If you're a sophomore, junior, senior, or graduate student, you may think scholarship opportunities have passed you by. Not so! Of course, if you're reading this before you've applied to schools, you should add "find scholarships" to your to-do list, because most awards are offered to new students.

Scholarships, for obvious reasons, are a great way to fund your education. You never have to pay the money back. A scholarship is like a huge coupon for education. You may think your grades aren't good enough, or that you aren't accomplished enough to score free money, but a little research may prove you wrong.

If you have a niche interest, start by searching for that plus "scholarship." To name just a few:

  • Are you a Trekkie? Is your Starfleet membership up to date? You may be able to get a scholarship
  • Are you into the idea of laser tattoo removal? Or could you at least write a very short essay about the societal impact of laser tattoo removal? You could get free money.
  • Could you muster up some enthusiasm for fire sprinklers? (Kidding aside, this could turn into a career. You never know!) You could get paid.
  • Are you a Beatles fan? You don't even have to be a Beatles fan to apply to the John Lennon Endowed Scholarship program established by the singer's wife, Yoko Ono. You just need a GPA of at least 3.0 and a major in Communications, Mass Communications, Mass Media Arts, Music and Performing Arts. This could be you.
  • Do you like french fries? A whole lot? Enough to do research on potatoes? Someone may want to fund your education.

After searching for yourself, you should also talk to your school's financial aid office. They may be able to steer you toward local scholarships or even more interesting opportunities. Some schools even offer awards to students who maintain a certain GPA (one of many great reasons to study hard).

So maybe you didn't get a scholarship for your freshman year, but don't give up. Some people really blossom in college and are more qualified for competitive awards. And if you aren't one of them? You may have one weird quality that can help you pay tuition. If a scholarship exists, somebody out there's going to get that money. Why not you?

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