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by Suada Kolovic

First Lady Michele Obama has always been a champion of higher education. Whether she's petitioning for more low-income students to attend college or drawing parallels on her own college experience in order to encourage students, promoting a college education has always been among her top priorities. In fact, she recently expanded on her personal college story with a piece in Education Week, where she promoted her latest Reach Higher campaign.

The Reach Higher Initiative is an effort to inspire every student in America to take charge of their future by completing their education past high school, whether in a professional training program, community college or four-year college or university. "My message to these young people is that while all of us adults – teachers, administrators and policymakers – have to do a better job of giving them the best schools and opportunities for their future, at the end of the day, they also need to step up and take responsibility for their education themselves," said the first lady on the need for young people to take the future of their education into their own hands. “That means going to class every day, setting their goals high and working like crazy to achieve them. That's been the story of my life and my husband's life, so when I talk to these young people, my hope is that they see that our story can be their story, too – as long as they're willing to dedicate themselves to their education,” she added. To read her full commentary on the importance of completing a college education, head over to edweek.org.

Do you find encouragement in sharing similar struggles with someone so successful? Share your thoughts on Michele Obama's Reach Higher Initiative in the comments section. And for more info on adjusting to college life, check out Scholarships.com: We've come up with some resources to ease you into that transition with information on everything from choosing the right school to deciding whether or not a state university is right for you. Browse through our College Prep section for more info!


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by Suada Kolovic

Have you heard the one about the English major that was so unemployable that their only viable option was becoming a barista at the local Starbucks? Well, the joke's on you because starting this fall, Starbucks employees will be eligible for a free college education: According to reports, Starbucks is rolling out a program that would allow its workers to earn online college degrees at Arizona State University at a steeply discounted rate. Thanks a latte!

The new initiative will offer Starbucks' 135,000 U.S. employees who work at least 20 hours a week the option to graduate debt free from ASU with no requirement to repay tuition costs or stay with the company. Under this freshly-brewed program, employees will receive full tuition reimbursement if they enroll in ASU's online program as juniors or seniors; they can also pick from a wide range of educational programs that aren't related to their Starbucks work. And while it’s unclear how many employees with choose to participate in the new program or how much it will cost Starbucks Corp., the company isn't disclosing the financial terms of its agreement with ASU. In a news release, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz talked about “the fracturing of the American Dream”, saying: “There's no doubt, the inequality within the country has created a situation where many Americans are being left behind. The question for all of us is, should we accept that, or should we try and do something about it?" (For more on this story, click here.)

Do you think this partnership between Starbucks and ASU is a step in the right direction? Would you consider working for Starbucks given the promising initiative? Share your thoughts in the comment section and for more info on how to fund your college education, head over to Scholarships.com.


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by Suada Kolovic

Understanding the true cost of college is essential when finalizing the decision on where you’ll pursue your post-secondary education. Remember that amid all the literature schools send out, take more than a gander at the teeny-tiny font listing “sticker price” because that number probably doesn’t include room and board, books and myriad other fees you’ll be have to pony up while attending. And while the majority of students won’t pay anywhere near the sticker price, the average cost of college has steadily increased to $20,000 at public colleges and topped $50,000 at private colleges, which has left many families wondering how they’ll afford these astronomical amounts. Unless, of course, you’re a resident of Tulsa, Oklahoma: Eligible students there get the first two years of college for FREE!

Tulsa Achieves is a gap-funding program that provides up to 100-percent tuition and fees to Tulsa County high school graduating seniors who enroll at Tulsa Community College the fall after they graduate. Who’s eligible? Every high school graduate living in Tulsa County, including public, private or home-schooled students with a 2.0 or higher grade point average. The program pays for up to 63 college credit hours or up to three years of college, whichever comes first; students are also required to complete 40 hours of volunteer service each academic year. The total cost is $3,400 per student per year and is mostly paid for with local property taxes. "We established Tulsa Achieves seven years ago because we no longer believed that a high school diploma was sufficient in terms of the jobs of the future," said Tom McKeon, Tulsa Community College’s president. "I think we're seeing kids that never, ever dreamed that college was a possibility for them because parents didn't think it was within their realm," he added. (For more on this story, click here.)

Let us know your thoughts on Tulsa Achieves program in the comments section. And if your state doesn't offer a deal as sweet, head over to Scholarships.com to find financial aid that’s tailored to you – create a profile and conduct a free scholarship search today!


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by Suada Kolovic

The financial aid process can be a daunting one but if you're planning on attending college any time soon, you should know that there are tons of federal student aid options available. From Pell Grants to Perkins Loans to FAFSA, the funding is out there but your eligibility to receive aid depends on your level of need and, subsequently, how much aid you are eligible to receive. Translation: For the majority of students, loans are inevitable. But don't fret just yet because President Obama announced an executive order capping loan payments: In an attempt to ease heavy college debt, millions of student loan borrowers will soon be able to cap their payments at 10 percent of their monthly income.

According to the administration, this action will help up to 5 million more borrowers but will not be implemented until December 2015 at the earliest. And while some students taking out loans can already cap their loan payments at 10 percent of their incomes, the president's order will extend this ability to students who took out loans before October 2007. (It’s important to note, however, that President Obama's executive order would cover only those loans from the federal government, not private financial institutions.) "The past couple of years, we've done future students, we've done current students, and now we're trying to take a step back," Education Secretary Arne Duncan told reporters Monday. Duncan went on to explain that the expansion of the payment caps would be "fantastic for the economy" by allowing young people to spend or invest that money elsewhere. (For more on this story, click here.)

What do you think of the president's attempt to ease the financial burden associated with student loans? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section. And for more information on federal funding, visit our Financial Aid section.


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by Suada Kolovic

A Long Island fifth-grade student has earned some serious bragging rights: Her artwork is currently featured on Google’s homepage as the current Doodle 4 Google contest winner!

This year’s Doodle 4 Google competition - the company’s seventh annual challenge - asked K-12 students to draw one thing to make the world a better place. Audrey Zhang did just that with a drawing of a mythical water purification system entitled "Back to Mother Nature", a concept that beat out more than 100,000 entries. "To make the world a better place, I invented a transformative water purifier," Google quoted Zhang as saying. "It takes in dirty and polluted water from rivers, lakes and even oceans, then massively transforms the water into clean, safe and sanitary water. When humans and animals drink this water, they will live a healthier life." This was Zhang’s first win but her third year as a finalist in the contest. Whoa!

Zhang’s artwork not only won her a spot on Google’s homepage but also a $30,000 college scholarship, a $50,000 Google for Education technology grant for her school and a $20,000 charity donation in her name toward providing clean water to schools in Bangladesh. To see the other Doodle 4 Google finalists, click here. And for more information on this opportunity and other scholarships, conduct a free scholarship search at Scholarships.com today!


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by Suada Kolovic

Attention recent college graduates: You CAN find a job in your field...it just might be overseas.

Based on the analysis of the migration patterns of LinkedIn members in 2013, there are 10 destination cities that most recent college graduates flock to after graduation. By examining the geographic movement of its members over the last year and taking into consideration every new position added to a user's profile between November 2012 and November 2013 (excluding movements that did not exceed 100 miles), LinkedIn ranked each destination city by “the percentage of movers who were recent graduates.” Check out the 10 cities with the highest percentages of recent college grads below:

  • Sao Paulo, Brazil – 34%
  • Bangalore, India – 34%
  • San Francisco Bay Area – 34%
  • London – 35%
  • Chicago – 38%
  • New York City – 38%
  • Madrid – 40%
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul – 40%
  • Washington, D.C. – 40%
  • Paris – 42%

For more on the methodology behind this study, head over to LinkedIn. And for more info on adjusting to life after college, check out Scholarships.com: We've come up with some resources to ease you into that transition with information on everything from becoming a young professional to deciding whether it makes financial sense to move out of your parents’ house and into your own place. Browse through our Life After College section to put your worries at ease!


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by Suada Kolovic

Ah, college graduation. It’s a time filled with incredible hope, fear and potentially a famous commencement speaker. And while notable politicians, celebrities and artists are usually called upon to speak to a crowd full of fresh-faced 20-somethings embarking on the next chapter of adulthood, we couldn't help but wonder who shared some of the most memorable speeches this year. Check out some notable moments below:

Jim Carrey, Maharishi School of Management: "You can fail at something you don't want, so you might as well take a chance doing what you love."

Grace Potter, St. Lawrence University: "Honestly, more than anything else, it is love that got me here today… I see now that it's these experiences, large and small and people who give their time in our early lives that truly shape our path. I hope you can all feel my gratitude and share in this experience."

John Legend, University of Pennsylvania: "We’re taught when we’re young that the opposite of love is hate, but it’s not. Hate is a byproduct, hate is a result. Being a hater isn’t cool -- nobody wants that. But hate comes from one thing: fear. Fear is the opposite of love.”

Colin Powell, High Point University: "Go forth and raise strong families remembering that all you can ever leave behind is your reputation, your good works and your children for the next generation."

Rainn Wilson, University of Southern California: "In this me-me-me culture, focus on yourself [and you will] find only misery, depression, emptiness. Focus on helping others [and you will find] joy, contentment, gratitude and buckets and buckets of eudaimonia."

Charlie Day, Merrimack College: "You cannot let a fear of failure or a fear of comparison or a fear of judgment stop you from doing what's going to make you great. You cannot succeed without this risk of failure. You cannot have a voice without this risk of criticism. And you cannot love without the risk of loss."

For the full list of memorable commencement speeches, head over to the Huffington Post. And if you’re feeling anxious or nervous about going out into the world and finding that first job, or simply sticking to a traditional 9-5 schedule, check out some of our resources on what you should expect come life after college. We have everything from sticking to a real world budget to coping with the stress that may come with leaving college. So don’t fret, we’ve got your back!


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by Suada Kolovic

College campuses have been the breeding grounds for some of the most successful business in the world. We’re talking Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, and Yahoo! to name a few. Check out who else made Huffington Post’s list of the most successful college entrepreneurs:

  • Mark Zuckerberg: In 2004, at the ripe age of 19, Zuckerberg created what would one day become the second most visited website in the world – Facebook.
  • Bill Gates: After taking a leave of absence from Harvard, Gates started creating processors and computer interfaces that are still used today. He then founded a little company you might have heard of (Microsoft).
  • Michael Dell: Dell was a pre-med student at the University of Texas, Austin in 1984 when he started a small business in his dorm upgrading computers. He went public in 1988 and eventually brought “Dude, you’re getting a Dell!” to the masses.
  • Bo Peabody: As a student at Williams College, Peabody, Bretty Hershey and their economics professor designed one of the original social networks in 1992. Today, it is known as Tripod.com.
  • Jerry Yang and David Filo: Graduate students at Stanford University, Yang and Filo created Yahoo! as a way to help their Stanford friends locate cool websites.
  • Steve Wozniak: In 1975, Wozniak dropped out of the University of California, Berkeley to work with Steve Jobs on circuit board designs and operating systems. These projects eventually evolved into Apple.
  • Larry Page and Sergey Brin: In 1996, Page and Brin, who were PhD students at Stanford University at the time, left school to begin working on a new search technology founded on one idea that the order of websites listed on search engines would be based on relevance. From that idea, Google was born.
  • Marc Andreessen: While at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Andreessen and Eric Bana began creating a user-friendly browser that integrated graphics and would work on a range of computers. They called it Mosaic, Andreessen eventually started his own software company, Mosaic Netscape.
  • Frederick W. Smith: As an undergrad at Yale, Smith wrote a paper outlining a delivery system that would work in a computer-dominated industry. After he graduated, Smith ran with the idea and founded Federal Express.
  • Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian: After graduating from the University of Virginia in 2005, Huffman and Ohanian founded the popular social news website Reddit.
  • What do you think of the individuals that made the list? Any surprises? Do you think it’s problematic that not a single woman made the list?


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by Suada Kolovic

Not every student goes the four-year route when it comes to getting a college education and instead explores non-traditional options that include for-profit institutions. And while proprietary institutions may not have the best track record, not all for-profit schools are alike. To help you differentiate between the good and the bad, experts at U.S. News & World Report have compiled a few tips on how to vet an online program. Check out their suggestions below:

  • Investigate the true cost of the program. Draft a budget reflecting the actual cost of the program, including the price per credit hour and the cost of books, support, technology and other necessities. Next, explore scholarship options. Scholarships are a great way to cover part or sometimes even all of the cost of a college education. Creating a Scholarships.com profile is a great place to start!
  • Explore your options. Before committing to a for-profit online program, be sure to do your homework. When looking at different schools, be sure to compare career services departments and their ties to the industry in which you hope to eventually work.
  • Check for accreditation. To help ensure that the for-profit school you are considering is reputable, check to see whether it is regionally accredited. If you have any doubts about the legitimacy of the accreditation agency, make sure it is recognized by one of two authorities on the matter – the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or the Department of Education.

Do you attend a for-profit institution? If so, how did you decide on your school?


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The Short & Tweet Scholarship is Back!

Earn a $1,000 Scholarship in 140 Characters or Fewer

May 28, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

Another academic year is winding down but before you turn your attention to summer jobs, internships and the occasional beach day, we have a question for you: What was the most important thing you learned this year and why? Not only could answering this question help provide some insight into your priorities for next year but it could also earn you a scholarship for college. That’s right: Scholarships.com's Short & Tweet Scholarship is BACK!

Was it a lecture or group project that stuck with you the most? A personal experience that changed your way of thinking? If it's important to you, we want to know! The challenge is that you have to tell us in 140 characters or fewer. Here's how to enter:

Step 1: Starting May 28th, follow @Scholarshipscom on Twitter.

Step 2: Mention us (@Scholarshipscom) in a tweet answering the question "What was the most important thing you learned this year *AND* why?"

Step 3: You may enter as many times as you want from May 28th through July 4th but please limit your tweets to one per day. Each tweet will be a stand-alone entry and tweets that are submitted by non-followers, exceed 140 characters, do not include @Scholarshipscom, do not answer the entire question or are submitted after the July 4th deadline will not be considered. From there, the Scholarships.com Team will determine which tweets are most deserving of the awards.

  • Starts: May 28th
  • Ends: July 4th
  • Number Available: 3
  • Amount: $1,000 for one first-place winner; $200 each for second- and third-place winners

This scholarship competition is offered by Scholarships.com and is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Twitter.

For official rules, please click here.


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