November 6, 2007
Loans don’t incite pleasant feelings in students, in anyone on the borrowing side. It doesn’t help that the media has made it a point to discuss, extensively, what appears to be the newest trend… mortgage loan defaulting. Student loans aren't as large as mortgages, but for a growing number, they are catching up.
Regardless of cost, there are a lot of dedicated students out there, and until the college-financing system undergoes a major overhaul (cross your fingers but don't hold your breath), loans may be inevitable. Before taking out loans, students should complete a FAFSA and conduct a free scholarship search. Those who still need money should apply for federal loans. Only after exhausting government loans should one consider private student loans
As a result of the recently passed College Cost Reduction and Access Act, there will be a decrease in interest rates on federal college student loans. That's great news for students with large financial aid needs, but loan rates have not yet been changed. Even before government rates become less expensive, it is in a student's best interest to see what the government has to offer before looking elsewhere. Below are the federal student loan options available to those in need.
Stafford Loans- Students who are interested in taking out a Stafford Loan (or other types of federal student loans) will need to fill out a FAFSA. The amount that a student can borrow will depend on a student’s year in school as well as on whether the Stafford Loan is subsidized or unsubsidized (only a portion of the amount may be subsidized). Stafford Loans disbursed after July 1, 2006 are fixed at a 6.8 % interest rate, but lower rates are in the works.
PLUS Loans- The Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students or PLUS Loan is offered to, as the name suggests, parents of undergraduate students. Recently, the loan has also been made available to graduate school students. PLUS Loan amounts may not exceed the total cost of attendance minus any other financial aid received. If the student’s estimated cost of attendance (amount determined by each school) is $6,000 and the student receives $4,000 in aid, only $2,000 may be borrowed. To take advantage of this loan, students must max out their Stafford Loans, and doing so is in a student’s best interest anyway. PLUS Loans have higher interest rates than Stafford Loans; those disbursed on or after July 1, 2006 are fixed at 7.9% for Direct PLUS Loans and at 8.5% for FFEL PLUS Loans.
Perkins Loans- Although Perkins Loans are made with government money, they are normally classified as campus-based aid because they are administered by schools. Perkins Loans are offered to students with exceptional need, and only a limited amount is available. Once a school runs low on Perkins Loan funds, students will not receive as much (the same holds true for federal-work study opportunities). This is why students are generally advised to submit their FAFSA early. The earlier they apply, the greater their chance of receiving some forms of aid. The loan amount received through the Perkins Loan program depends on the amount a school has, on already-received aid and on the financial needs of the student. Students who qualify can borrow up to $4,000 each year and pay it off at a 5% student loan rate.
November 5, 2007
The Association of Private Enterprise Education (APEE), a network providing information, interaction and support for private enterprise systems, is giving away a number of scholarships. Interested students will need to write a 1000 to 2000 word essay answering one of three questions:
1. What Causes Prosperity? 2. What is the Role of Ethical Behavior in a Free Market? 3. Can Free Markets Protect the Environment?
The APEE even offers a discussion and articles on the mentioned topics to assist students in their preparation. This one is worth a shot. If you win, the prosperity question will answer itself. To find more information about this and other scholarships (including contact information), you may conduct a free college scholarship search at Scholarships.com.
1. One $2,500 cash prize 2. One $2,000 cash prize 3. One $1,500 cash prize 4. An undetermined number of honorable mentions worth $250 each. (Ten were offered last year.)
1. Applicants must be full-time students 2. Applicants must be 25 years and younger
December 1, 2007
1. Typed essay sent as an attachment. (In case you forget, the APEE wants to remind you to write in English.) 2. Contact information 3. Finalists will have to prove that they are students under the age of 25. (A photocopy of your student ID will need to be sent.)
November 2, 2007
After months of investigations into the legality of practices within the student loan industry, new regulations have been approved by the Department of Education. The guidelines came shortly after the passage of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act which increased financial aid and decreased lender subsidies. The new rules, however, are more targeted at the behavior of student lenders and financial aid officials.
Department regulations now state that colleges offering preferred-lender lists must suggest at least three different lenders. In the past, some schools mentioned only one lender, the one they had an exclusive contract with. The investigation also found that certain schools listed a number of lenders, but the choice was illusory. Because some lenders sold their loans to others on the list, the options were smaller than they appeared.
Approved mandates also cleared up some ambiguities between state and government laws regulating lender and school relationships. Lenders are generally pleased that the Department of Education has made clear their rules, when discrepancies arise, supersede rules laid down by the state. (Not that this wasn't already the legal rule of thumb.
Numerous schools and lenders have already agreed to abide by a new code of ethics and have donated millions to loan-education funds—even some who denied wrongdoing—after being accused of misdeeds by Andrew Cuomo, the Attorney General spearheading the investigation. Citibank and Sallie Mae each agreed to pay $2 million while Education Finance Partners agreed to pay $2.5 million in settlements. New York University, Syracuse University and the University of Pennsylvania, among others, also settled and agreed to return some money to student borrowers. Knowing that Mr. Cuomo is not the loan king, although he sure has proven himself, will assuage some lender and college frustrations, but not by much.
November 1, 2007
As you can tell by the quantity of information about scholarships and grants that can be found at Scholarships.com, there are plenty of awards out there…and plenty of competition. Thankfully, there are ways of whittling down the opposition. By applying for scholarships restricted to a certain pool of applicants, you can greatly increase your chances of winning an excellent prize. Scholarships for minorities are pretty common, and some of them get really specific when it comes to requirements. Here are a few minority scholarships that will knock out some applicants without knocking you out in the process. For additional information (including sources of contact) about these and other scholarships, you may conduct a free college scholarship search.
General Motors Minority Dealers Association Scholarship
The General Motors Minority Dealers Association (GMMDA) annually offers $2,500 scholarships to ethnic minority students pursuing an education. GMMDA has so far given $1 million dollars in scholarships to eligible students. Winners are chosen based on academics, volunteer and work experience, future goals and personal statements. To be eligible applicants must be African-American, Hispanic, Native American or Asian/Pacific Islander high school seniors or full-time college students attending a U.S. accredited school. Applicants must also possess a minimum 3.0 GPA, be U.S. citizens or have the eligibility to work in the U.S.
Hispanic Scholarship Fund Camino al Éxito Scholarship
The Hispanic Scholarship Fund offers numerous scholarships that assist students of Hispanic descent in reaching their educational goals. Their Camino al Éxito (walk to success) Hispanic scholarship offers financial aid to students who meet the minimum 3.0 GPA requirement and who are U.S. Citizens or legal permanent residents. Applicants must be either high school seniors soon to enroll in a full-time U.S. accredited college or college freshmen, sophomores or juniors. To be considered, students must have submitted a FAFSA. Winners receive awards that typically range between $2,500 and $5,000.
Sallie Mae Fund American Dream Scholarship
The Sallie Mae Fund is a charitable organization that annually offers numerous scholarships for students trying to receive a college education. In conjunction with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), Sallie Mae is offering an African American scholarship open to African Americans with financial needs. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents and must meet the minimum 2.5 GPA requirement. They must also meet Pell Grant eligibility criteria and be enrolled full-time at an accredited undergraduate institution. Winners may receive between $500 and $5,000 in scholarship money.
SALEF "Fulfilling Our Dreams" Scholarship
The Salvadoran American Leadership and Education Fund (SALEF) offers four scholarships through its “Fulfilling Our Dreams” Fund. Unlike many scholarship programs, this one offers high school, undergraduate and graduate school scholarships. To be eligible for the awards, students must be of Central American or other Latino ethnicity, demonstrate financial need, demonstrate community involvement, meet the 2.5 minimum GPA requirement, be a high school senior or college student and pledge to help other students through community service. The scholarships are offered annually, and winners will receive an award raging from $500 to $2500. The catch? Applicants must also reside and study in California.
Bureau of Indian Affairs Higher Education Scholarships
To provide quality education opportunities for American Indians, the Bureau of Indian Affairs is offering numerous Higher Education Grants to eligible students. To apply, students must be at least one-quarter Indian descendents of an American Indian tribe that is eligible for special U.S. programs and services based on its Indian status. Applicants must also be accepted to a nationally accredited two-or- four-year college or university and must demonstrate financial need.
October 31, 2007
Calling all nurses. Those of you with an interest in the nursing profession may be glad to know that much aid is available to you—and righteously so. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, registered nurses constitute the largest health care occupation. There are 2.4 million of them, and they’re growing in number…by the minute.
Actually, a takeover may not be such a bad thing. Plenty of people are in need of serious medical aid, and the high-stress, low-sleep, poor-diet mix is not helping. (Put that twinkie down; I don’t care if it’s Halloween.)
Those of you ready to don some scrubs, slip a stethoscope around your neck and embark on a new career should check out the resources below for nursing scholarships and grants. For additional information on these and other scholarships in nursing (including contact information), visit Scholarships.com and conduct a free scholarship search.
DAR Nursing Scholarship
The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) are offering scholarships to students interested in pursuing an undergraduate degree in nursing. Three scholarships are currently offered by the organization: the Caroline E. Holt Nursing Scholarship, the Mildred Nutting Nursing Scholarship and the Occupational/Physical Therapy Scholarship. Each winner will receive a one-time award of $1,000. The entries will be evaluated based on academic merit, dedication to field and financial need.
Tafford Uniforms Scholarship Program
Tafford, a maker of nursing wares, awards two $1,000 nursing school scholarships. The awards are distributed biannually, once in the fall and once in the spring. Nursing students who are working on their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) and Associate Degree in Nursing are eligible to apply. Graduate nursing scholarships are also available for those working towards a Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN).
Breakthrough to Nursing Scholarships for Ethnic People of Color
The National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA) awards $125,000 per year in scholarships for nursing students. One of their awards, the Breakthrough to Nursing Scholarship, is given to students of unrepresented ethnicities in the nursing profession. Award winners should also be committed to servicing undeserved populations with quality care.
Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program (NELRP)
Though not a scholarship, this program assists nursing students in paying off already-acquired debt. The NELRP was created by the U.S. Department of Health to assist nursing students in achieving their goals. Registered nurses who agree to work in areas of nursing shortages for two or three years may be eligible to receive partial loan coverage from the NELRP.
October 30, 2007
Stress-free high school, does that sound like an oxymoron to you? Unfortunately it does to many high school students. Teachers are noticing it too, and one has made it a point to publicize his efforts to initiate change. Principal Paul Richards of Needham High School has created a Stress Reduction Committee to do something about these caffeine-wired, sleep-deprived, on-edge teens.
He has been hard at work teaching students how to relax. He has even invited stress-relief experts to the school—it’s just that students couldn’t fit them into their schedules. That’s why yoga classes are now required for seniors (and hopefully not graded).
But for some unfathomable reason, Mr. Richards has received countless criticism. (For the record, I support you Mr.Richards.) According to an article, the principal received hate mail from across the country after taking the honor roll list out of his school newspaper. That sounds uncomfortably reminiscent of the honor roll list published in my grade school newspaper. We even got to strut bright yellow student-of-the-month pins.
Those who know that Mr. Richards is now working on his doctorate at Boston College may be compelled to say that he’s not exactly leading by example. But he sees things in a different light. Based on the New York Times article, his intent was to assist students in managing stress and in finding the college that fits them best, whether it be prestigious or not. He encouraged students to be ambitious but reasonable when signing up for A.P. classes. “It’s very important to protect the part of the culture that leads to all the achievement,” he stated. “It’s more about bringing the culture to a healthier place.”
A stress-free high school environment is a start, but changes at the top are imperative for this to really work. If schools continue to be rated and employers continue to value them, it won’t be too easy to change things. A sort of trickle down relaxonomics is in order. And I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but sleep and finals are not much easier to manage in college (assuming that you plan to graduate). Take tips from Mr. Richards now, and the future may look brighter.
October 29, 2007
It’s about time someone rewarded students for the nonacademic work they’ve been doing. The AXA Foundation, in association with U.S. News & World Report, will be offering a scholarship to students who have achieved something admirable, something nonacademic for once. While some consideration will be given to a student’s extracurricular activities, work experience and academic record, the nonacademic achievement is the central focus. But you better hurry; only the first 12,000 applicants will be considered! Okay, so maybe that’s a lot.
1. 52- $10,000 prizes (one from each state, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia) 2. 10- $15,000 prizes (to be added to the awards of the10 best state winners)
1. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or legal residents 2. Applicants must be high-school seniors who plan to enroll, full-time, in a 2 or 4 year U.S. college by the fall of 2008 3. Applicants should demonstrate excellent achievement in a school activity, in the community or in the workplace 4. Applicants must be recommended by an unrelated adult 5. Applicants cannot be the employees or direct families of employees of AXA Group, U.S. News and World Report, Scholarship America or their affiliates
December 15, 2007
1. Completed Application 2. A detailed description of the nonacademic achievement 3. Signed verification of achievement by an unrelated adult
For additional information about applying for this and other scholarship opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search at Scholarships.com.
If you are planning to move out of your parent’s house when you go
back to school, you are probably going to have one or more roommates. Unique
challenges often arise when living with roommates, so it’s a good idea to learn
common roommate problems before you become one. By doing so, you will be
able to take steps to exhibit the traits of a good roommate. This knowledge will
also help you recognize and resolve conflicts.
Some of the most common roommate problems include:
Allowing such behaviors to go unchecked can permanently damage
roommate relationships, and can make a living situation unbearable. It’s
a good idea to establish roommate rules at the very beginning of the relationship
for the sake of avoiding roommate problems before they have a chance to develop.
October 26, 2007
A recent evaluation released by NASFAA, an organization representing the interests of financial aid professionals, brings into question the effectiveness of a new student lender auction system. The recently-passed College Cost Reduction and Access Act created, among other things, a new auction system wherein student lenders would bid on exclusive market rights in each state. While the law concentrated on cuts in student lender subsidies and increases in free student grants, the auction system aimed at lowering taxpayer burdens was also enacted.
When the system goes into effect in 2009, lenders interested in participating in the government's subsidized FFEL Plan would have to compete for the lowest subsidies. Those who won the bid would get exclusive state lender rights. Only lenders who would choose to take part in the government’s FFEL program would be effected, and only rights to PLUS loans would be auctioned.
However, the NASFAA report questions whether an auction would really be as effective as it initially seems.The statement suggested that the auction program was based on the rash assumption that lenders who bid for loan rights would be willing to greatly lower subsidy expectations, and that taxpayers would really benefit from lower subsidies. This assumption, based on the report, may prove to be faulty. State competition could be lower than expected, and some states could problematically benefit more than others. After a few years, the competition is likely to decrease altogether, and lenders may simply choose to opt out of the program.
Doubt was also cast upon the assumption that student borrowers would not be affected by the auction system. Based on the report, it is more likely that lenders will get rid of certain student benefits once they have exclusive rights to a state. Borrower services that could be affected include default prevention, financial literacy and electronic processing. The report disputes the claim that very few students are eligible for benefits. Instead, it suggests that most students qualify for at least some helpful services or benefits.
How an auction would in effect change the financial aid system and affect taxpayers remains to be seen. However, a "Bill Gates is about to take over the world" scenario is unlikely. First of all, a total overhaul is not going to occur; PLUS loans will be used to test out the system. Based on the results, a general idea of what could happen in such situations should be obtained. Secondly, the auction would repeat after two years, and it’s unlikely that lenders will get comfy enough to cause a ruckus. Because two lenders will be chosen per state, some competition is likely to keep them in line. Let us also remember that PLUS loans are not the only loans on the planet. If FFEL PLUS loans become too pricy, students could look to competing loans and lenders. FFEL program winners will still have a reputation to upkeep.
Ultimately, the government has the last word on this one. We'll see if that’s a good thing.
October 25, 2007
Based on a new report released by the College Board, government aid has increased in the past few years—but college costs have as well. And they’ve done so more quickly.
According to the report, a public four-year institution charges in-state students 6.6 percent more in tuition and fees than they did last year. The increase for out-of-state students is 5.9 percent.
Students who attend private four-year colleges haven’t fared any better. They may not have to worry about the whole in-state out-of-state thing, but their tuition rates are still higher than those at public colleges, and they are likewise increasing. Since last year, tuition and fees have increased by 6.3 percent at private four-year colleges.
Community colleges are pretty good when it comes to keeping the prices down, but their costs, as well as those of for-profit schools, have been rising as well.
Before you say it, yes, stated cost and actual cost are two different things. You don’t go into a car lot expecting to pay the ticket price, and you probably won’t pay the full price when it comes to college tuition. But that doesn’t mean that you’re being cut a deal. Even though government aid has been increasing—and will continue to do so due to the recent passage of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act—students are still paying more for college.
As my chemistry teacher used to repeat, “All things being equal, things aren’t going well.” (Maybe the second half was mine; it’s just what comes to mind when I think of chemistry.)
Thankfully, students don’t have to depend on the government to completely cover the cost of a college education. There are plenty of financial aid options out there, and they don’t all require interest payments. Students searching for tuition money can always look to college scholarships and grants for help. Plenty are available, and they won’t cost you a penny (don’t be scammed into believing that you should pay for scholarship consideration). Conduct a free scholarship search, and check out the numerous opportunities available to you.
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