December 14, 2007
In a move that’s both impressive and grossly irritating to poor students across the nation, Harvard University announced on Tuesday its intent to improve the financial aid packages of well-off students. Of course that’s not how they announced it. According to the Harvard Crimson (the university newspaper), the Dean of Admissions William Fitzsimmons proudly declared that the aid would allow students to pursue careers in public service without fear of outstanding debt--as if that's the ultimate goal of most Harvard graduates.
In 2006, Harvard eliminated contribution requirements for students whose families made less than $60,000 per year. It has taken things one step further this year by increasing the amount of financial aid offered to students whose household income was greater than that. Mr. Fitzsimmons stated that families making between $60,000 and $200,000 were in a state of “crisis” when it came to finding money for college.
Hmmm…Crisis eh? That’s quite a hyperbole, especially when one considers the rising number of students who leave school with debt that exceeds $100,000. I somehow don’t feel bad for people making $200,000 each year, and I definitely don’t subscribe to the fact that they are going through a crisis. According to the 2006 U.S. Census Bureau, the median (not average) income in the U.S. is $48,201 and only 19 percent of households make over $100,000. Double that and the word crisis does not apply.
Under Harvard's new plan, families with incomes between $60,000 and $120,000 per year will soon be expected to pay 0-10 percent of their income for an education. Those making between $120,000 and $180,000 will be expected to pay 10 percent of that amount. To put things in perspective, the sticker price for the Harvard package is $45,620, and a family making $180,000 will pay 39 percent of that.
After reading the article, Harvard graduate Andrew Kalloch offered his thoughts on the news in a letter to the editors, “I wear old T-shirts, and they suit me just fine. Others wear designer clothing and there is nothing wrong with that. What is wrong is asking alumni to contribute to the embarrassment of riches already bestowed upon the American upper class.”
I'm not saying we should begrudge any students their financial aid, popped collars or not. After all, low or nonexistent tuition would be a deserved dream come true for most hard working students. It's just a bit disconcerting that myriad students with incomes far below those acknowledged by Harvard are burdened by student loans, and no one is giving them a reasonable piece of the pie.
December 13, 2007
Hey high school seniors (and superstar juniors), how would you like to have your school pay for your AP exams? I’m assuming there are no jeers in the crowd, at least not from students who know that College Board, the administrator of AP tests, charges students $84 for each exam.
Students lucky enough to belong to the numerous high schools in major North Virginia districts no longer have to worry about these rates. Since 1998, numerous counties in the state have been adopting the idea of helping students get an inexpensive head start on a college education. By paying for the students’ tests, these schools have been able to save students hundreds.
Those who take an AP class don’t always stop with one. Many students are taking on increasingly large loads, enrolling in two, three, four, even five college-level classes per year. There are students who begin earlier than that, building up their resume during their junior year. The money they dish out for these tests adds up. Some students take advantage of the discount prices offered to low-income students, but most can't count on them.
Many North Virginia schools take care of this problem by entirely covering the cost of the exam. The testing fee policies do vary by school, and not all students can expect the same assistance. In return for the coverage, some schools require that all students take the exams. Others do not. Some cover the whole cost, and others only pay a portion of the fee. Regardless, these schools deserve props for helping students meet their financial needs. It would be nice if the word spread to other states.
December 12, 2007
Yesterday New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced his settlement with student loan consolidation company Student Financial Services Inc. (SFS) over offers of kickbacks to athletic departments. The lender had given money to school athletic departments in exchange for the right to use their official symbols on forms and advertisements. The school contracts allowed for the use of school and team names, colors, mascots and logos, thereby creating the impression that SFS was the official lender of the school. According to the settlement, SFS agreed to break ties with these colleges and universities, most of which were Division 1 NCAA schools.
“Student loan companies incorporate school insignia and colors into advertisements because they know students are more likely to trust a lender if its loan appears to be approved by their college,” stated Cuomo. “We cannot allow lenders to exploit this trust with deceptive, co-branded marketing.”
Under the new code, SFS agreed to end its loan-related contracts with 63 schools, including Georgetown University, Florida State University and the University of Kansas, as well as with five sports marketers, including ESPN Regional Television, Inc. The lender also agreed to tout the importance of informed loan decision making by organizing campaigns to be featured in the schools’ leading newspapers. The lender would no longer be able to pay for student referrals nor could it organize contests with financial prizes for students.
Cuomo’s settlement is part of an ongoing investigation aimed at ridding financial aid offices of illegal and immoral lender marketing tactics. So far, the attorney general has settled with twelve student lenders for such relations and collected $13.7 million in lender money to go to the National Education Fund, a fund dedicated to educating students about their financial aid options.
December 11, 2007
Harold Alfond, founder of Dexter Shoe Company, inventor of the factory outlet store and longtime philanthropist has arranged for every child born in central Maine to have a college savings account established in their name upon birth. Eventually, this program will include all children born anywhere in the state.
Alfond died last month at age 93 and, over the course of his life, had donated over $100 million dollars to hospitals, colleges and numerous other charitable causes in Maine. This latest philanthropic act, presumably the last in a long line of generous efforts, will begin with a pilot program on January 1, 2008 at Maine General Health hospitals. Every newborn at the Augusta and Waterville Maine General hospitals will have an account set up in their name with a beginning balance of $500 and it will spread statewide the following year, possibly sooner if it does well. Under the program, each newborn's $500 will be invested in a college tuition account through Maine's NextGen program.
Mr. Alfond, who's wife died in 2005, is survived by a brother, a sister, a daughter, three sons, 13 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.
December 10, 2007
Each year, Scholarships.com offers seven students a total of $10,000 to be applied toward their education. The scholarship essay topics are meant to evoke thought and to challenge participants to proactively respond to controversial issues. Students applying for this year’s award will be able to choose between writing about the effectiveness of the No Child Left Behind Act and about the rising cost of higher education. Students may write about either topic, provided their ideas are original. Scholarships.com looks for essays that demonstrate critical thought and highlight the student's ability to analyze and find solutions to potential problems. A winning essay will be worth up to $3,000 and will be forwarded to the appropriate public official in the hope that Scholarships.com can be part of the solution. Award winners will be notified by May 30, 2008 and announced on June 30, 2008. Their essays will be made available to the public on the Scholarships.com Winners page soon thereafter.
For more information about this and other scholarship opportunities (including contact and application details) you can conduct a free scholarship search.
1. One $3,000 grand prize 2. One $2,000 prize 3. Five $1,000 prizes
1. Applicants must be U.S. citizens 2. Applicants must be high school seniors during the time of submission 3. Applicants must be 18 years of age by the time the prize is awarded on July 31, 2008 4. Applicants must plant to attend a U.S. Department of Education accredited 2 or 4 year college, university or trade school in the fall semester following their entry. 5. Only one entry per person
March 31, 2008
1. An essay of no more than 1,000 words answering one of the following questions:
A. Has the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 been successful in fulfilling its purpose? Why or why not? B. How has the rising cost of a college education affected students and families? What can the government do to offset any adverse effects or related financial pressures?
2. A short, informal response that demonstrates why attending college is important to the applicant as well as an outline of the applicant’s academic and career goals. The response should include an answer to the following question:
What do you feel will be your biggest obstacle in attending college, and, if able to attend, how do you think your degree will help you achieve your goals?
3. A letter of reference that addresses applicant potential and provides support for receipt of scholarship assistance. The letter should be from an adult who knows the student well enough to speak authoritatively about their character and abilities e.g., teacher, counselor or other school faculty. If none of the aforementioned is able to assist the applicant, a parent or other adult relative will suffice.
Further details, including information about applying, can be found by conducting a free scholarship search. Once a student has completed the search, this scholarship will appear in their scholarship list, provided the student is eligible.
December 7, 2007
The QuestBridge organization has been turning heads lately for its ability to match talented, underprivileged students with excellent schools across the country. It's something of a dating service for students and colleges. QuestBridge has sought after and found numerous exceptional high school students and paired them with some of the nation’s most prestigious, and expensive, colleges and universities. By participating, schools can diversify their campus, and eventually, the demographic of the nation's leading scholars. QuestBridge makes finding gifted and oftentimes overlooked teens look easy.
High school seniors who are nominated, or who nominate themselves, fill out one application that can then be sent to all participating schools. Their fee is waived, and an essay about the student's ability to overcome obstacles is also included. When selecting finalists, QuestBridge considers academics, finances, eligibility requirements and personal circumstances.
From there, applications are sent to schools which make the final decision. Accepted students are offered full four-year scholarships to attend one of the twenty participating colleges and universities. Among these are Notre Dame University, Stanford University, the University of Chicago and Amherst College. There were 103 QuestBridge students who received scholarships to leading schools last year, and the number is expected to increase this year.
Students who may not have otherwise considered expensive schools suddenly find opportunity within reach. A featured QuestBridge student who won a scholarship to Stanford stated, “I didn’t feel like I could get in to a top college. I filled out my application and lost my nerve to hit the ‘submit’ button. I will never forget receiving a call at my home from a Quest counselor, encouraging me to go ahead and apply.”
For more information about the QuestBridge National College Match Scholarship, you can conduct a free scholarship search at Scholarships.com.
December 6, 2007
U.S. News may be a news source by name, but it’s the company’s annual college report that’s responsible for its celebrity status. According to a U.S. News representative, the 2007 College Ranking Report drew 8.9 million website viewers within the first three days of the date of release. The company also guarantees prospect advertisers that at least 2 million readers will read their in-print magazine. It is an undeniably attractive deal which, of course, costs an arm and a leg. The best ad position can cost a company as much as $232,992. (What ever happened to rounding?) For the price of one ad, a family can make a 100% down payment on their home.
The college rankings have become so popular that it only made sense for U.S. News to take things to the next level. Students who want to get a good education after high school can get a head start by doing well in one of the nation’s highest-ranked high schools. Right or wrong, the demand for this information is there, and U.S. News is jumping at the chance to capitalize on it.
The list is a great business for U.S. News and a boon for communities lucky enough to be in presence of these regal high schools. When searching for my first post-college apartment, I came upon a tattered place with a surprisingly high price, at least for me. It was already above my optimal range, but I was curious—until I toured the residence. I was both amazed and irritated with the owner for thinking he could get away with such consumer gouging. His excuse, as you may have guessed, was a good school district. That was my cue to leave, but other families would have been more than happy to compromise. If I had kids, I may have been one of them.
There has been no lack of controversy surrounding the U.S. News college reports, and controversy about the high school reports is probably forthcoming. A number of schools, including Reed College and Dickinson University, have refused to participate in the college reports by not providing information, and time will tell how unranked high schools will react to the reports. Whether it’s for the highest paying career options, the joy of an excellent education or for membership in what Stephen Colbert referred to as a brie cheese elite, students and parents across the nation are drawn to prestigious schools. Until this is no longer the case, you can be sure that inside college scoop will be warmly received and heatedly debated.
December 5, 2007
When investigating ways to pay for your undergraduate college education, it’s important to thoroughly research all your options. There are many different financial aid scholarships for individuals from all walks of life. Whether you are a graduating high school senior or you have been out of school for several years, it is likely that you are eligible to apply for a number of undergraduate scholarships.
Finding financial aid scholarship opportunities doesn’t have to be time consuming or difficult. You may be surprised to learn that there are many financial aid scholarship opportunities in your own back yard.
Places to Look for Financial Aid Scholarships:
If there is a community foundation in your area, speak with the scholarship administrator about your situation and goals to find out what types of scholarships and grants they administer that might be right for you.
December 4, 2007
The No Child Left Behind act seemed like a great idea at first. The House and the Senate both agreed that the law would help schools pull themselves up by their bootstraps. In a you’ve got to see it to believe it moment, more Democrats than Republicans voted in support of President Bush’s proposal.
Rules mandated by the No Child Left Behind act were set up to pressure schools into living up to scholastic standards. By 2014, students were to meet stated reading and math expectations, and gaps between students of different ethnicities and economic backgrounds were expected to close. These goals would be achieved by administering regular tests and by holding educators accountable for their students' performance.
It has been five years since the bill’s passage, and feelings about the law’s success are more divided than ever. President Bush, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings and supporting legislators believe the law to be near perfect, but many representatives side with educators in saying that an overhaul is in order.
Cited faults include shortage of funding, lack of sliding scales and teacher compensation. Many educators were frustrated that score improvements rather than scores were not stressed. They argued that the government spends hundreds less per student each year in poor districts and that poorly-funded schools should not be expected to meet the same standards as better-funded ones. On the other end of the spectrum were those who argued that teachers with exceptional results should be financially rewarded, a thorny issue disputed during a recent Democratic presidential debate.
The No Child Left Behind act is a controversial topic, and Scholarships.com recognizes that. In an effort to assist students with their college funding efforts, Scholarships.com has announced its Resolve to Evolve $10,000 Scholarship for 2008. High school seniors can apply for the scholarship by writing about one of two topics, the No Child Left Behind act or the rising costs of a college education.
December 3, 2007
If you can name a city in the U.S. with no McDonald's, you deserve a scholarship. McDonald’s fast food restaurants are everywhere, and they offer more than three minute french fries. Since its founding in 1985, the Ronald McDonald House Charities has given away $29 million in scholarship money. Their financial aid program offers four different scholarship opportunities. There is one open to students of all races, one for Hispanic Americans, one for Asian Americans and one for African Americans. It's time to set aside the creepy feeling you get when looking at McDonald's odd characters. If the clown is offering scholarships, it's best to take him up on the offer. For more information about this and other scholarships please visit Scholarships.com and conduct a free scholarship search.
Most local McDonald's chapters award a minimum of $1,000
1. Applicant must be a high school senior 2. Applicant must be under the age of 21 3. Applicant must be a full-time student attending a two-or four-year college or university the fall following the scholarship receipt 4. Applicant must be a U.S. citizen or resident 5. Applicant must live in a participating RMHC Chapter geographic area
February 15, 2008
1. A completed scholarship application to be submitted online or by mail 2. Transcript 3. Personal Statement 4. Letter of Recommendation 5. Parent or Guardian IRS Form 1040 (financial need will be considered)
Further details, including information about the application form, can be found by conducting a free scholarship search or by visiting this page.
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