November 3, 2008
History is one of the most popular college majors, and for a good reason. Instead of reading up on interesting cultures and events during their free time, history majors can do so while earning credit hours. If history is your passion (or at least your major), you're in luck. This week's Scholarship of the Week is especially for you. Just concentrate on the past, and we'll take care of your future.
Students who apply for the Scholarships.com History Scholarship will have the chance to earn $1,000 towards their college education-and it couldn't be easier. Just write a 250-350 word scholarship essay in response to the following question (entries that fall outside of this word range will be disqualified): "What has influenced your decision to pursue a career in history?"
Eligibility: U.S. citizen; registered Scholarships.com user (creating an account is simple and free of charge; after you have created an account, conduct a free scholarship search to view and apply for this award.); undergraduate student currently enrolled or a high school senior who plans to enroll in a college or university in the coming academic year; applicant must have indicated an interest in one of the following majors: Art History, History, Natural History
Deadline: December 31, 2008
Required Material: A 250-350 word response to the following question: "What has influenced your decision to pursue a career in history?"
Further details about the application process can be found by conducting a free college scholarship search. Once the search is completed, students eligible for the award will find it in their scholarship list.
October 31, 2008
Remember that provision in the Higher Education Act that was supposed to help keep tuition down by requiring states to maintain their level of funding for higher education? Since state governments are required to balance their budgets each year, the act included a provision that allowed the Secretary of Education to waive this "Maintenance of Effort" requirement in the event of "a precipitous and unforeseen decline in the financial resources of a State or State educational agency."
Yesterday, the National Governors Assocation sent a letter to Margaret Spellings arguing that the current economic situation qualifies as such a circumstance. The letter cites the budgeting crisis over half the country currently faces, with a budget shortfall of more than $26 billion spread across 27 states and expected to grow. States are forced to make tough choices to balance their budgets, and the choice of cutting funding to higher education is certainly among these.
If the Maintenance of Effort requirement is not waived, states that fail to maintain required levels of higher education spending will lose out on some federal grant money designed to help low-income students prepare for and attend college. Either way, students struggling to pay for school may find themselves struggling more next year. So keep plugging away at those scholarship applications!
October 30, 2008
Curious how colleges are weathering the recession? Wondering just how different things are now than when your parents (or even your older siblings) went to college? Reuters recently published a roundup of educational figures related to enrollment, endowments, student loans, and college costs. Many of these statistics have already shown up elsewhere in the Scholarships.com blog.
Tuition, fees, room, and board totaled $31,019 at private colleges, $16,758 for in-state students at state universities, and $24,955 for out-of-state public university students. Two-thirds of students at four-year schools received some form of grants, averaging $3,600 at public schools and $9,300 at private schools. Federal student loans have become increasingly popular since the mid-1990s, with students borrowing a total of $77 billion to pay for school in 2007. The class of 2007 carried 6 percent more debt than the class of 2006 upon graduation.
Tuition and borrowing are likely to continue to increase, as endowments have taken a hit in the stock market and state support for higher education also continues to fall. State funding covered 2/3 of public university budgets in 1998, but only covered half their budgets in 2007. Tuition also accounts for a larger percentage of college budgets. More students may also put their educational plans on hold due to increased difficulty finding money for college.
October 29, 2008
In the current economy, the outlook can seem pretty bleak for those just starting down the path towards a college degree. Declining private loan availability, tighter credit requirements, soaring tuition rates, less money being saved for college, and cuts in higher ed funding make going to college tougher now than it's been in the past. Students leaving school also face a tougher hiring situation and steep student loan debt. And those trying to remain in academia permanently face hiring freezes and fewer available tenure-track positions.
This is the situation in most of the country, but a few states rich in oil and natural gas are now experiencing a different reality. Texas, Wyoming, Alaska, and North Dakota, among other mineral-rich states, are updating, expanding, and generally improving their education systems in the wake of budget surpluses. This means hiring more faculty, building better facilities, adding degree programs, and possibly even halting the steady advance of tuition increases. North Dakota is even considering providing its students with more grant and scholarship opportunities. Texas universities, in particular, are upping their recruitment of high-quality faculty according to an article appearing today in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
So, if you're still wide open about where you'd like to attend college and you don't mind extreme heat, extreme cold, or a fair amount of isolation, maybe you want to direct your college search towards a state with a booming economy. Attending college in Alaska or North Dakota is certainly an unusual move, but if you're paying less for tuition and gaining access to rapidly expanding university resources and job opportunities, it could pay off in the end.
Looking for other unconventional educational opportunities in the recession? You could also move to Detroit and win a newly-established Kid Rock Scholarship to attend Wayne State University. Of course, there's always the option of spending more time on your financial aid and scholarship search so you can more easily afford a wider range of schools. But where's the adventure in that?
October 28, 2008
Fewer students may have to worry about finding a new lender for their Stafford Loans next year, as more colleges are turning to federal Direct Loans for student loans. A web-based poll of college financial aid administrators at schools participating in the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) revealed that six percent of those surveyed are planning to make the switch to direct lending next year, with an additional 29 percent seriously considering it as an option. This means that Direct Loans could very likely become the leading supplier of student loans in 2009. Since direct loans are taken out from the government, rather than from a bank, the stability they provide is proving popular among student borrowers. Already, the amount of money in the direct borrowing system has grown by 50 percent this year, whereas the amount in FFELP is up only 7 percent. While most students have been able to find different lenders and continue borrowing what they need in student loans, attending college at a school that participates in direct lending can save students a bit of hassle in getting financial aid.
While a move towards direct lending means that students at participating schools won't be able to cash in on incentives banks might offer during student loan repayment in the future, these options have become scarce in the last year due to the federal subsidy cuts and credit troubles banks have faced. The disappearance of the FFELP's advantages coupled with the uncertainty and instability caused by the credit crisis will likely continue encouraging schools to turn to Direct Loans to service their Federal Stafford Loans.
October 27, 2008
Putting in a couple years at a community college can be a great way to save money while still working towards your goal of receiving a bachelor's degree. However, even though your first two years of school might be cheaper, transferring to a four-year college or university can quickly become expensive, especially if you're planning on attending a prestigious private college. Outstanding students transferring from community colleges do have options for financial aid, though. One of the most generous scholarship opportunities available is this week's Scholarship of the Week, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship.
Up to 50 students will receive awards of up to $30,000 a year for their junior and senior years of college. Award amounts will be calculated based on unmet financial need.
Students must be currently attending college at a two-year community college and planning to transfer to a four-year college or university in the fall of 2009. Students who have received an associate's degree since spring 2004 who are planning to go back to school full-time in 2009 are also eligible. Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale and must have achieved sophomore status by December 31, 2008. Students previously nominated for a Jack Kent Cooke Foundation scholarship are not eligible. Students are nominated by a Jack Kent Cooke Foundation representative at their community college. Contact information for these representatives can be found on the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation website. Individual community colleges may have additional requirements for nominees.
Completed application packets must be submitted to the Jack Kent Cooke foundation by January 20, 2009, using the online submission system found on the scholarship website. Schools must finish their nomination forms and submit them by 3 PM on January 26, 2009.
Completed online scholarship application, including the student's financial information, official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, parent financial information forms, and attached income tax forms for students and parents. Materials must be submitted online as PDF attachments or mailed to the address provided by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. Students must be nominated by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation representative at their community college, who must complete and submit a nomination form.
Further details about the application process can be found by conducting a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com. Once the search is completed, students eligible for this scholarship award will find it in their search results.
October 24, 2008
So you've finally hit your senior year of college and you're anxiously awaiting the day when nobody will ever force you to write another 8-page paper about James Joyce or take another three-hour-long college exam. You're about to be on your own, earning real money and living the high life (Goodbye, roommates! Goodbye, budget diet!). All you have to do now, aside from completing those 21 required credits you need to cram into your spring semester, is find a job.
Survey says you'd better start looking now.
The National Association of Colleges and Employers polled 146 employers in a range of industries this month and calculated a projected hiring increase of just 1.3 percent for 2009. Anything under 6 percent is considered pretty bad news, according to an article on the subject appearing in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Campus career centers are advocating that students who plan to graduate in May or August start their job hunt now, rather than waiting until closer to graduation. Another idea is to look into nonprofit organizations, government jobs, and other fields where demand remains steady in a recession. Of course, many of them offer lower pay than a college graduate might need to live comfortably while repaying student loans.
Of course, you could also go to graduate school. It's not too late to register to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), put together a personal statement and some letters of recommendation, and throw yourself into application process. Some master's programs accept applications into March or April, and possibly even later. Graduate students gain more knowledge and experience in their field, including valuable teaching and research skills, and can continue to rely on financial aid (including scholarships, fellowships, and assistantships) for two or more years while the economy hopefully stabilizes and job prospects improve.
October 23, 2008
The Project on Student Debt just published information on the average student loan debt load for students graduating college in 2007. The report shows that average student debt increased 6 percent from 2006 to 2007, while the average annual salary of college graduates increased by only 3 percent. The percentage of students borrowing remained the same at 59 percent nationally, though some individual states experienced double-digit increases, including North Dakota, which surged ahead 14 percent to capture the #2 spot for percentage of student borrowers, with 75 percent of its students taking out loans, following South Dakota's 81 percent.
While more North and South Dakotans borrow than residents of any other state, Iowans have the highest average debt load of $26,208, followed closely by New Hampshire's $25,211. States that fared well were Utah and Hawaii with the lowest average debt ($13,266 and $14,911 respectively) and Nevada and Utah with the lowest percentage of borrowers (40 and 42 percent). The report also contains information for individual private colleges and state universities for 2007, as well as a list of the schools with the highest and lowest levels of student debt.
So if you're still in the midst of your college search, you may want to check out the full report from the Project on Student Debt, complete with a state-by-state interactive map. If you're planning on attending college in a high-debt state, don't panic. Just devote a bit more time to finding money for college, such as doing a thorough scholarship search.
October 22, 2008
The results of a survey conducted by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities indicate that at least a few students at many private colleges and universities were unable to obtain enough private loan funding to pay their fall tuition. The survey also indicates that the credit crunch may have steered a number of students away from private schools.
More than 500 NAICU member schools responded to the survey, which asked questions about the availability of Stafford loans made through the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP), the availability of private student loans, and unanticipated enrollment shifts. Eighty-five percent of schools reported that they had lost at least one FFELP lender, but the vast majority had no difficulty replacing these lenders. Additionally, most colleges lost at least one private lender, with 27 percent of those schools reporting that students had some difficulty finding a replacement lender.
More than half of colleges surveyed reported they had at least some students who were unable to secure private loan funds for the current semester, and 45 percent of schools reported students changing their enrollment status due to financial concerns. Eighteen percent of colleges surveyed reported fewer returning students and 19 percent reported a smaller freshman class than anticipated. While most colleges reported no significant changes in enrollment, it appears some private college students (who are typically the most likely group to qualify for student loans) are being forced to alter their educational plans due to the current economic situation.
Three quarters of private colleges surveyed also reported increased financial need among their student populations. Coupled with the rise in FAFSA files across the board and preliminary reports of more demand for financial aid coming from state universities and community colleges, it appears competition is getting stiffer for need-based student financial aid. This is just one more reason for students to ramp up their scholarship search and find money for college as soon as possible.
October 21, 2008
Just in case you haven't heard enough reasons to kick your scholarship search into high gear, an article appearing last week in The Boston Globe reported that one third of parents have cut back on or altogether stopped saving for college. According to a study by Fidelity Investments, the current economic situation has left many parents less equipped to help their children pay for school.
The study found that parents have fewer resources to devote to students' college expenses due to drops in values of investments and home equity. To help make up this difference, 35 percent of parents reported plans to delay retirement in order to better help their college-aged children pay bills. Parents are also asking more of college students, with 55 percent expecting their kids to work part-time, 44 percent hoping their kids will live at home while attending college, and 37 percent encouraging their children to attend less expensive state colleges. Additionally, 62 percent of parents expect their children to take out student loans--a figure that makes sense coupled with the 16 percent increase in FAFSA applications reported earlier this year.
When coupled with anecdotal evidence, such as another Boston Globe piece highlighting Massachusettes families' increased interest in public universities for 2009, this study stresses the need for students to ramp up their efforts to find money for college. While federal student financial aid and private loans are being turned to more and more, college scholarships are still options for students industrious enough to find them. If you're already attending college or currently in the midst of the college application process and haven't yet started searching for scholarships, now is a good time to begin. Between now and February, a great number of scholarship opportunities will open up for applications, so the sooner you know what's out there, the better a chance you'll have of winning scholarships.
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