- It is estimated that every college in the nation has at least one scholarship that is rarely awarded because of its restrictive qualifications. Most of these obscure scholarships were first endowed in the 19th and early 20th centuries and the initial terms of awarding the money have become outdated. Typically only the donor can amend the agreement. If the donor dies or the scholarship is the result of someone's will, the criteria cannot be changed without legal action.
- There isn't one type of unusual scholarship. Instead, there is a scholarship for almost any set of criteria you can think of. Among the strange and unusual qualifications are being tall, short, fat or left-handed, having a specific last name, enrolling in a precise field of study at a certain college, wearing duct tape to the prom, and winning a duck calling contest..
- Although there are many strange and unusual scholarships, they aren't easy to find. Potential recipients should expect to spend considerable time researching, gathering information and filling out applications. Some free online scholarship search services are available, but students should beware of scams that promise a scholarship for a fee. Good sources of information about all types of scholarships are the high school counselor's office and the financial aid office of any college being considered.
- Scholarships that require out-of-the-ordinary qualifications can benefit students who might not meet requirements for a more traditional scholarship. Many of these scholarships reward creativity and resourcefulness instead of the usual good grades and scholastic achievements. Also, there is much less competition for unusual scholarships because most people just don't know about them.
- Read the fine print to avoid misinformation about an obscure scholarship. For example, the Beckley Scholarship at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, is often misunderstood. It is advertised as a scholarship for left-handed people and many students mistakenly assume that is the only qualification. In fact, the scholarship is only awarded to students who are already in attendance at Juniata, are left-handed, qualify for financial aid and have exceptional grades.