Updated August 18, 2022 • 6 Min Read

How to Leverage Your Hobbies & Earn Money for School

Everyone has that one hobby that they feel defines part of who they are. Maybe it's baseball, or perhaps singing: two disciplines for which schools are often eager to provide scholarships. But what about more unique hobbies, like birdwatching, quilting, or writing horror fiction? All students want to receive financial assistance, which is why we've compiled a list of scholarships specifically geared towards the unique hobbies that make students who they are. Having trouble finding a scholarship that fits your interests and skills? Continue reading to explore 34 of the best hobby-based scholarships available for students.

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34 Hobby Scholarships for
College-Bound Students

During the scholarship selection process, we kept a wide variety of hobbies in mind, ranging from bowling to origami. This list of 35 scholarships offers an array of opportunities for students looking to cash in on their unique skills. Check below to see what we found.

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AAC Culinary Scholarships for High School Seniors

$1,500-$2,500 Late April and Late October

Students with a passion for the culinary arts may be eligible for a variety of annually distributed scholarship opportunities offered through the American Culinary Federation. Funding can be applied to either apprenticeships, certificate programs, or post-secondary educational pursuits.

: Amount : Deadline

Absolute Fencing Gear Scholarships

Varies Late April

Applicants for this scholarship will be selected based on both academic prowess as well as an interest in the sport of fencing. Do you have high grades and some serious skill in a bout? Apply to this scholarship and you might find yourself on the All-American Fencing Team.

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American Society for Enology and Viticulture Traditional Scholarship

Varies Early March

The cultivation of grapes and their subsequent conversion into wine is a highly scientific process, one which requires most individuals interested in this industry to attend college. Do you aspire to be working on a Napa vineyard someday? Applying for this scholarship is an excellent start to creating your first bottle of delicious wine.

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ASEV Presidents' Award for Scholarship in Enology and Viticulture

Varies Early March

Exceptional students who are members of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture may be nominated to receive the ASE President's Award in Enology and Viticulture. Students must provide a written statement detailing their interest in a career in the grape and wine industry. Two letters of recommendation are required for this scholarship.

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American Birding Association Scholarship

Varies Late August

The American Birding Association seeks to bolster youth interest in bird-related activities, such as birdwatching and ornithological pursuits, with this scholarship program. Recipients may apply funding towards training opportunities, camps, and workshops focusing in relevant subject matter.

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American Mountain Guides Association Scholarship

Varies Early July

28 scholarships are being offered for the 2019 school year to students interested in becoming certified mountain guides. Established by the American Mountain Guides Association, this preparation funding can be used for a number of disciplines, including Alpine navigation, ski guide, or rock climbing.

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Bowl4Life Scholarship

Varies Late June

Formed in 2013, the Bowl4Life Scholarship Foundation has been offering funding for students who are looking to keep both their GPA and their bowling scores high. Applicants must maintain a GPA of at least a 3.0 and demonstrate a genuine interest in the sport of bowling. Apply now to spare yourself a few bucks.

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Charlie Reynolds Memorial Scholarship

$3,000 Late May

With the goal of honoring the athletic spirit of runner Charlie Reynolds, this scholarship program seeks to reward any graduating high school seniors committed to either track and field or cross country running. Applicants must also be residents of Baltimore county, or be enrolled in school in the Baltimore area.

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CME Beef Industry Scholarship

$1,500 Late October

Careers in the cattle and beef industry can provide young learners with steady income and fulfilling work throughout their lives. Interested in breaking into the field? This scholarship is provided for young learners who are planning on pursuing a career in the beef industry, and provides awards in the form of funding, internships, and field-specific professional development courses.

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Crossword Hobbyist Crossword Scholarship

$1,000 Late April

Applicants to this scholarship program will be required to submit a 15x15 crossword puzzle of their own design, emphasizing a theme of their choosing. Puzzle submissions should not exceed 78 words and should follow standard newspaper puzzle format.

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Dance Discovery Foundation Scholarship Program

$100-$2,000 Late May

Southern California students who are engaged in a community dance program—whether through a studio, company, or institution of higher education—may be eligible to receive academic funding through this scholarship program. Invitations to apply are sent out annually to institutions affiliated with DDF.

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Distinguished Artist Award

$3,000 Mid-February

Students from a variety of creative backgrounds may wish to pursue this unique scholarship opportunity. Prior experience in music, theatrical performance, or creative writing and intend to pursue at least 22 credits in one of these areas? Put together a portfolio today and become this year's distinguished artist.

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Easton/NFAA Scholarship Program

$500-$2,500 Late December

Competitive archers or students who are part of their college or university's archery club may be eligible for this unique funding opportunity. Funding varies between high school applicants and college-level applicants, and students who are founders of their institution's archery club are more likely to receive higher funding amounts.

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Elegant Ice Scholarship

$1,000 worth of ice carving tools Early March

Elegant Ice Creations has been helping young students interested in ice sculpting pay for necessary sculpting equipment since 2011 with this scholarship program. Students applying for this scholarship must have previous experience with carving, and will be required to submit a photo of their previous work. Apply today and take your unique abilities to the next level.

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Florence Temko Award

Varies Early April

A willingness to move away from tradition is a key quality of innovative thinking. Have some fresh ideas on how to apply the origami mode to other fields such as fashion, technical sciences, or psychological study? This scholarship is an excellent way for current origami practitioners to expand their abilities into new and unique arenas.

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Harness Tracks of America Scholarship Fund

$5,000 Late June

This annually awarded program provides academic funding for the children of trainers, caretakers, or other individuals working in the harness racing industry. Students will be selected based on both academic merit and financial need, and will be required to submit letters of recommendation with their application.

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Helen Gee Chin Scholarship Foundation

$3,000 Mid-June

Students with a passion for the martial arts—Tai Chi or Kung Fu, for instance—may be eligible to apply for this memorial scholarship. Founded in honor of Helen Gee Chin, this funding opportunity can be applied to any accredited four-year institution of higher education. Applicants must maintain a B average and exhibit achievement in their martial arts discipline.

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Hiking Ambition Wellness Scholarship

$1,000 Late March

Love the great outdoors? Strap on your hiking boots and hit the trail, because this scholarship is specifically designed for students who exhibit a commitment to both physical activity and outdoor adventure. Applicants must submit a short application essay discussing healthy living habits to implement during a college career.

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Horror Writers Association Scholarship

$2,500 Early August

Who doesn't like a good ghost story? Students who find themselves chronically hooked on the Halloween spirit may be interested in submitting some of their fiction or poetry to the Horror Writers Association (HWA). Scare them badly enough and they may just give you their money.

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ISA Scholarship Program

$100-$1,000 Late May

Having provide almost $300,000 in scholarship over the last 10 years, the International Surfing Association is continuing their annual tradition of providing funding to surfers who exemplify community-focused leadership qualities. Funding can be applied not only to tuition and books, but to surfing equipment and training as well.

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#LiveLikeLyly Memorial Scholarship

$1,000 Early May

This memorial scholarship was put together in hopes of rewarding students who exhibit qualities the late Lyly Koenig Mendez held dear: a passion for fashion, graphic design, and a love for life. Students who are at least 50% Asian/Pacific Islander and intend to pursue an education in either the graphic design of fashion industries may be eligible for funding.

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Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge

$25,000 Mid-January

Avid fans of musical theater may be interested in working on their own compositions after learning of the prizes available through the Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge. Six finalists will be selected, all of whom will have the opportunity to meet professionals in the musical industry and have their songs published. The grand prize recipient will also receive a sizable cash prize.

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National Garden Clubs Scholarship

Varies Early April

Having a green thumb can now pay off for college. Students in the junior or senior year of an academic program relating to gardening, landscaping, or horticulture may be eligible to receive funding for their lifelong interest in plant-related pursuits. Applicants must maintain a GPA of 3.25 or higher and must be enrolled full-time.

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National Genealogical Society Family History Writing Contest

All expenses to attend the NGS Family History Conference and submission of manuscript for publication Mid-December

Students who are interested in genealogical studies may wish to start compiling a manuscript discussing their family history; the Family History Writing Contest seeks to encourage individuals to dig deeper into their family history and learn more about their roots. Applicants will be required to submit a family history manuscript (4,000-10,000 words) dating back as far as four generations.

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Civilian Marksmanship Program Scholarship

$1,000 TBA

Students studying in their junior year of high school may be eligible to receive funding based on their skills as a marksman. Applicants must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA, as well as being regular participants in marksmanship competitions. This is a one-year scholarship that can be applied to any post-secondary educational pursuits.

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Our World-Underwater Society Rolex Scholarship

Up to $25,000 Early December

This scholarship may be an excellent opportunity for any avid swimmers, divers, or marine biologists. Designed for students who are hoping to secure a career in an underwater-related field, this Rolex scholarship provides awards in a variety of forms, including funding, travel, and professional development experiences. The scholarship is offered in three forms: North America, Europe, and Australia.

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Poetry Card Contest

$100-$300 Late December

The Blue Mountain Arts Poetry Card Contest is an excellent way for aspiring poets to have their work exposed to a wide array of people. Applicants have creative freedom with their submissions, and will not be constrained to any one form or subject. All entries must be original work and be written in English.

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Superpower Scholarship

$2,500 Late March

Offered through Unigo, this scholarship is perfect for the avid comic book fan. Get as creative as you want with the proposed challenge: given the chance, which superhero or supervillain would you like to become? In a 250-word submission, explain which hero or villain you would want to swap places with for a day, and you may be flying home with some extra money in your tights.

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Tall Pines Quilt Guild Scholarships

$1,500 Early May

The Tall Pines Quilt Guild has been offering scholarship funding for the 11 years, and is excited to continue the tradition with increasing funding amounts. One of two qualifications must be met to apply for this scholarship: students must either be proficient in the art of sewing and quilting, or they must be majoring in math education.

: Amount : Deadline

TeachYouToSew.com Self Developing Scholarship

$1,500 Late December

With this scholarship, TeachYouToSew.com is not just looking to reward students interested in the craft of sewing, but any similar DIY hobby. Interested in woodworking, upholstery, or knitting? Submit a short essay discussing why you are passionate about your hobby, and you may be the next recipient of this unique scholarship.

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The Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship

$59,000 Mid-October

Amy Lowell, a prominent American poet who lived in the early 20th century, stated in her will that she hoped to give young American poets the opportunity to see the world, and so the Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship was the result. Applicants for this travelling scholarship may submit a maximum of 40 typed pages of original poetry, potentially earning them this prestigious award designed to lighten the burden of travel and living expenses.

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The Nikon Storytellers Scholarship

$10,000 Early March

As means of celebrating their 100th anniversary, Nikon established this scholarship to prepare the next generation of photographers to pursue their academic goals. Applicants will be required to hold a GPA of at least 2.5, be majoring in an art or media-related field, and must be recommended by a faculty member within their program. 10 applicants are selected each year to receive this award.

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The Weston Scholarship

Varies Late April

Monterey County students interested in pursuing a career in photography may be interested in this unique funding opportunity. The goal for this scholarship fund is to keep the tradition of black and white photography alive, and students will be required to submit both a photography portfolio and an artist statement upon application.

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The Zapf Scholarship Fund

$1,000 Late February

Named in honor of Professor Herman Zapf, this annual scholarship is awarded to students who exhibit a mastery of the art of calligraphy. Funding is designed to support students in their craft-related pursuits, and can be applied to a number of services, including classes, books, and even conferences.

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Expert Advice: How Can I Increase My Chances of Landing a Hobby Scholarship?

Now that you know which scholarships are out there, it's time to hear from the true experts. We were able to interview Kevin Ladd, the Vice President of  Scholarships.com , to gather some tips for students who intend to pursue hobby-based scholarships. Check below to help ensure you will be as prepared as possible to go into the application process.

1. Know what's worth your time

While scholarship opportunities may abound for certain hobbies—drawing, for instance—it is important to be able to tell which scholarships are actually worth applying for. When asked how to tell which scholarships are right for a student, expert Kevin Ladd said, “Mostly risk and reward. If it is open to every high school senior in the US, for example, that is a very competitive scholarship. However, if it is a $20K award, it might still be worth pursuing. Also, what is required? If it is an essay and you are a great writer, you have a better chance than most at winning. If a video contest and you excel at that, take a chance and apply.”

2. Make sure outside scholarships do not interfere with other funding

Institutions of higher education typically have no problem honoring scholarships from outside providers, but this funding can cause some problems with other financial assistance a student may be receiving. “You need to make sure it will take the place of loans and not grants the school has offered you in your financial aid letter,” says Ladd. “If receiving the award changes your EFC from the school's perspective and they are going to take back some of the grant money they offered you, it might not be worth it.”

3. Be wary of scams

Some scholarships may just seem too good to be true, regardless of if they line up with a student's personal interests. Ladd says, “Every scholarship should be scrutinized, whether odd or not. Scholarships.com does not list any scholarship that charges any kind of fee or requires sensitive information such as social security or credit card information, for example. If it isn't free, don't bother with it, plenty of others are. Also, if you are unsure if it is a scam, vet it by searching the popular scam-busting sites online.”

4. Apply for the hobbies you are most interested in

We all have small hobbies that we enjoy doing with our free time, maybe as a way to wind down after a long day of work. This kind of hobby may qualify you for scholarship eligibility, but sometimes you may need to invest more in your craft. “Skill level is really going to vary quite a bit, depending upon the hobby, but generally in order to have a really good chance of winning, it probably should be a legit hobby of yours about which you are quite passionate to give you the best chance of submitting a competitive entry.”

5. Know who can recommend you

Many scholarships will require students to submit letters of recommendation, or even nominations, in addition to portfolios or application essays, but who is the right person to recommend you? “It is always a good idea to ask a teacher or other adult/mentor, etc. who knows you and your strengths and is going to produce the best letter,” says Ladd. “If you don't have a rapport with the person, you will likely end up with a pretty vague letter. If possible, find that person who you've known for a while and knows you pretty well and also happens to share your interest, or perhaps is the person who sparked the interest in the particular hobby for which you are seeking a scholarship.”

Other Scholarships to Help Pay for School

Interested in looking into other student resources or financial aid options? Below you will find additional links to assist you in your college pursuits. Check them out and knock back the price of your college payments.

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