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2014's Most Memorable Commencement Speakers Are...

June 3, 2014

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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Michelle Obama Tells Students “My College Story Can Be Yours”

June 17, 2014

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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Starbucks Offers Employees Free College Tuition

June 16, 2014

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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Sleep-Deprived College Students: College to Open Nap Rooms

July 1, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

We've all been there: Going about our day without a care in the world when it dawns on us that (go figure) our term paper on the pros and cons of procrastination in the creative process is due tomorrow. Panicked, we consider emailing our professor an excuse about a death in the family but given we killed off Nana (who's actually alive and well back home) last semester during finals week, we decide it's best to pull an all-nighter. The next day, we're irritable, unmotivated and just plain sluggish and while the simple solution is to overcome procrastination and not leave an assignment until the last minute, the Art Center College of Design has suggested a different approach: a nap room on campus.

The Pasadena, Calif.-based college opened its first nap room last year in an effort to combat exhaustion among its mostly commuter students. "Our Nap Room is available for students four weeks during each 14-week term. We are a year-round program with three terms a year," said spokesperson Teri Bond. "The room is available 24 hours on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during those four weeks each term." And while there isn’t a determined space just yet, Art Center students are hoping to follow in the footsteps of the University of Colorado-Boulder and the University of Michigan in instituting a permanent nap room on campus. (For more on this story, click here.)

If you’re a fan of napping between classes, do you think it’s your university’s responsibility to provide nap rooms for students? Let us know what you think in the comments section. And for a more detailed look into the Art Center College of Design or hundreds of other universities, check out our College Search.

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Asking Your Student Loan Servicer the Right Questions

June 23, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

If you're a recent high school graduate, chances are you're looking forward to the independence that comes with becoming a college freshman. And while anticipating all the excitement that comes with entering college – meeting new people, establishing a home away from home, etc. – establishing how you're going to pay for it is an entirely different story. Here at Scholarships.com, we encourage students to apply for scholarships early and often but taking out student loans might be inevitable. With that being said, knowing what questions you should ask your student loan servicer might ease the transition so check out the list of helpful questions that financial aid officers, student loan counselors and former lenders recommend you ask:

  • When exactly will my payments begin?
  • Do you have my current contact information on file?
  • What is my interest rate?
  • Is my interest rate competitive?
  • Is there any way to get an interest rate reduction?
  • Is consolidating my loans a good option for me?
  • How do I qualify for Interest-Based Repayment or Income-Contingent Repayment?
  • Do I qualify for an economic hardship deferment?
  • What happens if I lose my job?
  • If I go back to graduate school, what are my loan options?

Can you think of any other questions you’d like answered? If so, feel free to add them in the comments section. And for more information on the ins and outs of student loans, head over to Scholarships.com’s Financial Aid section.

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Most Expensive Public Schools for Out-of-State Students

July 3, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

For the budget-conscious high school senior, it seems like a no-brainer to apply to the local state school for the best shot at affordable tuition. But with the economy in a slump and funding cuts becoming the norm, public universities across the country are more interested in recruiting out-of-state students. Why? It’s pretty simple: On average, tuition and fees for students crossing state lines is more than double that of their in-state peers. So if you have your sights set on schools beyond your state’s boundaries, check out the 10 most expensive public schools for out-of-state students (figures do not including room and board, books and other miscellaneous costs):

Did your prospective college make the list and does this information alter your interest in the school? Is it fair for colleges facing financial woes to place the burden on the shoulders of incoming out-of-state students? 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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Newsflash: University Offers Athletic Scholarship to Gamers

June 24, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

An Illinois university is redefining the traditional notion of what it means to be a college athlete: This fall, Robert Morris University will be the first school in the country to offer athletic scholarships to students who play the video game League of Legends. Gamers rejoice!

Citing the "large surge in popularity" of video game competitions, the university announced that it "recognizes the value and legitimacy of eSports and is excited to add eSports to its already rich athletic curriculum." Since news of the scholarships broke last week, the school has received hundreds of inquiries from prospective e-athletes. Interested in the details? Robert Morris will fund about 30 renewable scholarships, some of which will be valued at $19,000! Robert Morris’ team will join the Collegiate Star League, made up of 103 universities, including Arizona State, George Washington and Harvard. Kurt Melcher, Robert Morris University’s associate athletic director, said he's happy to see online athletes included in the school's sports program. "League of Legends is a competitive, challenging game which requires a significant amount of teamwork to be successful," he said in a statement. "Robert Morris has always been at the forefront of providing opportunities for a diverse student population with different interests and skills." (For more on this story, click here.)

Is Robert Morris’ inclusion of eSports the wave of the future? Should other schools begin offering athletic scholarships to gamers? Let us know your thought in the comments section. For additional information on more traditional athletic scholarships, head over to Scholarships.com’s Sports Scholarships section. Be sure to check out our examples of school-based and sports scholarships from outside organizations and don't rule out academic scholarships when applying for funding either!

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Newsflash: University Offers Athletic Scholarship to Gamers

June 24, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

An Illinois university is redefining the traditional notion of what it means to be a college athlete: This fall, Robert Morris University will be the first school in the country to offer athletic scholarships to students who play the video game League of Legends. Gamers rejoice!

Citing the "large surge in popularity" of video game competitions, the university announced that it "recognizes the value and legitimacy of eSports and is excited to add eSports to its already rich athletic curriculum." Since news of the scholarships broke last week, the school has received hundreds of inquiries from prospective e-athletes. Interested in the details? Robert Morris will fund about 30 renewable scholarships, some of which will be valued at $19,000! Robert Morris’ team will join the Collegiate Star League, made up of 103 universities, including Arizona State, George Washington and Harvard. Kurt Melcher, Robert Morris University’s associate athletic director, said he's happy to see online athletes included in the school's sports program. "League of Legends is a competitive, challenging game which requires a significant amount of teamwork to be successful," he said in a statement. "Robert Morris has always been at the forefront of providing opportunities for a diverse student population with different interests and skills." (For more on this story, click here.)

Is Robert Morris’ inclusion of eSports the wave of the future? Should other schools begin offering athletic scholarships to gamers? Let us know your thought in the comments section. For additional information on more traditional athletic scholarships, head over to Scholarships.com’s Sports Scholarships section. Be sure to check out our examples of school-based and sports scholarships from outside organizations and don't rule out academic scholarships when applying for funding either!

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Class of 2008 Grads Doing Fine, Finding Employment

July 9, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

The Class of 2008 graduated college in the midst of the Great Recession but new government data show that in terms of employment, they're doing just fine.

The National Center for Education Statistics study entitled "First Look at the Employment Experiences and Lives of College Graduates, 4 Years On" surveyed 17,000 people who graduated in the 2007-2008 academic year. They found that of those graduates who were not enrolled in further postsecondary studies in 2012, 82.5 percent were employed; of those individuals, 84.5 percent were in one full-time job, 7.8 percent had one part-time job and 7.7 percent had multiple jobs. Anthony P. Carneval, director of Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce, said the 2007-2008 graduates were "basically a step ahead of the storm," in terms of having jobs lined up before the recessions effects were felt. (Unfortunately, students who graduated in 2009 and 2010 were not so lucky.) You'll find several highlights from the study below but for a more in-depth look, click here:

  • Graduates who worked but had never gone on for more postsecondary education had held an average of 2.1 jobs in the years since graduation. Nearly 39 percent had held one job, while 11.4 percent had held four or more jobs.
  • On average, graduates who had not pursued further postsecondary education worked 84 percent of the months since graduating, spent 5.8 percent of those months unemployed and spent 10.2 percent of them out of the labor force.
  • Graduates who were not enrolled in a postsecondary program in 2012 and who had a full- or part-time job worked, on average, 41.2 hours a week in that job. Full-time workers earned an average annual salary of $52,200 and a median salary of $46,000. Part-time workers earned an average of $25,900 and a median of $20,200.

It's important to note that the study doesn't show whether graduates were employed in a field related to their studies, how student loan debt affected graduates' wealth or earning potential, or whether they sought financial support from family members. With that being said, what do you think of the findings? And to the recent college graduates, how is your job search going? Share your thoughts and experiences in our comments section!

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What’s in a Decimal Point?

Online FAFSA Error Makes Low-Income Filers Look Like Millionaires

July 7, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

When it comes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), a decimal point could make a world of difference: An update to this year’s FAFSA has cost some low-income filers a chance at some serious federal student aid.

For the 2014-15 FAFSA, the government expanded several income and asset fields in the online form to accommodate higher incomes. Herein lies the problem: Some lower-income filers are missing the .00 outside the box and entering cents into the text field. And when the do that, an income of $28,532.79, for example, is converted into $2,853,279. Big mistake. Huge. If the error isn't caught or corrected on individual forms, the filers could lose out on Pell Grants or other need-based student aid. According to Jeff Baker, policy liaison at the Education Department’s Office of Federal Student Aid, the department has already identified 165,000 individuals who've made the mistake. He's estimated that a majority of colleges have at least one affected student, while some may have hundreds. "It's a serious problem," said Baker at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators’ annual meeting. "We have to fix it." (For more on this story, click here.)

With all the headaches that typically go into applying for federal aid using the FAFSA, what are your thoughts on the current roadblocks? Why not just have filers round income to the nearest whole dollar amount? For more information on the FAFSA, the importance of applying and what you'll need before you get started, check out Scholarships.com’s Federal Aid section.

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