January 21, 2008
The Financial Service Centers of America, Inc. (FiSCA) is sponsoring a scholarship for high school seniors who are ready to head off to college—with money in their pockets. Since 1986, this organization has been representing financial service centers from around the country and helping them with the regulations and politics of financial aid.
FiSCA will award scholarships to at least two students from each of five geographic regions in the U.S. The essay requirement is pretty short and straightforward, 100 words max about a person or event that has influenced the student’s life. After completing the essay, students will need to fill out a two-page application and send in their transcript along with two letters of recommendation to the regional administrator. That’s it!
1. At least ten grants of $2,000 or more.
1. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, national residents or permanent residents. 2. Applicants must be high school seniors. 3. Applicants may not be children or grandchildren of FiSCA employees, officers or owners.
Applications must be postmarked by April 3, 2008
1. A completed application 2. An essay of no more than 100 words about a person or event that has influenced the student 3. A transcript that includes first-semester senior grades and test scores 4. Two letters of recommendation
Further details, including information about applying for the award and contacting the scholarship provider, can be found by conducting a free scholarship search. Once a student has completed the search, this scholarship will appear in their "My Scholarships" section--provided the student is eligible.
May 9, 2008
Young adults often join the army hoping that their contributions will serve the nation's good and aid them in affording a quality education. Army.com admits that, “Ninety percent of servicemembers enter the armed forces for the educational benefits.” Unfortunately, an increasing number of veterans are finding their promised aid insufficient in paying for tuition and other costs.
In an interview with MTV, veteran Evan Aanerud expressed his surprise upon finding that, even with financial assistance, he would have to work full time to cover college expenses. When Evan returned from Iraq and enrolled in the California Polytechnic State University, he received only $430 each month. “That’s about the cost of one-quarter of the books, and that’s about all that I got,” he said.
Even servicemen who receive the maximum $1,100 per month as determined by the GI Bill—a law made to cover each veteran’s college expenses---often find the assistance lacking. With College Board estimating the four-year cost of a public, four-year, in-state university at $54,356 and the private one at $129,228, the maximum $39,636 veteran budget just doesn’t cut it.
But there is hope. If a revised version of the current Montgomery GI Bill is passed, veteran students may soon receive a federal student aid boost. According to the proposal, the new GI Bill would pay the full cost of in-state tuition (up to the cost of the most expensive in-state public university) in addition to a housing and book stipend. With bipartisan support, the bill has a chance at passage if opposing congressmen can be convinced that costs are manageable. Having put their lives on the line to serve the nation, many veterans feel that it's the least they deserve.
May 13, 2008
When reviewing your application, scholarship judges knows only what you tell them. Abiding by scholarship etiquette is an important but frequently overlooked way of letting scholarship judges know that your are serious about your future and appreciative of their donations. To maximize your scholarship potential, remember the following scholarship guidelines:
Professional Presentation Most applicants are dedicated to their education, but they often forgot to show it. Presentation is a great way to let the judging panel know that you have considered each part of the application process. Save email addresses such as email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for your friends. When applying for scholarships, stick with the more serious name and number versions.
The Magic Words Don’t retire the “please” and “thank yous”. Scholarship providers don't have to offer financial aid, but they do. A simple, “thank you for this opportunity,” makes you stand out, and it lets the judges know that you appreciate their efforts.
Spelling Spelling and etiquette may not appear correlated, but they are. Students who take the time to polish their scholarship essays are showing the judging panel that their application is important enough to revise thoroughly. Most word processors are equipped with spelling tools, and applicants should take advantage of them. A few grammar mishaps may be overlooked—not everyone is an expert grammarian—but spelling is vital.
Keep Some Things to Yourself Many students take finances into account when selecting a career. It’s only natural that individuals search for jobs that ensure financial security and a comfortable lifestyle. That being said, keep some things to yourself. You can mention wanting to provide for your family or to wanting to break a cycle of financial struggles, but skip the part about bossing people around, wearing fancy suits or wanting to make millions.
May 16, 2008
On Thursday, the House passed a bill increasing the amount of federal aid awarded to college students who were veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Though approved, the process was anything but smooth.
When it was introduced to the House, the tuition-benefits measure was just one part of a bill calling for additional war funding and a new troop withdrawal timeline. To avoid having to choose between appropriating additional war funds and aiding returning veterans, House Democrats split the bill up into three parts, only voting against the new war funding measure. After angry Republicans sat the vote out, the war-spending amendment was defeated. The provisions for a troop-withdrawal timeline and college and unemployment benefits, however, were passed.
The veteran education amendment would cover the tuition of eligible veterans as long as it did not exceed the most expensive public state university tuition in the veteran's area of residence. Those who decided to attend a private college where tuition surpassed that limit would receive the maximum public tuition as well as a dollar-for-dollar match for any additional aid provided to the student by that university.
As promising as the bill sounds to veterans, the odds are stacked against the probability of presidential and Senate approval. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, numerous senators disagree with the idea that federal student aid funds should be raised through taxes on the wealthy, and President Bush is at odds with the timeline and expensive domestic-spending provisions.
May 23, 2008
Following a controversial House tactic for approving only a part of their veteran tuition bill, the Senate today agreed upon their bill in whole. Based on the Senate version, veterans who have served in the military for a minimum of three years following the September 11 attacks would receive enough financial assistance to cover tuition at the most expensive public college or university in their state. A monthly stipend to be used for housing costs would also be provided for eligible veterans. A more divisive bill amendment—one that would set aside billions for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars—was approved by Senate but denied by the House. Rather than accept the bill in its entirety, the House decided to break the draft into three parts, voting only against the war funding portion.
Complaining that they were duped into believing the government would pay for an entire education, numerous veterans felt that the funds they received were insufficient to cover much of their college needs. The original G.I. Bill of Rights, a law created after WWII, provided troops with enough funds to complete their degree. Though financial appropriations were periodically increased, the money they receive no longer pays for all or most of the average student’s postsecondary education.
To pass the veteran tuition bill, the Senate and House will have to first hash out their differences and send a unified version to the president. Both requirements may prove difficult. Even if both chambers compromise on their ideas, the bill will have to be approved by President Bush who publicly stated that he would not support federal student aid exceeding his $108 billion cap. He was quoted by the AP as saying, “I will work with Congress on these veterans' benefits .... But the $108 billion is $108 billion.”
August 28, 2007
There are so many things to think about when entering college. Financial aid for
room & board and book expenses initially come to mind, but many forget
another important expense—medical insurance. Before students head off to college,
they need to seriously consider future medical aid options. Those with a history
of ailments are likely to explore their options, but so should the poster children
for health. Unfortunately, a large portion of health-related issues surface during
adolescence. The fact that college students are frequently stressed out and sleep-deprived
sure doesn’t make things better.
In more ways than one, students who enter college are better off than those who
finish school at 18. Those who are considered dependents under the health insurance
plans of parents are frequently given the boot on their eighteenth birthday - a not-so-nice
way to be welcomed into the adult world. Those who head off to college, however,
continue to be dependents under their parents’ plan for a few more years (usually
until they turn 23 or 25). This typically applies to full-time students only. Those
who are enrolled part-time may be ineligible or forced to hand over additional cash.
Schools typically offer their own college insurance plans for those who choose to
take advantage of them. Oftentimes, students are automatically charged for this
service unless they let schools know they are uninterested. Some states require
entering students to be medically ensured. If that is the case, students who choose
to reject school offers must show proof of alternative coverage. The costs of college
insurance vary greatly, but they are frequently less expensive than private options.
This tends to come at the expense of quality.
You may have noticed that full-time students can retain a parent plan until they
turn a certain age—a few states extended the eligibility age to 30. More often,
however, students may be cast aside during their low and mid twenties. According
to a Commonwealth Fund report, about 30 percent of the nation's estimated 44.4 million
people without health insurance are 19-29 years old. This makes them the largest
group of newly uninsured. Graduates students with no income and plenty of expenditures
are not pleased. Schools do take graduate school students into consideration, but
they do so at a cost. For example, the University of Illinois Champaign insurance
policy for the 2007-2008 year is $180 for undergraduates; graduates have to pay
$256. College students do have options, but they need to be prepared.
When putting aside college funds, expect the unexpected. Scrapping together additional
529 plan money and applying for a few more scholarships may be in order.
September 27, 2007
Teaching is a reward in itself right? Maybe so, but not making enough money to live a comfortable lifestyle can sure taint that theory. Qualified primary and secondary school teachers are, and have been for a while, in high demand, especially in the Math and Sciences. They play a crucial role in educating the next generation, and they help to instill in students a sense of confidence and a love of learning. Plus, school is mandatory, and someone has to teach the classes.
The government has been trying to make teaching attractive for years, but it’s pretty hard to do without adequate financial bait. Teachers may not strike it big, but students who are still interested may be able to take advantage of certain funding incentives, especially if they choose to spend some time in low-income districts. Here are some options for current and future educators:
1. TEACH Grant: Now that President Bush has [finally] signed the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, a new teaching grant will be made available to students. The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant (TEACH) will allow students who plan to teach in-demand subjects and those who teach at low-income schools to receive $4,000 grants each college year (up to $16,000). High-demand subjects include math, science, foreign language, and special education among others. Smaller grants may also be offered to graduate school students who plan to teach.
2. Federal Perkins Loan Teacher Cancellation: Students who became teachers, counselors or librarians in primary or secondary schools may be able to cancel their Perkins loans after working in low-income areas. To be eligible, educators should teach subjects that are in high demand.
3. Educator Expense IRS Deduction: Teachers who dig into personal pockets to buy classroom equipment may be partially repaid. According to IRS regulations, teachers and educators who buy books, supplies, equipment and software used in the classroom can deduct these costs from their income. The law may expire at the end of this year so keep your fingers crossed for an extension.
4. Teach for America: Teach for America offers financial assistance to graduates who agree to teach in low-income communities for at least two years. The program is not restricted to those who plan to teach subjects that are in high-demand, and teacher certification is not required. Those who are selected will be paid by the school district, but they will also be eligible for additional AmeriCorps grants as well as temporary student loan deferments. The program is competitive so students with high GPAs and leadership experience have an edge over other applicants. Aside from the grant incentive and the feel-good factor, Teach for America experience looks great on a resume.
Like everyone else, aspiring teachers may be able to decrease college costs by applying for scholarships and grants. Awards are not restricted to teachers nor are they restricted to the select few with exceptional GPAs. As a last-case scenario, students may also take out loans to pay for a college education.
October 18, 2007
For some individuals, a large state university is the best college choice. For others, a smaller school or private college might be the best selection. Before making a final decision to attend the largest university in your state, it is a good idea to consider the pros and cons of state universities.
State University Cons
For more information on choosing the right college, major, or even roommate, visit our resources section.
July 6, 2011
Before starting school, I didn’t know very much about college life but now that I will be in school a year beyond my expected graduation date, I know what I could have done to enter the real world sooner.
At Towson, all freshmen receive class schedules assembled by the school. I didn't think to change the times of the classes (which were all at 8 a.m. Monday through Friday), nor did I research the professors. This turned out to be a huge mistake – I never was a morning person and I got stuck with some of the worst professors at Towsonmy school – as was the number of credits (12). I figured my university that I pay thousands of dollars in tuition to attend would know best, so I stuck with only 12 credits from then on. It was another oversight: Even though 12 credits is considered as full time, 12 credits is not enough to take every semester in order to graduate in four years without taking winter or summer classes. I had to figure this out myself and adjusted my class schedule accordingly.
I’m not saying you need to overload yourself with academics and never leave your dorm room – that’s not a college experience to remember! – but I am saying take as many classes as you can comfortably manage. If you have the means or have grants and scholarships, you can always take some classes over the summer or the next semester as long as it falls accordingly to your academic plan. Simply do what is best for you.
Graduating a four-year program in five years is not the end of the world but it is not something that you should shoot for, either. If you can handle five or more classes each semester, take them; you can also consider enrolling in a few online courses or opting to take a few classes pass/fail. Take what you can handle so that you can succeed.
Shari Williams is a junior at Towson University with a double major in deaf studies and broadcast journalism and a minor in entertainment, media and film. With experience in public relations, a love for music and a passion for acting, she longs to be a jack of all trades. A Baltimore native, Shari is an avid traveler and opportunity seeker. She hopes to become the next face seen on the morning news or the voice heard over the radio.
July 26, 2011
Community service is something most of us have done at one point or another. For some high schools, it’s a graduation requirement but I believe serving your community is vital whether it’s mandated or not. The good news for college students is that not only does community service help others but it can also translate into money for school.
One renown program is AmeriCorps. Several colleges and universities take part in this program, providing information and opportunities for students to get involved. Each year, AmeriCorps gives students opportunities to participate in year-long service-learning programs. If a certain amount of community service hours are acquired by the end of the year, the student is granted a stipend.
Another option is the Fulbright Program. Fulbright has an array of grants included in their U.S. Student Program to students who have studied or are studying foreign language, music, business, journalism and public health, to name a few. Fulbright is an opportunity geared more toward soon-to-be or recent college graduates looking for more experience in their fields. Students live outside the U.S. with most expenses paid and full or partial tuition awarded. A special program opportunity that Fulbright offers is the Fulbright-mtvU Awards, which provide four grants to recent graduates studying outside of the country who will conduct research on international music culture. If that sparks your interest, they have many more opportunities to apply for.
Both AmeriCorps and Fulbright are awesome opportunities and are great ways to gain valuable experience. For more information on Americorps or Fulbright, visit www.americorps.gov and US.FulbrightOnline.org, respectively, or contact your college.
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