The next time you’re looking for a great scholarship opportunity, think local! You may have heard that your local credit union is a great place for free checking, high-yield savings accounts or financial literacy programs, but did you know that you can find scholarships at credit unions, too? It’s just another one of the many ways credit unions invest in their local communities. What better way to give back than by providing hardworking college students with money to further their studies? As a company that loves both education and local banking, NerdWallet couldn’t possibly imagine a more perfect match.
Scholarships for students of all ages
Keep reading to see NerdWallet’s picks for credit union scholarships. Most application deadlines are in the winter or spring, although programs vary by institution. Be sure to visit each credit union’s homepage for complete details and start planning ahead for next year. If you don’t see a nearby institution on this list, don’t get discouraged. Visit a local credit union branch and ask if they have a similar scholarship program. Chances are, they probably do!
Highest Award Count: OSU Federal Credit Union (Corvallis, OR)
OSU Federal Credit Union has 12 branches in Benton, Lincoln, Linn, Marion and Polk counties. This past year, they awarded a grand total of fifteen $1,000 scholarships to local high school students. Their scholarship program, called Tomorrow’s Leaders Today, is a way for OSU to recognize their outstanding teen members. Since the program was founded in 1998, 131 students have received $1,000 scholarships, which are awarded in the spring. Membership is open to anyone who lives, works, worships, attends school or regularly conducts business in the counties listed above. Family of eligible members may also join.
Best for Kids: cPort Credit Union (Portland, ME)
cPort Credit Union has 4 branches in Portland, Scarborough and Augusta. The College Aspirations Scholarship Program is available to all elementary school students in Augusta, plus Ocean Avenue School and Riverton Elementary in Portland. Students in 3rd – 6th grade participate in an Aspirations workshop with a representative from Maine College Circle. Once the workshop is complete, students have the opportunity to write an essay. Winners receive a $100 college scholarship in an awards ceremony at their school. Membership is open to anyone who lives or works in Cumberland, Kennebec, York, Sagadahoc or Androscoggin counties.
Best for Local Students: Whatcom Educational Credit Union (Bellingham, WA)
Whatcom Educational Credit Union has 11 branches Bellingham, Blaine, Everson, Ferndale and Lynden, plus a business and loan center in Bellingham. Their scholarship program has a local focus. They offer two $1,500 scholarships for students of junior status or higher at Western Washington University, and two $1,000 scholarships for students of the same status at Whatcom Community College, Bellingham Technical College and Northwest Indian College. Scholarships are awarded based on financial need, GPA and other factors. Applications are available at each school’s financial aid office. Membership is open to anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in Washington. Family of eligible members may also join.
Best for Community Service Gurus: Fox Communities Credit Union (Appleton, WI)
Fox Communities Credit Union has 15 locations from Green Bay to Oshkosh. They award six $750 scholarships to graduating high school seniors with a good community service record. Applicants will need to write a thoughtful essay to be considered. Membership is open to anyone living or working in Brown, Calumet, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Oconto, Outagamie, Shawano, Waupaca or Winnebago counties. Members of registered select employee groups and family of eligible members may also join.
Best for High School Seniors: CU Community Credit Union (Springfield, MO)
CU Community Credit Union has 2 locations in Springfield. The Franklin O. Walstrand Scholarship awards $1,000 to a graduating high school high school senior. Selection is based on a combination of academic achievement, community service and career objective. Membership is open to anyone who lives or works in Greene or Christian counties, and anyone who is a customer or employee of City Utilities of Springfield.
Best for Top-Dollar: Alliance Credit Union (San Jose, CA)
Alliance Credit Union has ties to the both the East Coast and the West Coast. Their 5 California branches are located in San Jose, Fremont and Sunnyvale, while their 4 North Carolina branches are located in Wilmington and Castle Hayne. The Rose M. Ratka Scholarship awards $2,000 to three high school seniors with a strong background in leadership or community service. Applicants who successfully balance work and school are also considered. Membership is open to anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in Santa Clara, San Mateo or Alameda counties in California, or New Hanover, Pender or Brunswick counties in North Carolina. Members of select employee groups may also join. Please see the Who Can Join page for details.
Best for Unconventional Achievers: Lake Trust Credit Union (Brighton, MI)
Lake Trust Credit Union has 21 branches between Lake Michigan, Lake Erie and Lake Huron. Their Community Scholarship program awards $500 to three graduating high school seniors who are attending any college in Michigan. Ideal candidates will have demonstrated persistence and adaptability in the face of adversity, and maintained a strong commitment to their community, even if their GPA isn’t the highest in their class. Membership is open to people residing in one of 35 eligible counties in Michigan. Please see their membership page for complete details.
Best for Videophiles: Community Financial Credit Union (Broomfield, CO)
A true community credit union, Community Financial has one branch in Broomfield. They award two $1,500 scholarships to graduating high school seniors, college freshmen and college sophomores. Instead of a personal essay, you have the option of submitting a personal video with your application. Scholarship applications are due in April. Membership is open to people who live in Broomfield, or eligible portions of Superior, Westminster, Louisville or Lafayette. People who don’t qualify for membership by location or affiliation with a select employee group can join by becoming a member of the Consumers United Association.