Designed to serve communities and invest profits back into services and programs for members, credit unions stand ready to offer scholarships to students who need a little help to pay for college. Though you have to be a member to apply for most of these, we made sure to select credit unions that don’t have strict requirements to join.
- Award amount: $5,000
- Deadline: January 31st
The Affinity Plus Annual Scholarship program offers eight students the chance to win $5,000 toward their education. And it isn’t limited to incoming first-year students.
Students currently enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program are invited to apply. Nontraditional students are also eligible.
- Award amount: $2,500
- Deadline: March 31st
GTE Financial offers $2,500 scholarships to primary account holders who are enrolled in or plan to enroll at an accredited college or university. There are no age limitations, and you can apply each year you’re eligible — even if you’re a previous recipient.
- Award amount: $2,000
- Deadline: March 1st
Each year, Kinecta FCU awards eight students with a $2,000 scholarship. Selection is based on community involvement, extracurricular activities and academic achievement. And unlike many other credit unions, Kinecta doesn’t specifically restrict scholarships to its members — provided you meet the two basic eligibility criteria, you may qualify.
- Award amount: Up to $2,500
- Deadline: March 6th
The Digital Credit Union Annual Scholarship Program is one of the rare scholarships you can apply to without being a member. You may be awarded up to $2,500 — but the contest is only open to graduating seniors. Students enrolled in a degree program need to look elsewhere.
- Award amount: $10,000 — up to $1,250 per semester for eight semesters
- Deadline: March 27th
While the Pen Air scholarship is only open to graduating high school seniors, it is one of the better scholarships out there. If you’re awarded a scholarship, you receive up to $10,000 — that’s $1,250 per semester for eight semesters.
- Award amount: Up to $12,000
- Deadline: February 7th
While it requires a longer essay and is only open to graduating high school seniors, the NASA FCU scholarship is one of the largest out there. Awards are up to $12,000 and can be extended for two years — meaning funds last into your sophomore year.
- Award amount: $1,000
- Deadline: April 1st
Great Lakes Credit Union awards six scholarships to its members each year. The contest is open to incoming freshmen and high school graduates. And there’s no essay requirement — you simply need to submit a five-minute video that answers GLCU’s prompt.
How we picked these scholarships
We chose scholarships from credit unions with broad membership criteria that are open to a variety of students — both those new to college and continuing their education. However, this isn’t a definitive list — check with your local credit unions to see if they offer any additional scholarships you can apply to.
Small-dollar scholarships like those from local credit unions typically won’t cover all the costs of attending college. Other ways to pay for school include:
- Federal grants. Federal grants like the Pell Grant are designed to make college more affordable for low-income students. You may be awarded up to $6,195 depending on your expected family contribution (EFC) and the cost of attendance for your school.
- State- and school-funded scholarships. Many states and universities offer scholarships to students on the basis of academic achievement. If you’ve earned high grades throughout high school, you may be eligible for a merit-based scholarship simply by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA).
- Student loans. After you’ve run out of grants and scholarship opportunities, turning to federal or private student loans can help you cover any remaining costs.
If you’re willing to open an account at a federal credit union, you could walk away with thousands of dollars in scholarship money. But these small-dollar programs will only go so far. Once you’ve exhausted your scholarship opportunities and filled out the FAFSA, you can compare student loans to pick up the slack where free aid falls short.
How can I find more scholarships?
Your high school’s college adviser is a good place to start a local search. For national scholarships, check online search engines dedicated to helping students connect with organizations offering free aid. Get started on your hunt with our A-to-Z list of scholarship opportunities.
How can I use my scholarship funds?
Most credit unions — and other organizations — earmark your funds for room and board, tuition, fees and other costs specifically related to attending classes. But check with your scholarship program for specifics on how you can use the money you receive.