As with scholarships, you can probably find a grant for any and all unusual characteristic you can think of. The good thing about that unique hobby you may feel somewhat reluctant to talk about out loud is that the awards for those kinds of pastimes and talents may be less competitive than other grants based on need or your chosen field of study.
Think about what makes you stand out, and look beyond the resume when seeking out grants you may be eligible for. You don’t need a stellar GPA or impressive standardized test scores to land a grant for what makes you unique. As with scholarships, there are grant opportunities out there from outside organizations that want to reward you for a rare ability or hobby. While these organizations often have an ulterior motive – they want to expand the public’s interest and bring more attention to those unique hobbies that they’re so passionate about – if they help get you to college, why not help them promote the cause you’re passionate about too? There’s probably an outside group for any unique interest you may have, so get to know your local groups, as there may be funding opportunities out there you haven’t considered yet.
Sure, teachers and nurses have many grant opportunities available to them, especially if they live in states where those professions are particularly in demand. But if you look hard enough, that major you may have gotten some flack about from your family could be useful to in the unique grants search. Contact local businesses and organizations that relate to your field of study, as many want to expand their professions and will help you pay for college to do so. Even better, many will pay not only your college expenses, but to go after research in your field to make you stand out when you’re done with school and ready for the job market.
The American Association of Cereal Chemists International has several funds set up for graduate students interested in researching cereal science. Graduate fellowships of $2,000, $2,500, or $3,000 are available to graduate students pursuing research in grain-based food science and technology. While you must be a member of the organization to join, if cereal science or any unique field is where your interests lie, it could be worth your time to join outside organizations that offer generous grant funding for you to do what you love.
The Massage Therapy Foundation provides generous grants not only to organizations but individuals interested in conducting research in the field of massage therapy. Awards range from $1,000 to $30,000. (Larger awards go to groups conducting research.) The purpose of the grants is to promote the use of massage therapy and advance the understanding of specific therapeutic applications of massage, public perceptions of and attitudes toward massage therapy, and the role of massage therapy in health care delivery.
Don’t forget that scholarships are free money, too. For some examples of unusual college scholarships, which can be surprisingly generous, or for scholarships based on other criteria, conduct a free scholarship search to see awards you could qualify for.
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