5 Unexpected Ways To Get Money for College

Two female students with digital tablet and cellphone at home.
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When it comes to paying for college, taking out student loans is not your only option. There are other ways to get money for college that you may not have thought about. It’s time to think outside the box to help lower your potential student loan burden.

Worth Reading: Explore the Cost of Education in the United States
Find Out: Can You Afford Education in America at These Prices?

Apply For Unique Scholarships

Even if you’re not a straight-A student, you may qualify for scholarships based on your unique abilities, interests or circumstances. For example, if you are artistically inclined and passionate about the environment, you could receive a $1,500 scholarship as the winner of the Ocean Awareness Contest, “a platform for young people to learn about environmental issues through art-making and creative communication.” Or if you have an interest in horses and will be attending college in Washington, you may be eligible for the $5,000 Washington Thoroughbred Foundation Scholarship.

Get a Deal: The Best Colleges With Tuition Under $20K 

Enter Scholarship Sweepstakes

Not all scholarships require you to meet certain requirements or fill out a formal application. Some companies and organizations give scholarship money away through sweepstakes, in which case all you have to do to win money is fill out an entry form. Unigo is a good resource for scholarship sweepstakes. Currently, you can win $1,000 for college by entering sweepstakes hosted by Ascent, ScholarshipPoints, CollegeXPress and more.

Make Your Money Work for You

Compete on a Game Show

This can be a long shot, but competing on a game show can make a significant dent in your college expenses. University of California-San Diego graduate Daniel Watts told Student Loan Hero that competing on “Wheel of Fortune” helped him fund his education.

“I helped pay for college by spelling ‘Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry,'” he told the site. “That puzzle alone earned me over $3,000 in 2003, when I was a 20-year-old sophomore. I ended up winning a total of $11,300, most of which I used for school expenses, including a study-abroad trip to Yokohama.”

Check Out: States With Free Community College

Get a COVID-19 Vaccine

Many states are incentivizing residents to get vaccinated by entering those who do into a lottery. For example, Missouri is giving away a $10,000 education savings account through the Missouri State Treasurer’s MOST 529 program to 100 adolescents, ages 12 to 17, who get the shot, St. Louis’ Fox 2 Now reported.

More: Financial Incentives Colleges Are Offering for Student Vaccinations


Crowdfunding can be an effective way to raise money for college expenses. Popular crowdfunding platform GoFundMe says that it hosts over 100,000 education fundraisers every year, with $70 million in funds raised per year.

Make Your Money Work for You

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Last updated: Aug. 11, 2021

About the Author

Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert. 

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