Investigating scholarships: College assistance from unlikely places

Dan Rafter

Parents of college-bound students need all the financial help they can get. The average tuition at private four-year colleges stood at $25,143 in 2008, according a study by the College Board. At the average public four-year college, yearly tuition came in at $6,585, according to the same study. There is some relief, though. Future college students can apply for countless scholarships, and the money doesn’t always go to those with stellar grade-point averages or athletic accolades.

Some of the scholarships out there, in fact, are just plain strange.

Klingon Language Institute award

To be fair, this award isn’t as strange as it may first seem. Each year, the Klingon Language Institute awards a $500 scholarship, designed to encourage the study of language, to one graduate or undergraduate student nominated by a school department.

Applications must be sent to the institute by June 1, and winners are announced during the institute’s annual conference, known as qep’a’ in Klingon. The best news? Winners do not have to know the Klingon alphabet or even who Gene Rodenberry is. For more information, visit

Zolp Scholarships

This may either be the toughest scholarship to earn or the easiest -- depending on your last name. Zolp Scholarships are awarded to Catholic students attending Loyola University Chicago who happen to have the last name of Zolp.

To qualify, applicants must file a copy of their birth certificate or a baptismal or confirmation certificate with Loyola University’s office of student financial assistance. Candidates must be admitted to Loyola by Feb. 1. For more information, visit Loyola University at

Patrick Kerr Skateboard Scholarship

Finally, a scholarship for all those kids who spend more time skateboarding up and down the library’s railings than checking out the books inside.

To earn the Patrick Kerr Skateboard Scholarship, students must be a skateboarder, have a GPA of 2.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale, and enroll in a full-time undergraduate course of study at an accredited two- or four-year college or university. The fund provides four scholarships: One earns a $5,000 scholarship, and three others receive $1,000. All applications must be postmarked by April 20. To apply, visit

Frederick and Mary F. Beckley Scholarship

Here’s another scholarship that appeals to a limited group of students, specifically those who are left-handed and are already attending Juniata College in Huntington, Penn. The scholarship provides up to $1,000. For more information, visit Juniata College at

National Marbles Tournament

Each year, the National Marbles Tournament passes out $5,000 worth of scholarships to marble shooters – also known as mibsters – from the ages of 8 to 14. Children named as King and Queen of Marbles during the June tournament each receive a $2,000 scholarship. The boy and girl who demonstrate the best sportsmanship each get $1,000. For more information, visit

Sources: College Board;;