Editorial: Scholarships help you, and them

By Staff Editorial

You don’t need us to tell you that college is expensive. Whether you’re an in-state or… You don’t need us to tell you that college is expensive. Whether you’re an in-state or out-of-state student, you can expect to pay more next year if you’re sticking around.

In 2009, the average cost at public universities of tuition, room, board, books and other expenses rose by 5.8 percent, or $1,062, according to U.S. News and World Report. But behold the cash-strapped college student’s financial savior: the scholarship.

Applying for scholarships isn’t exactly the most exciting process — there’s no such thing as free money. So sit down and start typing, because you’ll need to craft those 1,000 words that’ll convince the esteemed panel your thoughts on Shakespearian metaphysical inquiries are the $10,000 answer it desires.

But the scope of available scholarships might be broader than you think. Some scholarships limit their candidates on categories, such as sex or area of planned study. But how about a scholarship that’s only applicable to former golf caddies or those who don duct tape for prom dresses? Yes, those are out there.

CNBC recently published a list of some of the United States’ most offbeat scholarships. Below are a few of the lesser known, downright quirky and perhaps underrated scholarships out there. Some are limited to high school students, but for a few you can still apply.

If you’ve spent time on the green, consider trying to get some green from the Evans Scholars Foundation Scholarship to help pay for college.The requirements include that you’ve been a golf caddie for at least two years, were nominated by a golf club, have a solid academic record and show need for the money.

Burnt out from writing scholarship essays? The American Fire Sprinkler Association Scholarship awards graduating high school seniors $2,000 scholarships for first reading and then taking a 10-question quiz on an essay about fire sprinklers.

When you were young, your mom might have told you to drink milk to build strong bones, but she probably didn’t think it might someday help pay for college, too. The Scholar Athlete Milk Mustache of the Year Awards Scholarship from Body by Milk provides 25 milk drinkers a $7,500 scholarship. The scholarship is geared toward student-athletes, and the requirements include a minimum GPA of 3.20 and a 250-word essay on how milk has helped in either athletics or academics.

The Duck Tape “Stuck at Prom” Scholarship makes sure prom was an unforgettable experience for its applicants. Participants must enter in pairs and wear prom outfits crafted entirely from duct tape. First-place winners receive $3,000 from ShurTech Brands, the scholarship’s sponsor.

The American Association of Candy Technologists — yes, this is real — offers a $5,000 scholarship to college students with an interest in confectionary technology and who are majoring in food science, chemical science or a similar field of study.

The National Potato Council — yes, this is real, too — awards one $5,000 scholarship to a graduate student each year going into agribusiness.

The student, however, must have a career goal that involves bettering the potato industry as well as marked academic achievement and leadership skills to be considered.

Companies love getting their names out, and the scholarships in some of these cases seem a less direct form of advertising — all in the name of promoting education. But when the potato hits the fan, we’ll take the help wherever we can find it.