Scholarships exist for people of various ethnicities and age groups. But more unusual financial aid also exists, such as scholarships for left-handed people or the children of police officers. This page looks at scholarships for short people, where to find them, and the requirements to qualify.
Are Scholarships for Short People Hard to Find?
People of short stature will discover that few scholarships exist to help them pay for college tuition. An Internet search will turn up three results (Little People of America, National Organization of Short Statured Adults, Billy Barty Foundation), but only one of these can be read about in greater detail or features an application to fill out. While the other two existed in the past, I can only conclude that they may have been discontinued.
Are You Short? – Average Heights around the World
The definition of “short” varies from country to country. In most cases, you need to be at least a few inches below the national average to qualify.
The average height for all U.S. males is 5’9 ½”. American females have an average of 5’4”. Within specific ethnic groups, white males (5’10 ½”) and females (5’5”) are tallest, while black males (5’10”) and females (5’4 ½”) are next. Latino males average 5’7”, while their female counterparts usually stand 5’2 ½”.
The shortest average height belongs to the Aymara, an indigenous ethnic group in Bolivia. The majority of the men are 5’3”, while most women are 4’8”.
The tallest average height belongs to people of the Dinaric Alps, a mountain chain running throughout Southern Europe. A study of teenage residents found the average height to be 6’1” for males and 5’7 ½” for females.
The Growth Process Explained
For the first 10 to 12 years of life, children experience a steady rate of growth. This occurs in the Epiphysis, which are the growth plates at the end of the long bones in the arms and legs. Prior to puberty, the Epiphysis is soft and can accommodate the addition of extra bone. During the puberty years, a growth spurt occurs and the Epiphysis begins to solidify. Once puberty ends (usually 18 for females and 20 for males), these growth plates have become fused so that no additional bone can be added. When this occurs, your maximum height has been reached.
Famous Short People
If you’re searching for information about scholarships for short people, there’s a strong chance you fall below the national average in height. Don’t let that discourage you, as numerous people of short stature have made significant contributions throughout the course of human history. Just in case you need more compelling proof, here’s a list of some famous short people from various points in history.
Prince – Standing 5’2”, this singer/songwriter/actor/musician has produced numerous platinum albums and Top 40 singles. In 2011, his estimated net worth was $250 million.
Peter Dinklage – The 4’5” actor has starred in feature films ranging from “The Station Agent” to “Elf.” He also won an Emmy for his role as Tyrion on HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”
Alexander Pope – An 18th-century English poet known for his satirical poems and translations of Homer. He stood 4’6” and suffered from health problems including a hunchback and a form of tuberculosis.
General Tom Thumb – Born Charles Sherwood Stratton, his maximum adult height reached 3’4”. Thanks to the efforts of showman P.T. Barnum, he performed across the globe and became an international celebrity. When he passed away in 1883, his funeral was attended by over 10,000 people.
Billy Barty – Standing 3’9”, this veteran actor worked in film and television from the 1920s to the 2000s. Also a noted advocate for those with dwarfism, he founded Little People of America and the Billy Barty Foundation.
Edward Carl Gaedel – The shortest player in the history of Major League Baseball, Edward Carl Gaedel stood 3’7” and had just one plate appearance. He played for the St. Louis Browns during a 1951 game and was walked thanks to his 1 ½” strike zone. His number (“1/8”) now hangs in the Baseball Hall of Fame, and his autograph is more valuable than that of Babe Ruth.
James Madison – The fourth President of the United States, Madison was also the shortest at 5’4”. He served from 1809 to 1817 and is remembered as the author of the U.S. Bill of Rights and one of the architects of the Constitution.
Despite a common belief to the contrary, ruler and military genius Napoleon Bonaparte was not unusually short. He stood 5’6”, which was normal for a French male of his time.
Heightism – Discrimination against Short People
At some point in their life, many short people will experience discrimination because of their stature. This can take the form of bullying, being passed over for a job, or even difficulty in finding a suitable romantic partner. This practice is known as “heightism,” and the social prejudices against short people have resulted in practices such as taking human growth hormones, undergoing painful and expensive surgeries to lengthen the bones in the legs, wearing lift shoes, or taking useless “supplements“ that advertise increased height. Advocacy groups for short people have urged against such steps, stating that individuals should learn to be content with themselves, no matter what society might think.
Little People of America Scholarship
Formed in 1957 through the efforts of actor Billy Barty, Little People of America is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing support for individuals affected by more than 200 types of dwarfism. To be a member, a person must be no taller than 4’10”.
Scholarships usually range from $250 to $1,000. To be eligible, you must either be a member of the LPA who has been medically diagnosed with a form of dwarfism, the immediate family of an LPA member, or someone diagnosed with dwarfism who isn’t a member of the LPA.
Each year, two undergraduate scholarships are awarded, as well as one graduate scholarship. The deadline for applying each year is April 22nd, and the winners will be chosen by the LPA’s scholarship committee.
In addition to filling out and mailing in the online application before the deadline, you’ll also need to write a personal statement of at least 500 words explaining why you applied, your plans for the future, and how you plan to help the LPA following graduation. Three letters of recommendation are also required, including one professional reference (employer, clergy, etc.), one personal reference (no family), and one from an LPA district director, president, or national officer. Finally, you’ll also need to submit your high school or college transcript.
While scholarships for short people aren’t easy to find, they can help alleviate the financial burden imposed by going to college. Few exist at this time, but future searches on the Internet may reveal new scholarships that weren’t available when this article was written. As with most things in life, the burden of responsibility falls to you.
by Shane Rivers