Skip Navigation LinksHome > Financial Aid > College Scholarships > Scholarships by Type > Non-Academic College Scholarships: Scholarships Aren't Just for "A Students" Anymore

Non-Academic College Scholarships

Scholarships Aren't Just for "A Students" Anymore

The traditional definition of scholarship generally includes such terms as "merit" and "need", but that definition doesn't tell the whole story. Often students are unaware of the many non-academic scholarships available and think they don't have much, if any, chance at winning scholarships if they haven't achieved excellent grades in high school. While I'm sure many scholarship providers do, in fact, prefer to invest in students who have already proven they thrive in an academic setting, that doesn't mean you have zero chance to find money for college without such qualifications. Sure, you probably stand a better chance at some free college cash if you do happen to belong to three or four clubs and boast a 4.0 cumulative GPA or ace the ACT or SAT, but these are not the only criteria by which scholarship money is awarded these days.

Naturally, there are the unusual scholarships like the famous scholarship for being left handed or the one where you make a suit or dress out of duct tape for your prom, but you probably already know of these, having read about them in almost every article written on scholarships over the last decade or so. In case you’re not familiar, though, the scholarship for lefties is only available to those planning to attend Juniata College in Huntington, Pennsylvania. The Duck Brand duct tape contest is actually a really cool scholarship contest that has no GPA requirements, offers a $2,500 grand prize and looks like a lot of fun—if you’re into wearing tape. But if you don’t like Pennsylvania or sticky residue, don’t despair! There are so many other non-academic scholarship awards out there and you or your child/student could very well qualify for several, or possibly even dozens, of them. Below are several types of scholarships that don’t necessarily favor the class brain.

Talent is the new brains

Can you draw? Dance? Sing? There are quite a few non-academic college scholarships available to the more creatively inclined that don’t necessarily require good grades. Some may have a minimum GPA, but often they are a very attainable 3.0 or thereabouts rather than the "4.0, top-of-your-class” variety. All manner of art scholarships exist, for nearly every art: drawing scholarships, singing auditions that could net a scholarship for the top performers, and even scholarships requesting a video as an entry.

Write your own ticket.

Essay scholarships could prove rewarding. You could pull down anywhere from $500 to $5,000 or more just for reading a book and writing an essay on it- some don’t even require reading the book! Most scholarships essay contests don’t have a GPA requirement, nor are they concerned with any of the other famous three-letter acronyms (ACT, SAT). As a matter of fact, the Resolve To Evolve Scholarship doesn’t have any GPA, SAT or ACT requirements and you could win up to $3,000 with your scholarship essay . Even if you don’t take the top prize, you could win $2,000 or be one of five $1,000 winners! Conduct a free scholarship search at to see if you qualify.

Apply for an "Area of Study" Scholarship

There are so many scholarships out there for students interested in pursuing a particular major, from Art to Technology. Sure, it wouldn’t hurt to have a perfect 4.0, but you still may have a chance at thousands of dollars in free financial assistance, or maybe even a full-ride. For example, awards 13 different $1,000 Area of Study College Scholarships each year, with a 250-350 word essay as the only required material. Give it your best effort—make a case to the scholarship provider and show them why you are the best candidate and can do great things in your chosen field.

Employers may pay more than just your salary

Often, a scholarship will be available exclusively to employees or their children or specific companies like Kraft or even those in specific types of careers or industries, such as police officers or steel workers. Corporate scholarships often feature generous awards and requirements that can be met by normal human beings, so they can be well worth the effort of applying.

Location, Location, Location

Sometimes, your zip code or high school may qualify you for a non-academic scholarship. There are a number of local scholarships available exclusively to those living in specific areas or attending specific high schools. If there is one for your city, county, or school, it will be in your search results at

All of the above types of non-academic scholarships will appear in your search results when you conduct a free scholarship search online at We ask the most pertinent questions possible in a (roughly) ten-minute session so that you will see which scholarships are available to you. The more complete and accurate the information you supply, the more accurate and complete your search results. You may be pleasantly surprised to see how many scholarships you are eligible for, A student or not, and who knows? You may even end up winning a few.

Latest College & Financial Aid News

Seven Tips for Repaying Your Student Loans

by Suada Kolovic

If you're a recent college graduate, chances are you’ll have to start paying off your student loans sooner than you think. And even with the economy in a slump, don’t expect a free pass on not paying your loans. Are you starting to panic? Well, don’t! There’s a ton of advice out there to help students stay on track and courtesy of the U.S. News and World Report, here are seven tips for repaying [...]

Is Harvard Biased Against Asian American Applicants?

by Suada Kolovic

Applying to some of the top universities in the country is undoubtedly unnerving given the quality of the applicants and the impossibly low acceptance rates. But what if because you were an Asian-American student seeking admission, you were held to an even higher standard? Well, that is what a coalition of 64 organizations is claiming. According to the compliant, which was filed [...]

Incoming University of Texas President Turned Down $1 Million Salary

by Suada Kolovic

Understanding how to negotiate your salary is a skill that you’ll hone over your career. Normally, many new employees want to negotiate for higher salaries...but for some, that's not always the case: Incoming University of Texas at Austin President Gregory Fenves turned down a $1 million salary because he thought it was too much. Say what? According to the Austin [...]

Follow Us:

facebook twitter rss feed