Don't laugh. These weird scholarships — including Duck Tape's prom contest — give students big bucks

Instead of lamenting the high cost of college, two high school students decided to tape matters into their own hands. 

(You caught that, right?)

Baylee DeVos, a rising senior at Caledonia High School in Caldonia, Michigan, about 15 miles southeast of Grand Rapids, and Charlie Hyman, a recent graduate at Mauldin High School in Simpsonville, South Carolina, about 10 miles southeast of Greenville, each won a $10,000 scholarship as part of Duck Brand Stuck at Prom Scholarship Contest, ShurTech Brands announced Monday.

DeVos, who fashioned her Victorian-style ballgown, jewelry, hairpiece, corsage, purse and even her French manicure from 24 rolls of duct tape, plans to study graphic design at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan. But most important: She made a commitment not to take out any student loans, so the scholarship will make a significant dent in tuition that is set at $11,788 a year for 2018-19, the year before she’ll start college.

► June 26: Meet farmworker’s daughter who landed $350K scholarship to Stanford
► May 1: Teen accepted to 113 colleges, awarded $4.5M in scholarships
► March 29: 17-year-old offered $2.3M in scholarships to Ph.D. programs

Hyman created a striped duct-tape tuxedo accented with a hand-cut lion applique, bow tie, vest, cuff links and sneakers out of 12 rolls of Duck Tape. He’ll be going to the University of Texas at Austin this fall, where tuition alone starts at $18,000 a semester, not a year.

“It’s like a huge financial burden lifted,” he said, though he has a lot more to money to put together to achieve financial independence.

This year’s contest, the 18th annual, was the first time participants could enter the contest solo rather than as a couple, said Ashley Luke, category manager at ShurTech that markets the Duck brand. Nearly 100 students entered the contest and online votes and cellphone texts determined the winners among 10 finalists.

The Duck Tape contest isn’t the only unusual way to get money for college. Thousands of businesses and other organizations give away scholarships that you’ll never know about through your university admissions office.

You’ll have to search for them, and to win, you have to apply and sometimes be creative. Among the contests:

• The 12th Annual Create-A-Greeting Card Scholarship contest is open now. The Gallery Collection card company gives away a $10,000 scholarship for the best greeting card design and gives the winner’s high school $1,000, too. 

• The Asparagus Club of the National Grocers Association Foundation gives $2,000 a semester for four consecutive semesters — an $8,000 total scholarship if keep up your grade-point average — to college juniors and seniors who are business or food industry majors.

• The Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest, begun in 1974, requires participation in the duck-calling competition Nov. 23 in Stuttgart, Arkansas; the winner, who must be a high school senior, receives $2,000 scholarship and other money is awarded for second, third and fourth places.

• The Collegiate Inventors Challenge is open to full-time students, individuals or teams, already enrolled in a university. This year’s deadline for the Nov. 14-16 competition has passed — it’s generally in early June — but Gold first-place winners in undergraduate and graduate categories receive $10,000 a team, Silver second-place winners get $5,000 a team and Bronze third-place winner get $2,500 a team. Competitors get to work with industry experts through the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

• The Doodle 4 Google contest allows kids as young as kindergarten and as old as a 12th-grader to compete for a $30,000 college scholarship, a $50,000 technology package for the winner’s school or nonprofit group and a trip to Google headquarters in California to help make the Doodle an interactive on Four other national finalists get $5,000 for college.

DeVos said she had dreamed of participating in the Duck Tape contest since she was in middle school. She also helped her friend, Blake Johnson, with his rose-applique tuxedo entry that complemented her dress.

“The finalist status and prize money aside, it is incredibly rewarding and a unique way to make prom memorable,” DeVos said.

Contributing: WZZM-TV, Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, Mich.; USA TODAY. Follow Angelia Davis on Twitter: @NewsAngelia

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