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Report: Millions of Millennials Are Underemployed or Unemployed

May 20, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

It wasn't too long ago that the majority of Americans agreed that one had to pursue a college degree in order to succeed in the workforce. Unfortunately for millennials, the rate of success after obtaining said degree is no longer so intrinsically tied: According to multiple reports, millions of college graduates suffer a mismatch between education and employment and hold jobs that don’t require costly degrees.

Among recent college graduates ages 20 to 29, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports unemployment stands at 10.9 percent, more than three points higher than in 2007. While a study from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that of those recent college graduates who have managed to find work, more than 40 percent hold jobs that do not require a college degree; more than 20 percent are working only part-time; and more than 20 percent are in low wage jobs. Canadian economists Paul Beaudry and David Green of the University of British Columbia and Benjamin Sand of York University have documented a declining demand for high-skilled workers since 2000. They say, "high-skilled workers have moved down the occupational ladder and have begun to perform jobs traditionally performed by lower-skilled workers ...pushing low-skilled workers even further down the occupational ladder and, to some degree, out of the labor force altogether." If correct, their work might just turn conventional wisdom on its head. (For more on this story, click here.)

Do you think that a college degree is necessary for gainful employment and upward mobility? If so, check out our college search tool to find detailed information on more than 7,000 colleges including admission statistics, tuition and fees, financial aid and scholarships, academic majors and more. Not sure where you want to go to college? Check out our College Matchmaker.

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Ten Surprising Celebrity College Majors

May 16, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

Due to the stagnant economy, students are flocking to majors considered “safe” (economics, engineering and computer science) and steering clear of ones that develop creative thinking and imagination (the humanities). It makes sense: The objective after graduation is to obtain a lucrative career to pay for that prestigious college education and the best way to do that is to select a major where the potential for a generous return on your investment is high. Interestingly enough, that same thought process applied to some of our favorite A-listers way back when they were considering college majors! Don’t believe us? Check out some of the more surprisingly “safe” majors chosen by celebrities below:

If you’re struggling with choosing a major, head over to Scholarships.com’s College Prep section for tips on things to consider before making a definite decision. And while you’re there, we invite you to do a free college scholarship search to find financial aid opportunities that are tailored to you!

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Legislation Seeks Student Protection on College Debit Cards

May 23, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

With graduation season in full swing on college campuses across the country, many of you are well-prepared and excited for this new chapter in your lives. So whether you've snagged a position in your field (way to go!) or have a coveted internship lined up, it seems as though things are all finally falling into place...until you realize that along with the crippling student loan debt you’ve accrued the past four years, you also have a ton of debit card debt. Yikes! Fortunately, Congress seems to be tackling predatory college debit card programs head-on.

The legislation – known in the Senate as the Protecting Aid for Students Act and in the House as the Curbing Abusive Marketing Practices with University Student Debit Cards Act – would prevent "revenue-sharing" deals between college and banks for college-issued deposit accounts/debit cards and would require that banks pay colleges at "market rate" to provide and promote their banking services. The bill also calls for a "code of conduct" for colleges that bans banks from giving gifts to college officials. "Many of today's college students are being strong-armed into using financial products that are endorsed by their university," lead House sponsor Rep. George Miller of California said in a written statement. "These products often carry unnecessarily high fees that chip away at students' federal grants and loans, which should be helping pay for classes, not lining the pockets of banks. In reality, these ‘preferred’ products aren’t preferable at all." (For more on this story, click here.)

What do you think of the proposed legislation? Were you tempted by every credit card promotion with a free t-shirt incentive while on campus? If so, check our Campus Life section for tips on credit card money management, resisting the urge to splurge and recognizing want vs. need to get back on track!

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Harvey Mudd College Makes History, Awards Majority of Engineering Degrees to Women

May 27, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

While it was once rare to see women in higher education, there are now more women than men attending college in the U.S.. And while most would argue that historically women have been underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), it seems we’re starting to turn the corner: Harvey Mudd College awarded more engineering degrees to women than men at its commencement ceremony on Sunday. Hot dog!

Harvey Mudd College, a Claremont, Calif.-based school renowned for its engineering programs, said 56 percent of its graduating class were female. College President Maria Klawe played a pivotal role in gearing a concentrated effort to raise the number of women studying in STEM fields since she took over in 2006 and Elizabeth Orwin, a professor of engineering and incoming chair of the engineering department, said she attributes part of the school’s success to having a large female faculty. "Harvey Mudd has a high percentage of women faculty in the engineering department, so female students have more role models and examples of different pathways through engineering,” Orwin said in a statement. "We also have a significant number of experiential learning opportunities which instill confidence early on in our students, which I think is particularly impactful for our women students." (For more on this story, click here.)

Though a lot of progress has been made, inequalities still exist between men and women: While women may be the majority of college students today, they still typically earn less than men and occupy a smaller percentage of high-paying jobs. The good news is there are organizations offering scholarships to women to try and close these gaps – to find additional information about scholarships, grants, internships and fellowships that can help women attend their college of choice, please conduct a free college scholarship search.

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Obama's Student Loan Plan: What's in it for you?

June 10, 2014

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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STEM Graduates More Likely to be Employed...Just Not in STEM Fields

July 14, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

If you're a recent college graduate, chances are you're having a difficult time finding a full-time position in your field of study. It's nothing to be embarrassed about – times are tough and opportunities are slim – but you're not alone: According to new census data, though college graduates with degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics are more likely than other college graduates to have a job, most don’t work in STEM fields.

On Thursday, the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey released data that showed nearly 75 percent of all holders of bachelor’s degrees in STEM disciplines don't have jobs in STEM occupations. Liana Christin Landivar, a sociologist with the Census Bureau, noted that the Census Bureau does not classify doctors as STEM professionals, which would also affect the overall percentages; she also said there are multiple reasons why students don't get STEM jobs. On a positive note, STEM degrees provide a wide range of career options, as students aren't shoehorned into one particular position. Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, said STEM degrees are becoming “universal degrees” and that the report is not an indication of an oversupply of STEM graduates. (For more on this survey, click here.)

Given the collective push across campuses nationwide to increase participation and graduation rates in STEM disciplines, have you been swayed into pursuing a STEM field? Would you accept an offer for a position that wasn't in your field of study? Share your thoughts in the comments section. And for tips on finding employment after college, building a resume and preparing for your first job out of college, check out Scholarships.com’s After College section.

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Understanding Obama’s New Student Loan Plan

August 15, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

With the final month of summer rapidly slipping away, now is the time to buckle down and finalize how you're going to fund your college education. Whether that entails a full-ride scholarship (way to go!), an impressive financial aid package or even necessary loans, it's important to understand your options. Some of you might even be considering President Obama's Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan...if you can figure out what it involves or if it's even an option. If you're confused about this plan, you're in luck: U.S. News and World Report has broken down the big questions you need answered below:

  • Will these updates help me? If you have federal student loans, maybe. Starting in 2015, borrowers who took out loans before October 2007 or stopped borrowing by October 2011 will be eligible to take advantage of the Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan. Government officials estimate this includes an additional five million people.
  • How much could I save? Now, most federal loan borrowers are eligible for income-based repayment – a different repayment plan that has the same premise as Pay As You Earn. Unlike Pay As You Earn, however, IBR caps payments at 15 percent of one's disposable income and forgives the balance after 25 years of payments. Those differences could mean a lot, both in monthly payment amount and in the total amount paid over time.
  • Didn't the president mention loan refinancing too? He did, but in relation to a bill that Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced last month called the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act. This legislation would allow federal and private student loan borrowers with older, higher interest loans to consolidate them within the direct loan program at today's lower fixed interest rates. That bill still has to pass both the Senate and the House, something that may not happen because Republicans are opposed to paying for the bill with a gradual increase in tax rates for those in the higher income brackets.
  • What else should I know? There is still a long way to go before the president's executive action takes effect: December 2015 is the target implementation date. The overall plan includes quite a few other ideas that will make a difference to student loan borrowers, like improving financial incentives for federal student loan servicers to help borrowers stay out of default, making it easier for active-duty military to receive benefits and increasing communication partnerships with entities such as the IRS and tax companies to ensure consumers are aware of their higher education rights and benefits.

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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Tips on How to Vet a For-Profit Online Program

May 30, 2014

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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Attention High School Seniors: Free College in Tulsa, Oklahoma!

June 13, 2014

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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Top 10 Most Successful College Entrepreneurs

June 2, 2014

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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