October 10, 2007
August 23, 2007
Effective October 15, 2007, College Board will no longer accept student loan applications. College Board, best known for administering the SAT and AP tests, announced its decision to leave the lender industry on August 22nd. In a press release, College Board stated that legislation aimed at curbing unethical relations between lenders and colleges made it too difficult to cover costs associated with education professional meetings.
The legislation was created as a result of findings that numerous lenders made payments to colleges in exchange for spots on college preferred lender lists. Legislation included a more concrete definition of a lending institution—which categorized College Board as a lender—and restrictions on lender payments to financial aid officials. Although College Board does not itself lend money to students, it receives payments from lenders for allowing students to sign up. As it is now considered a lender, it can no longer offer funds to the financial aid officials it works with.
The meetings College Board convenes for education professionals are now subject to strict regulations. Under new rules, College Board would no longer be able to reimburse members for travel and lodging expenses. Edna Johnson, a College Board spokeswoman stated, “If we no longer reimburse the educators, then only those educators from schools, colleges and universities with the financial resources to pay for the travel and the accommodation would attend.” The meetings held by College Board include discussions of practices for assisting families in paying for an education and tactics for effective administration of financial aid programs.
The new decision is likely to affect lenders more than it does College Board and the students who search for financial aid. According to the Washington Post, College Board issued 74,000 loans valued at $400 million in 2007, and the year is not over. However, less than 1 percent of College Board’s revenue comes from the lending sector.
Students who signed up with College Board aren’t the losers in this decision either. Those who wish to take out loans with companies represented by College Board may still do so by contacting lenders directly. They may be forced to do some extra research, but that’s a good thing.
July 20, 2007
On Friday June 20, the Senate approved the Higher Education Access Act of 2007 by a vote of 78-18. The bill, if approved by the House, would increase Pell Grant eligibility and lower government subsidies to outside lenders. The House passed a similar proposal—the College Reduction Act of 2007—in June, making a compromise on both versions likely. The overarching theme of the bill was an increase in government aid to students and, at the same time, a decrease in aid provided to student lenders.
Lowered subsidies would likely result in increased interest rates for students who take out loans from lenders outside of the government. Government loans offer students the best interest rates, but such loans also have smaller borrowing limits. Many students end up looking to lenders subsidized by the government for additional aid. While interest rates on subsidized loans are not as favorable as those offered by the government, they are still more favorable than those offered by private, unsubsidized lenders.
According to MarketWatch, the new bill could save the government up to $15.4 billion by 2012. The bill’s sponsor, Senator Edward Kennedy, D-Mass, was enthusiastic about the approval stating, "The passage of the Higher Education Access Act tonight was a victory not only for students and their families, but for the American people. With this new congress we made education a national priority again, and we’ve given the next generation the tools they need to compete in the global economy."
Fortunately for student borrowers, the bill did address worries about lender rate increases. Cuts on outside lender subsidies were also accompanied by increased caps on government loans as well as by increased laxity on government loan eligibility requirements. These changes are likely to benefit students who don’t borrow much. For those that do, effects will depend on just how much more the government is willing to lend and on how much outside lenders will choose to charge after cuts.
Students still have a lot to cheer about. The biggest perk of the Higher Education Access Act is its proposal to increase government grant offers. Free money is the best kind. Like scholarships, grants provide students with aid that need not be repaid. If the bill is enacted, the government would increase the amounts of Pell Grants a student may receive to a maximum $5,100. It would also alter the formula used to determine grant eligibility in a way that would lessen restrictions on financial circumstances required for grant reception.
Additional bill provisions include loan forgiveness options for borrowers who work in areas of public service for ten years, a cap on monthly loan payments required of students, and the establishment of a program that would increase competition between lenders. If the bill passes, the enactment may be expected within the next few months.
Posted By Scholarships.com to Scholarships.com Blog at 7/20/2007 09:57:00 AM
August 31, 2007
College Board has been dealt another big blow. Just days after it was revealed they
had bought their way into spots on preferred-lender lists, College Board announced
a drop in SAT scores. College Board, a nonprofit organization that administers the
SAT and AP tests, announced on August 28th that the average combined scores for
2007 graduates dropped by 1 point in critical reading and by 3 points in math and
writing. Since 1967, average reading scores dropped by 41 points and math scores
by 1 point (writing scores were not reported). College Board stressed the positive
saying that more students, minorities in particular, were taking the test.
Earlier this year, the SAT was scrutinized after research released by the University
of California revealed that the correlation between high school grades and SAT scores
may not be as accurate as once thought. Although the test was a good indicator of
first-year grades, the following three did not match up. Eventually, ambitious students
adjusted to the University of California’s difficult curriculum, regardless of initial
The study was a continuation of a 2003 study which showed that SAT performance was
better than GPA in predicting first-year college performance. Apparently, after
catching up with the 80,000 students sampled, things had changed. In fact, findings
showed that the longer students attended college, the greater the value in using
high school grades as a means of predicting future performance. Such findings indicate
that the strong correlation between SAT scores and socioeconomic factors is eventually
watered down. The implications of this research are yet unclear. It is, however,
becoming clear that the SAT may not be as good of an indicator of college performance
as was once thought.
The question of whether the SAT & ACT tests should continue to be administered
was one of two issues addressed in Scholarships.com’s annual Resolve to Evolve essay
contest (the second dealt with the population’s effect on the environment.) To read
what students had to say, you can visit the Scholarships.com 2007 Resolve to Evolve Award Winners page. To find sample questions and advice on preparing
for standardized tests, you may visit the Resources section at Scholarships.com.
December 12, 2007
Yesterday New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced his settlement with student loan consolidation company Student Financial Services Inc. (SFS) over offers of kickbacks to athletic departments. The lender had given money to school athletic departments in exchange for the right to use their official symbols on forms and advertisements. The school contracts allowed for the use of school and team names, colors, mascots and logos, thereby creating the impression that SFS was the official lender of the school. According to the settlement, SFS agreed to break ties with these colleges and universities, most of which were Division 1 NCAA schools.
“Student loan companies incorporate school insignia and colors into advertisements because they know students are more likely to trust a lender if its loan appears to be approved by their college,” stated Cuomo. “We cannot allow lenders to exploit this trust with deceptive, co-branded marketing.”
Under the new code, SFS agreed to end its loan-related contracts with 63 schools, including Georgetown University, Florida State University and the University of Kansas, as well as with five sports marketers, including ESPN Regional Television, Inc. The lender also agreed to tout the importance of informed loan decision making by organizing campaigns to be featured in the schools’ leading newspapers. The lender would no longer be able to pay for student referrals nor could it organize contests with financial prizes for students.
Cuomo’s settlement is part of an ongoing investigation aimed at ridding financial aid offices of illegal and immoral lender marketing tactics. So far, the attorney general has settled with twelve student lenders for such relations and collected $13.7 million in lender money to go to the National Education Fund, a fund dedicated to educating students about their financial aid options.
December 14, 2007
In a move that’s both impressive and grossly irritating to poor students across the nation, Harvard University announced on Tuesday its intent to improve the financial aid packages of well-off students. Of course that’s not how they announced it. According to the Harvard Crimson (the university newspaper), the Dean of Admissions William Fitzsimmons proudly declared that the aid would allow students to pursue careers in public service without fear of outstanding debt--as if that's the ultimate goal of most Harvard graduates.
In 2006, Harvard eliminated contribution requirements for students whose families made less than $60,000 per year. It has taken things one step further this year by increasing the amount of financial aid offered to students whose household income was greater than that. Mr. Fitzsimmons stated that families making between $60,000 and $200,000 were in a state of “crisis” when it came to finding money for college.
Hmmm…Crisis eh? That’s quite a hyperbole, especially when one considers the rising number of students who leave school with debt that exceeds $100,000. I somehow don’t feel bad for people making $200,000 each year, and I definitely don’t subscribe to the fact that they are going through a crisis. According to the 2006 U.S. Census Bureau, the median (not average) income in the U.S. is $48,201 and only 19 percent of households make over $100,000. Double that and the word crisis does not apply.
Under Harvard's new plan, families with incomes between $60,000 and $120,000 per year will soon be expected to pay 0-10 percent of their income for an education. Those making between $120,000 and $180,000 will be expected to pay 10 percent of that amount. To put things in perspective, the sticker price for the Harvard package is $45,620, and a family making $180,000 will pay 39 percent of that.
After reading the article, Harvard graduate Andrew Kalloch offered his thoughts on the news in a letter to the editors, “I wear old T-shirts, and they suit me just fine. Others wear designer clothing and there is nothing wrong with that. What is wrong is asking alumni to contribute to the embarrassment of riches already bestowed upon the American upper class.”
I'm not saying we should begrudge any students their financial aid, popped collars or not. After all, low or nonexistent tuition would be a deserved dream come true for most hard working students. It's just a bit disconcerting that myriad students with incomes far below those acknowledged by Harvard are burdened by student loans, and no one is giving them a reasonable piece of the pie.
December 18, 2007
December 19, 2007
The whole “college graduates earn $1 million more than non graduates over their lifetime” stat is getting a bit trite. I’ll give you a few more if you’re not convinced that college is a worthwhile investment.
College graduates enjoy greater career security
College graduates can offer their children a more secure financial future
College graduates are healthier
College graduates are more likely to contribute to society
Anyway, you get the picture. The problem isn’t that the whole “follow your dreams” thing makes no sense. The problem is affording those dreams and affording the time and preparation it takes to follow them. Most of us don’t make enough money to loll around devoting our days to perfecting our sculpting skills and sharpening our 3 point shots. Even those with less risky dreams can’t always afford to test the waters, especially if the schooling required to get those jobs is too expensive and time consuming. That’s why so many students find themselves having to compromise their initial career goals after realizing their dream jobs won’t allow them to pay off student loans. Let’s just say that the need for qualified teachers isn’t caused by a disinterested public.
Sorry, I didn’t mean to be gloomy. I swear there’s a silver lining. Financial aid in the form of government grants and outside scholarships is readily available to students in difficult situations. Without a cloud of college debt hanging over your head, “The Road Not Taken” may suddenly become an option. The financial aid information found at Scholarships.com will help you familiarize yourself with the FAFSA, government grants, corporate scholarships, private scholarships, the ins and outs of student loans and myriad other financial aid opportunities. Whether you’re interested in preliminary information or ready to get down to business by finding scholarships, we can help you do it.
If you’re not convinced, you can take a tour of our site. Visit our homepage, and take a sort of “Tour de Scholarships.com” if you will. We can help you see how conducting a free college scholarship search will help you find scholarships and grants that, based on the information you provide, you're eligible to receive. Find New York scholarships, scholarships for graduate students, scholarships for minorities, poetry scholarships, music scholarships—you name it, we’ve got it. With information about more than 2.7 million scholarships and grants, Scholarships.com offers more than you’ll know what to do with. If you’re not convinced yet, just take the tour. Like the search, it’s free. You’ve got nothing to lose, and a world of financial aid opportunities to gain.
January 8, 2008
With the Iowa election safely behind us, U.S. citizens will soon come to realize that the rest of the country also gets to vote. Yes, it’s true. Citizens in the other forty-nine states can also voice their opinions on key issues. And if Bill Gates has it his way (and he’s been doing well so far), education will be one of those issues.
By donating $30 million to the bipartisan group Strong American Schools, the billionaire is hoping to make education a central matter in the 2008 election. With Bill’s $30 million and another $30 million to its name, the Strong American Schools “Ed in ‘08” effort is hoping to draw some attention, regardless of victorious party.
"Ed in ’08 " hopes that the future president will work to increase teacher salaries, extend school days (I probably lost some of you there) and decrease dropout rates. In addition to helping primary and secondary school students and educators, "Ed in '08 " will help students complete a college education. A total of $50,000 in college scholarships will be given away by Strong American Schools to help students in need of financial aid.
This is not the first donation Gates has made to educational efforts. His Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has given away more than $3.6 billion in education grants. That doesn't take into account the billions it contributed to global development and health improvement efforts. Bill Gates scholarships have provided students across the nation with the money they needed to receive a postsecondary education.
For additional information about scholarships offered by Bill Gates and other providers, you can conduct a free college scholarship at Scholarships.com.
January 10, 2008
When word spread that Harvard would increase financial aid to both the middle and upper classes, tensions boiled at schools across the country. It was bad enough that Harvard attracted the best and the brightest from every nook and cranny—now they would be inexpensive too. Some guys have all the luck.
To be fair, Duke did beat Harvard in the financial aid race by being the first to announce their plan to pour an extra $13 million into the financial aid program, but their promise was simply not as impressive as the one offered by Harvard. When Duke capped their student loans to prevent debt, Harvard eliminated loans altogether—and replaced them with scholarships.
After Duke announced that parental contributions would no longer be expected from families who made less than $60,000, Harvard (which had already established that policy in 2006), announced that families making between $60,000 and $120,000 would only be required to contribute 0-10 percent of their income. Those making between $120,000 and $180,000 would only have to pay 10 percent of it.
Shortly thereafter, Stanford jumped on the bandwagon by saying that they too would do more to make their school affordable. According to The Stafford Daily, the school made plans to increase their need-based aid by 15.2 percent. The change would save the average parent $2,000 each year.
The trickle down effect also influenced other schools. Among those with New Year’s resolutions involving financial aid boosts are the University of Pennsylvania, Tufts, Haverford and Swarthmore.
Of course, not everyone gets to benefit. It’s easy to be a philanthropist when you have large endowments in the bank, which not all schools can boast. Students at colleges and universities with less money or larger student bodies were not as satisfied with their financial aid offices. According to The Michigan Daily, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor would not only leave their policies as they are, they would continue—like many other colleges—to raise their prices. So much for that financial aid revolution we've all been waiting for.
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