May 25, 2023 

College is a lot of things. It’s a place to learn. It’s a place to grow. It’s a place to create memories and achieve dreams. It’s also expensive. Of the many ways to help you pay for a college education—student loans, 529 savings accounts, grants, and scholarships—it’s often the smaller sources of funds that are underestimated and underused. These sources range from small scholarships offered by local organizations or awarded for a quirky talent, to different types of grants for those who can demonstrate financial need. Instead of leaving money on the table that could cover textbooks and lighten the burden of future debt, students would be wise to take advantage of these non-traditional forms of funding.

Small and Local Scholarships

Although small scholarships often award less money, they can also be less competitive than larger scholarships. That’s because most smaller scholarships are offered by local organizations and small businesses or are given to those pursuing specific careers. That said, according to US News and World Report, some local scholarships get close to matching the money awarded to winners of national scholarships. When a few hundred dollars can cover essentials like a new laptop, a little can mean a lot not only to your budget but also to your peace of mind, especially when the odds may be more in your favor. In other words, small scholarships are worth a shot. To learn more about small and local scholarships, speak with your school’s counselor or advisor who can help you identify small scholarships to pursue, and check out a recent A+ blog article that discusses the benefits of small scholarships and how to apply.

Unique and Weird Scholarships

Another type of scholarship is one that goes by many names: the quirky scholarship, the oddball scholarship, or the weird scholarship. Basically, these scholarships are awarded to those with unique qualities or special talents. So, if you’ve convinced yourself you can’t get a scholarship—big or small—because you don’t fit some conventional or usual standard, like the super smart nerd or the star athlete, then you’re in luck! These scholarships are for the unconventional and unusual. You can get a sense of the weird scholarships available by checking out Access Scholarships’ 2022 list and some examples below:

  • Minecraft Scholarship ($2,000): Applicants must have a 3.0 or higher GPA and write a 500+ essay explaining “how Minecraft can be a positive influence within their education and career development.”
  • Vegetarian Resource Group Scholarship ($10,000): Applicants have to write an essay and demonstrate that they have promoted vegetarianism or veganism in their school or community.
  • Zombie Apocalypse Scholarship ($2,000): Applicants must write a 250+ word response to the prompt “Imagine that your high school or college has been overrun with zombies. Your math professor, the cafeteria ladies, and even your best friend have all joined the walking dead. Flesh out a plan to avoid the zombies, including where you’d hide and the top-five things you’d bring to stay alive.”


Unlike scholarships, grants are awarded based on financial need rather than just merit. Like scholarships, however, grants do not have to be repaid and there is a wide range to choose from. There are grants offered by federal and state governments, and other public organizations, as well as private grants. Both types are often geared toward a specific career path or demographic attribute (e.g. race, ethnicity, gender, disability). With so many options and such high college costs, you’ll want to put in the effort to find the right grant for you. So start early and, as always, your school’s counselor and your own computer will be your best resources. You will be too. The more you can identify your unique needs and interests, the more capable you will be of narrowing down your options. Below is a sample of the grants available:

  • Federal Pell Grant: Awarded to thousands of students every year who can demonstrate financial need. 
  • Pennsylvania Grants: Many grant options are available, including grants for students who have experience in the foster care system and grants for students who have had a parent die while performing a public service job such as a firefighter or police officer.
  • Career/Major Specific Grants: Browse through a list of all different types of grants for a variety of academic and career paths. 

How A+ Can Help

When college costs so much that several funding methods are needed to cover it, of course you’re going to want to make sure you’re making a good investment. To do so, you not only need what it takes to get into a good college, but also the skills to succeed once you’re there. To impress college admissions officers, A+ offers SAT/ACT test prep tutoring and college admissions essay help. We also offer AP test prep tutoring that can help you get high enough scores to earn college credit and an Executive Function Coaching program that can teach you the skills you need to stay organized, motivated, and focused. Finally, a unique talent might earn you a small scholarship or financial need might earn you a grant, but scholarships are awarded based on merit. A+ can help you get the good grades and good test scores you need. In short, A+ has got you covered.

At A+ Test Prep and Tutoring, our practices are based on the latest developments in educational theory and research. We have an excellent team of tutors who can help you with standardized testing, executive functioning, or achievement in any other school subject. If you want to find out more about our services, our Client Service Director Joelle Faucette can be reached at 215-886-9188 or email us at


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