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Study long and prosper: Science fiction can help you pay for college

Visitors use virtual reality headsets and touch controllers to play a Star Trek video game at the Making Games conference during International Games Week on April 26, 2017 in Berlin, Germany.
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Visitors use virtual reality headsets and touch controllers to play a Star Trek video game at the Making Games conference during International Games Week on April 26, 2017 in Berlin, Germany.

"Star Trek," in its many variants, represents much of what's good about hopes for the future: racial and gender equality; peace, for the most part; unwillingness to tamper with indigenous cultures; and resistance to assimilating them. Plus there's all that snazzy tech.

"Star Trek" can also spell financial hope for students' college and graduate school dreams. Students with a passion for the TV series or for science fiction can earn scholarships to help pay for school.

STARFLEET, the international Star Trek Fan Association Inc., has been around since 1974, five years after the original TV series was canceled. It has more than 4,600 members in 240-plus chapters who enjoy discussing all things "Star Trek" – including the various follow-up TV series and movie franchises.

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But since 1990, members have also enjoyed raising and donating money for various STARFLEET scholarships. The scholarships – in amounts up to $1,000 – have changed over time, but the organization currently offers these awardss, named after fan-favorite characters, actors and others associated with the series:

James Doohan/Montgomery Scott Engineering & Technology Scholarship: Actor Doohan portrayed the always-put-upon chief engineer Scotty, who episode after episode found ways to increase power for the ship's engines and weapons. The scholarship is for students in any engineering-related field as well as well as those pursuing technology and computer science degrees.

DeForest Kelley/Dr. Leonard McCoy Memorial Medical and Veterinarian Scholarship:This scholarship is named for actor Kelley and character McCoy, the cantankerous doctor in the original series. The award covers a number of medical fields for humans and animals, including medical school and nursing school, physical therapy, paramedics, surgical and biomedical technicians and veterinary medicine.

Gene Roddenberry Memorial/Sir Patrick Stewart Scholarship for Aspiring Writers and Artists: This award is named after Star Trek creator Roddenberry and actor Stewart, who played the captain of the Enterprise in "The Next Generation" television series and movies. The scholarship is geared for students studying the arts, including literature, writing, acting, music and dance, graphic arts, filmmaking and more.

Armin Shimerman/George Takei/LeVar Burton Scholarship for Business, Language Studies and Education: Shimerman played a bartender in the "Deep Space Nine" version of the TV franchise, and Takei and Burton were navigators in the original series and "The Next Generation," respectively. This scholarship goes to students pursuing business and management, foreign languages or international studies abroad, or education.

“Star Trek: The Next Generation” costume display, courtesy of Brady Harvey via EMP Museum
Source: Brady Harvey | EMP Museum
“Star Trek: The Next Generation” costume display, courtesy of Brady Harvey via EMP Museum

STARFLEET also offers a non-Trek award – the Space Explorers' Memorial Scholarship – designed to commemorate Russian and American astronauts who died in the course of space exploration. This award is open to students pursuing fields that the other scholarships do not cover.

Students can apply for any of the five scholarships via the STARFLEET website, but they must be STARFLEET members for at least a year before the annual June 15 application deadline. Applicants must be currently enrolled or enrolling in a community college or four-year institution, graduate school, junior college, technical school or other accredited institution.

Application requirements include official transcripts, three letters of recommendation and a two-page essay that includes detailing STARFLEET-related activities the students are involved in. The 2018 application cycle open Jan. 1.

Other science-fiction-centered organizations also offer scholarships. One of the most lucrative is The Scholarship Program, administered by The Heinlein Society and named after renowned science fiction author Robert Heinlein. Among his works is the science fiction classic "Stranger in a Strange Land."

The society awards three $1,250 scholarships, two of which are open to undergraduate students at accredited four-year institutions who are majoring in science fiction as literature, biological and physical sciences, engineering or math. Applicants are required to submit an essay on one of seven topics in addition to the application. This year's application cycle is closed; check the website for updates on the 2018 deadlines.

Amateur science fiction writers can enter original writing for the Writers of the Future Contest, which is held quarterly, to earn money to use for college. Prizes in the amounts of $1,000, $750 and $500 are awarded each quarter, and at the end of the year, all winners are rejudged for a chance to win an additional $5,000 grand prize.

The contest is only open to amateur writers who have not been professionally published. Entrants also retain the rights to their submissions. The next submission deadline is June 30.

A love of "Star Trek" and other science fiction can help fund your college endeavors. To let such an opportunity go untapped would seem, as Spock would say, "highly illogical."

This article originally appeared on U.S. News.

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