October 8, 2007
Check out the Courageous Persuaders video scholarship for a chance to win college money and, in the process, to make a difference in the lives of kids across the nation. Applicants will create commercials warning middle-school students about the dangers of underage drinking. In addition to wining scholarships, selected students will get to work with the McCann Erickson advertising agency. With a bit of professional polish, the winning commercial will be broadcast on TV.
1. $2,000 New York Festival scholarship 2. $1,000 USA Today scholarship 3. Michigan applicants will have the chance to win additional scholarships ranging between $1,500-$3,000
1. Applicants must be high school students 2. Applicants must be U.S. citizens
February 15, 2008 by 5:00 PM
1. A video commercial lasting no more than 30 seconds 2. Online entry form
For additional scholarship and grant opportunities, visit Scholarships.com and conduct a free scholarship search.
October 5, 2007
If you think that $140 is too much to pay for a GRE exam, wait until you see the extra fees. In addition to this year’s $25 increase (up from last year’s $115), there are charges for just about everything one can be charged for.
Before I rant, I must admit that financial assistance for low-income students is available. Those who applied for financial aid and were determined to have an expected family contribution (EFC) lower than $1,400 or $1,800—based on dependency status—can pay $70. But, like I said, the EFC must be below $1,400 or $1,800.
For everyone else, especially for the numerous students who repeat the test, the cost can be a bit much. As if the graduate school application costs weren’t already bad enough. Here is what you may be dealing with:
1. Are you applying to more than four schools? Pay up. For every school above that number, students must pay an extra $15 shipping fee. I thought stamps were $.41?
2. Did your car break down? You better find a new ride to the test--unless you want to pay a $50 test center change fee.
3. Did something unexpected come up? Let’s hope it happened ten days before the test. Students who need to reschedule their testing date will have to announce their decision at least ten days prior to the exam—and they’ll be charged $50. And the rescheduled date must occur before a new testing year begins.
4. Do you need to cancel the test? You must do so ten days in advance, and only 50% of your money will be returned. Even retail return policies are more lenient.
5. In a hurry to send out applications? You will know your verbal and quantitative scores immediately after the test, but early writing scores will cost you $12.
6. Are you uncertain about the validity of your score? You can pay to have the test checked for someone else’s errors, for only $30. That’s just for the quantitative and verbal scores. Writing section scoring will cost you $50. The lengthy writing pieces are little over three pages—that’s about $150 per hour. All right, it’s only $75 per hour; two people are checking.
7. Need to pinpoint your weak areas? A $50 service can help. For $50, you can find out which questions were answered incorrectly and what the correct answers were.
Of course, all fees are subject to change without notice, probably not for the better.
October 4, 2007
In high school, students were limited to more or less five core subjects. Yes, additional extras were offered, but the list wasn’t very extensive. Once students enter college, it becomes obvious that there is much more to choose from. And additional career options translate into additional entrance tests. Don’t be stumped when your friends rattle off their stressful exam plans. Below are top testing acronyms—no need to be confused.
ACT- The American College Test (ACT), like the SAT, is a college entrance test. It is usually taken during a student’s junior or early senior year of high school. Most colleges take ACT or SAT scores into consideration when making admissions’ decisions.
AP- The Advanced Placement (AP) test is taken by high school students who wish to receive college credit for their high school work. Test takers have usually taken advanced placement classes in high school. Students who score sufficiently well in one or more of the subject options (there are over thirty), may be able to bypass certain college class requirements.
DAT- The Dental Admission Test (DAT) is for students who wish to enter the field of dentistry. In addition to general academic skill, the test measures knowledge of scientific information and perceptual ability. Because it is more than four hours long (not counting breaks), you can say that it measures stamina as well.
GMAT- The Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) is used to assess a student’s readiness for business school. Plenty of students attempt the test during their senior year of college, but there are many others who wait a few years. Many business schools look for applicants with sufficient work experience, and that may require a few years of full-time work.
GRE- The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is less major specific. Students with a wide range of interests and plans take the GRE before entering graduate school. The test is composed of three sections, the Quantitative Reasoning, the Verbal Reasoning, and the Analytical Writing.
LSAT- The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is a test taken by students who wish to attend law school. It may be retaken, but unlike the GRE, it is only offered a few times per year. The test measures a taker’s reasoning skills more than it does their acquired knowledge.
MCAT- The Medical College Admissions Tests (MCAT) tests a student’s preparation for medical school. It tests both thought process and acquired scientific knowledge. Like the DAT, the MCAT is very time consuming.
NCLEX-RN- The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) is taken by students pursing a career in nursing. It is used to determine if students are ready to become registered nurses (RN) and composed of four major categories and eight subcategories.
PSAT- The Preliminary SAT (PSAT) is a preparatory version of the SAT. Students who take the test, in addition to working out their brain, may get the chance to compete for national merit scholarships based on scores.
SAT- The Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) is a college entrance exam for high school students. Most students choose to take this test during their junior or senior year. The majority of colleges require that students submit either an SAT or an ACT score as a part of their application package. Depending on the college, one, the other, or neither may be required.
October 3, 2007
Buying Sallie Mae, the biggest lender in the business, may have seemed like a great idea at first, but doubts have been creeping up. A group of investors that includes J.C. Flowers & Company, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, and Friedman Fleischer & Lowe initially offered $25 billion for Sallie Mae, but has recently retracted the offer blaming new legislation for the decision. The College Cost Reduction and Access Act signed by President Bush last week entails, among other things, government cuts on subsidies given to student lenders. Over the next five years, about $21 billion would be cut from lender support and invested in student aid programs.
J.C. Flowers & Company stated that their decision abides by contract rules and that such legislation was considered when the contract was drawn up. A smaller purchase price was still proposed, and, if Sallie Mae performs well, the offer may increase.
The legislation will certainly not put the lender giant out of business, but Sallie Mae may feel some pressure. The lender has stated that the new law will force it to give up some student perks, and that won’t go over well with borrowers. Those who have financial needs will still be forced to borrow once government grants and loans are exhausted, but increased caps on both may decrease student needs.
October 2, 2007
October 1, 2007
Check out the Coca-Cola Scholars Program for a chance to win big bucks. Coca-Cola's famed four-year scholarship is one of two awards offered by the company. It is one of the most sought after and lucrative scholarships around.
There are two rounds to this competition, and students who make it past the first will be asked to submit additional materials to scholarship administrators. Winners will be invited to Atlanta to receive their prizes and to complete an interview.
1. 50 scholarships worth $20,000 each 2. 200 scholarships worth $10,000 each
1. Applicant must be a full-time high school senior attending a U.S. high school (or be home schooled in the U.S.) 2. Applicant must plan to attend an accredited college or university 3. Applicant must be a U.S citizen, U.S. national, permanent resident, temporary resident (legalization program), refugee, asylee, Cuban-Haitian entrant, or humanitarian parolee 4. Applicant must have a 3.0 GPA 5. Applicants cannot be a child or grandchild of a Coca-Cola employee, an officer or owner of a Coca-Cola bottling company, or any bottler or company divisions or subsidiaries
October 31, 2007
1. A completed, admittedly lengthy, application. Students will have to submit information that includes school involvement, GPA, work experience etc. 2. Students who are selected to compete in the second round will be asked to submit additional materials.
For additional award opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search.
September 28, 2007
After an anxious wait on the part of students and lenders, President Bush finally signed the College Cost Reduction and Access Act into law. And you know this is big if MTV reported on the bill even though partying at club Les Deux wasn’t involved.
According to the new law, the maximum Pell Grant offered to students will increase while the subsidies the government offers student lenders will decrease. This is the biggest boost in student aid since the GI Bill for veterans---and a fresh change from the 2005 $12 billion financial aid cut.
Among those who will benefit are needy students eligible for government grants and those who borrow from the government. Currently, students are eligible to receive a maximum $4,310 Pell Grant each year. This number will increase gradually, reaching a high of $5,400 by 2012.
Under the act, new subsidized Stafford loan interest rates will also be cut. A low point of 3.4 percent will be available to students who borrow between July 1, 2011 and July 1, 2012. Unfortunately, students will have to wait until 2008 to take advantage of this change. Until then, they are stuck with the current fixed 6.8 percent loan interest rate.
Students who plan to teach in low-income neighborhoods after graduating may also benefit. Future teachers may receive a $4,000 TEACH Grant for each year they attend school (up to $16,000 for undergraduates and $8,000 for graduates), but a pretty detailed list of additional eligibility criteria must also be met.
The bill was largely a result of New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s investigation into illegal actions within the $85 billion student loan industry. The investigation revealed that numerous financial aid administrators, including one from the Department of Education, received financial incentives from lenders who hoped to improve their standing with schools.
Some of the financial aid changes outlined in the act were previously considered, but Cuomo’s investigation provided much-needed impetus. Although Bush had initially threatened to veto the bill, he agreed to sign once recommended changes were made. In a White House photo, the president is shown signing the bill with four smiling college students, three smiling congressmen and a smiling Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings looking over his shoulder. A sign that read, “Making College More Affordable” hung from his desk.
September 27, 2007
Teaching is a reward in itself right? Maybe so, but not making enough money to live a comfortable lifestyle can sure taint that theory. Qualified primary and secondary school teachers are, and have been for a while, in high demand, especially in the Math and Sciences. They play a crucial role in educating the next generation, and they help to instill in students a sense of confidence and a love of learning. Plus, school is mandatory, and someone has to teach the classes.
The government has been trying to make teaching attractive for years, but it’s pretty hard to do without adequate financial bait. Teachers may not strike it big, but students who are still interested may be able to take advantage of certain funding incentives, especially if they choose to spend some time in low-income districts. Here are some options for current and future educators:
1. TEACH Grant: Now that President Bush has [finally] signed the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, a new teaching grant will be made available to students. The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant (TEACH) will allow students who plan to teach in-demand subjects and those who teach at low-income schools to receive $4,000 grants each college year (up to $16,000). High-demand subjects include math, science, foreign language, and special education among others. Smaller grants may also be offered to graduate school students who plan to teach.
2. Federal Perkins Loan Teacher Cancellation: Students who became teachers, counselors or librarians in primary or secondary schools may be able to cancel their Perkins loans after working in low-income areas. To be eligible, educators should teach subjects that are in high demand.
3. Educator Expense IRS Deduction: Teachers who dig into personal pockets to buy classroom equipment may be partially repaid. According to IRS regulations, teachers and educators who buy books, supplies, equipment and software used in the classroom can deduct these costs from their income. The law may expire at the end of this year so keep your fingers crossed for an extension.
4. Teach for America: Teach for America offers financial assistance to graduates who agree to teach in low-income communities for at least two years. The program is not restricted to those who plan to teach subjects that are in high-demand, and teacher certification is not required. Those who are selected will be paid by the school district, but they will also be eligible for additional AmeriCorps grants as well as temporary student loan deferments. The program is competitive so students with high GPAs and leadership experience have an edge over other applicants. Aside from the grant incentive and the feel-good factor, Teach for America experience looks great on a resume.
Like everyone else, aspiring teachers may be able to decrease college costs by applying for scholarships and grants. Awards are not restricted to teachers nor are they restricted to the select few with exceptional GPAs. As a last-case scenario, students may also take out loans to pay for a college education.
September 26, 2007
Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is to receive a much contested Stanford University fellowship, and to offer one.
Much of Stanford University’s faculty as well as numerous students and alumni were outraged after it was announced that Donald Rumsfeld would be receiving a one-year fellowship from the school. The appointment would entail Rumsfeld examining and advising a university panel on issues of national security and the aftermath of September 11th.
Like most Ivy League schools, Stanford is known to be campus of liberal thinkers—the same can’t be said of its public policy research center that extended the invitation. It is unsurprising that a former high-ranking staff member of the Bush administration, one who resigned amidst accusations of Iraq war mishandling, was immediately deemed a campus misfit.
A petition with, as of now, 3,483 students, alumni and faculty signatures has been created in the hopes of withdrawing the offer. As stated in the petition, “We view the appointment as fundamentally incompatible with the ethical values of truthfulness, tolerance, disinterested enquiry, respect for national and international laws, and care for the opinions, property and lives of others to which Stanford is inalienably committed.”
Donald Rumsfeld also had something to say on the topic of fellowships—that he will soon be awarding them. There are plans in store for a new Rumsfeld foundation that will shortly be awarding fellowships to students who plan to enter the field of public policy after graduating from college. Rumsfeld hopes that the award will encourage students to work for the government.
In addition to assisting graduates, the foundation will offer loans to micro-enterprises in developing countries and support Central Asian republics. It will likewise fund lectures on various topics, the kind of work Rumsfeld may be doing for Stanford.
According to the Washington Post, Rumsfeld has recently criticized both the press and Congress for “creating an environment that is not particularly hospitable to public services.” It was a comment in response to an advertisement that blasted Army General David H. Petraeus as one to, “Betray Us”. But that was the press. Who is left to blame for student and faculty criticism?
President Bush is certainly keeping students waiting. Graduates debating loan consolidation and lenders pressuring them to go through with it are standing by to see if the Congress-approved College Cost Reduction Act will finally be signed by the president.
If the bill is passed, the government will cut lender subsidies by October 1st. The savings will then be used to increase Pell Grants to needy students. October is fast approaching, but the president has yet to make a move on the bill approved by Congress on September 7th. The potential law is not only important because of the grant factor; it is important because it may mean cuts in financial breaks offered by student lenders.
Lenders have warned that if the bill passes, students will not be granted many of the financial perks they were once eligible for. One of the perks in jeopardy is the Sallie Mae (the largest lender in the business) interest rate cut on consolidated loans to borrowers who pay on time for three years. Sallie Mae and other lenders are making the best of the situation by pressuring students to consolidate with them before things change.
Except that consolidating is not always in a student’s best interest. Students who have loans issued before July 2006, ones with interest rates that change each year, may lock in this year’s rates by consolidating. (loans borrowed after July 1, 2006 have fixed yearly rates.) If interest rates increase, students may be doing themselves a favor. They will be able to keep their discounts and maintain lower rates.
But there is a large chance that rates will go down. If students wait, they may be able to get lower rates that can offset lender discounts, ones that many students aren’t even eligible for. Students should also remember that by consolidating and increasing the lifespan of their loan, they will be paying more in the long run. They will be paying less each month, but additional payments mean more interest buildup.
Consolidation is a tough call. It’s hard to foretell the future. Numerous financial aid administrators suggest that students contact their lenders to find out exactly what discounts they can keep by consolidating. If they are big and the likelihood of eligibility is there, they can consider.
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