Demonstrating its commitment to the communities it serves, United Cooperative Services this summer will provide $50,000 in Energy Scholarship Awards to 14 students who are members of the cooperative. United’s scholarship award program was created to encourage and assist in the educational pursuits of the co-op’s members and their families.

“One of the distinguishing characteristics of nonprofit electric cooperatives like United is a stable of member benefits to help those we serve,” said United CEO Ray Beavers. “These scholarships are one of many ways we strive to demonstrate to the members and local communities that we look out for their best interests,” he added.

United will award 10 scholarships valued at $2,500 each.  Three additional scholarships will be awarded at $5,000 each and one lucky student will win a scholarship valued at $10,000.

The scholarship application process runs May 1 through June 6, 2012. Applications will not be accepted after June 6. Applications must be filled out online at United’s Web site: www.united-cs.com. Graduating high school seniors must meet a number of criteria, which includes being an active member of United or a dependent of parents or legal guardians who are active United members at their principle residence.

Additional criteria can be obtained online at the United Web site. More than 20 years ago, United Cooperative Services awarded its first scholarships to local high school students and returning college students. United made the funds available with the aim to reinvest into the communities it serves. In those first years, United awarded one scholarship to one student at each high school in its service area.

In 1997, new funds were made available by House Bill 3203, which allows nonprofit electric cooperatives like United to put unclaimed member dividends to use for student scholarships. This change in the law allowed United to reclaim funds previously lost to the state’s general revenue fund and reinvest it locally, where it would have a greater impact on the people United serves.

To date, more than 850 area students have received United scholarships totaling nearly $1 million. As is traditional, scholarship applicants will vie against peers from school districts across United's 14-county service area to receive one of 14 scholarships that will be awarded in 2012. Applications are judged on financial need, leadership, community involvement and school activities. This year's award categories include; 10–$2,500 scholarships, 3–$5,000 scholarships and one scholarship award for $10,000.