October 6, 2008
May 27, 2009
Loan forgiveness programs have been helping encourage students to enter careers in fields like education and nursing for years. Such programs are typically offered by state student loan agencies or non-profit organizations, and are often well-publicized to prospective college students. In many cases, students have borrowed liberally, banking on having a substantial portion of their student loans forgiven after five or ten years of work in their field. But budget cuts and stock market woes have been forcing agencies to make cuts to their loan forgiveness programs, in some cases almost entirely eliminating them.
Kentucky, Iowa, California, and New Hampshire are some of the states that have made changes to loan forgiveness programs, according to The New York Times. Even if you don't live in one of these states, if you're banking on having your student loan debt forgiven after you graduate college, you may want to see what guarantees there are that your state's program will still exist in its present form. Make sure you know how much of what you borrow you can expect to repay, even in a worst case scenario.
Regardless of repayment and forgiveness options, it's still a good idea to minimize your borrowing by finding scholarships and practicing good money management. Nursing scholarships and education scholarships are out there, as are numerous other scholarship opportunities. There are also several federal loan forgiveness programs for teachers, nurses, and other public service employees.
June 2, 2009
Last week, we blogged about states and loan companies making cuts to student loan forgiveness programs. The New York Times initially ran a piece on these budget cuts and has followed up this week with a chart of state loan forgiveness programs and their current financial status. If you're planning on using one of these programs to cancel some of your student debt after college, you can head over to their website to see if your program is among those facing potential budget cuts. If you don't see it listed, The New York Times is encouraging people to contact state and local loan forgiveness programs and report back with details.
While many state programs are facing cuts, federal loan forgiveness programs have expanded in recent years. New federal options include a public service loan forgiveness program and a repayment plan set to debut next month that will forgive students' remaining balances of federal student loans after 25 years of income-based payments. Congress has also approved more funding for Americorps, which can help volunteers pay for school. Cancellation programs for Perkins Loans may also become more popular if an expansion to the Perkins Loan program is approved in the 2010 federal budget.
Regardless of the state of your loan repayment and forgiveness options, keep in mind there is free money out there. Grants and scholarships are available for virtually every student based on any number of characteristics and criteria. For example, many groups offer nursing scholarships and education scholarships, among other major-specific awards. To find out more, do a free college scholarship search.
September 16, 2009
While it is important to make sure you choose a career in a field you would be happy and fulfilled in, it doesn't hurt to do a little investigating as part of your college search before you make your decision to see which jobs are in high demand and recession-proof. Positions with nationwide shortages in fields such as nursing and education, especially in low-income and rural communities, also often come with a wider net of scholarship and grant opportunities as incentives to attract new students. And the college-bound are taking notice.
Many students once set on careers in business or real estate have begun reconsidering those decisions for safer options in the health care, information technology and "green" industries. Others who have already been through college but have been laid off in their intended careers are using the layoffs as a reason to return to school for more training in their fields or to launch brand new careers. A recent Reuters article described the story of an out-of-work mortgage broker struggling with the effects of a weak housing market who was going back to school to become an accountant.
Lower-cost, flexible options like community colleges can also help you get the job skills and career opportunities that remain in demand in a tough economy, and make you a more viable candidate when the job market improves. Over the last year, enrollments at community colleges have increased by as much as 25 percent, according to the American Association of Community Colleges, with many of those new students adult learners. A recent article in the The Chronicle of Higher Education described the new role of the two-year institutions as launching pads to get into jobs in local industries still hiring in a struggling economy. Macomb Community College, for example, has shifted its focus from preparing workers for jobs in the local automotive industry - a very uncertain field - to positions as nursing home aides and graphic designers.
Some words of caution: No amount of job security will make up for pursuing a career you dislike, so make sure that if you are considering going into a field for economic reasons that it's balanced with what you see yourself doing once the job market improves. If you're undecided about majors, take a variety of general education requirements so you get a good idea of what you like about one field over another. Good writing, math and science skills translate into a number of job opportunities, so even if you don't stick to positions in your major once you're out of school, a background in those subjects would be helpful. If you really are passionate about a particular field and can't see yourself doing anything else, the economy won't be struggling forever, so chances are that even if you do go into a riskier field things may have turned around by the time you graduate.
In our last part of the series tomorrow, we'll look at reasons to think positive despite the economy, and offer tips for recent graduates.
July 22, 2011
Student nurses beware. According to the Associated Press, a ring of bogus nursing schools in New York defrauded students out of a total of $6-million and in return gave them worthless certifications.
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said the five schools in Brooklyn, Queens and on Long Island ripped off students – mostly Caribbean immigrants. Prosecutors say some of the schools even coordinated with a nursing program in Jamaica to provide fraudulent documents. "These conspirators intentionally targeted people in pursuit of new opportunities, lining their pockets with others' hard-earned money," Schneiderman said in a statement.
Eleven people who owned or operated the schools were indicted and eight were arrested. According to an indictment unsealed in Brooklyn state Supreme Court, the defendants falsely claimed that students who completed the programs would be eligible to take the New York State Nursing Board Exam to become registered or licensed practical nurses. How much did the bogus nursing school cost unsuspecting students? Students paid $7,000 to $20,000 to take part in the program. The slight silver lining, the attorney general's office says four of the schools have been shut down and authorities are seeking to close the fifth.
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