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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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by Paulina Mis

Students who enter into loan agreements can be bombarded with unfamiliar terms and overwhelming agreements. The meaning of a student lender is obvious enough--it's the entity in charge of borrowing money--but the role a guaranty agency plays in the student lending process is a bit less obvious. The information below will give you a better idea of how guaranty agencies work, and how their work affects you.

What are guaranty agencies?

Guaranty agencies are state or private non-profit organizations in charge of administrating the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program, one that subsidizes participating student lenders. Because lenders who participate in the FFEL program receive subsidies from the government, they must abide by certain rules. (e.g. they cannot charge an interest rate higher than that set each year by the government.) In return, the government agrees to insure them through one of the 35 existing guaranty agencies. If an individual defaults on a student loan, a guaranty agency will pay the student lender most of the remaining loan balance.

How do guaranty agencies affect me?

Students who enter into a loan agreement with an FFEL lender agree to pay their guaranty agency a maximum 1% default fee (also known as a guaranty fee) to cover insurance costs.  Guaranty agencies with a sufficiently large reserve may choose to lower or eliminate the student default fee. Some may also reduce fees for students who sign up for direct bank withdrawal or for those who make a certain number of on-time payments.

If a guaranty agency is forced to repay a student lender for a student's loan default, they are also responsible for collecting the outstanding balance. Students who are unable to fulfill their borrowing responsibilities due to certain circumstances may be eligible to have their loans discharged (forgiven).

For additional information about the guaranty agency serving your state, you may contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID or visit the Department of Education website.

Posted Under:

FAFSA , Financial Aid , Student Loans


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by Scholarships.com Staff

The Higher Education Reconciliation Act of 2005 created two new grant opportunities for college students—the Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG) and the National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (SMART). Though these grants have already been in effect for two years, few students know about them. Below you will find information about the Academic Competitiveness Grant. For details concerning the SMART Grant, you may visit the Scholarships.com Blog or the Federal Student Financial Aid for College Section.

Academic Competitiveness Grant Overview

The Academic Competitiveness Grant is available to undergraduate students who are US citizens and who are enrolled in their first or second academic year at a two or four-year degree-granting institution. This grant is called competitive for a reason. To receive the award, students must have demonstrated their academic potential by having completed, successfully, a difficult program of study during high school. Those who are found to be eligible during their sophomore year of college must also maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA.

What one considers competitive can be a matter of option, but the Department of Education has set up some guidelines. Students who have completed a minimum of two AP or IB courses and those who have participated in the State Scholars Initiative or a similar program may be eligible for the grant. Students who meet the eligibility requirements can receive up to $750 for their first year of study and up to $1,300 for their second year of study.

Those interested in receiving the grant will have to submit a FAFSA. (Financial need is one component.) The Student Aid Report, a summary of answers reported on the FAFSA, will indicate whether a student is eligible to answer further ACG questions. If an ACG is granted, it will be awarded as a supplement to the Pell Grant money received by the student.

Posted Under:

College Grants , FAFSA , Financial Aid


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Need-Based Financial Aid

June 11, 2008

by Paulina Mis

Affording a college education is becoming increasingly difficult, but help is available. Students who demonstrate financial need can look to numerous sources for assistance in paying for tuition and living expenses. Even those who do not demonstrate exceptional merit can qualify. Below is a list of financial aid resources students may be eligible to receive based on financial need. Additional need-based awards may be found by conducting a free college scholarship search.

Federal Grants The Federal Student Aid office oversees programs that comprise the nation’s largest source of student aid. Each year, billions in aid are awarded to college students across the country. The best of these, federal grants, do not have to be repaid. Students can look to federally-run need-based grants such as the Pell and the FSEOG to help pay for college expenses. Grants that are based on both merit and financial need—the SMART and the Academic Competitiveness Grant—are also a good option.

Federal LoansThough less attractive than grants, federal loans tend to have lower interest rates and better, more flexible, repayment options than private loans. This holds particularly true for need-based subsidized Stafford Loans and need-based Perkins Loans. Students interested in taking out a federal loan will first have to submit a FAFSA.

Sallie Mae Scholarships The Sallie Mae Fund is one of the largest sources of non-federal college aid. All awards offered by the organization have a need-based component. Since 2001, the Sallie Mae Fund has given away $12.7 million in scholarships to more than 5,000 college students.

College Scholarships Students may be  eligible for need-based aid offered by their college or university. Elite colleges such as Harvard, Northwestern and Stanford have been particularly gracious with their awards—Harvard students whose parents make less than $60,00 do not have to pay for tuition, room and board or expenses—but others are following in their footsteps.


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by Paulina Mis

Who wants to waste their senior year analyzing the deeper message behind The Scarlet Letter, differentiating between cations and anions (cations are “paw”sitive), or charting calculus equations? Obviously, few of us want to make high school more difficult than it already is. That being said, the advantages of enrolling oneself—when possible—in challenging Advanced Placement (AP) courses can extend beyond the twelfth grade. Below are just a few reasons why you should consider college-level classes.

Sooner of later, you will have to take them. Unpleasant core subject requirements won’t go away when you get to college. Sure, more classes will be relevant to your major, but some headaches will still exist. Instead of taking the standard versions now and the advanced versions later, knock out two birds with one stone.

Save money. On average, college prices are rising at rates that outpace inflation. If you want to save money, don’t stay in school longer than you have to. Within reason, challenge yourself by completing extra credits, and finish school on time.

Make your college years a bit easier. Many students are taken aback by the increased expectations of college instructors. According to the St. Petersburg Times, about a quarter of first-year college students do not return the following year. By taking AP classes, students can become acquainted with the increasingly difficult college curriculum and nip workload problems before they arise.

Impress College Admissions Officials. Most of us are aware of the advantages, both social and financial, of college graduates. But before you reach for that diploma, you must first be accepted. Advanced Placement classes will show admissions officials that you are taking initiative and working hard. In other words, you are the kind of candidates who deserves the chance (and possibly the scholarship) needed to attend their school.

Posted Under:

Tips

Tags: Advanced Placement , Study Skills

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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 Computer Science Scholarship, an award for students who plan to or are already majoring in computer science and related areas of study. Over the last decade, computer science has become an increasingly popular major, one that has contributed to cutting-edge technology and addictive gadgetry.

If you’re interested in being a part of the computer industry, start now. Enroll in your college of interest, and we’ll help you pay for it.  To apply for this essay 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 computer science?”

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:

• Computer Science
• Computer Technology
• Drafting/Computer Aided Design
• Information Systems Engineering
• Information Technology
• Mathematics
• Satellite Imagery
• Telecommunications

Deadline:

August 30, 2008

Required Material:

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

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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by Paulina Mis

After threatening to veto a bill aimed at boosting financial aid to veterans who pursued a postsecondary education, the president is now expected to ask Congress for even more funding. The White House has indicated that should a new provision allowing troops to transfer their education benefits to families be added, President Bush would be more inclined to sign.

The surprising turn of events is not likely to go over well with conservative Democrats, suggested an Associate Press article. Though many supported the idea of awarding sufficient aid to cover a four-year degree at the most expensive state university, some party members are weary about increasing the current proposal by $25 billion.  Worried that the sufficient funding could not be raised by simply cutting back in other areas, they are not expected to concede. When combined with the bill's provisions to increase funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the final request could near or exceed Bush’s initial call for a $108 billion cap.

Referred to as the 21st Century GI Bill of Rights, the veteran benefits portion of the bill also requests unemployment compensation, aid to farmers and highway construction funds, stated the ArmyTimes, all of which could make an agreement more difficult, even if Congress agrees to add Bush's provisions. The bill will next be reevaluated by the House where the new proposal and the Senate version of the bill will be considered.

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