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Alabama School District to Pay Students for High ACT Scores

December 5, 2013

Alabama School District to Pay Students for High ACT Scores

by Suada Kolovic

In a perfect world, every student would have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and an insatiable passion for learning. Reality check: We don't live in a perfect world and motivating underachieving students to perform well in school and on standardized tests is a serious challenge. What should educators do? The school board in Huntsville, Alabama has decided to try an approach many exasperated parents have considered: cold, hard cash for high ACT scores.

To encourage students to apply themselves while ensuring the district maintains an academic edge in the state, the school board unanimously agreed to pay students for achieving benchmark scores on the ACT. Here’s the breakdown: Benchmark scores will be set and for every component of the test a student reaches a benchmark score, $50 will be earned. If a student gets an overall score of 22 or higher, they’ll get an extra $100 and students will have the opportunity to earn $300 total! "The ACT is important," said Superintendent Casey Wardynski. "It's important for our kids but they may not all realize it because they're taking it junior year, or some may not think they're going to college or want to have that test under their belt for when they do choose to go to college," she added.

With another round of standardized test dates just around the corner, students are praising the initiative while concerned parents are questioning where the funds will come from and if it's a form of bribery. So, future ACT test takers, where do you stand? Do you think providing a financial incentive is right way to motivate students or not? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

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Scholarships.com Virtual Interns Wanted

December 6, 2013

Scholarships.com Virtual Interns Wanted

by Alexis Mattera

Whether you're putting pen to paper, live tweeting campus events or blogging until the wee hours of the morning, one thing is certain: Sharing information is your passion. And you know what? It's ours, too, so let's join forces through Scholarships.com's virtual intern program!

Over the last 15 years, Scholarships.com has been a go-to site not only for high schoolers in search of financial aid but for college students living away from home for the first time, trying to balance limited money for food and fun, and adjusting to postsecondary academic expectations. We have plenty of information on those topics and more but we want to hear from you about what's going on at the campus you call home for the majority of the year. From parties to politics, from housing to hazing, and from class registration to commencement exercises, let us know what's trending at your school and your musings could be featured regularly on our blog.

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University of Iowa Slashes Law School Tuition

December 10, 2013

University of Iowa Slashes Law School Tuition

by Suada Kolovic

‘Tis the season for discount digging. With the holidays just a mere two weeks away, many people have gift-giving on the brain so it should come as no surprise that everyone’s on the hunt for rock-bottom prices. And whether you’re in the market for a new textured wrap sweater (who isn’t?!), the latest Apple gadget or even a shiny new law degree, you’re in luck! Yup, that’s right future litigators: Law school is officially on sale in Iowa.

The University of Iowa College of Law has approved a 16.4-percent tuition cut for both in-state and out-of-state students. Beginning in the fall of 2014, Iowa residents will pay $21,965 in tuition – a $4,309 reduction – while nonresidents will see tuition fall by $7,750 to $39,500. Why the discount? Turns out that despite being ranked 26th nationally by U.S. News & World Report, enrollment for the law school has steadily declined since 2010. Law Dean Gail Agrawal admits that the tuition reduction is intended, in part, to help the law school compete for applicants and students who are increasingly concerned with cost and debt loads. “We want to take a leading role in the evolving face of legal education and ensure our place as a best value proposition among the top public law schools,” she said. Keep in mind that the University of Iowa isn’t the only law school bargain out there: The University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law, the University of Akron School of Law, the University of Cincinnati College of Law and Ohio Northern University’s Pettit College of Law have all announced tuition cuts in the past year.

Law school hopefuls, is discounted tuition enough for you to consider a school despite the current weak legal market? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

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Scholarship Displacement Explained

December 13, 2013

Scholarship Displacement Explained

by Suada Kolovic

Here at Scholarships.com, we make a point to advocate the importance of funding your college education the right way – for free! – and while financing your higher education solely from scholarships is an amazing feat, there is a factor to consider: scholarship displacement.

If you don’t know what scholarship displacement is, you’re not alone. Believe it or not, winning a scholarship may not be the end-all be-all when it comes to paying for school because they can complicate the financial aid package offered by your intended university. Why? When a student wins a scholarship, the college may reduce the student’s need-based financial aid package to compensate. For example, say a university offers a student a $15,000 grant and an additional $15,000 loan to cover the cost of attending. If the student were then to win a scholarship for $15,000, the college could retract its $15,000 grant. Colleges call this an over-award and the scholarship providers call it displacement.

Although this may seem discouraging, it shouldn’t dissuade you from applying to scholarships altogether. Instead, do your homework, speak with your admissions counselor and know where your intended college stands when it comes to their scholarship policies. If you’re brining a lot of scholarship dollars to the table, you have options. Every college is different and has their own guidelines when it comes to outside scholarships. If one university doesn’t allow you to put those scholarship dollars to other costs – loans, books, room and board, etc. – enroll at one that does. You could also enlist the help of the scholarship sponsor: Some scholarship providers may have a lot of clout with the college, especially if their scholars make up millions of dollars of funding to the college.

If you have any additional questions about scholarship displacement, don’t hesitate to ask us!

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Scholarship Displacement Explained

December 13, 2013

Scholarship Displacement Explained

by Suada Kolovic

Here at Scholarships.com, we make a point to advocate the importance of funding your college education the right way – for free! – and while financing your higher education solely from scholarships is an amazing feat, there is a factor to consider: scholarship displacement.

If you don’t know what scholarship displacement is, you’re not alone. Believe it or not, winning a scholarship may not be the end-all be-all when it comes to paying for school because they can complicate the financial aid package offered by your intended university. Why? When a student wins a scholarship, the college may reduce the student’s need-based financial aid package to compensate. For example, say a university offers a student a $15,000 grant and an additional $15,000 loan to cover the cost of attending. If the student were then to win a scholarship for $15,000, the college could retract its $15,000 grant. Colleges call this an over-award and the scholarship providers call it displacement.

Although this may seem discouraging, it shouldn’t dissuade you from applying to scholarships altogether. Instead, do your homework, speak with your admissions counselor and know where your intended college stands when it comes to their scholarship policies. If you’re brining a lot of scholarship dollars to the table, you have options. Every college is different and has their own guidelines when it comes to outside scholarships. If one university doesn’t allow you to put those scholarship dollars to other costs – loans, books, room and board, etc. – enroll at one that does. You could also enlist the help of the scholarship sponsor: Some scholarship providers may have a lot of clout with the college, especially if their scholars make up millions of dollars of funding to the college.

If you have any additional questions about scholarship displacement, don’t hesitate to ask us!

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The FAFSA: New Year Means New Application

January 1, 2014

The FAFSA: New Year Means New Application

by Alexis Mattera

Though it’s a day off from school and work, New Year’s Day is also a day to get down to business. While you’re starting in on your New Year’s resolutions, opening up a new calendar, and packing up the holiday decorations, there’s one more thing that college students and college-bound high school students should do each January. The Department of Education starts accepting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (more commonly known as "FAFSA") on January 1 each year. State application deadlines fall soon after—as early as February in some cases. So while you might not start classes until August or September, you want to start applying for financial aid as soon as the FAFSA is available each year.

In order to complete a FAFSA, you will need the following:

  • your social security number
  • a driver’s license if you have one
  • bank statements and records of investments (if you have any)
  • records of untaxed income (again, if you have any)
  • your most recent tax return and W2s (2012 for the 2013-2014 FAFSA)
  • all of the above for your parents if you are considered a dependent
  • a PIN to sign electronically (go to pin.ed.gov to get one)
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How Much Is The Application Fee?!

Top 25 Highest Application Fees

January 3, 2014

How Much Is The Application Fee?!

by Suada Kolovic

Sure, we’ve discussed the skyrocketing cost of college tuition on a daily basis and considering every other add-on you’ll have to endure when it comes to paying for college – room and board, books and supplies – having to pay an outrageous application fee is downright cruel.

According to the U.S. News & World Report, the average application fee to apply to colleges is $38.39, which is a steal compared to the fees charged by the institutions listed below. At the top 28 schools with the highest application costs, the average application fee is $77! Check out the list below and share your thoughts. Let us know if these hefty fees will ultimately decide where you’ll apply.

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Top 10 Highest Paying College Majors

January 10, 2014

Top 10 Highest Paying College Majors

by Suada Kolovic

An important consideration when choosing a major is the possibility of gaining lucrative employment following graduation. In a perfect world, the best college major would simply be the one that interests you the most, period. Naturally, your level of interest in the field should be weighed more heavily than any other, as this is something of which you intend to make a career. If you’re really passionate about a certain field that won’t necessarily have you retiring early (social workers, for example, make an average of $39,400 per year), don’t let a potential salary sway you. Helping others or entering a career you love is priceless, and many of the careers below will require some study beyond undergraduate school for you to advance in those fields. But if you have a particular knack for math or science and aren't necessarily sure where those skills would translate best, consider the kinds of careers that could offer a generous return for your investment.

Listed below are the 10 highest-paying college majors as of 2013. The list comes courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), which conducts surveys of college graduates’ job offers.Data for the NACE survey are reported by employers, represent accepted starting salaries (not salary offers), and are produced through a compilation of data derived from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Census Bureau, and a master set of data developed by Job Search Intelligence.

  1. Petroleum Engineering ($93,500 average starting salary)
  2. Computer Engineering ($71,700 average starting salary)
  3. Chemical Engineering ($67,600 average starting salary
  4. Computer Science ($64,800 average starting salary)
  5. Aerospace/Aeronautical/Astronautical Engineering ($64,400 average starting salary)
  6. Mechanical Engineering ($64,000 average starting salary)
  7. Electrical/Electronics and Communications Engineering ($63,400 average starting salary)
  8. Management Information Systems/Business ($63,100 average starting salary)
  9. Engineering Technology ($62,200 average starting salary)
  10. Finance ($57,400 average starting salary)

While in the process of conducting your scholarship search at Scholarships.com, you might want to consider one or more of the following majors, just to keep your options open. Our free college search can also help you find colleges and universities that offer programs in any of the top 10 highest-paying college majors.

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President, FLOTUS Push for More Access to Higher Education for Low-Income Students

January 21, 2014

President, FLOTUS Push for More Access to Higher Education for Low-Income Students

by Suada Kolovic

Higher education has always been a top priority for President Barack Obama. Back in February 2009, he told Congress, “By 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.” Five years later, whether or not we as a nation will achieve that benchmark remains unseen but he believes that reaching out to low-income students may be just the key to getting there.

On Thursday, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama met with more than 80 college presidents and dozens of nonprofits committed to raising the number of low-income students who attend college. “We want to restore the essential promise of opportunity and upward mobility that’s at the heart of America,” he told the group. "To that end, young people, low-income students in particular, must have access to a college education." The participating schools have agreed to take action in one of four areas: connecting young people to schools that are right for them; early intervention to ensure a larger pool of students prepare for college; more college advising and test preparation; and more on-campus remedial education. And while President Obama’s various education initiatives are ambitious, it doesn’t appear to be lost on him that there is much more work to be done to get college degrees in the hands of more American students, regardless of their economic class. (For more on this story, click here.)

What do you think of the President’s education push? Let us know in the comments section.

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Stock Market Recovers While Youth Unemployment Rate Remains Stagnant

January 23, 2014

Stock Market Recovers While Youth Unemployment Rate Remains Stagnant

by Suada Kolovic

Six years after the recession began, the stock market is officially recovering. And while that’s great news for investors, it hasn't translated into a thriving work force for recent college graduates. In fact, the unemployment rate for millennials ages 18 to 29 in the U.S. has remained in the double digits and the percentage of young workers without employment is close to double what it was when the recession first hit. But why?

The New York Times reported that with millions still out of work, companies face little pressure to add employees while productivity gains allow them to increase sales. The result: a solidified golden age for corporate profits. So while buoyant earnings are rewarded by investors and make American companies more competitive globally, they are not converting into additional jobs at home. It’s also important to note that the Federal Reserve has played a crucial role in propelling the stock market into record heights, even if that wasn’t the intention. The Federal Reserve has made reducing unemployment a top priority but in practice, its policy of keeping interest rates low and buying up the safest assets to stimulate the economy means that investors are willing to take on more risk in search of better returns. “The Federal Reserve has done a good job stimulating financial conditions and lifting the market,” said Ethan Harris, co-head of global economics at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “It’s been less successful in stimulating job growth.”

What are you thoughts on the unemployment rate among recent college graduates? What can be done to change the not-so-current trend? Let us know in the comments section.

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