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Ivy League Students Avoid Student Debt Crisis

September 11, 2013

Ivy League Students Avoid Student Debt Crisis

by Suada Kolovic

Despite the hefty sticker price associated with all Ivy League institutions, estimated yearly costs are actually quite affordable. In fact, Ivy Leaguers graduate with less debt than their peers who attended less prestigious schools. How? Turns out healthy endowment funds play a huge role in aiding low-income, middle-income and even upper-income students with tuition costs. Score!

According to statistics from U.S. News & World Report, many of the best colleges in the county are relative steals for the lucky few who earn admission. For example, Princeton University students graduate with about $5,096 of debt for all four years – the lowest sum for alumni leaving a national university with debt. Amy Laitinen, a former White House education adviser now at the New America Foundation, said, "Folks look at the sticker price and assume that's what everyone is paying. The truth is that the more elite schools have more resources."

But with acceptance rates hovering at less than 10 percent, gaining access to those Ivy League dollars is fiercely competitive. Do you think it’s fair for students who don’t meet the Ivies’ steep admissions standards to be saddled with crippling debt or should the few that do be rewarded with an affordable, brand name education? Let us know what you think in the comments section.

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Hundreds of Colleges Still Accepting Applications

May 9, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

High school seniors, are you down about not getting a fat envelope from any of the colleges you applied to? College students, are you looking to transfer from your existing institution? Don’t freak out: There are hundreds of colleges that are still accepting applications.

According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling's (NACAC) annual College Openings Update, 270 schools are still accepting applications for freshmen and transfers as of May 9th. The list is comprised of schools that didn’t fill all open spots for next year’s freshman class, are seeking transfer students or have enrollment deposit deadlines later than the May 1st norm. While the majority of schools on the list are small, private colleges with enrollment between 1,000 and 5,000 students, there are a few large, public institutions on the list, too. Check out a sampling below:

For the full list of colleges still accepting applications, click here. Will you be taking advantage of this helpful resource?

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Graduate School to Ask Applicants’ Sexual Identity

October 29, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

The Graduate School at Northwestern University will join Elmhurst College, the University of Iowa, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a handful of law schools as it begins asking applicants about their sexual orientation.

According to The Graduate School, this question has been added to its application to gain a clearer understanding of the school's community and to better serve all in the school. “It's important for us, but also for others to move in this direction, as well," said school dean Dwight McBride in a statement. "If we don't ask the question, we are not building a data archive and, therefore, have no way of knowing what the needs of our populations and subpopulations in our communities are – beyond guessing and anecdote." It's important to note that answering the question will be optional and will specifically ask whether applicants self-identify as a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer/questioning (LGBTQ) community. (Northwestern University does not pose the question on its undergraduate application.) For now, school spokeswoman Josie Whetstone said LGBTQ groups on campus have greeted the news without criticism, most likely because it’s an optional inquiry. (For more of this story, click here.)

What are your thoughts on more universities asking students about their sexual identity? Do you think it's necessary or beneficial to the LGBTQ community? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

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High School in Oregon May Make College Acceptance Graduation Requirement

October 15, 2013

High School in Oregon May Make College Acceptance Graduation Requirement

by Suada Kolovic

For most high school students, senior year is chock-full with college to-dos. From finalizing where you'll go and what you'll study to applying for scholarships and getting your financial aid in order, the list is quite long but what about those students who don't have their sights set on college after graduation? If you're a student at a high school in Oregon, gaining acceptance into a post-secondary institution will soon be a prerequisite for graduating regardless of your stance on obtaining a college education.

Corbett School District Superintendent Randy Trani's proposal would require each student to be admitted into an institution of higher education but they would not be obligated to attend. He went on to explain that the requirement would not stop a student from graduating since all Oregon high school graduates are eligible for spots at local community colleges as long as they apply. The district school board will vote on the proposal in December with many expecting it to pass. Interestingly enough, some are suggesting an ulterior motive for the modification: According to an editorial piece in The Oregonian, there is speculation that the proposal would help the prestigious high school maintain its current standing – fifth best high school in the nation – on Newsweek’s Best High Schools list. (Having a 100-percent college acceptance rate would undoubtedly increase their ranking, even if every student was “accepted” into non-selective community colleges.) Trani is quick to discredit that claim and told the editorial board that the plan was “just one step among many we’ve been taking for 10 years. We want to make this change so kids have more choice.” (For more on this story, click here.)

If the high school is requiring a student to be admitted into a college but not attend, what purpose do you think it might serve the student? Let us know in the comments section.

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GWU Admits Considering Financial Need in Admissions

October 22, 2013

GWU Admits Considering Financial Need in Admissions

by Suada Kolovic

With so much riding on whether or not you get in, applying for college can cause even the most confident students some serious anxiety. And with so many factors to consider like high school rankings, SAT/ACT scores, GPAs and community service hours, it’s important to understand that more often than not, colleges are also factoring in a student’s ability to pay...even when they say they’re not. Insert outrage here.

Just last Friday, George Washington University’s website claimed to evaluate applicants without considering their financial need (also known as a need-blind admissions approach) but now they’re clarifying that policy: It now reads that while applications are first reviewed without consideration of need, “at the point of finalizing admissions decisions, we must balance a student’s financial resources with the university’s aid budget. This practice of being need-aware allows us to meet as much need of as many students as possible.” Why the sudden transparency, GWU? Turns out that the school’s new senior associate provost for enrollment management’s recent interview with The GW Hatchet revealed that she characterized the university’s policy as need-aware as opposed to need-blind. The problem? By being need-aware for years and suggesting otherwise, the university appears to not only have violated the Statement of Principles of Good Practice of the National Association for College Admission Counseling but encouraged low-income students to apply (and pay a hefty application fee!) on the false pretense that the university was need-blind. (For more on this story, click here.)

The ability to pay for college has long been a major factor when it comes to gaining admission but to blatantly advertise otherwise is undeniably uncool. What do you think of GWU’s current predicament? Should the university face serious repercussions? Let us know in the comments section.

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How Much Is The Application Fee?!

Top 25 Highest Application Fees

January 3, 2014

How Much Is The Application Fee?!

by Suada Kolovic

Sure, we’ve discussed the skyrocketing cost of college tuition on a daily basis and considering every other add-on you’ll have to endure when it comes to paying for college – room and board, books and supplies – having to pay an outrageous application fee is downright cruel.

According to the U.S. News & World Report, the average application fee to apply to colleges is $38.39, which is a steal compared to the fees charged by the institutions listed below. At the top 28 schools with the highest application costs, the average application fee is $77! Check out the list below and share your thoughts. Let us know if these hefty fees will ultimately decide where you’ll apply.

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President, FLOTUS Push for More Access to Higher Education for Low-Income Students

January 21, 2014

President, FLOTUS Push for More Access to Higher Education for Low-Income Students

by Suada Kolovic

Higher education has always been a top priority for President Barack Obama. Back in February 2009, he told Congress, “By 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.” Five years later, whether or not we as a nation will achieve that benchmark remains unseen but he believes that reaching out to low-income students may be just the key to getting there.

On Thursday, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama met with more than 80 college presidents and dozens of nonprofits committed to raising the number of low-income students who attend college. “We want to restore the essential promise of opportunity and upward mobility that’s at the heart of America,” he told the group. "To that end, young people, low-income students in particular, must have access to a college education." The participating schools have agreed to take action in one of four areas: connecting young people to schools that are right for them; early intervention to ensure a larger pool of students prepare for college; more college advising and test preparation; and more on-campus remedial education. And while President Obama’s various education initiatives are ambitious, it doesn’t appear to be lost on him that there is much more work to be done to get college degrees in the hands of more American students, regardless of their economic class. (For more on this story, click here.)

What do you think of the President’s education push? Let us know in the comments section.

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Knock, Knock. Who’s There? Your Admissions Essay.

More Colleges Posing Offbeat Essay Questions

February 26, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

When you envisioned your college application process, I’m sure you thought you were more than prepared. This was the moment you were told to draw on your strengths and articulate every achievement – countless community service hours, a stellar GPA and the fact that you were senior class president – and every sentence would be so perfectly and meticulously thought out that who you were would just leap right off the page. You prepared your answer on why you belonged at your dream college and pinpointed what you had to offer...until you reviewed the actual application and found a serious curveball: I doubt you expected a joke could get you in!

In addition to traditional essay prompts, more and more institutions are jumping on the unconventional question bandwagon and are interested knowing not only why students want to gain admission but just how creative they can be when challenged. Here are some far-from-average questions schools are asking this year:

University of Chicago

  • Tell us your favorite joke and try to explain the joke without ruining it.
  • How are apples and oranges supposed to be compared? Possible answers involve, but are not limited to, statistics, chemistry, physics, linguistics, and philosophy.

University of Virginia

  • What’s your favorite word and why?
  • “To tweet or not to tweet.”

Brandeis University

  • You are required to spend the next year of your life in either the past or the future. What year would you travel to and why?

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • What do you hope to find over the rainbow?
  • Why do you do what you do?

Wake Forest University

  • Give us your top ten list.

Soon-to-be college applicants, what do you think of this approach to the admissions essay? Are you a fan of the challenge or frustrated by the fact that you are expected to impress them with your achievements and extracurricular activities and be witty, too?

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This Year’s Quirkiest College Admissions Essay Prompts

More Colleges Posing Offbeat Essay Questions

March 3, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

When you envisioned your college application process, I'm sure you thought you were more than prepared. This was the moment you were told to draw on your strengths and articulate every achievement – countless community service hours, a stellar GPA and the fact that you were senior class president – and every sentence would be so perfectly and meticulously thought out that who you are would just leap right off the page. You prepared your answer on why you belonged at your dream college and pinpointed what you had to offer...until you reviewed the actual application and found a serious curveball: I doubt you expected celebrating your nerdy side could get you in!

In addition to traditional essay prompts, more and more institutions are jumping on the unconventional question bandwagon and are interested in knowing not only why students want to gain admission but just how creative they can be when challenged. Here are some far-from-average questions schools are asking this year:

Tufts University

Celebrate your nerdy side.

University of Chicago

What's so odd about odd numbers?

Lehigh University

You’ve just reached your one millionth hit on your YouTube video. What is the video about?

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

You were just invited to speak at the White House. Write your speech.

University of Notre Dame

A good story starts with a good beginning. Get us hooked in the first 150 words.

University of Richmond

Tell us about spiders.

Soon-to-be college applicants, what do you think of this approach to the admissions essay? Are you a fan of the challenge or frustrated by the fact that you are expected to impress them with your achievements and extracurricular activities and be witty, too? Share your thoughts in the comments section. And if you're interested in learning more about applying for college and the application essay, check out our College Prep section. While you're there, conduct a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com for a complete list of scholarships that are personalized to you!

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New Book Takes on Graduation Rates at State Colleges

September 10, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

A new book is shedding light on graduation rates at state colleges, and also causing a stir with its findings and recommendations. The book, Crossing the Finish Line: Completing College at America's Public Universities, was written by William G. Bowen, a former president of Princeton University, Michael S. McPherson, a former president of Macalester College, and Matthew M. Chingos, a graduate student at Harvard University. It shows many of the nation's top public schools are coming up short when it comes to graduating students in four years, especially low-income and minority students.

The book analyzes the four-year and six-year graduation rates of students at 21 flagship universities and 47 four-year public universities in Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia.  Among the findings, the authors reveal that flagship universities, typically the most competitive and prestigious in their state university systems, graduate only 49 percent of their students in four years, with other state colleges having even less success.  The six-year graduation rates for both sets of schools are better, but vary widely based on several factors discussed in the book.

Disparities by common demographic factors, namely race and socioeconomic status, were found in the research for the book, and were most pronounced among male students. However, the most striking differences come in terms of schools' selectivity. Some of these disparities include:

  • Graduation rates of 82-89% for the most selective and second most selective categories of schools and most competitive category of students (3.5+ high school GPA and 1200+ SAT score), but graduation rates of only 59% for the same category of students at the least selective schools.
  • Graduation rates of above 70% for all students at the most selective schools, regardless of GPA or test scores.
  • The disparity between the graduation rates of the most and least competitive students at the least selective schools was only 11 percentage points, while the disparity between students of similar ability at schools of different selectivity ranged 21 to 30 percentage points.
  • The least competitive group of students (GPA of less than 3.0 and/or SAT of less than 1000) did better at the most selective schools (71% graduation rate) than the most competitive students did at the least selective schools (59% graduation rate).

These results have many questioning the effectiveness of academic scholarships and other merit-based aid, especially in light of the University of Texas at Austin's recent decision to stop sponsoring the National Merit Scholarship Program. More so, though, they have experts, including the book's authors, wondering what is causing this disparity in graduation rates.

Price plays a huge role for students of low socioeconomic status, pushing them to attend the least expensive (and often least selective) schools or to opt out of four-year colleges entirely. Rising costs also could play a role in dropout rates among poorer students, so the availability of financial aid for all four years is crucial to graduation.

One of the biggest problems identified in the book is a phenomenon dubbed "under-matching." Highly qualified students are aiming low in the college application process, attending less selective schools with lower graduation rates when they could easily be accepted to and graduate from more selective schools with higher graduation rates. Students most likely to under-match are low socioeconomic status students whose parents did not attend or did not graduate from college. The higher a student's income and parents' level of education, the less likely the student is to under-match.

Based on this information, the authors suggest that schools focus their efforts on encouraging students to graduate in four years and to remain in school until they graduate. Keeping tuition low is a part of this, as are readjusting requirements to make graduating in four years more doable and, above all else, making it clear that students are expected to graduate in four years.

Graduation rates are gaining attention from other corners, as well. Washington Monthly included graduation rates in their recently released college rankings, and another study published this summer by the American Enterprise Institute compared graduation rates at colleges.The Education Department is also doing its part to make information on graduation rates available to students who complete the FAFSA on the Web.

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