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7 top scholarships from credit unions

Get the lowdown on eligibility requirements, deadlines and more.

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.

Affinity Plus Foundation Annual Scholarship

Award AmountUp to $5,000
DeadlineJanuary 31st
Scholarship eligibility criteria

To qualify for the Affinity Plus Foundation Annual Scholarship, you need to meet the following criteria:

  • Planning to attend or currently enrolled in an accredited undergraduate or graduate program
  • Affinity Plus primary member or meet eligibility requirements to join Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union (FCU)
  • First time receiving a scholarship from Affinity
  • Not an employee, board member or immediate spouse of Affinity Plus FCU
Credit union membership criteria

To qualify for membership to Affinity Plus FCU, you need to meet one of the following criteria:

  • Member of the Affinity Plus Foundation — $25 one-time membership fee
  • Employee or volunteer at a qualifying Minnesota organization
  • Student or alumnus of a qualifying Minnesota college or university
  • Live, work or worship in a qualifying Minnesota city
  • Relative or roommate of an Affinity Plus FCU member

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.

GTE Foundation Scholarship

Award AmountUp to $2,500
DeadlineMarch 31st
Scholarship eligibility criteria

To qualify for the GTE Foundation Scholarship, you need to meet the following criteria:

  • Primary GTE Financial account holder
  • Incoming first-year student or continuing full-time undergraduate student
  • Enrolled in an accredited two- or four-year program in the US

GTE Financial does not require applicants to meet a minimum GPA.

Credit union membership criteria

To qualify for membership to GTE Financial, you need to meet one of the following criteria:

  • Member of CUSavers — $10 one-time membership fee
  • Employee of a GTE Community Partner
  • Related to a GTE member
  • Live, work, worship or attend school in a serviced area

    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.

    Kinecta Scholarship Program

    Award AmountUp to $2,000
    DeadlineMarch 1st
    Scholarship eligibility criteria

    To qualify for the Kinecta Scholarship Program, you need to meet the following criteria:

    • 24 years old or younger
    • Incoming first-year student or continuing full-time undergraduate student

    You do not need to be a member of Kinecta FCU to submit an application.

    Credit union membership criteria

    To qualify for membership to Kinecta FCU, you need to meet one of the following criteria:

    • Member of the Consumers Cooperative Society of Santa Monica (Santa Monica Co-Op) — $10 one-time membership fee
    • Member of a Kinecta Associational Group organization
    • Employee, student or retiree of a Kinecta Select Employer Group
    • Immediate family member or share a household with a Kinecta member
    • Live, work or attend school in a serviced area

      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.

      Digital Credit Union Annual Scholarship Program

      Award AmountUp to $2,500
      DeadlineMarch 6th
      Scholarship eligibility criteria

      To qualify for the Digital Credit Union (DCU) Annual Scholarship Program, you need to meet the following criteria:

      • High school senior
      • Planning to attend a two- or four-year accredited college or university

      You do not need to be a member of DCU to submit an application.

      Credit union membership criteria

      To qualify for membership to DCU, you need to meet one of the following criteria:

      • Work or retired from a qualifying company
      • Member of an organization whose members DCU serves
      • Live, work, worship or attend school in a qualifying community
      • Immediate family member of a DCU member or someone who meets one of the above criteria

        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.

        Pen Air Federal Credit Union Scholarship

        Award Amount$10,000 — up to $1,250 per semester for eight semesters
        DeadlineMarch 27th
        Scholarship eligibility criteria

        To qualify for the Pen Air Federal Credit Union Scholarship, you need to meet the following criteria:

        • Primary account holder
        • Graduating high school senior
        • Enrolled full time at an accredited college, university, community college or technical school
        • Maintain a 2.0 average for renewal
        Credit union membership criteria

        To qualify for membership to Pen Air FCU, you need to meet one of the following criteria:

        • Member of the Friends of the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society — Pen Air will make a one-time donation in your name
        • Active-duty or retired military member
        • Civil service employee
        • Employee of a Pen Air member group
        • Immediate family member of someone who meets one of the above criteria

          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.

          NASA FCU Mitchell-Beall-Rosen Memorial Scholarship

          Award AmountUp to $12,000
          DeadlineFebruary 7th
          Scholarship eligibility criteria

          To qualify for the NASA FCU scholarship, you need to meet the following criteria:

          • Primary NASA Federal Credit Union account holder
          • High school senior
          • Average grade of C or higher
          • 21 or younger
          Credit union membership criteria

          To qualify for membership to NASA FCU, you need to meet one of the following criteria:

          • Member of the National Space Society (NSS) — NASA FCU gives you a one-year complimentary membership
          • Current or retired employee of a NASA Center
          • Employee or member of a NASA FCU association or partner company
          • Related to or living with a current NASA FCU member

            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.

            Great Lakes Credit Union Scholarship

            Award AmountUp to $1,000
            DeadlineApril 1st
            Scholarship eligibility criteria

            To qualify for the Great Lakes Credit Union (GLCU) Scholarship, you need to meet the following criteria:

            • Full- or part-time student at an accredited school
            • High school graduate or graduating senior
            • GLCU account holder
            Credit union membership criteria

            To qualify for membership to GLCU, you need to meet one of the following criteria:

            • Live, work or attend school in a qualifying Illinois community
            • Member of a qualifying community organization
            • Federal government employee
            • Active-duty military member
            • Relative of someone who meets one of the above criteria

                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.

                How else can I pay for school?

                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.

                Find a private student loan today

                Explore your options by APR, minimum credit score, loan amount and loan term. Select the Get started button to start an application with a specific lender.

                1 - 4 of 4
                Name Product APR Min. Credit Score Loan amount Loan Term
                College Ave undergraduate student loans
                College Ave undergraduate student loans
                2.49% to 13.85%
                Not stated
                Starting at $1,000
                5 to 15 years
                Rates start at 2.84% for residents of all 50 states. Read College Ave’s disclosures for typical repayment examples, autopay discounts, and eligibility.
                Sallie Mae® Smart Option Student Loan for Undergraduates
                3.37% to 13.72%
                Not stated
                Starting at $1,000
                5 to 15 years
                Choose from over 8 different options for undergraduates, law students and more. Read Sallie Mae’s disclosures for typical repayment examples, autopay discounts, and eligibility.
                Ascent Funding
                Ascent Funding
                2.52% to 11.11%
                None with cosigner
                $2,001 - $200,000
                5 to 15 years
                Read Ascent Funding’s disclosures for typical repayment examples, autopay discounts, and eligibility.
                Edly
                Edly
                No interest rate
                No minimum
                Up to $25,000
                Varies
                Read Edly's disclosures for typical repayment examples, autopay discounts, and eligibility.
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                Compare up to 4 providers

                Bottom line

                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.

                Frequently asked questions

                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.

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