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by Paulina Mis

In a bold move reflective of the volatile loan market, Michigan announced its decision to temporarily suspend the state-run Michigan Alternative Student Loan (MI-Loan) program. Alternative loans, otherwise known as private student loans, are often used by students to supplement federal Pell Grants and government loans.

Those who are ineligible for government aid or who don’t receive enough of it often look to alternative loans for additional funding assistance. According to the Associated Press, about 8,500 loans totaling $68 million were offered through the MI-Loan program last year.  As of Friday evening, these loans will no longer be available to students. 

In their notice, the Michigan Higher Education Student Loan Authority stated that “There is not sufficient available capital to continue making MI-Loans.” With student lenders facing the effects of a major mortgage crisis as well as subsidy cuts from the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, the pressure is on to make a profit. Numerous student lenders have already announced their plans to cut loan benefits and tighten eligibility requirements. Some have even closed their doors completely.

Michigan students eligible for MI-Loans (students attending Michigan colleges or universities) can still look to other lenders for assistance. In fact, JPMorgan Chase & Company is even decreasing their loan rates and fees. Once funding becomes available-- if funding becomes available--MI-Loans will again be an option.

To diminish their reliance on loans,  affected students can also apply for Michigan scholarships. By conducting a free college scholarship search at Scholarships.com, students from each state will have access to information about more than 2.7 million college scholarships and grants worth 19 billion.


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Puppy Love Pays for College

February 13, 2008

by Paulina Mis

Whoever said it’s a dog eat dog world must not have met the Westminister Kennel Club Dog Show bunch. As the well-behaved dogs trotted across the stage in perfect sync with their owners, it’s a wonder the negative phrase was ever associated with pups.

At the end, the multicolored beagle named Uno managed to take home the prize for this year’s Best in Show. Standing only 15 inches high, Uno rose to the occasion and proceeded to be the first of his breed to win the title since 1939. As I watched last night’s event next to my dog, I increasingly questioned my pet's behavior. Is alternately biting each leg, the tail and my pillows really satisfying?

Obviously, not all dogs can strut the runway, but that doesn’t stop owners across the nation from falling in love with them. Not only are dogs a man’s (and woman’s) best friend, but they can now help you pay for college. If you’re a lover of dogs, check out the scholarships below for some financial aid options. For additional scholarship opportunities, you may conduct a free college scholarship search at Scholarships.com.

Florida Institute of Animal Arts Scholarship

This $5,000 scholarship can help students interested in attending the Florida Institute of Animal Arts in completing their education. If you want to learn a thing or two about dog grooming, check this school out.

Dog Writers Association of America

The Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) is sponsoring a junior’s essay scholarship award for students between the ages of 18 and 22. By writing about their experiences with dogs, students can win a $500 to $1,000 scholarship.

The Psychiatric Service Dogs (PSD) Scholarship

Low income individuals with disabilities can use this scholarship to acquire and train an assistant dog. Awards are largely based on financial need.

American Kennel Club Veterinary Student Scholarship

The American Kennel Club currently offers $145,000 in scholarships to eligible veterinary school students each year. Applicants are judged on academic achievement, need and activities with purebred dogs or related research.


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by Paulina Mis

The lawsuit filed last Friday against Wheaton College officials again brings into question the policies at numerous colleges providing study-abroad programs. Though largely advertised as the opportunity of a lifetime—a way to expand the mind and experience outside cultures—the impartiality of study-abroad policies at certain schools has become increasingly dubious.

The most recent allegation in a string of study-abroad investigations is that of Mr. James P. Brady, the father of a Wheaton College alumna who studied abroad in South Africa.  According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, Mr. James P. Brady is suing the school for overcharging his daughter for her study abroad travels. Had his daughter studied at the South African college herself, the stay would have cost her roughly $17,000. Instead, Wheaton College asked the family to pay the tuition of regular undergraduate students residing at Wheaton.

Paying the South African tuition would have allowed Mr. Brady's daughter to save money in college--nearly $4,500. According to Brady, the school did not even provide additional services in exchange for Wheaton tuition and other costs. Though she did not stay at the school, his daughter was charged the full price of an education at Wheaton, including room and board. The school denied accusations of unfair billing practices stating that trip costs were clearly established beforehand.

This lawsuit is yet another blotch in the study-abroad records of colleges across the nation. Earlier this year, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo sent out numerous subpoenas to schools whose study abroad offices were suspected of unfair business practices.

Months before that, an article from The New York Times told the story of a Columbia student angry with his school for having denied him credit transfers for his work at Oxford. After traveling with an outside study abroad program, the student was upset to find that his credits would not be accepted by Columbia. While his peers received credit for their work at lesser academically-recognized schools,  the classes he completed at one of the most prestigious universities in the world would not fulfill his graduation requirements at Columbia.

The study abroad investigation continues to haunt schools across the nation. For some, the accusations are a second blow following last year’s findings of illegal incentive-based relations between student lenders and financial aid officials.  With a general search for unfair policies within the study abroad industry still in progress, the problems of colleges are far from over.

Posted Under:

College Culture , College News


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by Paulina Mis

Do you like chicken? Are you a high school senior? Then don’t waste another moment; apply for the Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) Colonel Scholarship today! Don’t worry vegetarians; you can still apply. The KFC Colonel doesn't discriminate against taste buds (though mentioning your love for KFC delicacies can’t hurt your application). 

To assist high school seniors with financial need and an entrepreneurial drive, KFC is offering numerous college scholarships. Selected seniors may receive up to $20,000 for their college education. If you’re interested, you better hurry: the deadline is right around the corner.

Prize:

1. More than 50 scholarships worth up to $20,000

Eligibility:

1. Applicant must be a High School Senior


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by Paulina Mis

There is plenty of room for college students to make a difference in the election, and many are taking it upon themselves to do just that. It is projected that political interests, registration and voting numbers for youth across the nation will be at an all-time high during the 2008 election.

According to the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, less than 50 percent of eligible voters between the ages of 18 and 29 cast their ballots in the national election of 2004. At 68, the percentage of voters ages 30 and over who did so was, unsurprisingly, greater. This year, things are expected to change.

Presidential candidates are counting on young voters for support, and they have been putting in extra effort to address their interests. To remind college students and recent grads to vote, candidates have been sending out text messages, speaking at college campuses, offering campaign internships and promoting themselves on popular student websites such as MySpace and Facebook.

While it's still a bit early for P.Diddy and his MTV Rock the Vote campaign, loyal supporters always get a head start. With locals fighting over each other to hand out presidential "pompflets" and campus supporters scrambling to student dormsteps wearing big grins excess energy, the competition has barely begun.

Posted Under:

College Culture , College News


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by Paulina Mis

On February 4th, President Bush unveiled his much criticized national budget to a frustrated Congress. Members of both parties found fault with the president for his proposal to increase funding for the military at the expense of Medicare. According to the Los Angeles Times, President Bush’s proposal could slow the growth of Medicare programs by nearly $208 billion over the next five years.

The budget for the Department of Education, on the other hand, was received with mixed reviews.  A firm advocate of scientific research, the president proposed that funds for physical-science research, much of which would go to colleges and universities, increase in the upcoming year.

While physical scientists cheered in one corner, medical researchers jeered in the other. Once again, The National Institute of Health (NIH), the primary government agency responsible for health-related research, was upset with the president's funding proposal.

After his decision to veto a bill that would increase NIH funding in November, the president's budget did not come as much of a surprise. Upon hearing last year's proposal, Bush claimed that Congress was, "acting like a teenager with a new credit card." Ironically, if Bush's budget is approved, skyrocketing national debt is expected. The current U.S. debt could more than double over the next two years if Congress chooses to accept the budget. More likely, the proposal will be stalled until President Bush leaves office.


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AFSA Scholarship Contest

February 4, 2008

by Administrator

The American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) wants to spread awareness about fire safety, and if scholarships can make that happen, they're willing to try.

The AFSA Scholarship Contest is unlike many traditional scholarship essay contests. That's because instead of writing essays, applicants will have to read them. That's right, to apply, students will have to go online and read an essay about sprinklers and fire safety. After they finish, they will be prompted to complete a ten-question quiz on what they have just read. Luckily, looking back is allowed. Those who answer incorrectly will even have the chance to fix their errors. You literally can't go wrong with this scholarship.

Prize:

1. Ten $2,000 scholarship prizes

Eligibility:

1. Applicants must be high school seniors studying in the U.S. 2. Applicants must be enrolled in a college, university or a trade school by the 2008 fall semester 3. Only one entry per student is permitted

Deadline:

April 11, 2008

Required Material:

1. Completed online exam 2. Contact information

Further details, including information about applying for the award and contacting the scholarship provider, can be found by conducting a free college scholarship search. Once a student has completed the search, this scholarship will appear in their scholarship list, provided the student is eligible.


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by Paulina Mis

Complaints about skyrocketing tuitions at four-year colleges and universities have been reverberated around the nation for quite some time—especially within the past year. Less attention has been paid to the financial difficulties at community colleges.

Even though four-year schools offer less expensive classes, they also possess fewer funds to offer students additional help in affording an education. Many universities have alumni who donate thousands, sometimes millions to their beloved alma maters. Some have accumulated endowments in excess of $1 billion. Such is rarely the case for community colleges.

According to an article published by the Associated Press, the financing problem is further compounded by the fact that community colleges are in dire need of funding for graduation rate improvement. While few four-year colleges and universities can brag about the high number of students who receive diplomas after enrolling, especially as far as undergraduate programs are concerned, rates are particularly poor at community colleges. These schools enroll 6.6 million students who seek credits or degrees (and a few more million who don’t), but many students don't accomplish their graduation or transfer goals before leaving.

The results of a Cal State Sacramento Institute for Higher Education Leadership & Policy study that tracked 520,407 community college students over a six-year period showed that only 24 percent of those seeking to graduate or earn a degree were able to do so in six years.

Community colleges find themselves in a difficult situation because they need funds to get students in and ones to get them out, with a degree. These schools receive financial aid based on the student population, so they go out of their way to make enrollment easy. Once students are in, including ones with outside jobs and those who registered late, they have trouble completing their education.

Posted Under:

College Costs , College News


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by Paulina Mis

Each year, I heard complaints about the textbook policies of my old college economics teacher. He wrote the only textbook required for class and re-released it—in a nearly identical format—annually. As a result, previous students couldn’t make money by reselling their old books, and new students couldn’t buy used books at a discounted price.

If the House passes its proposed textbook bill, universities might be forced to curb this type of practice. The new bill would make it mandatory for colleges to release course supply information in catalogs thereby giving students the chance to consider class costs before signing up and the time to search for cheaper resources.

Publishers would also have to play a part in decreasing the supply prices. The bill proposed that publishers be forced to minimize textbook costs by cutting down on attached CDs and workbooks. They would also have to publicize the wholesale costs of books and to make known the previous versions costs. If the new versions were revised, the revisions would have to be summarized. With this information, students would be better equipped to decide whether a new textbook version was worth the price.

The book addendum, a part of the House’s new version of the Higher Education Act, was not a part of the corresponding version already approved by the Senate. If the House passes this bill, Senators will again have to approve the changes.


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by Paulina Mis

Students who sign up for classes don’t always know what they’re getting into. Boring teachers aside, the work may be both overwhelming and useless. If that's the case, it may be time to get out before it’s too late. Here are some things to remember before making the final decision.

Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst Dropping classes may be the best way to avoid unnecessary work or burnout, but it sure is a pain. It takes time, sometimes money, and it nearly always causes stress. That’s why it’s best to ask around before choosing classes. Find out if any of your friends have taken the class. Is it difficult? Is it interesting? Is the teacher effective in helping students develop critical skills?

Most importantly, figure out if the class coincides with your future goals and current interests. During high school, I signed up for an accounting class thinking it would provide me with practical insight into the business world. Though business was not in my future, I thought that everyone could benefit from some business basics. After a few weeks of scribbling numbers into a never-ending stream of credit and debit columns, I raised my hand and asked the teacher if this class would prepare me for something other than accounting. Turns out, it wouldn’t. It’s too bad I didn’t know that sooner.

Give Yourself a Reality Check Difficulty is a commonly cited reason for dropping classes, and it's a perfectly good reason. It’s important to be realistic about your abilities and your schedule. When a class is just adding to your already full workload, rethink it. Being able to drop a class doesn’t make you a quitter; it makes you a realistic and mature decision maker, one that values their sanity and health.

Consider Class Importance Before dropping a class, be sure that you can afford to do so. If you’re in college, dropping a class may put you below full-time status subsequently decreasing your eligibility for a full financial aid package (both scholarships and federal student aid).

Dropping required college classes may also be troublesome. When students decide to get rid of a requisite, they may be forced to take on a heavier workload in future semesters. A heavier workload may in turn lead to scheduling difficulties caused by core courses that overlap in time.

Sometimes, a class may simply be unavoidable. Once again, be realistic when you judge. If you think you can do without the class, let it go. If you know that dropping the class will only lead to future troubles, just grin and bear it for a while.

Be Cost Conscious If you’re in high school, dropping a class will probably save you money (unless you're paying for AP classes ). Once you graduate high school, it’s a different story. Most colleges and universities fine students who drop their classes too late into the semester. That’s why it’s important for students to be aware of the costs involved in taking on classes and dropping them. If you plan to drop a class, do so before the fee deadline. If you’re worried about the costs of taking on additional classes, stick with the basics and take enrichment courses once you can afford them.

Posted Under:

College Culture , High School , Tips


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