11 geeky scholarships that can help you pay for college

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Nov 19, 2017, 4:59 PM EST (Updated)

An inexpensive education shouldn't be science fiction. But with rates rocketing, the odds of receiving a quality education on a budget are astronomical. Scholarships, i.e. free money for those who qualify, can help rescue your wallet from imminent disaster.

We found 11 scholarships for the geek in need of financial liftoff. It might not account for all of your tuition money, but every little bit helps you spend your time getting your education, rather than worrying about paying for it.

Check out scholarship sites like for more info. And who knows? Maybe finding a potato-related scholarship might encourage you to begin a potato-based career. (Hey, we spent our high school careers passing notes in Elvish. We don't judge.)

NOTE: We've noted the scholarships whose application periods have closed. However, they frequently repeat each year. This means you can get a head start in filling out your forms for next year.


The Heinlein and Virginia Heinlein Memorial Scholarships

The Heinlein Society, created to promote the works of late science fiction author Robert Heinlein, has two scholarships for male and female candidates in engineering, math, biological or physical sciences, and science fiction literature.

But Robert's late wife Virginia — the inspiration for many of his female characters — has a scholarship of her own, for female candidates only… and only in the sciences. Obviously, Virginia had her standards.

Qualifications: Full-time undergraduate students of any country must write a 500-1000-word essay on one of several topics, including "Discuss the advantages to the human race of a permanent settlement on the Moon or Mars."

Scholarship award: Three awards of $1,250 each.

Deadline: May 15, 2017.*

*This scholarship has run more than once. We venture it may run again in 2018. Despite no news on the official site, says the deadline is May 15, 2018.

For more info:


Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Scholarship and the Horror Writers Association Scholarship

Are you a woman or a transgendered/intersex/hermaphrodite living as a woman? And do you like horror? If so, you can earn the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Scholarship or the Horror Writers Association Scholarship. Male horror fans can only toss their hats (and severed heads) into the scholarship ring for the Horror Writers Association Scholarship.

Qualifications: According to, "The sub-committee may use any criteria it sees fit to determine the winners (if any)." However, criteria may include a writing sample and a demonstrated commitment to the horror genre.

Scholarship award: These scholarships pay $2500 each.

Deadline: August 1, 2017*

*"The Scholarships will be made available annually but the HWA Board has the right to suspend the Scholarship program in any given year for the sole reason of limited finances."

For more info:


Starfleet International Scholarship

Starfleet International is an excuse for people to hang out, talk Star Trek, and perhaps make a fan film.

It also offers five separate scholarships:
- James Doohan/Montgomery Scott Engineering & Technology Scholarship
- DeForest Kelley/Dr. Leonard McCoy Memorial Medical & Veterinarian Scholarship
- Gene Roddenberry Memorial/Sir Patrick Stewart Scholarship for Aspiring Writers & Artists
- Armin Shimerman/George Takei/LeVar Burton Scholarship for Business, Language Studies & Education
- The Space Explorers’ Memorial Scholarship, for those whose courses of study aren’t covered in the previous four scholarships. Created in honor of the Apollo, Shuttle Challenger, Shuttle Columbia, and Russian cosmonauts who went boldly, but did not return.

Qualifications: You must be a member of Starfleet — and have been for one year prior to the application deadline. You must be attending a four-year college/university/accredited institution.

Scholarship award: $1,000 per student.

Deadline: June 15 of each year.

For more info:


Writers of the Future

This isn’t a scholarship for students, per se, but L. Ron Hubbard’s competition offers cash prizes for any non-professional writer — and that includes students. All you have to do is craft a stunning work of prose up to 17,000 words in length. It’s, um, simple.

Note: Lest the name 'L. Ron Hubbard' and anything that smacks of Scientology scare entrants away, this is a legitimate science fiction writing award that professionals are quick to brag about.

Qualifications: The contest is open to writers in all countries who have not professionally published a novel or short novel, or more than one novelette, or more than three short stories, in any medium.

Scholarship award: Each quarter, three co-winners each receive $500 and a trophy. Every year, winners are rejudged, and the annual grand prize winner receives $5000.

Deadline: September 30, December 31, March 31, June 30. The year will end on September 30.

For more info:


Illustrators of the Future

The same award as Writers of the Future, only for artists. Create three works of art, in illustration, mixed media, computer generated art, and/or photography. But you'd better be imaginative. As the contest states, "Each illustration must represent a subject different from the other two."

Qualifications: The contest is open to amateur artists in all countries who have not been professionally published or paid for more than one process-color painting (or three black-and-white story illustrations).

Scholarship award: Each quarter, three co-winners each receive $500 and a trophy. Every year, winners are rejudged, and the annual grand prize winner receives $5000.

Deadline: September 30, December 31, March 31, June 30. The year will end on September 30.

For more info:


Gamers Helping Gamers (a.k.a. Magic the Gathering scholarship)

Magic the Gathering players can wax rhapsodic on their favorite cards for hours, if not days. A good thing too, because describing your favorite card is one of the potential topics for the Gamers Helping Gamers scholarship essay. Along with the essay, you must provide high school transcript, and because this scholarship is for students in need, you also have to cough up a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form.

An all-abiding love of Magic the Gathering is a given.

Qualifications: You must be a matriculating high school senior, however, college students may receive a scholarship "on a case-by-case basis, depending on our funding situation and applicants."

Scholarship award: $5000.

Deadline: March 31 of each year.

For more info:


The Will Eisner Scholarship

The Society of Illustrators has a scholarship named for Will Eisner, famed comic book artist and scholar of the comic book arts who coined the term 'graphic novel.' To earn this scholarship, students must supply a portfolio of 10-12 images of their own work. Obviously, it will be your most brilliant work.

Qualifications: Only teachers can apply on behalf of their students, five candidates per university/college. Students must be juniors only.

Scholarship award: One winner receives $5000. Two semi-finalists will receive $1000 each.

Deadline: April 28, 2017*

*This scholarship has run more than once. We venture it may run again in 2018.

For more info:


Aspiring Animation Professional Scholarship

Does the idea of having a career in animation, video game design, or film special effects sound like a little slice of artistic heaven? If the answer is yes, that's a start. But then you have to answer the question, "What specific skill do you most want to develop" in essay form. And no, you don't have to submit an image. It's strange for an arts scholarship, but there ya go.

Qualifications: If you win, you have to provide proof of college acceptance, along with your high school transcripts.

Scholarship award: One student will receive $1000.

Deadline: June 1, 2018.

For more info:


The Zombie Apocalypse Scholarship

Fans of The Walking Dead, iZombie, Night of the Living Dead, and of course, Shaun of the Dead should keep their eyes — and their brains — on this scholarship.

In 250 words or less, create a zombie survival plan: "Imagine that your high school or college has been overrun with zombies. Your math professor, the cafeteria ladies, and even your best friend have all joined the walking dead. Flesh out a plan to avoid the zombies, including where you’d hide and the top-five things you’d bring to stay alive." If you can survive the zombies, you can survive this competition.

Qualifications: Any student 13 years or older who lives in the 50 states and planning to attend university by 2023.

Scholarship award: One student receives $2000.

Deadline: October 31, 2017.*

*This scholarship has run more than once. We venture it may run again in 2018.

For more info:


Superpower Scholarship

Meanwhile, in 250 words or less, answer the question, "Which superhero or villain would you want to change places with for a day and why?" If you're the kind of person who can logically debate why Superman is obviously better than Batman (and of course he is), then you too can get leap tall competitors for a chance at this scholarship.

Qualifications: Any student 13 years or older who lives in the 50 states and planning to attend university by 2024.

Scholarship award: One student receives $2500.

Deadline: March 31, 2018

For more info:


Reach Honorship Program

Go straight to the source of Warner Bros. Animation with a scholarship that also includes a four-year summer internship. And who wouldn't want to work there? That's where the DC Animated Universe is made. You could be fetching coffee for the guy who inks Harley Quinn. And one day, perhaps someone will be fetching coffee for you.

Qualifications: This scholarship is offered to a senior attending high school in the United States and will be studying animation at a four-year college/university.

Scholarship award: $5000 across four years, plus an internship at Warner Bros.

Deadline: February 26, 2018.

For more info: