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Ivy League Students Avoid Student Debt Crisis

by Suada Kolovic

Despite the hefty sticker price associated with all Ivy League institutions, estimated yearly costs are actually quite affordable. In fact, Ivy Leaguers graduate with less debt than their peers who attended less prestigious schools. How? Turns out healthy endowment funds play a huge role in aiding low-income, middle-income and even upper-income students with tuition costs. Score!

According to statistics from U.S. News & World Report, many of the best colleges in the county are relative steals for the lucky few who earn admission. For example, Princeton University students graduate with about $5,096 of debt for all four years – the lowest sum for alumni leaving a national university with debt. Amy Laitinen, a former White House education adviser now at the New America Foundation, said, "Folks look at the sticker price and assume that's what everyone is paying. The truth is that the more elite schools have more resources."

But with acceptance rates hovering at less than 10 percent, gaining access to those Ivy League dollars is fiercely competitive. Do you think it’s fair for students who don’t meet the Ivies’ steep admissions standards to be saddled with crippling debt or should the few that do be rewarded with an affordable, brand name education? Let us know what you think in the comments section.


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UPenn Students’ Robotic Arm Invention Can Make You Stronger

by Suada Kolovic

Have you ever encountered a situation where superhuman strength would have come in handy? Sure, who hasn’t? Well, thanks to four engineering students from the University of Pennsylvania, it seems as though comic book-like brawn may soon become a reality.

The Titan Arm was designed to help ordinary individuals undergoing physical rehabilitation or those who would benefit from a little extra muscle. The upper-body exoskeleton is essentially a battery-powered arm brace attached to a backpack that would provide the wearer with the ability to carry an additional 40 pounds. The students – Nick Parrotta, Elizabeth Beattie, Nick McGill and Niko Vladimirov – have already won at least $75,000 in prize money for their design. "There is certainly a market, but it's slowly emerging because the systems are not perfect as yet," said Paolo Bonato, director of the Motion Analysis Lab at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston. With that in mind, the Titan Arm team hopes to refine their prototype, considering different control strategies, more innovative materials and manufacturing. (For more on this story, click here.)

Do you think the Titan Arm has the potential to change lives for the better? Let us know in the comments section.


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Connecticut College Study Finds Oreos Are Just As Addictive as Cocaine, Morphine

by Suada Kolovic

The diet of a typical college student likely includes a few high-calorie staples like pizza, Top Ramen, French fries and cookies. And as unfriendly to your health and waistline those options are, high-fat/high-sugar foods are also comparable to drugs in their addictiveness. Take Oreos: A new study shows that “America’s favorite cookie” is as addictive as cocaine and morphine.

Connecticut College students and a professor of neuroscience have found that lab rats eating Oreos activated significantly more neurons in the brain’s “pleasure center” than cocaine or morphine. “Our research supports the theory that high-fat/high-sugar foods stimulate the brain in the same way that drugs do,” said neuroscience professor Joseph Schroeder. “It may explain why some people can’t resist these foods despite the fact that they know they are bad for them.” The student behind the study explained that she wanted to expand upon this research and explore how foods with high fat and sugar content contribute to obesity in low-income communities. “Even though we associate significant health hazards in taking drugs like cocaine and morphine, high-fat/high-sugar foods may present even more of a danger because of their accessibility and affordability,” said neuroscience major Jamie Honohun. (For more on this study, click here.)

What do you think of the study’s findings? Let us know in the comments section.


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Study: Majors Are More Important Than Where You Went to College

by Suada Kolovic

With fall semester in full swing, high school seniors are mere months away from deciding where they’ll spend the next four (or more) years. And while there are multiple factors to consider when making such a major decision, most would argue that prestigious universities and high-earning salaries are intrinsically tied...or are they?

According to a recent study by College Measure, students who earn associate degrees and occupational certificates often earn more in their first year out of college than those with traditional four-year college degrees. Examining schools in Arkansas, Colorado, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia, the study found that short-term credentials such as two-year degrees and technical certificates were worth more than bachelor’s degrees in a graduate’s early years. College Measures President Mark Schneider said, “The findings challenge some conventional wisdom, showing for example that what you study matters more than where you study. Higher education is one of the most important investments people make. The right choices can lead to good careers and good wages while the wrong ones can leave graduates with mountains of debt and poor prospects for ever paying off student loans.” (For more on this study, click here.)

It’s important to remember that the study focuses on short-term gains as opposed to long-term/lifelong earnings. It’d be interesting for College Measure to reexamine their findings over the next few years but what do you think of its current report? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section!


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California Gov Signs Bill Allowing Higher Fees for Popular Community College Classes

by Suada Kolovic

If you’re a high school senior and you don’t think a traditional four-year university is for you, attending a community college does have its perks. Whether you’re interested in completing your general courses or testing the waters with a major that you're not absolutely set on, community colleges offer students the luxury of figuring out their educational path for a fraction of the cost...or at least they used to: California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that would allow a handful of community colleges to charge inflated prices for in-demand courses. Let’s say it all together now: Booooooo!

The higher costs – $200 per unit instead of $46 – would only affect the shorter summer and winter sessions. Supporters insist that the pilot program would prevent more students from being shut out of courses they need to graduate but critics said that lower-income students would be denied the opportunity to obtain course credits essential to their educational success. "The state would be shifting the burden for funding access from the state general fund to the backs of students," said Vincent Stewart, the community college system's vice chancellor for governmental relations, after the California Legislature approved the measure. "Creating a pay-to-play fee structure, where students who have greater wealth and means can get on a fast track, is patently unfair."

Even with the rate per unit almost quintupled, the overall cost of studying at a community college is still considerably less when compared to traditional options but is it fair to charge more? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.


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Former UNC Professor to Plead Not Guilty to Academic Felony Fraud

Football Coach and Chancellor Depart Amidst Scandal

December 4, 2013

Former UNC Professor to Plead Not Guilty to Academic Felony Fraud

by Suada Kolovic

The life of the average college student is riddled with deadlines and due dates so when the pressure is on come midterms and finals, there are no sweeter words for those short on time than “class is canceled.” But what if I told you that on the rarest of occasions, you could sign up for a lecture course where attendance wasn't required? Well, that was the reality for a group of student athletes at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; we should mention, however, that the professor of said course has been indicted for doing just that and could face 10 months in prison for his actions if convicted.

Julius Nyang’oro, a former chairman of UNC’s Department of African and Afro-American Studies, is accused of receiving $12,000 for a lecture course while holding no classes. Orange County District Attorney James Woodall said Nyang’oro’s 2011 summer course was supposed to have regular lectures but required students to write papers in lieu of coming to class. A defense attorney says the former professor will plead not guilty to the felony fraud charge and that the university recouped the $12,000 but the scandal has contributed to the departure of football coach Butch Davis (who had 19 of his players enrolled in the class) and the resignation of chancellor Holden Thorp. (For more on this story, click here.)


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High School in Oregon May Make College Acceptance Graduation Requirement

by Suada Kolovic

For most high school students, senior year is chock-full with college to-dos. From finalizing where you'll go and what you'll study to applying for scholarships and getting your financial aid in order, the list is quite long but what about those students who don't have their sights set on college after graduation? If you're a student at a high school in Oregon, gaining acceptance into a post-secondary institution will soon be a prerequisite for graduating regardless of your stance on obtaining a college education.

Corbett School District Superintendent Randy Trani's proposal would require each student to be admitted into an institution of higher education but they would not be obligated to attend. He went on to explain that the requirement would not stop a student from graduating since all Oregon high school graduates are eligible for spots at local community colleges as long as they apply. The district school board will vote on the proposal in December with many expecting it to pass. Interestingly enough, some are suggesting an ulterior motive for the modification: According to an editorial piece in The Oregonian, there is speculation that the proposal would help the prestigious high school maintain its current standing – fifth best high school in the nation – on Newsweek’s Best High Schools list. (Having a 100-percent college acceptance rate would undoubtedly increase their ranking, even if every student was “accepted” into non-selective community colleges.) Trani is quick to discredit that claim and told the editorial board that the plan was “just one step among many we’ve been taking for 10 years. We want to make this change so kids have more choice.” (For more on this story, click here.)

If the high school is requiring a student to be admitted into a college but not attend, what purpose do you think it might serve the student? Let us know in the comments section.


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LGBT Students Can Face Serious Roadblocks to Financial Aid

by Suada Kolovic

Unless you plan on paying for your college education out-of-pocket, completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (more commonly known as the FAFSA) is essential in your quest for financial aid. For the uninitiated, the FAFSA is used by the Department of Education to determine your eligibility for federal student financial aid for college, including the Pell Grant, federal work-student programs and federal student loans. And while most students struggle with the complicated application process, LGBT students potentially face more serious roadblocks: According to U.S. News & World Report, name changes, gender identification and strained family relationships can present unique FAFSA challenges.

In 2012, sexual orientation and gender identity were the number one reason for youth homelessness in the U.S., notes Thomas Krever, chief executive officer of the Hetrick-Martin Institute. Almost 40 percent of homeless youth identified as LGBT and of those teens, 46 percent ran away because their family rejected their sexual orientation or gender identity. What does this have to do with the FAFSA? Students under the age of 24 need tax returns and bank statements from their parents in order to file for financial aid and those without family support are left in limbo. Other LGBT students struggle with the fact that the FAFSA doesn’t necessarily reflect their identity. Questions about name and gender can be enough to keep transgender teens from even applying, says Eli Erlick, founder of Trans Student Equality Resources. "One thing about funding, specifically FAFSA, is that transgender students may not be able to change their name due to parents not being supportive or not having the money to do so," says Erlick. "This can lead to transgender students being nervous to apply, or not even applying at all, because they're scared for their own safety, because using these forms with their legal names may out them." (For more on this story, click here.)

What do you think about the challenges LGBT students face when seeking financial aid? Can you think of something the government can do to ease this pressure?


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GWU Admits Considering Financial Need in Admissions

by Suada Kolovic

With so much riding on whether or not you get in, applying for college can cause even the most confident students some serious anxiety. And with so many factors to consider like high school rankings, SAT/ACT scores, GPAs and community service hours, it’s important to understand that more often than not, colleges are also factoring in a student’s ability to pay...even when they say they’re not. Insert outrage here.

Just last Friday, George Washington University’s website claimed to evaluate applicants without considering their financial need (also known as a need-blind admissions approach) but now they’re clarifying that policy: It now reads that while applications are first reviewed without consideration of need, “at the point of finalizing admissions decisions, we must balance a student’s financial resources with the university’s aid budget. This practice of being need-aware allows us to meet as much need of as many students as possible.” Why the sudden transparency, GWU? Turns out that the school’s new senior associate provost for enrollment management’s recent interview with The GW Hatchet revealed that she characterized the university’s policy as need-aware as opposed to need-blind. The problem? By being need-aware for years and suggesting otherwise, the university appears to not only have violated the Statement of Principles of Good Practice of the National Association for College Admission Counseling but encouraged low-income students to apply (and pay a hefty application fee!) on the false pretense that the university was need-blind. (For more on this story, click here.)

The ability to pay for college has long been a major factor when it comes to gaining admission but to blatantly advertise otherwise is undeniably uncool. What do you think of GWU’s current predicament? Should the university face serious repercussions? Let us know in the comments section.


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by Suada Kolovic

With college on the horizon for high school seniors, students with political aspirations should understand that it's never too early to start making the right connections. And what better place is there to start than by attending the college that boasts 47 elected officials currently on Capitol Hill? (Curious as to which school I’m referring? None other than Harvard University, of course.)

With twice as many members of Congress counted as alumni, Harvard just might be the college for those with governmental ambitions. Georgetown University scores a distant second with 20 current members of Congress, followed by Yale University with 18. Check out the list below to see what other colleges might better your chances at making your political dream a reality:

For the complete list, head over to FindTheBest.


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