Students: Pay Attention to These Non-Fixed Scholarships

There's a certain type of scholarship all students should focus on: non-fixed scholarships. Read on to find out what they are and specific awards to apply for.

As a scholarship expert and consultant, I’m constantly searching for and studying different scholarship opportunities for students. As every award offered is an opportunity for the recipient to reduce their educational expenses, finding them and sharing them is always exciting for me. I see scholarships as a vehicle to positively transform the future for a person seeking to advance their education. And there’s one scholarship category that every serious seeker should be on the lookout for—a category that can be planned for and can multiply the number of applications a seeker expedites. This category of scholarships is called “non-fixed.”

What are non-fixed scholarships?

Non-fixed scholarships are award opportunities that most (if not all) scholarship seekers can apply for if they plan ahead to qualify. Eligibility is not fixed with a specific gender, ethnicity, demonstrated financial need, academic pursuit, or athletic participation for these opportunities. Rather, non-fixed scholarships offered by companies, organizations, and foundations traditionally require an applicant to create or expedite a project or write about a concept or idea. Non-fixed scholarships are exciting opportunities because most students can apply for them. The key strategies for non-fixed scholarships include:

  • Identifying non-fixed scholarships with deadlines three to six months out in order to make a plan of action to expedite the required project or essay.
  • Looking at past projects or essays from former award recipients to learn more about what the committee is looking for.
  • Connecting with scholarship seekers who are a couple years ahead of you in the educational journey. Their knowledge of non-fixed scholarships they applied for can assist you in your search process.
  • Marking the opportunity in your scholarship calendar to repeat your application every year it’s offered. Most non-fixed scholarships are offered for various educational levels. If you don’t have time to apply for it now, you can plan to apply for it in the future.

Related: Why the Scholarship Search Matters, Plus Quick Tips and Tricks

Non-fixed scholarship opportunities

The following are examples of non-fixed scholarship opportunities that you can (and should!) take advantage of to help pay for your college education.

AFA’s Teens for Alzheimer’s Awareness College Scholarship

Sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association of America, the Teens for Alzheimer’s Awareness College Scholarship is open to high school seniors who are willing to write a 1,200–1,500-word essay describing the impact that Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia-related illnesses have had on their families or communities. The first-place award is for $5,000, with additional awards for runners up. The deadline is February 15. 

All American Car Review Essay Scholarship

The All American Car Review Essay Scholarship is open to students age 18 and older who’ve been admitted or are enrolled in a college, university, or postgraduate course. The scholarship requires applicants to write an essay reviewing a car—but be aware, recipients will need to file taxes on the award. This scholarship is for $1,000, and the deadline is March 31. 

Related: How to Turn Your Hobbies Into Scholarships

ASHG DNA Day Essay Contest

Sponsored by the American Society of Human Genetics, the DNA Day Essay Contest is open to students in grades 9–12. Applicants must write an essay about genetics. This may be a great opportunity to use ready-to-go materials—essays, papers, or other work you’ve already completed for school. Awards go up to $1,000, and the deadline for applying is March 3. 

AWM Student Essay Contest

The Association for Women in Mathematics and Math for America’s Student Essay Scholarship is open to middle school, high school, and undergraduate college students. If won, awards don’t have to be used for educational expenses. Applicants are required to interview a woman currently working in or retired from a mathematical career. Award amounts vary, and the deadline is February 1. 

Mattress Advisor’s Sleep Science Scholarship

Mattress Advisor’s Sleep Science Scholarship is open to currently enrolled or admitted full-time college students. International and undocumented students are also welcome to apply. Applicants are asked to write about their personal relationship with sleep health and its impact on their education. The award is for $1,000, and the deadline is March 20.

Related: Scholarship FAQ: The Biggest Myths and Facts

RBPA Scholarship

The Rainbow Business Professionals Association Scholarship is open to high school seniors as well as undergraduate, graduate, and PhD students from New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont). This scholarship’s goal is to promote equality and inclusion and requires students to write about a project they’ve participated in to protect the rights of the LGBTQ+ community or prevent bullying. Multiple awards are offered, but the amounts aren’t disclosed. The deadline is March 19.

Science Without Borders® Challenge

The Science Without Borders® Challenge scholarship is open to students ages 11–19. This opportunity inspires students to promote public awareness in the need to preserve, protect, and restore the world’s oceans and aquatic resources through art. This is an international competition open to students worldwide. Awards go up to $500 with a deadline of March 1.

Vegetarian Resource Group Scholarships

The Vegetarian Resource Group Scholarship is open to high school seniors who have promoted vegetarianism in their schools and/or communities. This scholarship publicly posts how many applications were received in previous years, so use that information to conduct and expedite your application. Awards of up to $10,000 are offered with a deadline of February 20.  

Related: The 3 Easiest Steps to Winning Scholarships

Scholarship seekers are never limited by their academic pursuits, GPA, clubs, sports, community service efforts, or demonstrated leadership. Private companies and organizations have created many different awards that are attainable to any scholarship seeker who simply puts in a little effort to meet the requirements. Almost any individual has the opportunity to pursue these non-fixed scholarships, so make a plan to apply for them every year! 

Find more great non-fixed scholarship opportunities using our Scholarship Search tool.

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About Jean O'Toole

Jean O’Toole is an educational consultant and author of the bestselling book Scholarship Strategies: Finding and Winning the Money You Need. Over the past 15 years, she has helped tens of thousands of students in the United States. Individuals collectively have been awarded millions of dollars by applying Jean’s scholarship strategies. In 2008, Jean co-founded Connections101, a company specializing in providing motivational tools for scholarship searching. It is her goal to empower students to design their paths to their future without college debt. Visit for more information, and follow Jean on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


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