September 13, 2007
In a press release published yesterday, CollegeBoard, a not-for-profit organization administering the AP and SAT tests, announced the results of their 2007 Education Pays study. According to the study, college graduates not only earn more, but also contribute more to society.It was found that 43% of individuals ages 25 and older who received their bachelor’s degree volunteered this year, compared with only 19% of those who had a high school diploma. Of those who volunteered, those with a bachelor’s degree reported having volunteered an average of 55 hours wile those with a high school degree reported volunteering an average of 53 hours in the past year.
In addition to volunteer work, college graduates were more likely to donate blood and to vote. They also placed more importance on efforts to understand the opinions of others. The reported significance of mutual understanding increased gradually and in line with the level of education. Of inviduals polled, 59% of those without a high school education said that trying to understand the opinions of others was important compared with 67% of those with an associates degree and 79% of those with a master’s degree.
That college grads earned more came as no surprise. Based on reports of the mean earning of full-time year-round workers ages 25 and older, those with a high school degree earned $24,900 after taxes, those with an associate’s degree earned $31,500, those with a bachelor’s degree earned $39,000, and those with a master’s earned $46,000 after taxes.
The report also indicated that although progress had been made in increasing higher education opportunities, the education levels of those coming from high-income families were still much greater than those of low income families.
Students don’t have to let money be a deterrent in receiving a college education. By visiting Scholarships.com, students can find myriad scholarship and grant opportunities. Students who visit the site can also plan ahead by comparing colleges and by researching information about various sources of financial aid. All of this comes at the low cost of zero dollars. No shipping and no handling charges apply.
September 12, 2007
The terms "weighted" and "unweighted" get thrown around a lot when students reach their senior year of high school. Scholarship providers, grant providers, employees and colleges are frequently unified in their interest in a student’s Grade Point Average (GPA). They are not as unified in the GPA format they would like to see.
This is what is they mean when they ask for your weighted or unweighted GPA.
Many schools offer accelerated and Advanced Placement (AP) classes to students who show academic merit. To distinguish an “A” in the advanced geometry class from that in the regular one, schools often assign a different point system to harder classes. They may, for example, bump up a student’s grade by .5 points if the class they took was accelerated. Therefore, a student with three “Bs” in a regular class may have a 3.0 GPA while one with three “Bs” in advanced classes may have a 3.5 GPA. If a student takes only accelerated classes and their school bumps up each accelerated grade by one point, they may potentially earn a 5.0 GPA. The weight a school assigns to each class varies, and straight “A” students can graduate with different weighted GPAs depending on the school they attended.
The unweighted GPA is the average of all class grades based on a 4.0 scale. If the student earned an “A” in an advanced English class, the unweighted grade would still be a 4.0-- the corresponding number on standard grade conversion charts--instead of, for example, a 4.5. Regardless of class level, each class is graded on the same point system. Things can get a bit confusing when schools have an unweighted scale but still offer and “A+” that is worth 4.3 points. While still unweighted, this GPA is higher than a 4.0.
Generally, however, an unweighted GPA peaks at 4.0. Students who have taken accelerated classes may have lower GPAs on this scale, but those who have a regular schedule may fare better in class rank once everyone is on the same playing field. Because the weight a school attaches to each accelerated class varies, an unweighted GPA allows schools and award providers to see a student’s performance on the same scale, regardless of the school they attended. Unfortunately, additional efforts exerted in advanced classes may not be as visible.
At Scholarships.com, students are asked to state their GPAs on a 4.0 scale. Students who received anything above a 4.0 should record their GPA as 4.0. If a scholarship provider asks the student for GPA information, they may then offer in-depth information.
September 11, 2007
High schools and colleges throughout the world, and even within the U.S., have developed varying methods for assessing the academic progress of students. It is therefore understandable that students have expressed uncertainty about converting their grades into the standard 4.0 GPA format.
Students whose schools operate on a U.S. letter scale can find their GPA by adding the numbers that correspond with their letter grades (the conversion chart is shown below) and dividing the total by the number of classes they have taken. For example, if a student took three classes and received an “A” (4) in two classes and a “B” (3) in the third, their GPA would be a 3.67 (11/3)
Although some scholarship providers don’t take GPA into account during the evaluation process, there are others that do. To ensure that only the most relevant awards are shown, Scholarships.com asks that students provide the best estimate of their high school or college GPA.
Sometimes, this may prove to be challenging. Things can get confusing enough for U.S. students whose schools operate on 5.0 point scales, percentage scales or letter scales. Foreign students who study in the U.S. may be even more stumped by attempts to translate grades from a completely different system.
In both cases, students should try to approximate their high school or college performance. If, after filling out their profile, students are still in doubt, they should contact the scholarship providers whose awards they are interested in. The provider can then make a final decision on whether the student qualifies for their scholarship.
U.S. Grading Scales
Scholarships.com asks students to provide their GPA on a 4.0 point scale. Students with GPAs that are greater than 4.0 (weighed GPAs) should record a 4.0 GPA on their Scholarships.com profile. If a scholarship provider asks for the student’s GPA, they may then provide them with more exact information. Below is a rubric for commonly accepted U.S. high school grade conversions as determined by the Department of Education. Undergraduate institutions have similar conversion charts but often consider scores below a 65% an “F”.
4.0 A 90-100%
3.0 B 80-89%
2.0 C 70-79%
1.0 D 60-69%
0.0 F under 60%
International Grading Scales
When a student’s school operates on a completely different scaling system, they may have no choice but to estimate. Students in countries such as Slovakia will have to flip their number scales to make sure that their “A”, a 1, will not be confused with the U.S. “D”, also a 1. Students from France, Greece and Peru will have to divide their GPAs by five to find the U.S. equivalent (their scale goes up to twenty). When in doubt, students should contact individual providers to find out if they qualify for their award.
September 10, 2007
Any time is a good time to conduct a fellowship search, but the beginning of each school year is particularly good. Many fellowships are awarded on a yearly basis, and applications need to be submitted before the term begins—on time.
For graduate students, free government Pell Grants are no longer an option, and limiting loans should be a top priority. It is irritatingly ironic that many graduate school programs are more expensive than undergraduate ones, but less government aid is available.
Loan burdens may be so dire that, even after studying for years, many cannot enter their chosen careers without defaulting on loans. According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, the average graduate student ends school $45,000 in debt (compared with $18,000 for undergraduates). A lucrative job is needed to pay off such loans—especially when potential car, home and family expenses are taken into account.
Fortunately, aid in the form of fellowships tends to be pretty lucrative, often numbering in the thousands. Stipends and award renewal opportunities may even be involved.
Students may search for fellowship opportunities by visiting Scholarships.com and by browsing through college financial aid websites. At Scholarships.com, students can find scholarship, grant, and fellowship information on more than 2.7 million awards worth over $19 billion in aid.
Getting a head start will give students additional time to deal with application problems that may arise. Fellowships can be hefty, but so can the competition. Applying early may give students the edge they need to win.
September 7, 2007
Wooing a girl with poetry may be a bit seventeenth century, but today’s students can still take advantage of their creative talents. Scholarship poetry contests are common, and writing a poem sure sounds more fun than writing an essay on, let’s say, how Lincoln’s study of law prepared him for the challenges of presidency (those who disagree may visit Scholarships.com to see if they are eligible.) If you can do better than the trite “Roses are red” love tribute, you may have a shot at winning money for college. Take those poems out of your diary, and share them with the world: it can pay off.
Below are four scholarships for the poets at heart. For other options, you can conduct a scholarship search at Scholarships.com.
Poetry Out Loud Scholarship: Competitive students will like this one. A Poetry Out Loud Contest winner must compete at the classroom level before advancing to the school level. After that, winners move on to the state and then finally get to compete at the National Finals. State winners will receive $200 and an all-expense paid trip to Washington to compete in the national competition (the runners-up will win $100). At the National Finals, a total of $50,000 in scholarships and school grants will be awarded.
Live Poets Society of New Jersey: This is an annual poetry contest for students with a poetic flair and a passion for expression. If you miss this year’s deadline, just give it another shot next year: all high school students are eligible. There are many prizes so everyone should try. The best poet will receive the “Poet of the Year” $1,000 scholarship. There will also be a first place winner, 4 second place winners, and 6 third place winners. Numerous honorable mention winners and hundreds of regional winners will be recognized.
Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholarship: The Amy Lowell Scholarship will award students of any age the chance to pursue their education while traveling abroad. Although winners are not required to be enrolled while living abroad, they will not be able to come home either—not even for family visits. Bringing plenty of pictures and singing up for long-distance phone plan is a good idea. The prize is hefty, so those who are willing to cut their strings can make a bundle. For the 2008-2009 year, the award is $49,000. One member of the English Department at Harvard University, two recognized poets and a group of trustees will be judging the entries so proofread twice.
We all know how expensive college can be, and how the hidden fees get you just when you thought you had enough. Performing a free scholarship and grant search at Scholarships.com can save students a bundle, but the little changes can also make ends meet. You don’t have to be a miser to save a bit, and every bit can make a difference. Ok, that’s trite. What I meant to say was that saving has a lot to do with mentality. When you’re proud for having saved $15 with your grocery coupons, you may think twice about spending that money on a new CD. You’ve gone this far, no point in throwing your labor away. Here are small things that can motivate you to keep going.
BYOB. That’s right. Bring your own bottle. If you can’t stay away from expensive coffee shops, you should at least get a discount on their expensive drinks. Many coffee shops will take 15 or 30 cents off when customers bring their own—albeit adorned with a company logo—mug or bottle (request these for your birthday.) So maybe a few cents won’t make for huge savings, but they make for little ones. Plus, your coffee will stay warmer, and you’ll be saving the environment.
Look for punch cards. While we’re talking coffee shops, check to see if they have punch cards. Many fast food shops, clothing stores and even car washes offer punch cards. If you shop at these places on a regular basis, you can earn free store dollars, a meal or a shiny car (wash).
Sign up for free membership cards. Signing up for a free grocery store card can save you a lot of money, but other memberships are also helpful. Bookstore chains frequently offer free membership cards (I'm not talking about store credit cards). Member rewards may include a free drink at the food corner, points towards a book purchase and email reminders about upcoming sales. Use sale days to buy Christmas and birthday gifts in advance—books never go out of season.
Water please! College students can’t help it. Eating out is just a part of their lifestyle. The habit is expensive, but sometimes it has to be done. When it does, opt for water instead of another drink. It’s refreshing, it’s good for your skin, and it’s free.
There are many ways for students to save money. Surviving on free Starbucks’ honey packets doesn’t have to be one of them—see Mena Suvari in Loser. You can still head to Starbucks with coffee in mind, just bring your mug with you.
September 6, 2007
A grant is a sum of money that does not have to be paid back. Because, like grants, scholarships are sums of money that do not need to be repaid, some grant providers use the terms interchangeably. Stipulations for both vary greatly, and the lines between the two are frequently blurred. Whether they are awarded by the government
or another donor, grants are a very popular source of financial aid for college. Each year, students across the country apply and receive grants that make it possible
for them to attend the schools of their choice.
The government provides grants for many students who submit their FAFSA. Currently,the government offers five types of need-based grants to college students. There
are Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), Academic Competitive Grants and National SMART Grants, the most popular being the Pell. These grants are considered to be the foundations of financial aid packages, and all other financial aid should be taken advantage of once a student exhausts their grant funds.
Undergraduate students who, based on their FAFSA, show financial need are the main recipients of need-based government grants. For the 2007-2008 school year, students may receive up to $4,310 in Pell Grant money. Students who show extreme need, graduate from a competitive school or plan to major in the math & sciences may be eligible for additional grant money.
Unfortunately, the government reserves most of its need-based grants for undergraduates. However, there are some government-assisted grant opportunities for students who
demonstrate merit or who wish to enter a certain sector of the economy.
Many students go straight to the government to find college grants. Because submitting a FAFSA kills a few birds with one stone—a student can find grants, loans, and federal work study with one form—it makes sense that government grants are popular. But a college grant search does not need to stop at the gates to the white house. Colleges, universities, organizations and personal providers offer numerous grant opportunities for both undergraduates and graduates. Scholarships.com can help you find them.
Students who search for outside undergraduate grants may have some work to do. Such grants are out there, but many do require students to perform research or internship work. Because many providers prefer to offer such opportunities to graduate students,outside grants are more popular amongst the older crowd. Seeing as many students
search for internship opportunities regardless of pay, on-the-job compensation may be an excellent perk. Students who have an interest in wildlife and are willing
to work on a project in the New England area, for example, may be eligible for the A.V. Stout Fund grant. With a little work, winners can receive about $1,000-$3,000 in financial aid.
Looking to outside organizations and universities for graduate grants is a student’s best bet. Because the government isn’t much help when it comes to need-based grants,it is a good thing that outside grants, scholarships, and government loans are still an option. As is true of much graduate financial aid, many opportunities are merit
based. They may also require that recipients conduct research. Organizations who would like to encourage the growth of a certain career sector frequently offer grant
opportunities to graduate students.
Undergraduate and graduate grant opportunities are readily available to college students. All it takes is a little searching and, if research or an internship is involved, some dedication. For undergraduates, submitting a FAFSA may be all it takes.
Before Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s investigation into the student lender business even began, talks of making student loans more affordable were in the works for Democrats. Now that slews of financial aid officials have been found guilty of accepting money and gifts in exchange for spots on preferred-lender lists, changes are on their way.
After similar bills for government cuts on student lender subsidies were passed by the House and Senate, a compromise was finally reached. If the College Cost Reduction and Access Act is passed, and few want to be known as the ones who oppose it, student lenders will receive less aid from the government. Eligible borrowers may surpass outside lenders altogether by taking out low-interest government loans, but the borrowing limits on such loans aren’t always sufficient —and not all students are eligible.
The money the government plans to save by limiting lender subsidies would go towards increasing Pell Grants for students and decreasing the national debt. The Pell Grant maximums, capped at $4,310 for 2007-2008, would be raised to $5,400 over the next few years. Also in the works is a decrease in need-based interest loan rates. The current 6.8 percent interest rate would be cut in half.
Provisions that would keep students from drowning in their debt were also included in the legislation. Borrowers would not be forced to pay more than 15 percent of their discretionary income, and their loans would be forgiven after 25 years. A vote on the compromise is forthcoming. Although it is possible that President George Bush will veto the bill—he has warned to do so last month— an overturn is also likely.
September 5, 2007
Many students are in desperate need of financial aid, and setting up a scholarship
is a wonderful way to help them. According to the National Center for Education
Statistics, the average cost of a college education in 2006-2007 was $10,454 at
public colleges and $26,889 at private ones. With Pell Grants capping at $4,310 this year, government money hardly cuts it.
Here are a few things providers should think about when creating a scholarship.
An easy way to create a one-time or annual scholarship is to submit award information
to a local scholarship foundation. It should be noted that annual scholarships (endowments)
may require the provider to come up with more than $20,000. Ongoing scholarships
are similar to bank accounts in that interest accrues on the initial deposit. The
earned money then becomes an award. If winners are to receive a significant amount
of money, a large initial donation may be required.
As long as scholarships are used for college expenses, they are usually tax-exempt.
However, there are some IRS regulations, and they are particularly strict when it
corporate scholarship providers.
Scholarships are a great source of support to students who face difficult circumstances
or enter underrepresented fields. Regardless of targeted recipients, providers should
be clear on who they are looking for. There is no point in reading applications
from students who won’t be considered. Criteria such as GPA, field of study, year
in school etc. should be specific, but lax enough to give students a shot.
With the help of Scholarships.com,
advertising can be a cinch. Once a provider submits scholarship information, it will be made available to students who visit our site. To prevent providers from being inundated with applications from
ineligible students, Scholarships.com will only show the scholarship to students
who meet its eligibility criteria.
September 4, 2007
When combined with free scholarship and grant opportunities found at
Scholarships.com, government grants can significantly decrease, if not completely
cover, a student’s financial needs. Unlike loans, grants do not need to be repaid;
unlike federal work study and assistantships, there is no labor involved. When students
submit a FAFSA, they are
automatically in the running to receive government need-based grants. The most well-known
of these is the Pell Grant, but lesser-known government grants are also available.
Here is a breakdown of grants students may find on their FAFSA award letters:
The Pell Grant is the largest grant program in the United States, awarding undergraduates with
millions each year. The Pell Grant is the foundation of all government aid. Seeing
as Pell Grant money is free, awesome GPA or not, students should take advantage
of all offers before moving on to Federal Work Study and government loans. Unfortunately,
students don’t always get their fill with Pell Grants. During the 2007-2008 school
year, students may only receive up to $4,310 in aid from Pell Grants, and not all
eligible students receive this much. This may seem like a drop in the bucket for
those who need $12,000 or more each year, but every penny counts.
Students with extreme need may be eligible for the Federal Supplemental Educational
Opportunity Grant (FSEOG). Like the Pell Grant, this is a grant for undergraduates.
It is intended to provide additional assistance to the neediest of students, those
with the lowest expected family contributions. Students may receive up to $4,000
each year in FSEOG funding, but awards may be as little as $100 per year. The award
received will depend on the time of application, the level of need, and the rules
at each school’s financial aid office.
This is a new grant introduced during the 2006-2007 school year. Students who felt
their merit-based aid opportunities were thwarted by grades that did not sufficiently
reflect their abilities may receive some compensation. Up to $750 will be awarded
to first-year undergraduates and up to $1,300 for second-year full-time undergraduates
who have completed a difficult high school program. The state or local education
agency is responsible for deciding which schools are deemed rigorous. For information
on high school eligibility based on state, visit the Department of Education. As this is still a need-based grant program at
heart, only students who were deemed needy enough for Pell Grants can receive Academic
Competitiveness Grant money.
The National Science & Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (National SMART
Grant) is awarded to third and fourth-year college students. Students who major
in the physical, life or computer sciences, math, technology, engineering or a foreign
language determined to be essential to national security may be able to supplement
Pell Grants with SMART Grants. Up to $4,000 per year may be awarded to each recipient.
A more detailed list of eligible fields of study may be found here.
In addition to government grants, students may find school grants on their award
letters. These, unlike the government grants, usually take academic achievement
into account. Some may also consider a student’s financial need. To find out more
about institutional grants offered at each college, students should visit their
school website and conduct a scholarship and grant search at
Above is a list of grants students can receive by submitting their FAFSA, but students
don’t need to stop there. Myriad scholarship and grant opportunities are available
to them at Scholarships.com, and they aren’t restricted to undergraduates and those
determined to be needy by government standards. To conduct a free scholarship and
grant search, visit Scholarships.com,
and find money for college.
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