Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

    Scholarship application opens for students, teachers, relieving financial stress


    A+ Federal Credit Union launched its annual scholarship program from Nov. 1 to Feb. 2, 2024 and will award 60 recipients with $2,000 to relieve financial burdens for parents and students. 

    In 1949, teachers founded the union to support educators and students, said Priscilla Olvera, A+ Federal Credit Union financial education and scholarship director. The scholarship accepts college students pursuing education with at least 60 credit hours, graduating high school students and teachers pursuing a graduate degree. All applicants need is membership status or have parents who are members of the credit union. 

    “(The scholarship) means that students go to college because it reduces that financial barrier,” Olvera said. “For others, it could just mean that they don’t have to work as much and focus more on their studies. For those teachers who are pursuing a graduate degree, it gives them an opportunity to advance their career.”

    Olvera said the online application process consists of personal questions, a summary of organizations and job experience and letters of recommendation. She said the application refrains from asking specific financial questions and instead uses circumstantial questions to gauge at the applicant’s financial needs, like any financial aid the family receives. 

    A committee then reviews the applications three times, and the A+ Federal Credit Union looks at the students who scored the highest average with the committee. She said the committee uses an anonymous review process, meaning they hide the names and personal information of the applicants to ensure complete inclusion and objectivity.

    “This could be the difference between them having to pick textbooks,” Olvera said. “That was really empowering to me because some of those textbooks are hundreds of dollars, and if they don’t have the money to buy all of them, a scholarship such as ours really makes the difference and allows them to succeed in the classroom.”

    Computer science freshman Samuel Gunter said he received the scholarship earlier this year after years of taking advanced classes. He said he felt relieved as this allowed him to take all the credit hours he needed this semester instead of cutting them short to fit in a part-time job. 

    “My parents are doing fine financially, but just because it’s three kids going to college,” Gunter said. “That puts a burden on them since just the amount of student debt coming … in a shorter amount of time.” 

    Gunter said with two siblings who either recently graduated or still attending college, paying for all their tuition placed a huge burden on his parents. He said he received other scholarships which also helped ease the burden. 

    Tina Risinger, a Round Rock Independent School District teacher who applied for the scholarship, said having kids combined with a lower teacher salary deterred her from getting the full education she wanted. After teaching for 20 years, she said she hoped to get her master’s degree and advance to more leadership roles like instructional coaching through the scholarship. 

    “I will give (A+ Federal Credit Union) the most return for (their) money,” Risinger said. “I am going to do bigger and better things with it. I will take everything that I’ve learned up until this point and use it to help the people who are most responsible for our society, which are the teachers.” 

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