Overcast 38° Good Afternoon
Overcast 38° Good Afternoon

Non-traditional scholarships to help you pay for college


Zombie Photo Credit: Get money for college by devising the best zombie apocalypse scenario. (GETTY)

With many applications due before the end of the year, high school seniors are deep in the throes of the college application process.

But with annual tuition and fees at an all-time high, according to CollegeBoard's Trends in College Pricing 2012 report, averaging $8,655 for public in-state and $29,056 for private nonprofit institutions, finding some funding to help foot the bill is just as important as scoring that acceptance letter.

Luckily for students, there are millions of private scholarships available per year with about $9 million granted annually, says Chris Long, the president of Cappex, a Chicago-based company that helps match students with colleges and both merit aid and private scholarships.

But scholarships aren't just for straight-A students, Long says. With a little bit of work -- including research on sites like Cappex, CollegeNET and Fastweb -- most students will find an award that fits their passions, skillsets or situation.

Here are eight nontraditional scholarships open to New Yorkers with, shall we say, special talents or out-of-the-box interests, with information on award amounts, deadlines and how and where to apply.

Kor Memorial Scholarship

Speak Klingon, the language of Trekkies? You're in luck. The Klingon Language Institute awards one scholarship annually to a full-time undergraduate or graduate student pursuing a degree in a field of language study. Applicants don't need to speak Klingon -- or other constructed languages -- to apply, but creative and innovative applicants are preferred.

Award amount: $500
Deadline: June 1, 2014

Zombie Apocalypse Scholarship

How would you survive in the event that zombies overrun your school? Share your plan, including where you would hide and the top five things you would bring with you to stay alive, in 250 words or less and you're on your way to completing this scholarship application, fittingly due on Halloween. Applicants must be 13 or older and enrolled in a post-secondary institution currently or by the fall of 2019.

Award amount: $1,500
Deadline: Oct. 31, 2013

Vegetarian Resource Group Scholarship

Two students graduating in the spring who promote vegetarianism in their school and/or their community will win this award each year, which requires 16 items be addressed in an application essay without a word limit, including future goals, strengths and weaknesses and recommended vegetarian foods. Along with their essay, applicants are asked to submit three or more recommendations (including at least one teacher) and any documents, like photos or newspaper clippings, showing their promotion of and commitment to vegetarianism. Early submission is encouraged.

Award amount: $5,000
Deadline: Feb. 20, 2014

Soroptimist Women's Opportunity Awards

Women who are overcoming personal difficulties and who provide the primary financial support for their family are eligible for this scholarship, which also takes into account financial need. Applicants must be enrolled or have been accepted into an undergraduate or vocational program to apply. Multiple grants, including three $10,000 prizes, are given annually.

Award amount: Up to $10,000
Deadline: Dec. 1, 2013

Horatio Alger New York Scholarships

High school seniors who live in New York and have overcome great obstacles in their lives are eligible to apply for this scholarship from the Horatio Alger Association. A GPA of 2.0 and an adjusted gross family income of $55,000 or lower are required to apply, as is a commitment to receiving a bachelor's degree. Twenty-five are awarded annually.

Award amount: $5,000
Deadline: Oct. 25, 2013

Tall Clubs International Student Scholarship

Tall Clubs International, a social club for men 6'2" and taller and women 5'10" and taller, awards scholarship(s) to tall students 21 and younger entering their first year of college. Students applying must either contact a TCI Member Club in their area for sponsorship or ask for an application via email.

Award amount: $1,000
Deadline: Feb. 15, 2014

Duck Brand Duct Tape “Stuck at Prom” Scholarship Contest

For creative students who want to wear something more original than a sequined gown or a rented tux to prom, this scholarship tasks them with creating a look out of nothing more than duct tape. Applicants — either a single or a couple — must submit their prom photo to be judged on originality, use of colors and other design elements.

Award amount: $500-$5,000
Deadline: March 10-May 23, 2014

Bob Gurnsey Scholarship Awards

Paintball players are invited to apply for scholarships named after the creator of the sport, Bob Gurnsey. Applicants must be a senior in high school, have a GPA of 3.0 or higher, be accepted into a two — or four-year school, and play paintball, natch. To be considered for one of the multiple $500 regional awards or the $2,500 national award, applicants must write 250 words or less on either how paintball has been a positive influence in their life, or how this scholarship will help them achieve their career goals.

Award amount: $500-$2,500
Deadline: March 30, 2014