Yes, banks, credit unions, and student loan companies lend money for school — but they also offer scholarships to help pay for college, too.
Here are four such financial institutions with generous scholarship programs:
1. Sallie Mae: High school students and student loan borrowers
Online lenders are no strangers to scholarships. CommonBond and Ascent are two examples of lenders that promote sweepstakes-style scholarship programs. To enter, you typically provide basic information about yourself and hope that your name is drawn out of a hat, digitally speaking of course.
If you want a little more control over your chances of winning, there are other options as well, including several at Sallie Mae. Consider these recently awarded Sallie Mae scholarships, for example:
- High school juniors and seniors: Students with inspiring stories were eligible to compete for five $25,000 awards via the second annual Bridging the Dream Scholarship Program.
- High school students: As part of the Make College Happen Challenge, applicants aged 14 to 18 wrote about how they planned to pay for college — and 10 got some help with exactly that.
- Student loan borrowers: Sallie Mae customers were asked to write in about how college has had a positive impact on their lives, and the Mission Finish winner received $10,000 to repay student loans.
2. MPower Financing: International students
As a newcomer to the U.S., you might have a tougher time finding scholarship opportunities geared for international students like yourself. But fortunately, there’s MPower Financing’s Global Citizen Scholarship program.
MPower doles out four $5,000 awards to enrolled college and grad school students who hold an F1 visa or green card or are Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. In 2018, for example, MPower awarded scholarships to students hailing from China, Pakistan, India and Brazil.
Avoid common essay-writing mistakes, and you could be among the next four winners. MPower, which offers student loans for international students, judges applications on “grammar, vocabulary and clarity; creativity; and insightfulness and power of story.”
Your 1,000-word personal statement should address one of two questions:
- “What impact do you want to make in the world with your U.S.-based education?”
- “If you could improve integration between international students and domestic students (from the U.S.) on your campus, how would you do so?”
3. Wells Fargo: Students with disabilities
The scholarship application asks for an essay about which life experiences have shaped who you are today. Aside from your writing, applicants are judged on their grades, their activities on- and off-campus and their level of financial need.
You’ll also need to have a teacher, school counselor or employer complete a form that vouches for your worthiness of the award.
Although it’s a time-consuming application, Wells Fargo’s scholarship is the kind of gift that keeps giving, as winners can renew their award amounts annually while pursuing a bachelor’s degree. You’ll need to sport at least a 3.0-grade point average to apply, and at least a 2.5 average to renew the award.
4. Regional banks and credit unions: College students
There are plenty of local and regional banks and credit unions that offer college scholarships to students with accounts in good standing.
The State Department Federal Credit Union’s scholarship competition, for example, gave $63,020 to 23 member students attending 17 different schools in 2017. It required its applicants to have an account at the credit union, meet academic standards and submit a personal statement.
Ensure you’re eligible for your local bank or credit union’s program before going to the trouble of gathering your application materials. To simplify your search, start with the branches where you or your family members might already have a savings or checking account. That’s usually enough to qualify.
Look for college scholarships in unlikely places
For the 2017-2018 school year, 24% of families resorted to student loans to help cover their cost of attendance, according to Sallie Mae. About 28% defrayed at least some costs via scholarships and grants.
Before you borrow a student loan, ask yourself if you’ve really looked everywhere for college scholarships. Until now, you might not have thought that online lenders or brick-and-mortar banks would give out aid that doesn’t need to be repaid.
Make sure you give equal thought to potential opportunities from local businesses and charities, professional associations and your parent’s employer, among other oft-forgotten sources of aid.
And if you’ve already taken out student loans, it’s never too late to find scholarships for next year.
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* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.
4 = Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
|3.94% – 12.78%1||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.06% – 13.06%3||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.47% – 13.12%2||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.37% – 11.23%*,4||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|5.03% – 11.23%5||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.12% – 13.13%6||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|5.62% – 10.01%7||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|3.93% – 9.81%8||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.26% – 12.13%9||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
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