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by Paulina Mis

Nervous about economic turmoil and the uncertainty associated with oversized college loans, students are increasingly turning to community colleges for a low-cost alternative to a postsecondary education. Though certainly lower in cost, some students still need assistance in affording local schools. According to a recent study conducted by the Project on Student Debt, federal loans are not always an option for these students.

Based on the report, 20 percent of community college students living in eight states do not have access to low-interest federal loans. In Georgia, the state which fared worst, about 60 percent of community colleges did not participate in the federal loan program. Throughout the nation, the problem was most severe in low-income areas where students were most likely to seek out federal student aid in the form of loans.

After interviewing administrators at nonparticipating schools, it was found that the most cited reason for not taking part in the program was a fear that high default rates would lead to sanctions on Pell Grant disbursements to students. According to federal regulations, colleges with student default rates that exceed 25 percent for three consecutive years lose the ability to disburse the Pell Grant, a form of need-based federal aid that does not need to be repaid.

Capped at $4,310 for the 2007-2008 school year, the Pell Grant frequently suffices in making community college an option for students, especially those who work while attending school. However, the size of the grant is based on a student’s Expect Family Contribution (EFC) as determined by information provided on one's FAFSA, and many complain that the form does not take into account special circumstances that could result in a student’s inability to contribute the full expected amount. Families who receive no federal assistance in the form of a Pell Grant and those who receive an insufficient amount may be forced to take out more expensive private loans to attend. If ineligible, they may have to work until college is an affordable option.


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by Scholarships.com Staff

Even the most disciplined and well-intentioned parents may have a hard time saving for their child’s college education. To assist parents and students in their search for college funding resources, Oxy has created a college sweepstakes with some hefty awards.

By applying, parents will be entered to win one of eleven prizes ranging in size between $5,000 and $25,000. Because the awards will be offered in the form of 529 Plan contributions, they will continue to grow tax free.  With no essay required, this one is worth a try. For more information about this and other college scholarships and grants, you may conduct a free college scholarship search.

Prize:

1. One $25,000 529 Plan contributio 2. Five $10,000 529 Plan contributions 3. Five $5,000 529 Plan contributions

Eligibility:

1. Applicant must be 18 years old or older or must be a parent of a child who is between 13-19 years of age between April 1, 2008 and September 28, 2008 2. Applicant must be a legal US resident

Deadline:

September 29, 2008 by 3:00 PM ET

Required Material:

1. Online or postal mail registration


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Full Tuition Scholarships

April 15, 2008

by Paulina Mis

Applying for a number of small scholarships is a great way to accumulate financial aid for college, but some students prefer to go straight for the big fish. Rather than follow the, “a penny saved is a penny earned” mantra, they prefer to abide by the, "go for the gold" one. 

Whether you are the former or the latter, plenty of scholarship opportunities are available to you. But be advised, the bigger the award, the bigger the competition. Students who find information about a big-ticket scholarship frequently opt for that rather than spend time on one which, in comparison, looks like a conciliatory prize.

If you’re looking for top awards, check out the full ride scholarships listed below. For more information about college scholarships and grants you may be eligible to receive, try conducting a free college scholarship search.  If you are looking for full tuition scholarships granted  by your current or future college or university---most award a handful of them--- try visiting  their financial aid office websites. You may conduct a free college search to find these websites along with estimated costs of attendance.

The Tom Joyner Foundation Full Ride Scholarship

The Tom Joyner Foundation Full Ride Scholarship will be awarded to a freshman entering a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) in the United States. A full tuition waiver as well as a stipend covering room, board and books will be offered.

Microsoft College Career Scholarship 

A one-year, full tuition scholarship will be awarded to winners of the annual Microsoft College Career Scholarship. Financial aid will be offered to students who major in computer science, computer engineering, or a related technical discipline such as electrical engineering, math, or physics. Applicants must be undergraduate students who maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Posse Scholarship

The Posse Foundation awards full tuition merit scholarships to students who plan to attend one of its partner schools. Winning high school students are trained in multicultural teams called “Posses” to successfully complete programs at top-tier colleges and universities.

Hertz Fellowship

The Hertz Foundation awards students a full tuition renewable grant plus a stipend of up to $31,000. The award is merit-based and offered to students pursuing a Ph.D. in the applied physical and engineering sciences or modern biology with physical science applications.

The USDA/1890 National Scholars Program

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and 1890 Historically Black Land-Grant Universities are collaborating on a scholarship program for students who attend one of the 1890 Historically Black Land-Grant Universities. Full tuition, room and board, employment with the USDA during the summer and after graduation, fees and books will be covered.


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College Fellowships

April 14, 2008

by Paulina Mis

Because graduate and professional school students are no longer eligible for Pell Grants, they must search elsewhere for financial assistance. A common option is the fellowship--a financial aid opportunity created to help graduate students obtain their degree.

Master, doctoral and professional school candidates who demonstrate both merit and dedication are the most common recipients of fellowships. When searching for this type of aid, students are unlikely to come across awards that mirror the goofy, unusual duck tape outfit or left-handed student scholarships. More often than not, fellowships are geared towards students who are serious about their work—ones who display resolve and passion in their respective fields. They are commonly awarded to individuals who plan to conduct research in a certain field or to ones who plan to begin a career in a subject designated by the fellowship provider.

Below are a few examples of fellowship opportunities you may be eligible to receive. Many awards are conferred annually, so check back for updated deadlines. For additional information about financial aid options, try conducting a free college scholarship search.

AACC International Fellowship

The foundation previously known as the American Association of Cereal Chemists (AACC) is awarding fellowships in the amounts of $2,000, $2,500 and $3,000 to students who conduct research directly related to grain-based food science or technology. Students must be pursuing an MS or Ph.D. degree to be eligible.

Department of Homeland Security Fellowship

Tuition, fees and a stipend of $2,300 per month for 12 months will be awarded to graduate students whose thesis deals with science, technology, engineering or math as they relate to homeland security. Applicants must be US citizens and must have a minimum 3.3 GPA on a 4.0 scale.

Richard Morris Hunt Fellowship

Architects pursuing a career in historic preservation may be eligible to win $25,000 in stipend money. Winners from France and the US will practice preservation technologies in each other’s countries over a six month span.

Fellowship for Minority Doctoral Students

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) will award fellowships to minority doctoral students who display potential for becoming accounting educators. Renewable fellowships of up to $12,000 will be given away each year. 

American Graduate Fellowships

Students working towards a doctoral degree in the humanities and attending one of the 23 leading independent research universities in the U.S., Great Britain or Ireland may be eligible to receive a fellowship of up to $50,000. History, philosophy, literature, languages and the fine arts are among eligible fields


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by Paulina Mis

Among the many complaints voiced by students in need of federal aid are those concerning insufficient Pell Grant awards and a lack of consideration for students who are smart, but not exactly the braniac kind of smart. These are valid worries, and while they have not been tended to fully, the SMART Grant is a start.

Approved by the Senate in late December of 2005, the relatively new SMART Grant allows students who have demonstrated financial need to receive over and above their annual Pell Grant limit.  Eligible students may receive up to $4,000 in SMART Grant money just by filling out a FAFSA.

Because the SMART Grant has been largely overshadowed by the more common and better-known Pell Grant, many students are unfamiliar with the  award. The SMART Grant can more than double a student's grant money, but there are a number of stipulations that considerably narrow the eligibility pool.

To be eligible for the SMART Grant, students must have already demonstrated sufficient financial need and must have been eligible for the Pell Grant. But that in itself is not enough. Students must also be majoring in the physical, life, or computer sciences, mathematics, technology, engineering or in a foreign language determined critical to national security. To show that they are dedicated to graduating with a degree in one of the aforementioned fields, students must have already completed the first two years of their undergraduate program—while maintaining at minimum 3.0 GPA. Additionally, students must be enrolled full time and must be taking at least one course required for the completion of their major during the term the grant is received.

Assuming the student meets all of the above criteria, the SMART Grant can make a big difference in an individual's ability to cover college costs. A Pell Grant award may not exceed $3,410 for the 2007-2008 schools year, an amount unlikely to cover annual college tuition, let alone fees and living expenses. An extra $4,000 would certainly make a difference.


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Federal Direct Loans

April 10, 2008

by Paulina Mis

With a growing number of lenders leaving the FFEL Program, the Direct Loan Program has been receiving additional attention from schools and from the media. Unlike the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program, the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, more commonly known as the Direct Loan Program, allows students to borrow money directly from the government.

Each program has its advantages, but schools have more frequently opted for the FFEL. About eighty percent of colleges and universities process their loans through the FFEL Program, one which involves working with lenders who are subsidized by the government. With the student loan market quickly souring, numerous schools are rethinking their decisions and scrambling to find a new plan, the Direct Loan one.

Students whose schools process loans through the Direct Loan Program are less likely to receive financial perks often provided by FFEL lenders, but then again, FFEL lenders staying with the program are cutting back on these anyway. The lack of administrative assistance offered to schools participating in the Direct Loan Program may make it less appealing to financial aid officials, but to those taking out PLUS loans, the program is promising. 

Although the government has capped Perkins and Stafford loans at 5 and 6.8 percent respectively, caps on PLUS loans are lower under the Direct Loan program than they are under the FFEL one. If they borrow from the government, graduate students and parents eligible for PLUS loans may pay no more than 7.9 percent in interest. If they borrow from FFEL lenders, they may pay as much as 8.5 percent.  The actual interest paid will depend on the chosen FFEL lender, but don't hold your breath for a good deal.

To eliminate or lessen the burden felt by students who borrow from the government or from outside lenders, families should consider applying for scholarships and grants. For information about scholarship and grant opportunities you may be eligible to receive, try conducting a free college scholarship search.


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by Paulina Mis

You’ve seen them before, the shiny cars standing in the mall, the slot boxes covered in pictures of dollar bills and palm trees. That’s right, they’re sweepstakes—easy money. Unlike most scholarship essays, sweepstakes involve little to no effort. Requirements may be as minute as an email or a postal address.

Sweepstakes are definitely a breeze, but they are a competitive breeze. Just about everything that entails little work and big money is. The young and old love sweepstakes like a kid loves cake. Some become addicted, spending hours on end rummaging through sites in search of contest opportunities.

While students should by no means rely solely on their luck to fund college, legitimate contests may be worth a shot. Someone will win the prize, and you just may be that lucky someone. For college sweepstakes that may help you afford an education, check out the links below. To find college scholarships and grants that are a bit more reliable, try conducting a free college scholarship search

Scholarships.com "Tell A Friend" $1,000 Sweepstakes (New Winners Announced Every Three Months!)

Coca-Cola & Chuck E. Cheese’s $25,000 College Scholarship Sweepstakes

Academic Finance Corporation (AFC) $50K Giveaway Scholarship Sweepstakes

SuntTrust Off to College Scholarship Sweepstakes

Wells Fargo CollegeSTEPS Program & Scholarship Sweepstakes

$100,000 Oxy Cash for College Sweepstakes

TI-84 Plus Silver Edition Prep for College Sweepstakes

What’s Your Freedom Quotient Sweepstakes


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by Paulina Mis

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an excellent opportunity for students in need of college funding. It may be tedious to fill out, but those who receive financial aid will be glad they did. Before submitting, students should review their applications for completeness, accuracy and, of course, deadlines. The June 30th federal cutoff may be months away, but often overlooked state and college deadlines are not.

In addition to federal aid such as Pell Grants, Federal Work Study and loans, students may receive state and college aid based on the information provided in their FAFSA. To be eligible for assistance from one's state and school, students must meet federal, state and college deadlines.

Many states set closing dates between the months of March and May, so students should act quickly. The FAFSA deadlines for individual states are listed below, and college ones can be found by contacting the financial aid office at one's college or university of choice.

State Deadlines

Alabama  Check with your financial aid administrator Alaska  April 15, 2008 American Samoa  Check with your financial aid administrator Arizona  June 30, 2009 Arkansas For Academic Challenge - June 1, 2008; For Workforce Grant, check with your financial aid  administrator;For Higher Education Opportunity Grant - June 1, 2008 (fall term); November 1, 2008 (spring term) California For initial awards - March 2, 2008; For additional community college awards - September 2, 2008 - date postmarked Colorado  Check with your financial aid administrator Connecticut  February 15, 2008 Delaware  April 15, 2008 District of Columbia  June 30, 2008 Federated States of Micronesia  Check with your financial aid administrator Florida  May 15, 2008 Georgia  Check with your financial aid administrator Guam  Check with your financial aid administrator Hawaii  Check with you financial aid administrator Idaho  March 1, 2008  Illinois  First-time applicants - September 30, 2008 Continuing applicants - August 15, 2008 Indiana  March 10, 2008 Iowa  July 1, 2008 Kansas  April 1, 2008 Kentucky  March 15, 2008 Louisiana  July 1, 2008 Maine  May 1, 2008 Marshall Islands  Check with your financial aid administrator Maryland  March 1, 2008 Massachusetts  May 1, 2008 Michigan  March 1, 2008 Minnesota  30 days after term starts Mississippi  MTAG and MESG Grants - September 15, 2008 HELP Scholarship - March 31, 2008 Missouri  April 1, 2008 Montana  March 1, 2008 Nebraska  Check with your financial aid administrator Nevada  Check with your financial aid administrator New Hampshire  May 1, 2008 New Jersey  June 1, 2008 if you received a Tuition Aid Grant in 2007-2008 All other applications - October 1, 2008, for fall and spring terms; March 1, 2009, for spring term only New Mexico  Check with your financial aid administrator New York  May 1, 2009 North Carolina  March 15, 2008  North Dakota  March 15, 2008 Northern Mariana Islands  Check with your financial aid administrator Ohio  October 1, 2008 Oklahoma  April 15, 2008 for best consideration Oregon  Check with your financial aid administrator Palau  Check with your financial aid administrator Pennsylvania  All 2007-2008 State Grant and non State Grant recipients in degree programs- May 1, 2008; All other applicants - August 1, 2008 Puerto Rico  Check with your financial aid administrator Rhode Island  March 1, 2008 South Carolina  Tuition Grants - June 30, 2008 South Dakota  Check with your financial aid administrator Tennessee  For State Grant - March 1, 2008; For State Lottery - September 1, 2008 Texas  Check with your financial aid administrator U.S. Virgin Islands  Check with your financial aid administrator Utah  Check with your financial aid administrator Vermont  Check with your financial aid administrator Virginia  Check with your financial aid administrator Washington  Check with your financial aid administrator West Virginia  March 1, 2008 Wisconsin  Check with your financial aid administrator Wyoming  Check with your financial aid administrator

(State deadlines provided by the Department of Education)


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by Paulina Mis

Are you in the mood for easy money? Well you came to the right place. Coca-Cola, NCAA and Chuck. E Cheese have recently teamed up to give away scholarship money, and they're making it really easy to apply. Because this is more of a college sweepstakes than it is a college scholarship, registration from an eligible applicant is the only requirement.

By applying, students (or parents applying on behalf of students) will be entered into two contests, the College Bound Scholarship and the Instant Win Game. The winner of the College Bound contest will be randomly selected to win $25,000 in scholarship money. Those who win the Instant Win Game will receive one of numerous sponsor-brand prizes.

For more information about this and other college scholarships and grants, you may conduct a free college scholarship search. If you are eligible to receive this scholarship, you will find the application and contact details in the “My Scholarships” section.

Prize:

1. One $25,000 scholarship 2. One hundred POWERade Sweatshirts 3. One hundred Wilson NCAA basketballs 4. One hundred fold-out chairs 5. One hundred Coke Zero t-shirts 6. Two hundred POWERade sports bags

Eligibility:

1. Applicant must be 18 years old or older 2. Applicant must be a resident of the 50 United States, District of Columbia or Canada 3. Applicant may not be an employee, child or immediate sibling of employees of Coca-Cola, NCAA or Chuck E. Cheese. 4. Each applicant may only enter 1 time per day

Deadline:

May 1, 2008 at 11:59 p.m. ET

Required Material:

1. Online registration


Comments

by Paulina Mis

Deciphering the rewards one receives after filling out a FAFSA may be just as difficult as filling out the form itself. Students who plan to take advantage of government loans must pay particular attention to Award Letters detailing their financial aid options.

One of the difficulties associated with taking out government Stafford or PLUS Loans is understanding the differences between the two programs that administer them, the Direct Student Loan Program and the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program. Students should be aware that although federal Stafford and PLUS Loans may be taken out through either program, the interest rates and conditions may differ based on which is used.

If the college or university participates in the Direct Loan Program, students will borrow money directly from the government at rates that, if the loan is a PLUS Loan, may be slightly lower than those offered through the FFEL program. If the school participates in the FFEL Program, students will be borrowing from a lender they have chosen to work with. 

While certain schools participate in both of these programs, about 80 percent of the time, a student will be borrowing through the FFEL program. If a student is taking out only Stafford Loans, the differences are slim. Because lenders participating in the FFEL Program are subsidized by the government, they have to abide by a rule that states all Stafford Loans taken out on or after July 1, 2006 will have interest rates fixed at 6.8 percent.

However, students who also take out a PLUS Loan (a loan offered to parents and graduate students), the interest rates and repayment plans may differ based on program and lender. Students whose parents have borrowed through the Direct Loan Program on or after July 1, 2006 will have their PLUS Loan interest rates fixed at 7.9 percent. If the PLUS Loan is borrowed through the FFEL program, the interest rate may be no greater than 8.5 percent. Individual lenders will choose whether they will set their interest rates at this or a lower number.

It is important that students who borrow through the FFEL Program take more than interest rates into consideration when choosing a lender. Details such as the length or repayment and the penalties for late payments should be considered. Some lenders also offer financial perks to students who have good payment histories, and these should also be taken into account. Usually, schools will provide students with a list of preferred lenders to help them sift through their options, but students should also take other lenders into consideration. While students can trust most financial aid offices to provide them with the most affordable and best-rated lender suggestions, incidences of financial relationships between schools and lenders  suggest that students should also conduct some research of their own. 

For more information about federal aid, students can take a look at the Scholarships.com Resources section. To find information about scholarships opportunities, students can complete a free college scholarship search.

Posted Under:

FAFSA , Financial Aid , Student Loans


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