Scholarships are awesome resources if you’re checking out different ways to pay for college. It’s free money—what’s not to love?
As it turns out, most scholarship programs have application processes that aren’t exactly lovable. Students generally have to submit a lot of information about themselves: transcripts, GPAs, test scores, resumes, community service activities, and so on. There may even be a few essays and grade requirements thrown in as well. You don’t want to complain, because again, free money—but these applications sure are tedious when you’re working on college apps, high school courses, and financial aid applications all at the same time.
The following easy scholarships have application processes that are a bit more manageable. Some ask you to write short essays while others don’t require any essays at all! The awards may not be as large as some other scholarships, but when the application process is so easy, you really don’t have much to lose. I'll start off with some words of warning before getting into the good stuff: essay and no-essay scholarships that are so easy to apply for, you may end up applying to all of them!
Caveat: If a Scholarship Seems Too Good to Be True ...
It turns out there aren't too many legitimate "easy" scholarships out there. If a scholarship application seems too good to be true, then be cautious—you don't want to fall victim to a scholarship scam. Here are some things to look out for:
- If a scholarship application asks for personal information that doesn't seem relevant to the award, tread carefully. Many top scholarship programs ask for very personal information (transcripts, SAT/ACT scores, even financial information for need-based scholarships), but this info is all relevant to candidate evaluation. If you're ever uncomfortable providing personal information, dig deeper into the scholarship award—can you verify that it's legitimate? Does it have its own site, or can you only find information on it through a third party? Google "[award name] scam" to see if anything suspicious pops up.
- Avoid any scholarship that ask you to make payments to enter or win. Scholarship programs are in the business of giving money to students, not taking it. It's likely just a scam if the application asks for payment, especially if it asks you to enter credit card information.
Now that we got that out of the way, we can get to the good stuff: easy essay and non-essay scholarships and how to win them.
These essays won't take you long at all, but they're a good excuse to set up at your favorite cafe.
The scholarships in this section ask students to submit short essays with their applications. Even though you'll have to write up an essay, the rest of the application (and the essay itself) should be easy and manageable for all these awards. In fact, I expect most of these applications should take no longer than one to two hours to complete.
Bachus & Schanker LLC Scholarship
This scholarship program is a bit different than most of the other awards included in this post—it's funded by a private law firm in Colorado. Students compete for a $2,000 award by writing a short essay (800 words) about the 7th amendment and how it affects their lives.
- The award is open to high school students who have been accepted to a four-year university and university students with a minimum 3.0 GPA.
- There are two application deadlines per year: one November 30 to win a scholarship for the spring semester, and one July 30 to win a scholarship for the fall semester.
Courage to Grow Scholarship
This $500 award is given out to one lucky student every month. To compete for the award, applicants must explain in 250 words why they think they deserve the scholarship.
- The award is open to high school juniors, high school seniors, and college students. Applicants must have a minimum 2.5 GPA.
- Application deadline: end of every month!
Odenza Marketing Group Scholarship
To compete for this $500 award, applicants must like the Odenza Facebook page and write two short essays (about 500 words each). One essay must be related to travel and your career, and the other must explain why you should receive the scholarship.
- The award is open to those aged 16-25 who are either current high school students or people who have at least one year of college remaining. Applicants must also have a minimum 2.5 GPA.
- The application deadline is September 30, 2017.
James "Rhio" O'Connor Scholarship Memorial Fund
This $1,000 award is given out to a new student every month. Students compete for the scholarship by writing a short essay (700-1,500 words) addressing a prompt related to cancer treatment.
- The award is open to all college students.
- Application deadline: new one every month!
Some of these applications won't take you longer than a few minutes.
When it comes to easy applications, you can't get much easier than the following scholarship programs. You'll still have to submit some information about yourself (and, in some instances, complete some brief activities or tasks), but you won't have to write any essays to qualify.
AFSA High School Scholarship
Here's one of those scholarships for which you have to complete a few unique activities to qualify. For the 2017 scholarship, students applied by reading about automatic fire sprinkler systems and then taking a 10-question quiz based on the information they read. Ten $2,000 awards are available each year.
- This scholarship is open to high school seniors for the 2017-18 school year.
- The application will open around September 2017 and close in April 2018.
Dr. Pepper Tuition Giveaway
Students can qualify to win $2,500, $20,000, or $100,000 in tuition money by writing a "story" about themselves in 350 characters or less—that's really short. Stories that get the most votes win prizes, so recruit your friends to vote for you!
- This award is open to all students aged 18-24.
- Awards are given out on a rolling basis.
Nicholas A. Virgilio Memorial Haiku and Senryu Competition
This scholarship program gives out relatively small awards of $50, but the application process is particularly fun and easy. Students qualify by writing and submitting up to three original haikus.
- This scholarship is open to all students in grades 7-12.
- The deadline will be around March 2018.
"No Essay" College Scholarship
This $2,000 award is given out monthly. To apply, students just submit an application with basic identifying information, GPA, and SAT/ACT scores. Winners are determined by random selection, and you can submit a new application every month.
- This scholarship is open to high school students, adults heading back to school, current college students, and anyone else looking to attend college or graduate school within the next year.
- Application deadline: end of every month!
Stuck at Prom Scholarship Contest
Do you have a creative side and an eye for fashion? Students compete for 10 $1,000-$10,000 awards by designing and wearing prom outfits made out of duct tape. Applicants can enter as individuals or as part of a couple. Check out the website for fun pictures of past winners!
- This competition is open to high school students in the US and Canada (excluding certain states and territories—refer to the official rules for details).
- The application period opens around April 2018 and closes in late May 2018.
US Bank Scholarship
Three $5,000 awards, one $10,000 award, and one $20,000 award are available through this scholarship program. To qualify, students submit a simple application and complete five brief online learning modules on financial literacy. If you're heading off to college, it's not a bad idea to get some basic info on personal finance anyway, making this scholarship app a win-win!
- This award is open to current undergraduates.
- The deadline is October 27, 2017.
CaptainU $2,000 Student-Athlete Scholarship
As the name suggests, this quarterly award is meant for student athletes who plan to attend a four-year college or university. Applicants must submit some basic info about their sport and GPA to qualify.
- This scholarship is open to high school and junior college student athletes.
- Application deadline: new one every quarter (i.e., every three months).
3 Tips for Winning Easy Scholarships
Easy scholarships to apply for aren't necessarily the same as easy scholarships to win. Because these scholarship applications are so simple to complete, you'll probably have a lot of competition. Here are some strategies to help you submit your best applications possible:
- If you have to write an essay, you’re likely to be more successful if your views align with those of the entity that’s awarding the scholarship. To prepare, do some research about the company or charity's mission statement.
- Make sure your application is polished. You won’t have the opportunity to make more than a first impression (remember, these apps are short and sweet!), so double-check for any grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors.
- Last but not least, make sure your application is complete and on time!
These scholarships are awesome options if you want to churn out as many applications as possible. As you might have noticed, though, the award amounts can be a bit underwhelming (although keep in mind that several smaller awards can be just as helpful as one big award).
You'll have to spend more time on your applications if you're gunning for a top scholarship, but the payoff can be more than worth it. To learn more about some of the best scholarships out there, check out our guides to the top scholarships for high school juniors and seniors.
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Whether you're tall, short, like to dress up in Duck tape for prom, can call a duck, or are a Van Valkenburg descendant -- there is a scholarship for you.
And even if you're none of those things, trust us, there's probably someting you're eligible for. Take twerking, for example. One of the members of the hip hop group Three 6 Mafia made headlines recently when he offered a $50,000 scholarship to the best female college student twerker.
Since then, he's amended the scholarship's criteria. Twerking's optional. You just have to submit a video discussing why you deserve the scholarship.
Here are 25 other scholarships that don't necessarily require high SAT scores:
1. Loyola University of Chicago Zolp Scholarship - Be Catholic with the last name Zolp
Any student who attends Loyola University Chicago who is Catholic and has the last name Zolp is eligible. Scholarship amounts will vary depending upon fund availability and the number of eligible recipients.
2. Frederick and Mary F. Beckley Scholarship - Be a left-handed student
A scholarship reserved for sophomores, juniors, or seniors attending Juniata College. Open to any student who demonstrates financial need as well as academic success. Oh, and the student needs to be left-handed.
3. Stuck at prom - Best outfit made of Duck tape for prom
Duck brand holds an annual contest to see who can make the best prom outfit ... from Duck tape. Winners receive a $5,000 scholarship and $5,000 for their school.
4. Tall Clubs International - Be tall
If you're under 21 and about to start college in the fall and meet TCI heigh requirement minimums -- 5'10" for women and 6'2" for men -- you can win a scholarship for up to $1,000.
5. Lambert and Annetje Van Valckernburg Memorial Scholarship - Be a Van Valkenburg descendant
Eligible applicants could receive a scholarship of $1,000 if they are descendants, whether by birth or legal adoption, of Lambert and Annetje Van Valkenburg, who came to New Amsterdam from the Netherlands in 1643, and their spouses; and descendants of others of the surname Van Valkenburg, and their spouses. Scholarship may be closed.
6. Society of Vacuum Coaters Foundation Scholarship Fund - Have an interest in Vacuum Coating Technology
If you have an interest in furthering your education in a course of study related to vacuum coating technology, you might be eligible for a scholarship.
7. Bucknell University Gertrude J. Deppen Scholarship Fund - Be un-intoxicated
If funds are available, this scholarship is available for graduates of Mount Carmel Public High School, who are not habitual users of tobacco, intoxicating liquor, and narcotics, and who do not participate in strenuous athletic contests.
8. Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest - Call a duck
High school seniors may compete for college scholarships totaling $4,250. All you have to do is call ducks.
9. Klingon Language Institute's Memorial Scholarship - Be knowledgeable about constructed languages
The purpose of this scholarship is to recognize and encourage scholarship in fields of language study. Familiarity with Klingon -- which was invented for use in some of the Star Trek movies -- or other constructed languages is not required, however creative and innovative applicants are preferred.
10. Common Knowledge Scholarship Foundation - Know common things
Take a quiz, show your common knowledge, win scholarships. There are no essays, applications, or GPA requirements
11. Kerope Zildjian Scholarship - Be musically inclined
This scholarship recognizes an outstanding student percussionist, who is currently enrolled in an undergraduate music program. In addition to a trip to the Zildjian factory in Norwell, Mass., to select complimentary cymbals, the winner will receive a tuition award of $5,000. Applications must send an audio recording playing a complex snare or four-mallet marimba solo.
12. American Fire Sprinkler Association Scholarship Program - Be knowledgeable about fire sprinklers
High school seniors have a chance to win 1 of 10 $2,000 scholarships. All you have to do is take a 10-question multiple choice test about an essay titled "Fire Spinkler Essay." The test is open-book and you may print the essay beforehand for reference during testing. For each question answered correctly, students will receive one entry into a drawing for 1 of 10 $2,000 scholarships.
13. National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance HAES Scholarship - Utilize Health at Every Size tenants
Applicant must be an undergraduate or graduate student from an accredited institution who utilizes Health at Every Size (HAES) tenants in their studies and research. Up to $1,000 awarded.
14. Billy Barty Foundation - Be short
Applicant must be diagnosed with some form of dwarfism to receive a minimum award of $1,000.
15. American Association of Candy Technologists John Kitt Memorial Scholarship - Have an interest in confectionary technology
College sophomores, juniors or seniors who have a demonstrated interest in confectionary technology can receive a scholarship award of $5,000.
16. Michigan Llama Association Kathy Larson and Laurel Zechlinski Memorial Scholarships - Be a member or child of llama organization
If you're a member or child of a member of the Michigan Llama Association and hold a minimum GPA of 2.7 you could be eligible for one of two $1,000 scholarships.
17. Eileen J. Garrett Scholarship - Have an interest in parapsychology
A scholarship of $3,000 to assist a student who wishes to puruse academic study of the science of parapsychology. Applicants must demonstrate a previous interest in parapsychology by including a sample of writings on the subject with the application form.
18. Jif's Most creative sandwich contest- Create an interesting sandwich
Let your little kitchen helper create his or her own sandwich recipe using Jif products for a chance to win a $25,000 college fund.
19. John Gatling Grant Program - Have the last name Gatlin or Gatling
Students at North Carolina State Univeristy who were born with the surname Gatlin or Gatling are eligible for $9,000 or $18,000 grant.
20. Zombie apocalypse essay - Write an essay about escaping zombies
ScholarshipExperts.com offers a $1,500 scholarship for writing an essay about escaping zombies. Just be over 13. The site also has several other essay writing scholarships -- with prompts like write an essay describing what flavor ice cream you would be and why, and one prompting writers to make the review committee laugh.
21. Willy the Plumber Scholarship - Be the child of an inmate
For children of people doing a lot of time and/or habitually doing time, especially prison time. Eligible students can get about $1,000 attending a college or university and $500 for students attending a technical school.
22. Make it with Wool competition - Use wool
To promote the beauty and versatility of wool, eligible preteens, juniors, seniors, and adults can get up to $2,000 by making something with wool and modeling it in a photo.
23. CollegeHumor's Average Student Scholarship contest - Be an average student
If you're a normal achiever you can receive $5,000.
24. Lake Erie College Twins Scholarship - Be a twin
This full tuition scholarship is awarded 50/50 if both twins are enrolled full-time at Lake Erie College. In essence, both twins can attend Lake Erie College for the tuition cost of only one.
25. University of North Carolina at Greensboro Alice Mcarver Ratchford Scholarship
Awarded on the basis of financial need to female, undergraduate students. You just have to meet these critera: must live on-campus, must not possess an automobile, must be single, and may not have any other scholarships in conjunction with the Ratchford Scholarship.
Follow Daryl Paranada at @darylparanada.