Updated August 30, 2021
Niche scholarships for fall 2021
This guide explains what a niche scholarship is, how to get a niche scholarship, and the best niche scholarships for fall 2021.
Most scholarships are incredibly competitive.
Every year, around 20 million US students start their bachelor’s degree at a college or university, and let’s be honest—most of those students need help paying for it.
There are loads of financial aid programs from the federal government, state governments, and other institutions, like colleges, non-profits, and businesses.
These programs can help thousands of students afford college through a broad set of eligibility requirements.
But, if you want to maximize your chances of securing financial aid for college, you should also be applying for niche scholarships with more specific requirements.
This guide explains what a niche scholarship is, how to get a niche scholarship, and lists some of the best niche scholarships for fall 2021.
What is a niche scholarship?
College doesn’t come cheap. The average cost for a student living on campus at a public 4-year in-state university is currently $25,864 per year.
If you go to a private university, you could be looking at an average of $37,200 per year.
No wonder so many students worry about how to pay for college.
That’s why scholarships are so important.
If you’re a student hunting for a college scholarship, you’ll notice that loads of the scholarships out there have a pretty broad range of eligibility requirements.
When you hear people talk about “eligibility requirements”, they’re specifically referring to the criteria you have to meet or the characteristics you need to exhibit to qualify for a particular program or award.
For example, if a scholarship is only for current high school students from Maryland, that’s an eligibility requirement. Another might require that applicants be international students pursuing a degree at a US university.
If you go for a scholarship with really generic eligibility requirements, it means just about everybody can apply—and if a particular scholarship program is only offering a small number of awards, you’ve got a lot of people competing for just a few prizes.
That’s why niche scholarships can be a real life-saver.
A niche scholarship is a financial award that is only made available to a fairly small, well-defined, and often hyper-specific group of individuals.
For example, you might find a general scholarship where the only requirement is that you’re under 21 years-old, you’ve graduated high school, and have a 3.0 GPA.
Meanwhile, there could be a niche scholarship only open for applicants who are Native Hawaiians, and are interested in getting a health-related degree.
Because it’s so specific, competition is a lot lower. So, if you tick all the boxes of that niche scholarship, your odds of securing it will be better than a general scholarship.
Who provides niche scholarships?
Niche scholarships are awarded by a range of organizations.
First, you should check out the college or university you’re planning on attending to see if they’ve got any niche scholarships you could apply for.
A lot of colleges have endowment scholarships (scholarships set up by a donor to be given to students each year, forever) that include very specific eligibility requirements as requested by the donor.
For example, the school of design at your ideal college might have a scholarship specifically for design students that have experience living in foster care.
But you’ll also find a large proportion of niche scholarships are given by businesses and trade bodies.
To give back to communities, a lot of businesses will sponsor scholarship programs that are specific to their particular industry or the services they offer.
Similarly, a lot of charities, public bodies, and special-interest groups provide niche scholarships to students that have expressed an interest or excelled in the areas in which those groups operate.
For example, a dog charity might offer a county-wide scholarship, or it could offer another award covering a specific set of states for students that volunteer at animal shelters.
Finally, you’ll typically find scholarships on offer from geographic-based groups like community foundations. A community foundation is a charity set up to give back to a specific neighborhood, town, or county—and these organizations will often provide scholarships to students who are from or studying in those communities.
Who is eligible for niche scholarships?
Each niche scholarship has its own set of unique eligibility requirements.
But generally speaking, you’ll find niche scholarships online where the eligibility requirements are specific to a student’s:
Locality (town, county, state, or even neighborhood)
Group membership (political and activist organizations, trade groups)
There’s a niche scholarship out there for just about everybody—no matter what you’re into or where you come from.
The key is finding the right one.
How do you get a niche scholarship?
If you’re trying for a very generic or university-specific scholarship program, you might be able to get an award just for completing your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
A FAFSA is the form that most college students fill out to figure out what sort of government or college-backed financial aid they can get each year.
But if you want to secure a more niche scholarship, you’ll typically have to look a bit harder.
How to find niche scholarships
The best place to start your search is to check online scholarship search engines that include a range of scholarships.
By changing search filters or using certain keywords, you can normally find scholarships that are more specific to your situation or interests.
Another way to find niche scholarships is to visit the website of businesses, public bodies, or trade bodies.
Find out if they have any scholarship programs they’re affiliated with, and don’t be afraid to get in touch to learn more.
The problem with finding niche scholarships is that they’re not always well-advertised, so finding them can sometimes be like looking for a needle in a haystack.
That’s why many students now choose to just cut out the countless hours of searching by getting help from an expert Mos coach.
How to get niche scholarships
Just like any other scholarship, when you’re applying for niche scholarships, you should apply early, and often.
To get your hands on a niche scholarship, you’ll normally need to fill out separate scholarship applications for each award (as opposed to the FAFSA). That means you can expect to get asked for very different information on each niche scholarship application form.
Finally, you may need to write essays answering specific questions, outlining why you’re qualified, or why you think you deserve this particular niche scholarship.
The best niche scholarships for fall 2021
There are literally thousands of niche scholarships out there. But if you’re trying to figure out a good place to start your search, we’ve rounded up a few of the best niche scholarships for fall 2021.
1. Soroptimist Live Your Dream Award
The Soroptimist Live Your Dream Award is open to all female undergraduates who are the sole provider for their families.
Awards start from $1,000 but go up to $10,000 depending on whether you win at the local, regional, or national level.
To apply, you’ll need to submit an essay of 750 words or less, talking about the challenges you’ve faced and how the scholarship will help you live your dreams.
Applications are accepted between August 1 and November 15 each year.
2. MUD Makeup Scholarship
The MUD Makeup Scholarship offers five $2,500 scholarships twice a year, and it's for any student at a cosmetology or esthetics school that uses MUD makeup.
If you want to apply, you’ll need to make a YouTube video answering a few specific questions and upload three images of your best makeup work.
3. Create-A-Greeting Card $10,000 Scholarship Contest
This annual scholarship contest not only gives you the chance to win $10,000 to help pay for college, but also the chance to see your own artwork turn into a real greeting card.
All you have to do to enter is send in an original photo, piece of art, or graphic that you think would make an amazing greeting card.
4. The Hispanic Health Professional Student Scholarship
If you’re a current Hispanic undergraduate nursing student working towards a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), you may be eligible for one of up to 20 annual scholarships from the National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA).
Awards are available exclusively to members of the NHMA, and so you’ve got to join the body before you’re eligible to apply.
To apply for one of these scholarships, you’ll need to be one of the AAMN’s 23,000 members.
5. Vegetarian Resource Group Scholarship
Are you a practicing vegetarian or vegan? Every year, the Vegetarian Resource Group gives $20,000 to three high school students who don’t eat meat.
To apply, you’ve got to submit an essay covering one of several available questions. The program offers two $5,000 awards and one $10,000 award.
6. Axon Optics ‘Migraine Story’ Scholarship
This scholarship is specifically for students who have had migraines.
All you’ve got to do to apply is to share your story of dealing with migraines or light sensitivity. That story must take the form of either a one-minute video or an original image like a photograph or drawing.
The scholarship is open to all current full-time students at an accredited college, and the award is $1,000.
7. #YouAreWelcomeHere Scholarship
If you’re an international student from overseas, check out the #YouAreWelcomeHere Scholarship.
The #YouAreWelcomeHere Scholarship is part of a wider campaign involving more than 400 colleges and organizations. Its goal is to demonstrate how US colleges are diverse, safe, and friendly for international students.
It’s open to all first-year international applicants studying at a participating college or university—and every year, two winners at each participating school will get an annual, renewable scholarship that covers a minimum of 50% of their tuition.
8. American Board of Funeral Service Education National Scholarship Program
If you’ve completed at least one semester of coursework focusing on funeral and mortuary sciences, you’re eligible for one of six annual scholarships from the American Board of Funeral Service Education.
Awards generally range from $1,500 to $2,500 per year.
9. CME Beef Industry Scholarship
We’ve already covered scholarships for students who are practicing vegetarians or vegans. Well, this one is kind of the opposite.
The CME Beef Industry Scholarship awards ten $1,500 scholarships every year to students who are planning to pursue a career in the beef industry.
Although you’ve got to want to pursue a career in beef, applicants can come from a pretty broad range of degree types. Fields of study accepted for the scholarship include communications, production, education, or research.
You’ll also need to write an essay of 750 words or less exploring an issue across the beef industry and proposed solutions to those problems.
10. The Horror Writers Association Scholarship
The Horror Writers Association (HWA) is a global charity dedicated to promoting the horror genre. Every year, the HWA offers five different scholarships to aspiring writers who are interested in pursuing a career in horror fiction.
The Horror Writers Association Scholarship is worth $2,500, and you don’t need to be a member of the HWA to apply for the scholarship. In fact, you don’t need to have written a million scary stories, either.
The scholarship panel judges entries based on your academic plan, the quality of writing samples, your financial need, and your interests in the genre.
At the end of the day, it’s important to note this is just the tip of the iceberg.
There are some fantastic and oddly specific niche scholarships available for college applicants and current students in 2021.
But finding the right scholarships for you can often be time-consuming and downright confusing.
That’s where Mos comes in.
Mos can match you with the best niche scholarships and financial aid programs, help you manage deadlines, and answer all your financial aid questions.