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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 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.

GTE Foundation Scholarship

  • 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.

Kinecta Scholarship Program

  • 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.

Digital Credit Union Annual Scholarship Program

  • 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.

Pen Air Federal Credit Union Scholarship

  • 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.

NASA FCU Mitchell-Beall-Rosen Memorial Scholarship

  • 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.

Great Lakes Credit Union Scholarship

  • 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.

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

Name Product APR Min. Credit Score Loan amount Loan Term
EDvestinU Private Student Loans
4.092% to 8.609% with autopay
$1,000 - $200,000
7 to 20 years
Straightforward student loans for undergraduate and graduate students.
CommonBond Private Student Loans
3.74% to 10.74%
$5,000 - $500,000
5 to 15 years
Finance your college education through this lender with a strong social mission and terms that fit your budget.
Edvisors Private Student Loan Marketplace
Varies by lender
Varies by lender
Varies by lender
Varies by lender
Quickly compare private lenders for your school and apply for the right student loan.
Credible Labs Inc. (Student Loan Platform)
Starting at 0.99% with autopay
Good to excellent credit
Starting at $1,000
5 to 20 years
Get prequalified rates from private lenders offering student loans with no origination or prepayment fees.

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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