Scholarships for Average Students

Ordinary students often ask whether there are any scholarships available to students who don't have an A average. This page lists some scholarships for average students. Although these scholarships don't require a high GPA, they do require excellence in a non-academic area. Every scholarship sponsor is trying to find the students that best fulfill their selection criteria. If the selection criteria don't depend on academic merit, then they might depend on athletic or artistic merit, community service, extracurricular activities, or on skill in a non-academic discipline. The winners are always the students who best reflect the goals of the scholarship sponsor. Candidates don't necessarily need to be academically talented, but do need to be extraordinary and amazing in other ways. No scholarship sponsor gives away money simply for breathing, except perhaps the US government.

Of these scholarships, the David Letterman scholarship is the one most often cited by news media.

The following list of scholarships is intended to be representative, not comprehensive. To find other scholarships for students with specific interests or abilities, search the FastWeb FastWeb scholarship database.

Other sources of non-academic scholarships include your employer or your parent's employer, your church, synagogue or mosque, hobbyist groups, local businesses, community service organizations, fraternal organizations, unions and minority groups. There are also many essay contests.

Many education lenders and other businesses also use scholarship lotteries to attract students to their web sites. Usually the winners are selected by a random drawing.

Creativity

David Letterman Telecommunications Scholarship
The David Letterman Scholarship was established by David Letterman in 1985 to provide scholarships for telecommunications students at Ball State University. The awards are intended for average students who nevertheless have a creative mind. Winners are selected primarily based on creativity. Projects may involve a variety of media, including written work, research, audio, video, graphics and film. The winner receives a $10,000 scholarship. The first runner-up receives $5,000. The second runner-up receives $3,333.

Duck Brand Duct Tape Stuck at Prom Contest
The Duck Brand Duct Tape Stuck on Prom Contest is open to students age 14 years or older who are attending a high school prom in the spring. US citizenship is required. Entrants must enter as a couple (two individuals) and attend a high school prom wearing complete attire or accessories made from duct tape. The submission must include a color photograph of the couple together in prom attire. The first place prize consists of a $2,500 scholarship for each member of the winning couple and a $2,500 cash prize to the school that hosted the prom. Other prizes include $1,000 for second place, $500 for third, and Duck Tape sportswear for honorable mentions. The winning couple will be selected based on a variety of criteria, including originality, workmanship, quantity of Duck Tape used, use of colors, and creative use of accessories. The Duck Tape contest web site includes photographs of the winning costumes.

Overcoming Adversity

Horatio Alger Association Scholarships
The Horatio Alger Association provides scholarships for students who have demonstrated integrity and perseverance in overcoming adversity. Other selection criteria include strength of character, financial need, a good academic record (a GPA of 2.0 or higher), and a desire to contribute to society. The association awards 100 $10,000 scholarships and 150 $1,000 scholarships each year to high school seniors. US citizenship is required. Several states also have state scholarship programs. The deadline is October 15.

Patricia M. McNamara Memorial Scholarship
The Patricia M. McNamara Memorial Scholarship awards one $1,000 scholarship to current college students who have had to overcome obstacles to achieve their goals. The deadline is December 31.

Community Service

Information about AmeriCorps and additional community service awards can be found in FinAid's list of scholarships for community service.

Discover Card Tribute Award
The Discover Card Tribute Award awards several $2,500 scholarships in each state and nine national $25,000 scholarships to high school juniors. Winners are selected on the basis of community service, special talents, leadership, and overcoming an obstacle. The deadline is in early January. This program is sponsored by Discover in conjunction with the American Association of School Administrators (AASA). For more information, send email to tributeaward@aasa.org.

Do Something Brick Awards
The Do Something Brick Awards provide a $5,000 scholarship and a $5,000 grant to "change-makers" age 18 and under who work with Do Something to improve their communities. A $10,000 grant is available to those aged 19-25. For more information, send email to brick@dosomething.org.

Prudential Spirit of Community Awards
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards recognize children in grades 5-12 who have engaged in volunteer activities and have demonstrated exceptional community service. The program is sponsored by Prudential in conjunction with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). State winners receive a $1,000 award. National winners receive a $5,000 award. The student application deadline is in late October.

Tylenol Scholarship
The Tylenol Scholarship program awards ten $10,000 scholarships and 150 $1,000 scholarships to students for excellence and leadership in community service. The deadline is April 30. The program is administered by Scholarship America, Inc.

Acts of Kindness

AngelSoft Angels in Action
The Angels in Action awards recognizes ten children aged 8-15 who perform acts of kindness and volunteerism in their communities. The grand prize winner receives $20,000 and the ten first prize winners receive $2,500. Each winner also receives a one-year supply of Angel Soft bath tissue. The deadline is in mid-June.

Hiram College Hal Reichle Memorial Scholarship
Hal Reichle took great pleasure in helping others and would do so secretly and serendipitously. In his memory, family and friends funded a scholarship at Hiram College to reward students for their random acts of kindness. Recipients are chosen on the basis of their humanitarian efforts, community involvement, and volunteerism. There is no application for this scholarship. Instead, the selection committee relies on an army of stealthy observers, the Secret Society of Serendipitous Service to Hal (SSSSH!), to identify students of strong moral character with a spirit of giving and dedication to others.

Non-Academic Achievement

AXA Achievement Scholarship Program
The AXA Achievement Scholarship Program awards $10,000 and $25,000 scholarships to high school seniors who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in non-academic activities in school, community or the workplace. The award is sponsored by the AXA Foundation. US citizenship or legal residency is required. There are 52 winners of $10,000 scholarships. Ten national winners will receive an additional $15,000, for a total of $25,000. The application is available on the The deadline is December 15.

Entrepreneurship

Girls Going Places Scholarship
The Girls Going Places Scholarship is sponsored by Guardian Life Insurance Company of America. It awards prizes totalling $30,000 to 15 girls aged 12-18 who have demonstrated budding entrepreneurship. There is one first place award of $10,000, one second place award of $5,000, one third place award of $3,000 and twelve $1,000 awards. The competition starts September 1. The deadline is March 1.

Essay Contests

AFSA National Scholarship Essay Contest
The AFSA National Scholarship Essay Contest is sponsored by the American Fire Sprinkler Association. The national winner receives a $4,000 scholarship, with second and third place winners receiving $3,000 and $2,000 scholarships. The four remaining regional winners each receive $1,000 scholarships. Information is available starting in the fall. The deadline is in early January.

AIDS Orphans in Africa Essay Contest
The AIDS Orphans in Africa Essay Contest awards $1,000 scholarships to the author of the best essay in each of three age categories (under 12, 13-17, and 18-22). US citizenship or permanent residency is required. The deadline is April 15. The awards are sponsored by Oakseed Ministries and Stand for Africa.

Akademos / TextbookX.com Scholarship Contest
Akademos Inc. offers spring and fall scholarship essay contests to help publicize the TextbookX.com web site, a source of new and used textbooks. The contest is open to undergraduate and graduate students. The grand prize winner receives $2,000, and two runners-up receive $250 gift certificates for TextbookX.com. The fall deadline is October 31. The spring deadline is April 30.

Americanism Essay Contest
The Americanism Essay Contest is sponsored by the Fleet Reserve Association (FRA) National Committee on Americanism-Patriotism. Awards include a grand national prize of a $15,000 US Savings Bond, and $5,000, $3,000 and $2,000 US Savings Bonds awarded to the first, second and third place winners in each grade category. The contest is open to students in grades 7 through 12. Entrants must be sponsored by a FRA member or by a chartered branch or unit. The deadline is December 1.

Calgon Take Me Away to College Contest
The Calgon Take Me Away to College Contest is an essay contest sponsored by Calgon. One $7,000, one $3,500, one $2,000, and five $1,000 scholarships are awarded. The deadline is February 28.

College Prowler Essay Competition
The College Prowler Essay Competition awards five $300 scholarships to high school sophomores, juniors and seniors for students who are interested in serving on the College Prowler Board of Advisors. The deadline is May 1. For more information, send email to scholarship@collegeprowler.com.

Environmental Essay Contest
The aBetterEarth Environmental Essay Contest is sponsored by the Institute for Humane Studies. Candidates should be full-time undergraduate or graduate students or under age 25 as of May 15. High school students are not eligible. The contest awards one first place award of $2,000, one second place award of $1,250, one third place award of $750, and four runner up awards of $250 each. The deadline is May 15. For more information, send email to info@abetterearth.org.

Holocaust Remembrance Project Essay Contest
The Holocaust Remembrance Project Essay Contest is designed to encourage and promote the study of the Holocaust. Ten first place winners receive an all-expense-paid trip to Washington DC to visit the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and scholarships of $1,000 to $5,000. The contest is open to all residents of the United States and Mexico, and also to US Citizens living abroad. Candidates should be enrolled in high school (grades 9-12) and age 19 or younger. The deadline is April 15. For more information, send email to holocaust@hklaw.com.

Maryknoll Student Essay Contest
The Maryknoll Student Essay Contest awards a $1,000 first place scholarship in each division (grades 6-8, grades 9-12). MaryKnoll is a US-based Catholic mission movement. The essay contests are usually on religious topics. The deadline is December 1.

MoneyMatters101.com Scholarships
The MoneyMatters101.com scholarship involves an essay on a financial theme. It is open to college freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors attending college in the US or Canada. A GPA of 2.3 or higher is required. One $300 scholarship will be awarded. The deadline is August 31.

OP Loftbed Scholarship
The OP Loftbed Scholarship awards one $500 scholarship to a college student each year. US citizenship is required. The essay topics vary from year to year. The deadline is July 31.

School Band and Orchestra Magazine Scholarship
The School Band and Orchestra Magazine Scholarship awards ten $1,000 scholarships (five to students in grades 4-8 and five to students in grades 9-12). The essay topics focus on music. Entry forms are available online starting September 1. The deadline is December 31.

Teenage Vision for America Essay Contest
The Teenage Vision for America Essay Contest is sponsored by American Spirit Publishing. The first prize is $300. The contest is open to students aged 13 to 18, inclusive. The deadline is June 1.

Vegetarian Resource Group Scholarship
The Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) offers two $5,000 scholarships each year to graduating US high school seniors who have promoted vegetarianism in their schools and communities. The application requires an essay about how the applicant promoted vegetarianism in their high school or community. The deadline is February 20. Applications are available on the VRG web site. For more information, call 1-410-366-8343, write to The Vegetarian Resource Group, PO Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203, or send email to vrg@vrg.org.

Voice of Democracy Essay Contest
The Voice of Democracy Essay Contest is sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW). The audio essay contest is open to high school students in grades 9-12. The first-place national winner receives a $25,000 scholarship. The essay topics always involve a patriotic theme. The deadline is November 1.

Photography Contests

MyParkPhotos.org Scholarship Photography Contest
The MyParkPhotos.org Scholarship Photography Contest is a scholarship contest for student visitors to North American National, State and Provincial Parks. One $500 scholarship is awarded each quarter. The deadlines are March 31, June 30, September 30, and December 31.

Video Contests

ACLU Stand Up for Freedom Contest
The ACLU Stand Up for Freedom PSA Contest awards one $5,000 scholarship to the best TV public service announcement (PSA) on civil liberties issues created by a US citizen or legal resident aged 17-29. The ACLU also awards one $1,000 scholarship for the best essay on civil liberties issues. See the web site for current topics. The contest opens on July 4 and the deadline for submission is October 4.

Christopher College Video and High School Poster Contests
The Christophers hold an annual video contest for college students and an annual poster contest for high school students. The video contest provides cash awards of $3,000, $2,000, and $1,000 for first, second and third place winners. The poster contest provides a cash award of $1,000 for the first place winner. See the web site for contest theme. The deadline is in early June.

Dance Scholarships

American Harlequin Dance Scholarship
The American Harlequin Dance Scholarship is sponsored by Harlequin Floors. Twenty $25,000 scholarships are awarded by random drawing. The deadline is November 1.

Art Contests

Federal Junior Duck Stamp Art Competition
The Federal Junior Duck Stamp Art Competition is sponsored by the US Department of the Interior, US Fish and Wildlife Service. Students in grades K-12 may submit a drawing, painting or sketch of any North American waterfowl species. Each state, territory or district has its own competition, with the "Best of Show" winners submitted to the national competition. One of the 53 Best of Show images will be selected as the next Junior Duck Stamp. The national awards include a first place $5,000 cash award, a second place $3,000 cash award, and a third place $2,000 cash award. The contest is open to US ctizens, resident aliens and nationals. The deadline is March 15.

Miscellaneous Activities

AAA Travel High School Challenge
The AAA Travel High School Challenge is a three-stage competition for high school freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors, starting with the online competition in January and ending with the national competition in May. The challenge is focused on travel literacy, geography and tourism destinations. More than $100,000 in scholarship funds are awarded, with three first place awards of $25,000 each and three second place awards of $10,000 each.

Patrick Kerr Skateboard Scholarship
The Patrick Kerr Skateboard Scholarship awards one $5,000 and three $1,000 scholarships to skateboarders who are high school seniors with a GPA of 2.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale. Recipients must enroll as a full-time undergraduate at an accredited college or university the fall after high school graduation. US citizenship is required. The award is given to skateboard activists. The deadline is in late April. For more information visit the web site.

Barbara Wiedner and Dorothy Vandercook Peace Scholarship
The Barbara Wiedner and Dorothy Vandercook Peace Scholarship is sponsored by Grandmothers for Peace International. The $500 scholarship is awarded to high school seniors and college freshmen with documented activities or work involving peace and social justice, nuclear disarmament, and conflict resolution. The scholarship competition is open to students from any country. The deadline is March 1.

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