About the Scholarship Award Benefits Program

Scholarship Award Benefits offered by the STEP Fund are competitive, merit-based awards for eligible employees’ dependents who apply and meet the requirements for an award.  The Scholarship Award Benefits are for undergraduate study at accredited, not-for-profit two or four year colleges, universities, or other post-secondary institutions.  Scholarship awards are limited in number, and they are awarded annually. 

By March 31st each year, the STEP Fund will post the scholarship application on this site, as well as relevant deadlines about when and how to apply.  Please note that the decision to award a benefit is subject to the discretion of the Scholarship Committee.  Eligibility for scholarship alone does not automatically entitle an applicant to an award.


In order to apply for a Scholarship Award, you must be an eligible dependent of an employee who is currently working for a contributing employer to the STEP Fund.  The contributing employer must also meet the contribution requirements for the employee and the Fund.  In addition, there are varying rules for those who are new applicants and renewal applicants.  Applicants are required to submit certain documentation along with their applications in order to be considered for an award. For further eligibility information, please review the complete rules in the STEP Fund Plan Document.

Application Deadlines 

New scholarship applications and supporting documents are due June 20, 2023.  

Renewal applications are due June 15, 2023.

Application Process

Scholarship applications can be downloaded from this page, or you can text or call the STEP Fund at 301-587-0826 for help.  You can also request an application or ask for more information by sending an email to [email protected].

All scholarship applications must be accompanied by the required documentation listed on the application, or the application will be considered incomplete.

All applicants will receive notification about the Scholarship Committee’s decision on their award as soon as possible and in accordance with the dates released each year.  Please check back on this site by March 31st each year to see the applicable dates for your application.

How Scholarship Award Benefits Are Determined

The Board of Trustees of the STEP Fund determines the amount of the individual award based on a variety of factors. While no single factor is deciding, the Board considers the individual applicant’s cost of overall tuition, any additional scholarships or funding received, credit load, half-time or full-time enrollment, good academic standing, and any other relevant factors.
The STEP Fund’s Scholarship Award Benefit program is competitive, so not all who apply will receive an award, and not all who receive an award will get the same amount.

Frequently Asked Questions :

Who is eligible to apply for a new scholarship?
  • You must be an eligible dependent of an Employee of a contributing employer; and
  • The Employee’s contributing employer must meet the requirements for contributions to the Fund; and
  • You must be 21 years of age or under; and
  • Be a recent high school graduate (or received your GED) with a GPA of 3.0 or higher (a B average); OR
  • Be a current Higher Learning Institution student with a GPA of 2.7 or higher
Who is eligible to apply for a renewal scholarship?
  • You have received at least 1 scholarship from the Fund before applying for a renewal;
  • The Employee’s contributing employer meets the contribution requirements to the Fund; and
  • You have maintained a GPA of 2.7 or better (exceptions may be made for those who do not meet the required GPA but who have made considerable progress); and
  • You are under the age of 26.
Does every eligible applicant get a scholarship award?

No.  This is a competitive award, and there are a limited number awarded each year. An independent Scholarship Committee determines which applicants receive an award and for how much.

Can I apply the following year if I don’t get the scholarship when I apply?

YES! Provided that you meet all the eligibility criteriayou can apply again the following year.

How many times can I renew?

Scholarship awardees may receive up to 3 renewal awards, for a total of 4 academic years (8 semesters). The number of semesters of support depends on if you apply as a High School senior (or GED equivalent), or the year you apply as a student of a Higher Learning Institution. All awards must be made within a 6-year period.

Who can sponsor a new or renewal scholar?
  • Any union member who is a current employee of a contributing employer to the Fund can sponsor her/his eligible dependent; and
  • The Employee’s contributing employer has had contributions paid into the Fund for at least 12 months out of the last 18 months.

COVID-19 Limited Exception:

For Scholarship Award Benefits and Tuition Reimbursement Awards, the Board has created a limited exception to the requirements for Employees and their contributing employers.  Now through June 2021, Employees interested in applying for a Tuition Reimbursement Award and their eligible dependents interested in applying for a Scholarship Award Benefit will be able to do so if, as of March 2020:

  1. The Employee was a current employee of a contributing employer; and
  2. The contributing employer made contributions to the Fund on the Employee’s behalf for the last 12 out of 18 months.
How can I use the scholarship award?

The scholarship award is for tuition only.  Payment goes directly to the university.  There are no reimbursements for past semesters.

What Higher Learning Institutions are covered?

Your Higher Learning Institution must be an accredited, not-for-profit 2- or 4-year college or university, or an accredited post-secondary technical school.

Is this for full-time study only?

No. But students receiving an award must enroll for at least a half-time credit load per the Higher Learning Institution’s assessment of full-time study.

What is the amount of the award?

Award amounts vary each year depending the STEP Fund’s budget, but can be up to $4,000 per year. The amount of the individual award benefits are determined by the Board based on a variety of factors weighed by the Board, including the overall amount of tuition, your grades, your credit load, and any additional scholarships you received.