August 5, 2008
August 8, 2008
Earlier this week, Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick asked his state's wealthiest universities (such as Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) to help bail out the Massachusetts Education Financing Authority (MEFA), which announced last week that it would not be able to provide loans to over 40,000 students this fall. However, as an article published today in The Chronicle of Higher Education explains, many parties regard this request as well-intentioned but highly problematic, mainly due to recent lawsuits and legislation regarding potential conflicts of interest in relationships between colleges and student loan providers. The Massachusetts state treasurer, who vetoed the governor's request to invest money in MEFA, stated that bailing out MEFA was not a good investment and could set a dangerous precedent for use of state funds. While several colleges said they would consider investing in MEFA to help them provide enough loans to be able to receive assistance from the federal government, none have yet said yes, and many express concerns about what people will think of their relationship with the lending agency once the economy recovers. When viewed in light of last year's preferred lender list scandal, such hesitation is understandable.
However, while both sides of this issue have adopted positions based on sound principles and the belief in doing what will ultimately be best for students, thousands of students are still left in a lurch when it comes to finding money for college. With the new Higher Education Act still sitting on President Bush's desk, and the school year fast approaching, many families, and not just ones in Massachusetts, may be struggling to find ways to pay for school. It's never too late to start applying for financial aid, though! Students who haven't yet done so should complete a FAFSA on the Web, which could potentially qualify you for federal grant programs. Once you've received your financial aid award letter, be sure to talk to your school's financial aid office, especially if you plan on receiving loans. Finally, students of all ages should also check out our free scholarship search, as there are scholarships being awarded year-round, and scholarship awards can be one of the best means of funding your education.
August 11, 2008
The Scholarship of the Week for this week is the Fleet Reserve Assocation Americanism Essay Contest, a scholarship essay contest for students in high school and junior high. Contestants need to write a scholarship-worthy essay of 350 words or less on the theme "what the United States flag stands for." Applicants should submit their completed scholarship application packet to their nearest FRA branch, which does not necessarily need to be in their home state. Essays are first judged at the local level, with winners progressing to regional and national finals.Prize:
The Grand National Prize is $15,000 U.S. Savings Bond, with $5,000, $3,000 and $2,000 Savings Bonds awarded to the first, second and third place winners in each grade category. Certificates and other prizes are awarded at the branch and regional levels, as well.
All students entering grades 7-12 in the fall, as well as home schooled students at an equivalent grade level, are eligible for this scholarship.
Entries must be postmarked by December 1, 2008.
October 12, 2007
The battle to offer students the best chance of getting out of college with both a diploma and a fighting chance at earning a living wage while paying off their student loans continues. Even those who have already reached an agreement with the New York attorney general are being subpeonad for what Cuomo terms "deceptive corporate marketing practices".
It is difficult to say whether students deserve special consideration with respect to corporate marketing practices, which, it seems to me, have been deceptive by definition for at least the last four or five decades without being placed under this kind of scrutiny. Shouldn't everyone be entitled to marketing that is not deceptive? Or should we all just continue to accept that marketers are not your friends and they tell you what they need to in order to get you to buy what they want to sell?
Of course, the initial scope of the investigation was and remains critical, as every student should be able to assume that their advisor, regardless of the institution they attend, is not a marketer. It is vital that those in the financial aid offices in all of our schools give only objective information to students that will get them through school with as little debt as possible.
Of course, there are those who claim Cuomo's crusade will ultimately harm students by causing them to distrust their advisors when the majority of them have been giving, and continue to give, good, objective advice. While I believe this to be true, I also believe it is never a bad idea to do independent research on something so important and that this statement is condescending, to say the least. Apparently students across the board, if forced to research loans for themselves, will fare poorly and pay more in loans than if they listened to those at their college or university financial aid office. In this argument it is never considered a possibility that, given the opportunity, a student and his parent might find the best possible solution to funding their education. If I were an aspiring college student or a parent of such a student, I would find this very insulting.
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.
November 16, 2007
Participating in extracurricular activities has many benefits for high school students. Joining high school clubs is a great way to meet people who share your interests and enhance your skills. Active participation in organizations such as your high school drama club, high school science club and high school computer club can also be very beneficial when you are searching for scholarship opportunities to help pay for college.
Benefits of Extracurricular Activities
The advisor for each of the high school clubs in which you hold a membership may be able to help you identify scholarship opportunities based on your extracurricular activities. A scholarship search service that matches students with scholarship programs based on their activities can be an excellent resource for locating hard-to-find scholarships based on extracurricular activity participation.
November 12, 2007
The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, a fraternal organization with over one million members, assists students in funding their education by sponsoring an annual scholarship program. This being a benevolent order, community service and leadership are taken into consideration. That means that students who don’t excel academically could make up points by helping out in the community. A total of $2,296,000 in prize money will be awarded, so don’t pass this chance up. For more information on this and other scholarships, including contact information, you may conduct a free scholarship search at Scholarships.com.
Five hundred awards ranging from $1,000 to $15,000 per year. This means that the first-prize winner will be awarded $60,000 over the course of four years!
Applicants must be U.S. citizens
Applicants must be high-school seniors who plan to enroll, full time, in an accredited 2 or 4 year U.S. college or university
January 11, 2008
October 29, 2007
It’s about time someone rewarded students for the nonacademic work they’ve been doing. The AXA Foundation, in association with U.S. News & World Report, will be offering a scholarship to students who have achieved something admirable, something nonacademic for once. While some consideration will be given to a student’s extracurricular activities, work experience and academic record, the nonacademic achievement is the central focus. But you better hurry; only the first 12,000 applicants will be considered! Okay, so maybe that’s a lot.
1. 52- $10,000 prizes (one from each state, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia) 2. 10- $15,000 prizes (to be added to the awards of the10 best state winners)
1. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or legal residents 2. Applicants must be high-school seniors who plan to enroll, full-time, in a 2 or 4 year U.S. college by the fall of 2008 3. Applicants should demonstrate excellent achievement in a school activity, in the community or in the workplace 4. Applicants must be recommended by an unrelated adult 5. Applicants cannot be the employees or direct families of employees of AXA Group, U.S. News and World Report, Scholarship America or their affiliates
December 15, 2007
1. Completed Application 2. A detailed description of the nonacademic achievement 3. Signed verification of achievement by an unrelated adult
For additional information about applying for this and other scholarship opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search at Scholarships.com.
July 29, 2008
Brazos Higher Education Service Corporation, Inc., the fourth largest holder of guaranteed student loans and the largest nonprofit loan provider, will not be able to issue new student loans to college students this fall. The company had initially announced in March that it would suspend providing Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) student loans, but after emergency legislation passed this summer to help FFELP lenders, it looked like Brazos may be able to stay in the game. However, they recently issued a news release stating they would not be able to provide new loans to students this fall, citing the short amount of time between the passage of the Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act and fall semester loan disbursement dates. "We have simply run out of time to secure financing to disburse loans as soon as they are needed," said Brazos CEO Murray Watson.
In another blow to many families' pocketbooks, the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA), the state's nonprofit student loan agency, also announced that it would be forced to suspend its student loan services in the fall. With continued uncertainty in the availability of FFELP Stafford Loans and private student loans, now more than ever students are encouraged to keep in touch with their financial aid offices, and also to explore alternate ways to find money for college. Many universities and state governments are continuing to look at adding new grant programs, with North Dakota being the latest to introduce legislation to provide a new $2000 state grant to its residents attending college in-state.
In addition to grants, scholarships remain excellent resources to pay for school. Students can conduct a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com to find out instantly which scholarship opportunities may be open to them.
January 27, 2009
It's looking like federal student financial aid will be increased in the forthcoming economic stimulus package, at least based on the legislation presented in each house of Congress in its current form. While the House stimulus bill contains more aid for education, the Senate bill also proposes higher education tax benefits and increases in Federal Pell Grant funding.
The House bill promises:
The Senate bill appropriates:
The House bill also includes money to improve financial aid administration and further assist student loan lenders, while the Senate bill will allow computers to be counted as education expenses towards which 529 plans can be used. The bills are facing some Republican opposition, especially regarding education spending, as it's been argued that construction projects and increases to student financial aid will not directly and immediately benefit the economy. As Congress and the White House continue to hash out the details of these bills, amounts are likely to change. But for now, it appears that colleges and college students may receive a little extra financial aid from the government this year.
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