contest

Duck calling might be useful for hunting — but it can also help you win money for college. The city of Stuttgart, Arkansas, holds a duck-calling contest each year, awarding prizes between $500 and $2,000 to four high school seniors.

A main drawback is that you must travel to Stuttgart to compete, and your travel expenses could be more than the award if you don’t live in the area.

8. Unigo Flavor of the Month Scholarship

This Unigo-sponsored essay contest asks the question: “If you were an ice cream flavor, which would you be and why?” You’ll need to keep your answer creative and short — 250 words or less. Essays are judged on the same criteria as other Unigo contests.

How else can I pay for school?

If you’re having a hard time covering your full cost of attendance with scholarships, consider other options:

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Bottom line

While these fun scholarship contests might offer low amounts, they can add up. And it’s a lot less of a chore to apply for a scholarship when it involves something you’re passionate about — or at least enjoy.

Learn more about how funding your education works in our guide to student loans.

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