College Prep

Scholarships for College: How they work, how they affect financial aid, and how to get a Unitus Scholarship worth $2,500

three college students studying

(4 minute read) — College scholarships for students can be life-changing. They broaden access to quality education across a wider range of people. By supporting students financially, they help bright, hardworking students realize their potential them. As a bonus, investing in wider access to education helps strengthen our community for generations.

This is why Unitus created our Scholarship Program more than 15 years ago. And it’s why we now award $17,500 annually, with seven new students to receive $2,500 scholarships this year.

If you are one of those bright students seeking financial support for college, this is the guide for you. Apply by May 5 for a Unitus 2021 Scholarship worth $2,500!

Click here to apply

Note: To apply for a scholarship, you must become a Unitus member.

Reading this after May 5, 2021? Don’t fret. Unitus offers a new set of scholarships every year. Mark your calendar to check back with us next March!

How do scholarships work?

While each program differs, they usually follow the same beats. Students like you will prepare and submit an application essay which helps share your unique story. You will also provide a transcript of your grades to the scholarship review committee. Then, a review board will review the submissions. Finally they will select a certain number of applicants to receive the scholarship awards.

In the case of Unitus’ student scholarships, your application will be reviewed by Scholarship America’s review board. Within a few months, seven applicants will be selected to receive the award. Each recipient will earn $2,500 to help cover their college expenses.

How can I qualify for a Unitus Student Scholarship?

Scholarships are available to student members of Unitus, as well as the child dependents, spouses, or significant others of Unitus employees. In addition to that requirement, you must be a high school senior or graduate, or a current post secondary undergraduate, who plans to enroll or is enrolled in full-time undergraduate study at an accredited two- or four-year college, university, or vocational-technical school for the entire upcoming academic year.

Unitus scholarship applicants are scored on a few important areas:

  • Academic achievement
  • Community involvement
  • Quality of scholarship materials
  • Commitment to pursuing higher education

If you have high ability in these areas, and you meet the eligibility requirement above, we strongly encourage you to apply now!

Will my scholarship reduce my financial aid?

It depends. Different colleges treat them differently, and the financial aid package is made from a complicated set of calculations. Although it depends on your particular situation, here’s where you should take heart.

One thing is certain: scholarships will reduce the amount of money you need to pay out of pocket to attend your college. No matter how the details shake out, earning yourself a college scholarship will allow you to pay less to attend school.

For more details: Our partner Scholarship America offers a free ebook called Decoding Financial Aid, written to help you and your family make sense of the process. We encourage all students applying to download and review this helpful resource.

Are scholarships taxable?

This one’s complicated. (When it comes to tax laws, things tend to turn out that way!) Generally speaking, money you earn through a scholarship and spend on tuition is not included as taxable income. But be aware that some money could be taxable. For example, if you’ve already covered school expenses and still have unused scholarship money left, that leftover money could be taxable. As another example, money you spend on room and board will likely be taxable, whereas money you spend on tuition, supplies, books, and related items likely will not be taxable.

For more details: consider reading The IRS’ Publication 970: Tax Benefits for Education. For definitive information regarding your specific tax situation, we encourage you to consult a tax professional.

“One thing is certain: a scholarship will reduce the amount of money you need to pay out of pocket to attend your college.”

Can scholarships be used for room and board?

Room and board can be a significant expense; just ask anyone who has paid rent or owned a home! The good news is that your scholarship can be used for room and board expenses and is designed to help you cover the wide range of expenses involved in obtaining higher education. That includes tuition, books, food, and plenty more. Note that any scholarship money spent on room and board is likely to be taxable, while scholarship money spent on other school-related expenses like books and supplies will likely not be taxable.

Again, this article should not be used as tax advice. To make the smartest tax decisions for your personal situation, please consult a tax professional.

How do I apply for a Unitus Student Scholarship?

  1. Become a member – First, apply to become a Unitus member and choose which kind of account(s) you want to open. (Opening a joint checking account with a parent or guardian is a great place to start.) Once you complete your application, we will follow up with you to complete your membership.
  2. Apply for the scholarship – After you become a member, click here to apply for your scholarship. To learn more about Unitus’ scholarships ahead of time, visit our Scholarships page.
  3. Wait to hear from us – That’s it! We will contact you in June to let you know whether you have been selected to receive a student scholarship. If you are selected, you will receive your $2,500 scholarship grant in August!

While you wait, follow us on Facebook and Instagram (@unitusccu). There you’ll find the latest about Unitus scholarship recipients, including profiles about the future plans of our 2020 recipients.

A scholarship is a tried-and-true way to help bright students like you access secondary education. This is an important step in not only making your dreams come true, but building a bright future for you and your family. We are so excited to be with you on this exciting journey.

Remember: Applications close May 5, 2021. Join Unitus and submit your application before then!

And please, ask us all the money questions you have. We are here to help you achieve your personal financial goals in life. Reach out to our Virtual Branch using any internet-connected device.

About the author: Ashlee Jacobson Dunbar

Born and raised in Oregon, Ashlee joined Unitus as Community Development Officer in February 2020. Her experience has taken her across the fields of administration, marketing, and community development, where her professional and personal passions intersect.

When Ashlee isn’t developing community initiatives and partnerships for Unitus, she’s taking on new craft projects, exploring the outdoors, and spending quality time with her husband, friends/family, and two cats.

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