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15 Offbeat Scholarships to Help You Pay for College

Paying for an undergraduate education can be a costly endeavor, with parents often starting to save money even before their children are born. Although there are many ways to pay for college – grants, loans, tax-advantaged savings plans or simply out of pocket – nothing is more attractive than free money in the form of scholarships.

There is a huge range of scholarships available in the U.S., and although most are quite conventional in their focus, some are more eccentric, as applicants must meet very specific – and sometimes weird – requirements.

So, what are some of the most offbeat college scholarships out there? Click ahead to find out!

Note: This list includes only scholarships offered during the 2009-2010 academic year.

1. Starfleet Academy Scholarships

The Starfleet Academy, modeled after the one in the science-fiction series “Star Trek”, is a real-life organization, offering educational opportunities for its members. Although the academy focuses mostly on providing “valuable insight into either Starfleet, Trek trivia, and/or real life activities,” the organization also offers a range of $500 academic scholarships for secondary or graduate education, most of which are based upon Star Trek actors and actresses. 
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2. Evans Scholars Foundation Scholarship

Perhaps the most cash-rich scholarship program in this list, the Evans Scholars Foundation oversees one of the nation’s largest privately funded scholarship programs, providing full tuition and housing grants to recipients. Not everyone, however, can apply. Applicants must have a strong record as a golf caddie over a minimum period of two years and  be nominated by a golf club. Eligible applicants must also demonstrate significant financial need and a high moral character. 
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3. Milk Mustache of the Year

Also known as the SAMMY award, this scholarship from Body By Milk gives 25 milk-loving students a $7500 college scholarship, a trip to Disney world and the chance to be in a “Milk Mustache” ad. Applicants must be a student-athlete with a minimum GPA of 3.20, living in the 48 contiguous US states. Each applicant is also required to write a 250-word essay on how milk has helped in academics and/or athletics. In the later rounds of selection, however, academic and athletic achievement, community service and leadership become more important criteria than a love of milk. 
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4. American Fire Sprinkler Association Scholarship

The steps to apply for this $2,000 scholarship are extremely straightforward: 1. be a US high school student graduating this year;  2. read an essay on fire sprinklers. 3.  take a ten-question online quiz. After taking the quiz, depending on the amount of correct answers, you are entered for one of 10 $2,000 scholarships, which have been awarded every year since 2003. 
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5. The Kor Memorial Scholarship

The Klingon Language Institute   is another Star Trek-inspired group , whose mission is to bring together individuals interested in the study of Klingon linguistics and culture… providing a forum for discussion and the exchange of ideas.” Although you don’t necessarily have to speak Klingon to receive the $500 award, the scholarship is in place to encourage students to pursue the field of language study. 
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6. United Daughters of the Confederacy Scholarships

With scholarship applications handled by local chapters, this group  offers a range of scholarships that require the applicant to have an ancestor who fought for the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. One of these, the Helen James Brewer scholarship, also requires that the applicant must study English history and literature or Southern history and literature, and must reside in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee or Virginia. The group awards a total of 13 undergraduate scholarships with similar restrictions, 18 without restrictions and 6 graduate scholarships. 
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7. Tall Clubs International Scholarships

Each year, Tall Clubs International, TCI, offers $1,000 scholarships to students under the age of 21, who are looking to attend their first undergraduate year. The scholarships are awarded through local member clubs of TCI, with one condition: the applicant must be tall. The minimum height requirement is 5’10′ for women, and 6’2″ for men. 
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8. Stuttgart Duck Calling Scholarship

Each year, Stuttgart awards $4,250 in scholarships during the Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest to the high-school student who can perform the best duck call. Although the winner of the official contest can net over $15,000, the scholarship hopefuls participate in a different tournament, putting their duck-calling skills to the test over a 90-second period, with first place taking home $2,000 in education funds. 
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9. Society of Vacuum Coaters Scholarship

One of the rarest scholarships out there, that of the Society of Vacuum Coaters (SVC) offers a $2,500 scholarship for students looking to pursue a course of study related to vacuum – coating technology. The two most eligible applicants (the SVC Foundation reports that in their first year, there were a total of 20 applicants) also get to attend a technical conference, in which they get exposure to world experts in the field.

For those who are not well versed in the area of vacuum coating, the process is used to apply various coatings — such as paint or protective additives — to the surface of industrial materials to a thickness of as little as 1/1000 of an inch. 
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10. Duct Tape Prom Dress Scholarships

Sponsored by ShurTech Brands, the Duck Tape Brand Duct Tape Stuck at Prom scholarship is open to any American student, 14 years or older, who attends a high – school prom. Participants in the scholarship contest must enter as pairs – wearing complete attire and/or accessories that are entirely made from duct tape – which must also be of their own design.

The contest offers  ten  prizes – first, second and third place with seven pairs of runners up – with the first place winner determined in a final stage through an online vote. For first place, each individual will receive a $3,000 scholarship, while the school that hosted the prom will also receive $3,000. 
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11. National Potato Industry Scholarship

Each year, the National Potato Council, NPC, awards one $5,000 scholarship for a graduate student looking to pursue advanced studies in agribusiness, with the explicit goal of enhancing the potato industry. According to the NPC website, selection is based on academic achievement, leadership abilities and potato-related areas of graduate study.

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12. Left Handed Scholarship

This scholarship is offered exclusively to left-handed sophomores, juniors or seniors attending Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa. Formally known as the Frederick and Mary F. Beckley Scholarship, it ranges between $1,000 to $1,500 per year, with the requirement that students also have “top academic records.” 
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13. NRA’s Y.E.S. Scholarship

After individuals are accepted to the National Rifle Association’s Youth Education Summit, they are eligible to compete for up to $30,000 in scholarships funds that are awarded over two rounds. The first offers up to $10,000, based on performance in debates and participation throughout the summit. The second round, for the grand scholarship, requires the student to develop either a portfolio of NRA-related experience in Washington D.C. or to introduce an NRA program, such as one focusing on gun safety, to their community. No shooting is required.  
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14. Candy Technologists Scholarship

Potentially the sweetest scholarship out there, the John Kitt Memorial scholarship, offered by the American Association of Candy Technologists awards students $5,000 over two semesters . Recipients must demonstrate interest in confectionery technology and plan on majoring in food science, chemical science, biological science or a related area. 
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15. Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead

For students who enjoyed Ayn Rand’s novel, “The Fountainhead”, the eponymous institute offers scholarships of up to $10,000 for an essay written on one of three topics related to the book. The essays are relatively short, between 800 and 1,600 words, unlike the 1943 bestseller, which is 752 pages. 
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15 Offbeat Scholarships to Help You Pay for College was provided by CNBC.com.