April 25, 2008
Many intelligent, talented and hard-working students, ones who have the know-how and determination necessary to succeed at top universities, feel that finances are holding them back from the education they dream about. With the annual costs of Harvard estimated at $34,000, Duke $35,000 and Columbia $37,000, it’s no wonder that students shy away from just the though of prestigious schools. When one considers tuition, a troublesome economy and the weary prospects of student lenders, high school dreams become just that.
However, students are often unaware that many of the best financial aid packages are available to those who plan to attend the most impressive (and expensive) schools. Cream of the crop universities know that many cannot afford their high costs. To avoid missing out on a diverse student body—one that can contribute to academics and cultural perspective—they offer very generous financial aid packages. Elite schools often cut tuition by the thousands, if only students knew that.
If you have high hopes about attending an elite college or university, don’t give up before you start. Instead, become educated about your financial aid options. Check out university websites, conduct a free scholarship search and take a look at the hefty financial aid options below.
Stanford Financial Aid
In the ongoing Ivy League battle for the most promising students, Stanford has once again increased the size of undergraduate financial aid packages. Students whose parents make less than $60,000 will soon be attending the school for free—no tuition, no room and board, no additional expenses. Those whose parents make between $60,000 and $100,000 will have their tuition paid for but will be expected to cover other expenses. Unfortunately for those whose parents make more than that, tuition will increase this year.
Harvard Financial Aid
Like Stanford, Harvard has already eliminated contribution requirements for students whose household income is lower than $60,000 per year. But that's not all; they have also upped financial aid for to the less needy. Students whose parents make between $60,000 and $120,000 will be expected to pay no more than 10 percent of estimated college costs and those making between $120,000 and $180,000 will be expected to pay 10 percent.
Duke Merit Scholarships
Students who apply to Duke are automatically considered for one of Duke University’s Merit Scholarships. A number of awards are granted, and they can be quite generous. Students who are selected for the Angier B. Duke Memorial Scholarship, for example, can win full tuition for four years, a spot at a Duke/Oxford College summer program in England, a $2,500 stipend for expenses and a President Research Fellowship of up to $5,000.
Northwestern University Scholarships
Northwestern University gives away more than $50 million annually to helps undergraduate students meet the financial costs of this private university. All awards are based on financial need and funding availability. About 50 percent of students receive university aid packages which range in size from $250 to $33,000 (with $15,000 being the average).
University of Chicago College Honor Scholarship
Twenty undergraduate students attending the University of Chicago will be awarded the College Honor Scholarship—an award that covers full tuition for all four years. To be considered for this award, students should check the scholarship box upon filling out their college application. The awards are merit-based so students who have an exceptional academic record will be the ones rewarded.
April 24, 2008
As far as we know, there isn’t one. Let’s begin by addressing your first question: if there is no catch, who's paying for this, and what's their work incentive? The answer is FlatWorld, and, if things go right for the new company, guidebooks, work materials and requests for in-print versions will be sufficient to cover labor costs and to generate profits.
Since 2007, FlatWorld has been crafting their innovative idea, and it plans to make services available to the public by 2009. The diversity of their textbook selections and the facility of their use will largely determine the success of their new venture, but students aware of FlatWorld will probably, at the very least, check out their site. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, the average college student spends over $900 on textbooks—annually. Being able to pocket a good chunk of that money will significantly alleviate financial burdens caused by increasing college rates.
Electronic book versions are not exactly new, and companies less geared towards college students dealing with unregulated textbook costs have already offered similar services. Electronic books in general are growing in popularity, especially the fee-based ones. If you’ve done some Amazon shopping or people watched on the train in recent months, you’re probably familiar with the new Amazon electronic reading device. It’s catching on quickly, but, truth be told, there’s just something about physically holding a piece paper. As much as I love branches, I couldn’t help but print out class articles en masse during finals week, ones I could have easily browsed online. (In my defense, I did fit four pages on one sheet.) The ability to quickly scribble a note, double star a sentence or circle a key word just makes the learning process more interactive and complete.
Still, I’m willing to bet that dishing out $120 for a textbook that can’t be resold due to future edition changes can make a little inconvenience worthwhile. Most money management tactics can. And FlatWorld is doing its best to make up in ease what they lose in “that special something”. By making their texts editable to both students and the professors who assign them, they have made their options a bit more user friendly and appealing. Readers can even interact with each other during the reading process—I smell an attractive cliff note opportunity. Dragging your desktop to the quad may be a bit of a pain, but being able to afford vacation time may give you an incentive.
April 23, 2008
In an anticipated statement outlining potential changes to the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), the Department of Education Secretary Margaret Spellings announced new plans to amend the act. Key improvements included the standardization of graduation rate calculations and the heightening of awareness about family tutoring and school transfer options.
Based on current regulations, states are permitted to define not only their benchmarks for academic success, but also the methods for determining their high school graduation rates. The problem with this approach became particularly evident after a study comparing graduation gaps between major cities and suburbs suggested that numerous states fared much worse than their graduation data suggested.
Under the secretary’s new plan, all high schools would have to determine graduation rates by dividing the total number of high school senior graduates by the number of freshman who began four years earlier, with adjustments made for transfer students. Students who took extra years to finish would not be considered to have successfully completed the program, indicated a Los Angeles Times article covering the story. The issue of assisting students attending “at risk” schools was also tackled, with the Secretary proposing an increase in efforts made to inform parents about alternative scholastic options for their children. Students who attend such schools have the option to switch to a more successful district school and additional tutoring opportunities should be made available to them. To address the problem of transportation costs to new schools, Margaret Spellings suggested that funding set aside for that purpose be increased.
In regards to the frequent requests for flexibility in measuring the progress of students with disabilities and those with limited English skills, the Secretary of Education stated, “the Department promulgated regulations to permit States to include in their AYP [Annual Yearly Progress] determinations the proficient and advanced scores of students with disabilities assessed based on alternate and modified academic achievement standards, as well as regulations that provide flexibility in the assessment of, and accountability for, recently arrived and former LEP [Limited English Proficiency]students.”
The official version of this statement will be made available today in the Federal Register, and the public will have 60 days to respond before proceedings move forward.
As the NCLB primarily affects students, Scholarships.com has created an opportunity for them to voice their opinions about its effectiveness. In the 2008 Scholarships.com Resolve to Evolve Essay Scholarship, high school seniors were asked to determine and elaborate on why the NCLB has or has not been successful in reaching its goals. The number and quality of responses were nothing short of impressive. Winners of the annual Resolve to Evolve competition will be announced on June 30, and their essays will be made available to the public. Top responses will also be forwarded to the proper officials in the hope that we too can be a part of the solution.
April 22, 2008
To alleviate the affects of the intensifying credit crunch, Sallie Mae has been lobbying for government assistance. In past months, student lenders have been struggling to find buyers for both their loans and their loan securities. Sallie Mae, the largest student lender in the business, has turned to the government for assistance, asking that the US Treasury assuage loan market tensions by purchasing their securities.
In yesterday’s PBS Nightly Business Report, specialty finance analyst Sameer Gokhale and student loan expert Tom Stanton weighed in on the potential effects of such a move. According to Sameer Gokhale, a quick infusion of cash from the Treasury would, “help all of those lenders and ultimately result in a smoother flow of capital back into the student loan system.”
Tom Stanton took a different approach claiming that federal intervention was not yet necessary. “In its last year as a government sponsored enterprise, Sallie Mae made something like 73 percent return on equity, a very generous return. There’s no need at this point to go back to the government and get support,” he stated.
Even if student lenders continue to drop out of the government’s FFEL program and assistance such as that requested by Sallie Mae is not offered by the Treasury, students will have federal student aid resources to rely on. A Department of Education lender of last resort measure wherein the government would act as a lender to students denied loans by other lenders would prevent financial catastrophe, but according to the Nightly Business Report Correspondent Stephanie Dhue, resorting to such a plan would be more time consuming than enhancing funds for the one already in place.
The lender of last resort is yet untested, and, although details are being addressed by Congress, setting up the new program could be painstaking for schools. However, with the Chronicle of Higher Education citing more than fifty FFEL student lender departures, the program may be put into action regardless.
April 21, 2008
Each year, the Henkel Corporation awards college scholarships to individuals who are literally stuck at prom. This contest encourages student creativity and expression by rewarding individuals for creating the most tapeworthy prom attire---attire made completely out of duck tape. Submitted photographs from eligible couples will be posted online and voted on by site visitors. Criteria will include workmanship, originality, use of colors, accessories and the quantity of duct tape used.
1. One $3,000 scholarship for each individual in the couple
2. One $2,000 scholarship for each individual in the couple
3. One $1,000 scholarship for each individual in the couple
1. Applicant must be attending a high school prom in the spring of 2008.
2. Applicant must be 14 years of age or older at the time of entry.
3. Applicant must be a legal resident of the US or Canada (excluding the Province of Quebec and Puerto Rico).
4. Applicant may not be an employee of the sponsor or their family member, nor may they live in the same household as an employee.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
1. Photograph of the couple wearing a prom outfit made completely out of duct tape
2. The individuals’ first names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, ages, grade levels and the name of the closest major city to their home towns
3. A liability, publicity release and consent form signed by each individual; if the applicant is a minor, parental permission is required
4. The high school name, address and telephone number, as well as the date the prom was held.
Further details about the application process and about contacting the scholarship provider can be found by conducting a free college scholarship search. Once the search is completed, students eligible for the award will find it in their scholarship list.
April 18, 2008
On Thursday, the US House of Representatives passed a bill aimed at halting the mass leave of student lenders from the federal loan program. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, more than 50 lenders have left the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program to date. The growing departure has left families fearing that students will have no one to turn to for financial assistance once their Pell Grants and savings run dry.
To lessen the plight of FFEL lenders and students who depend on them for financial assistance, the bill would allow the Secretary of Education to purchase loans student lenders were not able to sell to investors. By pouring money into the loan market, the Department of Education would enable student lenders to use their capital for issuing new loans rather than paying out the original ones.
The new bill also addressed the lender of last resort, an emergency plan wherein guaranty agencies would be forced to lend money to students who were turned away by other lenders. Under the new plan, the Department of Education would have permission to advance funding to the agencies if need should arise.
To make the transition from the FFEL to the lender of last resort loan program easier on students, loans would be petitioned for on a college by college basis rather than a student by student one. Based on previous outlines of the untested program, students in need of a lender of last resort loan would have had to seek permission from the Department of Education and prove that at least two lenders had turned them down before receiving money.
A bill similar to the House version was introduced but not yet addressed by the Senate. Before the ideas are implemented, both the House and the Senate will have to iron out differences and send the final version to the president for approval.
April 17, 2008
Nervous about economic turmoil and the uncertainty associated with oversized college loans, students are increasingly turning to community colleges for a low-cost alternative to a postsecondary education. Though certainly lower in cost, some students still need assistance in affording local schools. According to a recent study conducted by the Project on Student Debt, federal loans are not always an option for these students.
Based on the report, 20 percent of community college students living in eight states do not have access to low-interest federal loans. In Georgia, the state which fared worst, about 60 percent of community colleges did not participate in the federal loan program. Throughout the nation, the problem was most severe in low-income areas where students were most likely to seek out federal student aid in the form of loans.
After interviewing administrators at nonparticipating schools, it was found that the most cited reason for not taking part in the program was a fear that high default rates would lead to sanctions on Pell Grant disbursements to students. According to federal regulations, colleges with student default rates that exceed 25 percent for three consecutive years lose the ability to disburse the Pell Grant, a form of need-based federal aid that does not need to be repaid.
Capped at $4,310 for the 2007-2008 school year, the Pell Grant frequently suffices in making community college an option for students, especially those who work while attending school. However, the size of the grant is based on a student’s Expect Family Contribution (EFC) as determined by information provided on one's FAFSA, and many complain that the form does not take into account special circumstances that could result in a student’s inability to contribute the full expected amount. Families who receive no federal assistance in the form of a Pell Grant and those who receive an insufficient amount may be forced to take out more expensive private loans to attend. If ineligible, they may have to work until college is an affordable option.
April 16, 2008
Even the most disciplined and well-intentioned parents may have a hard time saving for their child’s college education. To assist parents and students in their search for college funding resources, Oxy has created a college sweepstakes with some hefty awards.
By applying, parents will be entered to win one of eleven prizes ranging in size between $5,000 and $25,000. Because the awards will be offered in the form of 529 Plan contributions, they will continue to grow tax free. With no essay required, this one is worth a try. For more information about this and other college scholarships and grants, you may conduct a free college scholarship search.
1. One $25,000 529 Plan contributio 2. Five $10,000 529 Plan contributions 3. Five $5,000 529 Plan contributions
1. Applicant must be 18 years old or older or must be a parent of a child who is between 13-19 years of age between April 1, 2008 and September 28, 2008 2. Applicant must be a legal US resident
September 29, 2008 by 3:00 PM ET
1. Online or postal mail registration
April 15, 2008
Applying for a number of small scholarships is a great way to accumulate financial aid for college, but some students prefer to go straight for the big fish. Rather than follow the, “a penny saved is a penny earned” mantra, they prefer to abide by the, "go for the gold" one.
Whether you are the former or the latter, plenty of scholarship opportunities are available to you. But be advised, the bigger the award, the bigger the competition. Students who find information about a big-ticket scholarship frequently opt for that rather than spend time on one which, in comparison, looks like a conciliatory prize.
If you’re looking for top awards, check out the full ride scholarships listed below. For more information about college scholarships and grants you may be eligible to receive, try conducting a free college scholarship search. If you are looking for full tuition scholarships granted by your current or future college or university---most award a handful of them--- try visiting their financial aid office websites. You may conduct a free college search to find these websites along with estimated costs of attendance.
The Tom Joyner Foundation Full Ride Scholarship
The Tom Joyner Foundation Full Ride Scholarship will be awarded to a freshman entering a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) in the United States. A full tuition waiver as well as a stipend covering room, board and books will be offered.
Microsoft College Career Scholarship
A one-year, full tuition scholarship will be awarded to winners of the annual Microsoft College Career Scholarship. Financial aid will be offered to students who major in computer science, computer engineering, or a related technical discipline such as electrical engineering, math, or physics. Applicants must be undergraduate students who maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA.
The Posse Foundation awards full tuition merit scholarships to students who plan to attend one of its partner schools. Winning high school students are trained in multicultural teams called “Posses” to successfully complete programs at top-tier colleges and universities.
The Hertz Foundation awards students a full tuition renewable grant plus a stipend of up to $31,000. The award is merit-based and offered to students pursuing a Ph.D. in the applied physical and engineering sciences or modern biology with physical science applications.
The USDA/1890 National Scholars Program
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and 1890 Historically Black Land-Grant Universities are collaborating on a scholarship program for students who attend one of the 1890 Historically Black Land-Grant Universities. Full tuition, room and board, employment with the USDA during the summer and after graduation, fees and books will be covered.
April 14, 2008
Because graduate and professional school students are no longer eligible for Pell Grants, they must search elsewhere for financial assistance. A common option is the fellowship--a financial aid opportunity created to help graduate students obtain their degree.
Master, doctoral and professional school candidates who demonstrate both merit and dedication are the most common recipients of fellowships. When searching for this type of aid, students are unlikely to come across awards that mirror the goofy, unusual duck tape outfit or left-handed student scholarships. More often than not, fellowships are geared towards students who are serious about their work—ones who display resolve and passion in their respective fields. They are commonly awarded to individuals who plan to conduct research in a certain field or to ones who plan to begin a career in a subject designated by the fellowship provider.
Below are a few examples of fellowship opportunities you may be eligible to receive. Many awards are conferred annually, so check back for updated deadlines. For additional information about financial aid options, try conducting a free college scholarship search.
AACC International Fellowship
The foundation previously known as the American Association of Cereal Chemists (AACC) is awarding fellowships in the amounts of $2,000, $2,500 and $3,000 to students who conduct research directly related to grain-based food science or technology. Students must be pursuing an MS or Ph.D. degree to be eligible.
Department of Homeland Security Fellowship
Tuition, fees and a stipend of $2,300 per month for 12 months will be awarded to graduate students whose thesis deals with science, technology, engineering or math as they relate to homeland security. Applicants must be US citizens and must have a minimum 3.3 GPA on a 4.0 scale.
Richard Morris Hunt Fellowship
Architects pursuing a career in historic preservation may be eligible to win $25,000 in stipend money. Winners from France and the US will practice preservation technologies in each other’s countries over a six month span.
Fellowship for Minority Doctoral Students
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) will award fellowships to minority doctoral students who display potential for becoming accounting educators. Renewable fellowships of up to $12,000 will be given away each year.
American Graduate Fellowships
Students working towards a doctoral degree in the humanities and attending one of the 23 leading independent research universities in the U.S., Great Britain or Ireland may be eligible to receive a fellowship of up to $50,000. History, philosophy, literature, languages and the fine arts are among eligible fields
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