Some say there are millions of dollars in unrewarded scholarship money each year. Others, commonly those in the higher education field, say that a large amount of unclaimed scholarships is a myth perpetrated by fraudulent organizations that charge students for scholarship searches. Most unrewarded scholarship money comes from restrictive scholarships that have a small pool of eligible applicants - a scholarship for left-handed female students from Wisconsin that are color blind would probably result in left over funds. (When families get desperate to scrape together college funds, they may fall prey to scammers. See Life Lesson No. 1: Avoid College Scholarship Fraud.)
TUTORIAL: Education Savings Account

Marvin Carmichael, past national chair of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), stated that 85% of the money labeled as "unclaimed" is employer-paid education benefits. Experts advise against paying private firms to search for these so-called unclaimed scholarship dollars. Many of these offers are scams, and even legitimate searches don't offer any more than you could find yourself with a free Internet search or a trip to the school guidance counselor. Here are some examples of scholarships that might have unclaimed dollars due to their strange or specific requirements:

Duck Brand Scholarship
Quirky and creative high school students have the opportunity for $500 to $5,000 in college scholarship money for their prom night fashions. The "Stuck at Prom" scholarship from the makers of duct tape rewards students who design and wear elaborate dresses, suits and accessories made from the sticky stuff to the biggest dance of the year. Applicants can submit their information and photos of their outfits online where they are shared and voted on by members of the company's official online community, "The Duct Tape Club". Applicants are responsible for purchasing their own duct tape, and must enter as a couple.

Leavenworth Scholarship
It's all in the name for this funding source. Since 1882, students at Hamilton College in Clinton, NY with the last name Leavenworth have been awarded a full, four year scholarship through this special endowment. The endowment was set up by Elias W. Leavenworth. From 1995 to 2006, there were no eligible students at Hamilton College and this money went unclaimed.

Talls Club International Student Scholarship
College freshman go to great lengths for this award. The TCI awards $1,000 each year to women 5'10" and over and men 6'2" and over who are under 21 years of age.

National Potato Council Scholarship
Five thousand dollars is available for graduate students who want to pursue a career that "enhances the potato industry". The council, which was formed in 1948 to unite U.S. potato growers after WWII, chooses recipients based on academic achievement, leadership abilities and potato-related areas of graduate study. (University payment plans are a great option for reducing student loan borrowing, but only if you know the details. Check out Student Borrowing: University Payment Plans Vs. Federal Student Loans.)

Society of Vacuum Coaters Foundation Scholarship Fund
To promote education in the little known field of vacuum coating, a mechanized process for applying coatings to lengths of materials, the SVC gives out scholarships to those studying vacuum coating technology at an accredited technical, vocational, two-year, undergraduate or graduate school. Typically, the foundation gives out two to three financial awards each year.

Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Scholarship Duck Calling Contest
Ducks bring luck if you can qualify for this scholarship fund which has been awarded every year since 1974. Current high school seniors can earn $500 to $2,000 if they place in the annual duck calling contest in Stuttgart, Ark. which requires the execution of four calls in 90 minutes. The scholarship winners are free to use their financial aid in any field of study at any institution of higher learning.

The Bottom Line
Unclaimed scholarship money may be available, but not in the abundant and easy to grab quantities that are sometimes reported. If you have an unusual talent or the right last name, you might be eligible for obscure pots of scholarship gold for which most other students can't apply. (These savings vehicles may be better than college saving funds for some families. Refer to Pay For A College Education With Retirement Funds.)

Related Articles
  1. Personal Finance

    How To Get That Entry-Level Financial Analyst Job

    Landing a job as a financial analyst takes study, strategy and a lot of hard work. Here's how to hone your competitive edge.
  2. Personal Finance

    Does It Make Sense to Go to College in Europe?

    If you're deciding whether to get a degree abroad, first do your research and talk to alumni who have completed the same program.
  3. Savings

    6 Ways to Save Money on College Supplies

    Tuition and room and board are big expenses, yes, but the cost of textbooks and supplies can add up, too, unless you strategize.
  4. Professionals

    Is it Time to (Finally) Push Kids Out of the Nest?

    Parents should make sure their kids realize their home is a launching pad not a landing spot, and advisors can help clients talk to their children.
  5. Credit & Loans

    Four Ways to Improve Education In America

    U.S. students place 27th in math and 20th in science out of 34 countries. The United States must reform its education system or harm future economic productivity and global trade competitiveness.
  6. Savings

    A Look at the Cost and Tax Treatment of College

    Is there more we can do to improve the affordability of post-secondary education? We take a look at how students and colleges are taxed today.
  7. Credit & Loans

    10 Ways to Manage Student Loan Debt

    How to manage those pesky payments as you embark on adult life.
  8. Fundamental Analysis

    Student Loan Asset-Backed Securities: Safe or Subprime?

    Similar to the mortgage-backed securities that caused the 2008 recession, student loan asset-backed securities could lead to the next financial crisis.
  9. Professionals

    Scholar vs. Entrepreneur: What's Your Calling?

    You don't need a bachelor's degree to launch your own company. But which path — school or entrepreneurship — offers a better start to your work life?
  10. Credit & Loans

    The Lurking Dangers of Student Loans

    Student loans are popular, but they present many dangers.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Good Student Discount

    An auto insurance policy discount available to young drivers ...
  2. Whartonite

    A graduate of the Wharton School of Business at the University ...
  3. Free Application For Federal Student ...

    The form that must be completed in order to qualify for any type ...
  4. Student Debt

    Money owed on a loan taken out to pay for educational expenses. ...
  5. Student Loan Forgiveness

    Under certain circumstances, federally backed student loans – ...
  6. Direct Consolidation Loan

    A loan that combines two or more federal education loans into ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. Can my IRA be used for college tuition?

    You can use your IRA to pay for college tuition even before you reach retirement age. In fact, your retirement savings can ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What are the long-term effects of delinquent accounts?

    Delinquency occurs when borrowers fail to make payments on their loans. All loan borrowers should do their best to avoid ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What are the differences between delinquency and default?

    Delinquency and default are loan terms that describe failure to make a required payment. A loan in delinquency occurs the ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. When capitalizing interest, will interest accrue while you are in a deferment?

    When capitalizing interest, interest accrues while a person is in a deferment of his loan. In the event of a deferment, the ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Why is more interest paid over the life of a loan when it is capitalized?

    More interest is paid over the life of a loan when that interest is capitalized because the capitalized interest is added ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What is the difference between compounding interest and simple interest?

    Interest is the cost of borrowing money, where the borrower pays a fee to the owner for using the owner's money. The interest ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
×

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!