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SOTW: National WWII Museum Student Essay Contest

February 3, 2014

SOTW: National WWII Museum Student Essay Contest

by Suada Kolovic

This year, The National WWII Museum asks: How did you plan to achieve success in the face of the unknown?

On June 6, 2014 the world will celebrate the 70th Anniversary of D-Day, the Allied invasion to liberate Europe from Nazi rule. To commemorate the importance of this event, The National WWII Museum asks you to think about a time in your life where you have had to make important plans for success in spite of uncertainty.

For your essay, think about a time when you’ve had to plan for something important in your future. How did you plan to achieve success in the face of the unknown? How did you handle any challenges to reach your goal? How does your story connect to those of other people, past and present, who have had to face and overcome tremendous odds to obtain their goal? Use WWII as a starting point and base your essay in part on America’s involvement in WWII. But don’t stop in the past. Use specific examples from your own experiences that support your ideas. This is not a research paper. Your essay will be judged foremost for its originality, clarity of expression, and adherence to contest theme, as well as its historical accuracy, grammar, spelling, and punctuation. The National WWII Museum staff will read and evaluate entries.

The National WWII Museum is accepting entries through March 28th. If you are interested in learning more about this or other scholarship opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search today!

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Tennessee Governor Proposes Free Community College

February 4, 2014

Tennessee Governor Proposes Free Community College

by Suada Kolovic

When considering the true cost of a college education, students must remember to factor in not only tuition but mandatory fees, room and board, books, supplies and living expenses. That is unless you're from Tennessee, where the governor has proposed free community college for all high school graduates. That’s right: All high school graduates in the state would have the option to attend a community or technical college for two years for free!

On Monday, Gov. William E. Haslam proposed using money from the Tennessee Education Lottery to fund an endowment that would cover all tuition and fees to two-year institutions for all graduating high school seniors. The proposal forms the centerpiece of his effort to increase the number of college graduates in Tennessee. "We are committed to making a clear statement to families that education beyond high school is a priority in the state of Tennessee," Haslam said. "Tennessee will be the only state in the country to offer our high school graduates two years of community college with no tuition or fees along with the support of dedicated mentors." In addition to the Tennessee Promise proposal, the governor laid out several other educational polices, including an expansion of a program meant to reduce the need for remedial math courses and a program to encourage high school students to take dual-enrollment courses. (For more on this story, click here.)

With the cost of a college education still on the rise, what do you think of Haslam’s proposal? Should all states that participate in the lottery consider this option? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

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Colleges Accused of Misleading Students About Financial Aid Applications

February 7, 2014

Colleges Accused of Misleading Students About Financial Aid Applications

by Suada Kolovic

Figuring out how you're going to pay for your college education can be daunting. And while no one would argue that filling out the FAFSA is an important piece of the financial aid puzzle, it seems that some colleges might be making the process more complicated...and costly.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland alleged this week that more than 100 universities – including dozens of elite and Ivy League institutions – may be violating the law by telling potential applicants that they have to spend money filling out an unnecessary form. In a letter to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Cummings said 111 universities required a financial aid form developed by the College Board to be considered for any financial aid. Fifty-eight of the schools told applicants that they had to submit the $25 PROFILE form "in order to secure any type of financial aid, including federal student aid," Cummings wrote. The other 53 directed applicants to "submit both the FAFSA and the PROFILE to obtain federal financial aid, although they do not clarify what each form is used to assess." And while Cummings insists that these schools appear to be in violation of the Higher Education Act, some college officials have defended their use of PROFILE, stating that because it takes into account factors the FAFSA doesn't — like home equity and some business income — it allows universities to make fairer decisions on who needs aid the most. Meanwhile, Cummings has requested a meeting with Duncan to figure out what steps need to be taken to ensure that colleges are not creating unnecessary barriers to federal assistance. (For more on this story, click here.)

With all the outrageous fees students already must endure, what do you think of universities adding an additional one? Are you for filling out a form that costs you $25 if there is a chance you might get additional aid or against forking up more money than necessary? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

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How to Maximize Your Financial Aid Package

February 13, 2014

How to Maximize Your Financial Aid Package

by Suada Kolovic

Figuring out the bottom line when it comes to the cost of your college education is definitely a stressful part of the process. With everything that goes into determining your financial aid package (your parents’ income, your earnings and your family’s net assets), it’s important to understand that merit aid – aid based on a student’s attributes (academics, athletics, extracurriculars, etc.) – is available to student regardless of their “need.” New federal rules are blurring the distinction between scholarships awarded on merit and grants awarded because of a student’s financial need – for instance, a growing number of colleges now award “need-based” aid to students from families earning six figures! Who would have thunk it?! So, we’ve compiled a few helpful tips to maximize your chances for merit aid and increase your overall financial aid package.

  • Fill out the FAFSA. Federal rules have changed. College aid officials are now allowed to award need-based aid to students whose parents earned decent salaries last year but have recently been laid off, as well as make accommodations for a family’s unique circumstances, such as high medical bills.
  • Apply to schools where you’d rank at the top. While your dream school might be an Ivy League, you should apply to at least a few colleges where your GPA would put you in the top 25 percent of the student body.
  • Apply to schools that offer generous need-based aid. In the 2009-10 academic year, Louisiana College reported that 88 percent of students were receiving non-need based financial aid. Do the schools you’re considering boast the same kind of aid?
  • Do the research. If you’re interested in a college, find out what it has to offer when it comes to merit aid. You might qualify for more awards than you think!
  • Before making a final decision, compare net prices. Consider the cost of attendance in its entirety including tuition and fees, room and board, books and transportation. The school that offers the most in merit aid might not be the best choice; sometimes the college offering the largest merit scholarship might have the highest net price because its tuition is higher.
  • Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Believe it or not, you have negotiating leverage when it comes to your merit aid package. If you have received admission letters from two or more universities and your first choice has a higher net price than your second choice, contact that institution! Some schools might be willing to match the merit aid offered, which would provide you the opportunity to attend your first choice school for less money!
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Which Colleges Are Worth the Sticker Price?

Colleges with the Highest Return on Your Investment

March 28, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

With all this talk about possible Pell Grant cuts, acceptance rates plummeting and universities facing serious tuition hikes, which schools are worth the outrageous sticker price of about $200,000? According to PayScale.com’s annual survey of colleges with the highest return on investment rates, Harvey Mudd College tops the list with a 8.8% annual return. PayScale.com’s data is pulled from 1.4 million pay reports from persons who obtained bachelor's degrees in the last 20 years, for more on their methodology click here. Check out who made the cut below:

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Teen Sues Parents for Tuition, Expenses

March 4, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

High school students, as you move further into your senior year and really start making decisions that will shape your future – what college you'll attend, how you'll fund this endeavor and what you’ll possibly major in – it dawns on you: “OMG, I’m officially an adult.” And with that realization comes the fact that very soon, you'll no longer (legally) be the responsibility of your parents. Well, not everyone is willing to accept that as their reality: A New Jersey teenager who was financially cut off following her 18th birthday is suing her parents for immediate support, current private school fees and future college tuition.

For months, Rachel Canning has been living with the family of her best friend and classmate, Jaime Inglesino, whose father, attorney John Inglesino, is bankrolling Rachel's lawsuit. Rachel, an honor student who plans on becoming a biochemical engineer, has asked the court to order her parents to pay an overdue $5,306 bill from Morris Catholic High School, finance her living and transport expenses, and grant her access to an existing college fund. Her father, Lincoln Park town administrator and retired police officer Sean Canning, says that his daughter would not abide by a set of household rules and was therefore cut off financially. "She's demanding that we pay her bills, but she doesn't want to live at home. We're heartbroken, but what do you do when a child says, 'I don't want your rules, but I want everything under the sun and you to pay for it?'" (For more on this story, click here.)

While it's not unheard of for young adults to take legal action against their parents, what do you think Rachel's case? Should parents be financially responsible for their child's college education? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

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Attention Students: 4 Warning Signs You’re Headed for Student Loan Default

September 3, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

With September officially upon us, millions of students across the country are heading back to college. With all the fun and excitement that goes into the fall semester, however, some may not have ironed out one major detail: how they're going to pay for it. For most college students – even those with impressive financial aid packages – loans are a necessary piece in their financial aid puzzle. And with college graduation and loan repayments coming up faster than you think, it's important to understand the warning signs that you may be headed toward defaulting on your student loans. Check out U.S. News and World Report's four warnings to heed below:

  1. You don’t know when your first payment is due: If you borrowed student loans, you are responsible for knowing when your payments begin, how much they are and where to send them...even if you don’t receive any notices with these details.
  2. You dropped some classes or dropped out of school: One common reason why some borrowers don’t know when their first payment is due is that they didn’t realize their repayment grace period was already winding down. For federal student loans, the grace period kicks in when students drop below half-time enrollment. Keep in mind that half-time enrollment is defined differently from school to school. And if you've left school altogether, you are still required to repay any loans you borrowed.
  3. You can’t afford your payments: The student loan grace period gives borrowers some time to figure things out before repayment begins...but you may still be looking for work or barely able to cover your living expenses (let alone expensive loan payments) after that period expires. If you borrowed federal student loans, you may be able to select a payment plan that decreases the amount you pay each month, perhaps based on how much money you make.
  4. You think you already defaulted: Borrowers often confuse delinquency and default. If you miss a few payments, your loan is likely delinquent and you can still do things to avoid the consequences. If you have defaulted, don’t give up! You can pull your loan into good standing by paying it in full, consolidating it or through rehabilitation.

For more tips on repaying your student loans and borrowing responsibly, head over to our Financial Aid section. And don’t forget to try and fund your education with as much free money as possible – a great place to start is by creating a free profile on Scholarships.com!

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On the Hunt for Merit Aid? Apply Here!

September 16, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

Here at Scholarships.com, we stress the importance of paying for your college education the best way we know how: with free money in the form of scholarships! And while scholarships might not fully cover your tuition and expenses, college applicants who aren't deemed financially needy in terms of their FAFSA should consider the importance of merit aid. It can make a huge difference in the schools they can realistically afford and students and families seeking this extra financial aid boost should consider researching schools more likely to dispense merit-based awards.

But with so many colleges and universities across the country, which ones are the best financial bets? Help has arrived in the form of U.S. News & World Report, which has compiled a list of the schools that awarded the highest percentage of merit-based funding to non-needy students during the 2013-14 academic year. (The stats do not include financially needy students who were given merit aid or students who received athletic scholarships or other tuition breaks.) Take a look:

High school students, does this data have you looking at these schools in a new light? Current college students attending one of the schools listed above, did merit aid make the difference as to whether or not you enrolled? Share your thoughts in the comments section. And as always, don’t forget to create a free Scholarships.com profile to get a personalized list of scholarship opportunities!

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Register and Win $500 from Scholarships.com

New Winner Every Month!

December 1, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

Looking for a way to pay for your college education that includes free money? Well, you’re in luck! Here at Scholarships.com, we provide users with the most relevant scholarships and educational information out there.

By registering at Scholarships.com, you’ll have access to more than 2.7 million local, state and national college scholarships and grants worth $1.9 billion...and did we mention that you’ll be eligible to win $500 automatically just for registering? That’s right: Filling out a complete profile will enter you into our monthly drawing for $500. No lengthy essay or massive application packet required – it doesn't get any easier than that. Complete your profile, get entered to win $500 and start exploring additional scholarship options today!

For more information and official rules, please click here. For more information on finding money for college and how to properly fund your college education, check out Scholarships.com Financial Aid section and conduct a free scholarship search today!

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Five Questions to Consider When Visiting Prospective Colleges

October 21, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

Show of hands, students: How many of you have known where you wanted to go to college for years? That’s a lot of you...but how many of you have visited said dream school and had a serious change of heart? Iiiiiinteresting.

Visiting colleges is an important part of the college selection process. It provides students the unique opportunity to experience the campus firsthand because while a college may look good on paper, seeing it for yourself will go a long way in determining if it’s right for you. Now before you start scheduling campus visits, the Huffington Post has compiled a list of questions to keep in mind once you’re there:

  • Which colleges should you visit? Research college websites to learn about curriculum, areas of specialty, activities and even arrange to attend upcoming events taking place at that school. Consider the campus setting/environment, size of the student body and what they’re offering in terms of financial aid and prioritize schools based on your wants and needs.
  • When should a student start visiting colleges? Starting the college visitation process as early as 9th grade is essential given the stakes and array of choices. Since admissions requirements and deadlines vary a great deal among colleges, getting an early start is a must. A student needs to see colleges and prepare early to increase their chances of being competitive.
  • What to do when you visit colleges? Get an overall view of the college through a campus tour and information session. Explore the college on your own for a better picture of what it has to offer. Sit in on classes related to your major, talk to current students about the school and campus life (and ask if they would attend the same college again), spend time in high-traffic areas to help envision yourself as part of the community and visit key areas/organizations of personal interest.
  • How do you make a great college fit as affordable as possible? It is important to be aware that there can be a huge tuition difference among colleges that are private, in state and out of state so be sure to research and apply for financial aid.
  • Examine job prospects of recent graduates. Get the statistics on how recent graduates are fairing in the current job market; consider what the average return on investment for certain majors, too.

Are there any tips you’d like to add? If so, please share them in the comments section. For more information on campus visits, visit our Resources section. And don't forget to try and fund your college education with as much free money as possible – a great place to start is by creating a free profile on Scholarships.com. (Our scholarship search allows you to search more than 2.7 million college scholarships and grants worth more than $1.9 billion!)

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