23 Alternative College Scholarships That Don’t Require a High GPA

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DOLLARS FOR NON-SCHOLARS

Every scholarship winner has perfect grades, is a top athlete, or had a particularly hard upbringing, right? Wrong. While many scholarships have stiff eligibility requirements, almost every high school or college student meets the criteria for at least one opportunity that can help pay for college.  These 23 scholarships and contests are a bit offbeat, and most don’t have a GPA requirement (when they do, it’s a 2.5).

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FIFTH MONTH SCHOLARSHIP

  • Amount: $1,500
  • Deadline: May 31, 2017
To win the Fifth Month Scholarship, students must write a compelling short essay (up to 250 words) on the importance of the number five. Fittingly, applications are due by the end of the fifth month.

MAKE ME LAUGH

  • Amount: $1,500
  • Deadline: Aug. 31, 2017
Class clowns don’t always have the best grades, but they could be good contenders for the Make Me Laugh Scholarship.  To enter, applicants must write a short funny essay about a true or fictional incident in their lives.

FIND YOUR CALLING

  • Amount: Up to $1,000
  • Deadlines: June 12, June 19, and June 26, 2017
Current and soon-to-be college students may be eligible for one of three scholarships from Find Your Calling, an organization that helps match people with ideal careers. Two $500 scholarships are easy to apply for: Just complete a survey or post and tag a picture. The $1,000 scholarship requires applicants to write a 300- to 500-word essay about their dream career.

GAMERS HELPING GAMERS

  • Amount: Up to $20,000
  • Deadline: March 31, 2017
High school and undergraduate students who enjoy collecting cards and playing Magic: The Gathering can get a helping financial hand from fellow players. Gamers Helping Gamers is a nonprofit that offers scholarships to applicants who complete a personal statement about the importance of Magic in their lives, along with essays about the cards and the community.

AFTERCOLLEGE SUCCURRO SCHOLARSHIP

  • Amount: $500
  • Deadline: March 31, 2017, for the next entry period
The AfterCollege Succurro Scholarship has a 2.5 GPA requirement, but a personal statement is the primary criterion that judges use to compare applicants. The statement must be no more than 200 words and describe the student’s academic or professional goals and the value the applicant offers employers.

ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE SCHOLARSHIP

  • Amount: $2,000
  • Deadline: Oct. 31, 2017
Ever imagined how to escape from a world that’s being overrun by zombies? That’s the basis of the Zombie Apocalypse Scholarship, which asks applicants to share their plan in 250 words or fewer.

DOSOMETHING EASY SCHOLARSHIPS

  • Amount: Up to $18,000
  • Deadline: Varies
Students between 13 and 25 can sign up for a DoSomething campaign, some of which take less than five minutes, and be eligible to win thousands of dollars. Those who enter several campaigns can potentially earn even more money to pay for school.

STUCK AT PROM

  • Amount: Up to $10,000
  • Deadlines: April 5, 2017, and May 31, 2017
Duck Tape’s 17th annual Stuck at Prom scholarship contest will award more than $50,000 to high school students who fashion amazing prom wear using Duck Tape. The brand’s new Promposal contest will also award a $1,000 prize to three randomly chosen applicants who creatively use Duck Tape to ask someone to prom and then share a picture online.  

COFFEEFORLESS 'HIT THE BOOKS' SCHOLARSHIP

  • Amount: $500
  • Deadline: Sept. 30, 2017, for the current application period
Twice a year, CoffeeForLess offers a $500 scholarship for 18- to 25-year-old students who are enrolled in an accredited school. To enter, applicants must write a 500-word essay about how the money will help them achieve their education and life goals (mentioning a passion for coffee is encouraged but not required).

10 THINGS YOU LOVE ABOUT YOU

  • Amount: $1,500
  • Deadline: March 31, 2017
Time to brag. The 10 Things You Love About You Scholarship asks applicants to write a top 10 list about themselves and why they deserve to win the award.

ODENZA MARKETING GROUP SCHOLARSHIP

  • Amount: $500
  • Deadline: March 30, 2017, for the spring award
High school students and undergrads with at least a year left in school can apply by writing two short essays. One is about why the student should win the scholarship, and the other asks applicants to describe how visiting a city of their choice could make them a more marketable employee.

COMMON KNOWLEDGE SCHOLARSHIP FOUNDATION

  • Amount: Up to $5,000
The CKSF scholarships are open to high school, undergrad, and graduate students, as well as their parents, but only one family member can apply for each scholarship. Participants take quizzes and are ranked based on their time and number of correct answers. The winners can receive $250 to $2,500 per quiz and up to $5,000 overall.

AMERICAN FIRE SPRINKLER ASSOCIATION SCHOLARSHIPS

  • Amount: Up to $2,000
  • Deadline: April 7 (high school seniors) or Aug. 30, 2017 (graduates)
The American Fire Sprinkler Association has two scholarships, one for high school seniors ($2,000) and a “second chance” contest for high school graduates enrolled in a degree program or trade school ($1,000). Ten high school students and five graduates are randomly selected.

BILLY WELU SCHOLARSHIP

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: June 15, 2017
To win the Professional Bowlers Association’s Billy Welu Scholarship, applicants must have at least a 2.5 GPA, be amateur bowlers, and be currently enrolled in college. The application asks for the student’s personal, academic, and bowling background. There’s also a 500-word personal statement about how the money can help the winner achieve academic, personal, and bowling goals.

SUPERPOWER SCHOLARSHIP

  • Amount: $2,500
  • Deadline: March 31, 2017
Feel a particular affinity for a superhero? The Superhero Scholarship is awarded to an applicant who writes a compelling essay (up to 250 words) on which superhero he or she would trade places with for the day. There’s no GPA requirement.

ACTIVE LIFE SCHOLARSHIP FOR FINANCIAL LITERACY

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: March 31, 2017
This scholarship asks applicants to answer why financial literacy is important or share the best money lesson they’ve learned. Aside from the short three- to five-sentence response, students simply have to fill in their name, contact information, and answers to several multiple-choice questions. 

SHOUT IT OUT SCHOLARSHIP

  • Amount: $1,500
  • Deadline: Sept. 30, 2017
Imagine having the opportunity to speak to the entire world. That’s the essay prompt for the Shout it Out Scholarship.  Applicants have up to 250 words to convey their creative, inspiring, and memorable ideas.

DISCOVER'S GIVEAWAYS

  • Amount: $2,500
Four times a year, the credit card company Discover gives away $2,500 to 10 randomly selected high school seniors or undergraduate students. Students who enter the sweepstakes can earn extra entries by sharing the opportunity on social media.    

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FLAVOR OF THE MONTH

  • Amount: $1,500
  • Deadline: July 31, the last day of National Ice Cream Month
Students who can serve up a palatable answer to the question “If you were an ice cream flavor, which would you be and why?” will have a chance at the Flavor of the Month Scholarship

E-Waste Scholarship

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: Earth Day, April 30, 2017
The E-Waste Scholarship  from Digital Responsibility is awarded to one student each year. The judges choose 10 finalists based on how the applicants complete the sentence, “The most important reason to care about e-waste is ...” in 140 characters. The finalists then have to write a 500- to 1,000-word essay on the topic.

FREEDOM OF SPEECH PSA CONTEST

  • Amount: $2,500
  • Deadline: Entries are accepted April 1-30, 2017.    
The National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation has two $2,500 scholarships for current college students. To enter, students create a 30-second radio or TV public service announcement about what freedom of speech means to them.

JOB APPLICATION SCHOLARSHIP

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: April 25, 2017
The Job Application Scholarship asks students 10 questions related to personal, educational, and professional experience or goals. Applicants have up to 100 words to answer each one.

Related: 10 Tricks to Living on a College Student Budget 

MOOLAH SPOT SCHOLARSHIP

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: April 30, 2017
High school, undergraduate, and graduate students who are at least 16 years old may be eligible for the MoolahSpot Scholarship.  The winner is chosen solely based on a short response to one of four essay prompts, and the application specifically says it’s okay to reuse an essay that was written for a different scholarship or college application.