Do you think that all scholarships are based on academic merit? Believe it or not, there are actually a lot of scholarships out there for average students. Even if your potential doesn’t show in stellar grades, you deserve the chance at a great education, and these scholarship providers understand that.

If your grades are average, you might qualify for one or more need-based scholarships or grants. You may also qualify for a scholarship if you are pursuing a career in which your gender, ethnicity, and/or nationality are underrepresented. In fact, there are even some no-essay scholarships out there that are purely based on a lottery system and which you can apply for in a matter of minutes. Let’s explore some of your options for finding scholarships for average students.

Athletic Scholarships

Even if you don’t play football or basketball, you may want to look into an athletic scholarship for your sport. Though they don’t get the same television airtime as the more popular sports, you may be able to get a scholarship for swimming, cycling, lacrosse, soccer, baseball, or a number of other sports. Schedule an appointment with a financial aid advisor at the school(s) you’re applying to and/or check out the sports they offer and what kinds of programs they have. You might be surprised what you find.

Less Traditional Scholarships for Average Students

Of course, not all of us are incredibly athletic. In fact, even if you are a star player at your high school, you’re still not guaranteed a place on your college’s team, let alone a sizeable scholarship. These scholarships for average students are really open to anyone who has the inclination, time, and creativity to pursue them.

The Dell Scholarship Program – Sponsored by the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, this scholarship is not based at all on your grades. Though it does have a minimum GPA, rewards are based on a different kind of “GPA”: grit, potential, and ambition. This scholarship is based on overcoming hardships and challenges. If you have grit, you could get college funding as a Dell Scholar.

AmeriCorps Education Award – Rather than academic merit, the AmeriCorps Education scholarship is awarded purely based on community service and community involvement. If you are chosen to receive the scholarship, you’ll receive $5,500, and many colleges and universities around the country offer programs to match AmeriCorps’ funding.

Duck Tape Stuck at Prom Scholarship – This one is a lot of fun if you want to get creative. The rules are simple; just create an outfit out of Duck Tape® brand duct tape and wear it to a prom. Then send Duck Tape your pictures, and you could win a hefty scholarship.

How to Find More Scholarships for Average Students

These aren’t the only opportunities that students with average grades have to fund their college careers, but how can you find them? First of all, think about your chosen field of study and the career you want to pursue. There are a lot of corporate-sponsored scholarships out there that are career-specific and that don’t choose their winners based on grades.

To find scholarships in your field or industry, try a few keyword searches at ScholarshipChart.com. Basically, you want to search for keywords related to the industry you want to enter and the career you want to pursue.

You can even do a similar keyword search and add the word “scholarships” on Google to catch corporate-sponsored scholarships. If you do this, though, be wary of scholarship sites that guarantees you a scholarship or that require you to pay a fee. At best, you’ll pay for fraudulent services, but at worst they can steal your identity and cause you a lot of trouble.

Tips for Applying for Scholarships

Remember, when you apply for any of these scholarships, you want to stand out from the crowd. Your grades may be average, but you certainly aren’t. Let your personality, creativity, and motivation shine through. Focus on scholarships that allow you to showcase your strengths.

Above all else, start your search for scholarships early, and once you find a few, don’t hesitate. The sooner you get going with your project, essay, letter(s) of recommendation, and/or any other requirements, the more time you’ll be able to spend perfecting your application. The students who’ve won the Stuck at Prom® scholarship didn’t break out their rolls of duct tape the night before prom; they started months in advance and created truly unique, high-quality dresses and suits.

Take a look at what other scholars have done before you. This will give you a good idea of the level of competition you’ll be up against and how much work you need to put in. Then get started and devote a little bit of time each day, and you’ll be on your way to getting a great scholarship, even with average grades.

Search and Apply for Scholarships on ScholarshipChart.com

ScholarshipChart.com helps students and parents search and apply for scholarshipsgrants, awards and other financial aid options to help pay for college. Whether you are a high school senior starting college or a single mom going back to school, you can find money for college through ScholarshipChart.com.