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by Paulina Mis

Kathy L. Hardy, her two daughters and two other associates are being charged for having allegedly taken out numerous fraudulent private student loans since 2005. The five women were accused of having received a combined sum of more than $690,000 by filling out over 70 student loan applications, reported U.S. News.

Though many of the loan applications were denied, a number of lenders, including Sallie Mae, the biggest student lender in the business, lent tens of thousands to the applicants. By using stolen Social Security numbers and the information of victims whose names resembled their own, the five women were able to slip by lender verifications.

The FBI's investigation into the matter began when one of the victims complained that someone had taken out a loan under her name. Upon further investigation, it was found that the women alleged to have been at fault had stolen numerous identities—including one that belong to a deceased person—to collect money.

The case raised concerns that the stealing of identities to obtain private student loans may be too simple. Because private student loans are easier to obtain than Federal Stafford and Perkins Loans, and because private student loans are not sent directly to colleges and universities, the potential for fraud may be considerable.

To minimize the chance that similar problems will arise in the future, a congressional provision that would force student lenders to forward loans directly to schools is being considered.  The suggestion has received mixed reviews from lenders who, one hand, would like to eliminate the possibility of fraud, and, on the other, want to facilitate the borrowing process for potential customers.


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by Paulina Mis

On Tuesday, a Senate panel approved a budget that would increase, among other things, the Pell Grant funding for the 2009 school year. Currently, students who demonstrate financial need—as determined by a Department of Education's FAFSA calculation—can receive no more than $4,300 in Pell Grant money, but not all eligible students receive the full sum.   For the upcoming year, the Pell Grant cap will be $4,731. If the Senate panel’s budget is approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee and by the Senate, students could be eligible for up to $4,800.

According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, the Senate panel’s bill would also provide new funding for the TRIO program, a seven-part financial aid initiative created to aid students from disadvantaged backgrounds and those facing circumstances that might hinder their academic pursuits. Additionally, it would provide colleges and universities with more money to pay for the Perkins Loan forgiveness program, one wherein colleges cancel the loans of students who enter select public service fields.

Today, the new initiative will move from the Senate panel to the Senate Appropriations Committee, and, if approved, it will be voted on by the Senate. Any differences between the Senate and House versions will have to be ironed out, and, only then, will President Bush have the option of signing.


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by Paulina Mis

Senior year is a breeze right? Yeah right. Between homework, standardized testing, applications and internships, things couldn’t be further from the truth. And for those of you who decide to enroll in advanced placement classes, things could get hectic. But you will get through it, and you can do so successfully. The tips below may help you manage the schedule you have and obtain the grades you want.

Don’t ignore the second semester. After all applications are sent out, once the preliminary acceptance letters are received, it’s easy to breathe a sigh of relief. Unfortunately, AP classes are still in session during the second semester, and pushing through these final months can make or break your scores. Advanced Placement classes require serious effort; obtain the rewards that accompany them.

Prioritize test material. Most teachers will, to some extent, emphasize test material during class discussions. They know that AP classes are difficult, and they want you to succeed on final exams. Take note when you hear that something may show up on the test. Ultimately, you only have so much time in your schedule, and, if you can’t learn everything, at least learn what you need to know to earn a passing score.

AP first.  All classes are important, but AP ones offer college credit potential.  Therefore, when possible, address assignments dealing with these classes first. Once you have applied to schools, your overall GPA won’t be a major issue—assuming it does not drop drastically—but AP scores will. If you can’t give all classes full attention, at least address the ones that can lessen your college workload.

Posted Under:

GPA , High School


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by Paulina Mis

On February 14, 2008, five students were killed in a shooting at the Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. It was the fourth-worst university shooting in the history of the United States, following the Virginia Tech massacre, the University of Texas Clock Tower shooting, and the California State University massacre. As surprising and mystifying as the crime was, donors from across the country have made one thing clear—the victims will not be forgotten.

To honor those who were killed, scholarship providers large and small have pulled together $500,000 to create a scholarship for students of NIU, and more donations are expected. The new scholarship fund will be called “Forward, Together Forward,” a line from the university's Huskie Fight Song, stated the Associated Press. Nearly 1,500 donors have pitched in to establish the fund—without solicitations.

The university plans to award five scholarships each year, to be granted on the annual anniversary of the shooting. The first scholarships will be awarded on Valentines Day of 2009. According to The Northern Star, Northern University’s student newspaper, winners are expected to receive about $4,000 each and will be selected by a provost-designated scholarship board.

The new scholarship fund will help students significantly decrease the costs of their education, especially now that an increase in NIU tuition has been announced. During the 2008-2009 school year, college rates will increase by about 9.5 percent.Those who receive the scholarships will be able to both meet and exceed the increase. Further details about the award are expected in the coming months.


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by Paulina Mis

The True Patriot Network, publisher of “The True Patriot" pamphlet, is awarding a college scholarship to students who write the best response to the question, "What does true patriotism mean to you?" The providers of this award are dedicated to instilling in current politics the founding moral framework of America—regardless of party association---and hope to increase student involvement in politics. High school students interested in furthering their knowledge of the government, and in applying for this essay scholarship, may be eligible to win $25,000 for their postsecondary education.

Prize:

1. $25,000

Eligibility:

1. Applicant must be a high school student. 2. Applicant must be residing in the US. 3. Applications must be submitted in MS Word, in 12 point type, and must be double spaced. 4. Each essay page must include a name, title and contact information.

Deadline:

September 1, 2008

Required Material:

1. An essay of no more than 1500 words answering the question, “What does true patriotism mean to you?”

Further details about the application process can be found by conducting a free college scholarship search. Once the search is completed, students eligible for the award will find it in their scholarship search results.


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by Paulina Mis

It’s one of the first pieces of advice future college students receive—don’t live with your friends. I beg to differ. Whoever began this vicious rumor—I hate to be the bearer of bad news—was probably a poor roommate to begin with. Yes, living with a friend may lead to sporadic tensions, but so will living with anyone. And the pros of sharing a space with someone you already know generally outweigh the cons. Here are few reasons why living with a friend may actually be a good thing.

You Can Practice Your Social Skills.   College is a great time to practice your communal living habits. Unless you plan to spend the rest of your days on a parents’ couch, you will move out someday—probably with someone you care about. Living with a friend will teach you how to compromise and to respect the space of someone you would like to maintain a relationship with. If you know that you can easily ditch your roommate the following year, putting forth a serious effort may be more difficult.

You Know What You’re Getting Into. Going on a year-long blind date may seem exciting---at first. Sure, things often work, but when they don't, roommate problems can get ugly. Even if you're not completely familiar with your friend’s nonexistent sanitary habits—though you've probably been tipped off at some point—to some extent, you'll know what to expect. Things could be much worse. I've seen a roommate who stayed inside a one-bedroom dorm 24-7 playing videogames, one who left trash bags in their roommate’s bedroom after a party (not to mention the dirty plates that lined the hallway) and a few who decided that their significant others would make the perfect third party.

You Can Create a Stronger Bond. Yes, you bond with high school friends, but it’s just not the same as living with them. Even when things get awkward, when you’re mad but don’t want to talk about it, living with each other will bring you closer. You may not realize it until you've moved out, but once things are all said and done, you’ll be able to reminisce about what you went through and hold debates about who was most obnoxious.

Posted Under:

College Culture


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by Paulina Mis

The House of Representatives plans to vote today on the latest version of the GI Bill, a law aimed at increasing the college financial aid awarded to veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The Associated Press stated that Congress and the White House have reached an agreement on the bill's provisions, and that approval by the House and the President is expected.

Initially, the members of the House expressed disapproval of a major provision that would pay for not only veteran needs, but also for the war in Iraq. Rather than pass both portions of the bill as was done by the Senate--based on its version--the House ignored the Iraq allocation and agreed to set money aside for veterans pursuing a college education.

When the bill came back to the House for revision, a new agreement was settled upon, and approval of Bush’s request for an additional $162 billion to pay for the wars is expected. As before, the House has agreed to offer veterans who participated in the war for at least three years enough money to cover the costs of tuition at the most expensive college or university in their state, with additional funds to cover living expenses. The value of maximum benefits will more than double the current contribution for each veteran's college education, reported the Associated Press.

Though most agree that some additional funding should be awarded to keep up with the increasing costs of a college education, ones that are rising at rates that outpace inflation, some worry that too much was being allocated for the cause. Conservative Democrats have expressed concern that the bill could not be covered by cutting funding to other sectors, and that the bill was irresponsible considering the nation’s financial circumstances.


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by Scholarships.com Staff

It’s no secret that the lives of an increasing number of college and high school students are filled with errands, homework assignments, social appointments and work. Managing the stress of infinite responsibilities can be difficult, but it's necessary to keep one's health and stress in check. If you, like so many others, are struggling with your schedule, take a step back. Read the following pointers on how to keep things together, and give your mind and body the healthy break they deserve.

Keep a planner. When your errands get out of control, it’s best to eliminate the head clutter—you need your brain cells for other things. Write down everything, birthdays, projects, groceries etc. Then cross things off one at a time; it will feel great. Having things on paper will free your memory and allow you to see what you’ve already accomplished--not just what’s left to accomplish.

See a Friend. Hmmm…Taking time off may seem counterproductive, but it’s a must. Getting lost in a world of errands is overwhelming, depressing, and stressful. Seeing a friend—even for a short lunch—can give you perspective, a reminder that life outside of work exists. More often than not, your friends are going, or have gone through, similar ordeals. Swap silly stories about your weird instructor, vent and rejuvenate your mind.

Multitask. Some say that working on two projects at once lengthens the time it takes to complete them, but that depends on the projects. If you have some clothes in the wash, get some homework done between loads. Waiting to meet that friend I told you about? Begin your reading assignment.

Stay Near the Nest. Travel adds up, and, unfortunately, it is often accepted as the unavoidable black hole of time. Well, don’t accept it. Keeping things close to home can greatly increase the time you have to get things done. When possible, commute to school. Take your dance and guitar lessons at a nearby studio. Shop and eat at stores and restaurants at arms length. Clock in for longer hours but fewer days. You get the picture.

Posted Under:

College Culture , High School , Tips


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by Paulina Mis

The government recognizes the dire financial circumstances of numerous undergraduate students, and slowly, steps are being taken to change things for the better. Three new federal grants have been created within the past two years, the maximum Pell Grant award has risen and interest rates on undergraduate Federal Stafford Loans will begin their gradual descent this fall. But…where does that leave graduate school students?

According the Council of Graduate Schools, the number of students seeking master’s and doctoral degrees is expected to rise by 12% between 2006 and 2014, and many of these students will need financial aid. While certain aid does not apply to graduate school students, plenty of assistance is available to those who know where to look. Here are just a few options:

Federal Aid Unfortunately, graduate school students are not eligible to receive federal grants, but federal aid in the form of federal work study and low-rate student loans (Stafford and PLUS) are still an option. And while the recently passed College Cost Reduction and Access Act will not lower loan interest rates for graduate school students, those who borrowed before July 1, 2006 will see a substantial drop in their bill. Variable interest rates on federal loans will decrease from 7.22%to 4.21 % this year.

Scholarships and Grants Numerous scholarships and non-federal grants are not just available to graduate school students, they are restricted to them. Companies and organizations frequently offer aid to graduate school students who display an interest in work that aligns with their goals. After all, these scholars can be the future innovators of their industry. To find scholarships you may be eligible to receive based on your year in school or major of interest, try conducting a free college scholarship search.

Employer Assistance Students who commit to working for a certain employer may be lucky enough to receive full or partial compensation for an additional degree. This is often the case with hospital staff, educators and employees who could help their companies profit through new skills and certifications.


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by Paulina Mis

As a means of promoting diversity and developing talent, Scholarships.com has created a new set of scholarships for high school students and undergraduate students. The “Fund Your Future” Area of Study College Scholarship consists of thirteen $1,000 prizes to be granted to students who pursue a postsecondary education in one of thirteen designated fields and 185 related majors.

Among them is the Scholarships.com Engineering Scholarship, an award for students who plan to or are already majoring in engineering and related areas of study. To ensure that current and future engineering students receive the funds they need to afford a quality education, we have created a scholarship especially for them.

If you’re interested in applying for the Scholarships.com College Engineering Scholarship, respond to the following question in 250 to 350 words (entries that fall outside of this word range will be disqualified):

“What has influenced your decision to pursue a career in engineering?”

Prize:

$1,000

Eligibility:

1. Applicant must be a registered Scholarships.com user. Creating an account is simple and free of charge. 2. Applicant must be a US citizen 3. Applicant must be undergraduate student or a high school senior who plans to enroll in a college or university in the coming fall 4. Applicant must have indicated an interest in one of the following majors:

• Chemical Engineering • Civil Engineering • Concrete Engineering • Electrical Engineering • Engineering • Engineering Management • Environmental Engineering • Fire Protection Engineering • Mechanical Engineering • Mining Engineering • Railway Engineering

Deadline:

September 30, 2008

Required Material:

A 250 to 350 word response to the following question: “What has influenced your decision to pursue a career in engineering?”

Further details about the application process can be found by conducting a free college scholarship search. Once the search is completed, students eligible for the award will find it in their scholarship list. 


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