August 20, 2008
The results of a poll conducted by Sallie Mae and Gallup were released today, painting a picture of where Americans across income levels find money for college. The study found that sources of funding varied, with parent borrowing (16%), student borrowing (23%), and parent income and savings (32%) taking care of the majority of college costs. Scholarships and grants followed closely behind, making up 15 percent of college funding.
The average grant and scholarship awards and student loan amounts were roughly the same for low income families (families making below $50,000 a year), while middle income families relied most heavily on parent income and student loans, and high income families (families making above $100,000 a year) predominantly used parent income and savings to pay for school.
While more students than parents were likely to rule out a school at some point in their college search based on cost (63% vs. 54%), two in five families said that cost was not a consideration in choosing the right college for them, and 70 percent of students and parents said that future income was not a factor when determining how much to borrow.
Additionally, 20 percent of families reported using either a second mortgage or a credit card to pay some portion of tuition, while only 9 percent of families reported using a college savings plan, such as a 529 plan, to pay for part of tuition (though those who did were able to cover nearly $8,000 of the cost of college with one). The study also found that only 76 percent of students whose families made between $35,000 and $50,000 per year, many of whom may be eligible for state and federal grant programs, did not complete the FAFSA. Only 73 percent of familes making between $50,000 and $100,000 per year completed a FAFSA, despite many families' reliance on loans to pay for college.
The full text of the report is available on the Sallie Mae website.
August 19, 2008
Maybe it's just the release of Beloit College's "Mind-Set List," a list of news items, pop culture references, and technological advances that happened 18 years ago and thus have always existed for incoming college freshmen, but the generation gap between the big desk and the little desks in the college classroom seems to be on everyone's minds this week. As usual, social networking applications seem to be both a tool universities attempt to use to bridge the gap, and a reminder to students just how wide the gap is.
First off, Inside Higher Ed informs us that a new Facebook application called "Schools" is being marketed to universities as a way to allow their students to connect in a safe environment where their identity and school enrollment have been verified. Included in the application are tools that professors can use in the classroom, such as a name game that allows students to learn their classmates' names. Unlike other Facebook applications, the university has to purchase and implement "Schools," rather than allowing individual students to adopt it.
If this application takes off, and even if it doesn't, more undergraduate students (and probably some graduate students, too) are likely to experience Facebook and other social networking sites as a "creepy treehouse," a term the Chronicle of Higher Education shared with academia in its news blog yesterday. That crawly feeling you get when your professor friends you on a social networking site, even though you don't have any incriminating photos or information on your profile? That's the creepy treehouse, built to look like a place for kids to play, but really used by adults.
So, remember when you're attending college this fall that your professors come from a different world, a world where:
August 18, 2008
Continuing with a theme from earlier in the month, this week's scholarship of the week also presents students with a source of funding for travel. Rather than a study abroad scholarship award, this week's feature is an expenses-paid internship opportunity that allows students to work in any region of the United States. It's also one of the many green scholarships and internships available in our database. The Student Conservation Association (SCA) conservation internship programs allow students in a wide variety of disciplines to participate in internships lasting anywhere from 12 weeks to 12 months. Dozens of internship opportunities exist, allowing students to do work ranging from public relations to environmental education to trail maintenance and repair.
In addition to free housing, a living allowance, and an Americorps stipend, students participating in SCA internships can also earn college credit. For students considering environmental careers or future nonprofit work, this internship can be a great way to gain experience, start networking, and get a better idea of what you want to do in your field while earning college credit.
An internship in your area of study with free housing, a weekly living allowance, and the opportunity to also receive an Americorps stipend and college credit for your work.
Any U.S. citizen or international student 18 or over who wishes to participate.
Varies. The deadline for internships beginning in January or February is September 15.
Visit the SCA website to select the internship opportunities that interest you and to complete an online application.
Further details about the application process can be found by conducting a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com. Once the search is completed, students eligible for this scholarship award will find it in their search results.
August 15, 2008
Yesterday, President Bush signed the Higher Education Opportunity Act, the official reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) which governs federal student financial aid for college, as well as other federal programs and regulations that pertain to higher education.
Under the new version of the HEA students can expect a number of benefits when it comes to finding money for college. Some of the changes include:
The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators also offers a point-by-point breakdown of the Higher Education Opportunity Act on their website.
August 14, 2008
For everyone currently slogging their way through scholarship applications and college placement tests, as well as all of you gearing up for Composition, Creative Writing, or other English-related classes, here's a bit of fun. Take a break from writing your own bids for essay scholarships and enjoy some really bad writing. San Jose State University just announced the 2008 winners of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, an annual challenge to craft the worst opening line for a novel. Named after the man who penned the famous opening line "It was a dark and stormy night," the competition seeks to give proper recognition to terrible prose.
This year's winner was penned by Garrison Spik of Washington, DC:
Theirs was a New York love, a checkered taxi ride burning rubber, and like the city their passion was open 24/7, steam rising from their bodies like slick streets exhaling warm, moist, white breath through manhole covers stamped "Forged by DeLaney Bros., Piscataway, N.J."
Even if you decide not to try your hand at fiction, perusing the Bulwer-Lytton contest winners could enrich your life in other ways beyond simple entertainment. See all of those flowery, adjective-rich lines that seem to go on forever with their archaic and polysyllabic prose that looks like what would happen if someone cut the thesaurus apart and taped it back together to form a sentence? That would be writing to avoid submitting to scholarship essay contests ( poetry contests, too). While flexing your writing to its full extent is always tempting, there are limits. When a sentence becomes difficult to read and a metaphor, image, anecdote, or quote is stretched further than it can reasonably go, or plopped down with no clear context provided, an otherwise brilliant attempt at winning scholarships can fall flat. Even though School House Rock tells you to unpack your adjectives, the Bulwer-Lytton contest reminds us that in some instances it may be wise to leave a few of them put away.
August 13, 2008
It's that time again! Most students attending college will be starting school in the coming weeks, and as move-in day and the first day of classes approach, now is a good time to make sure you're all set to begin the semester. Once you know you're ready to go, you can sit back and enjoy what remains of your summer, possibly even squeezing in a last-minute camping trip or road trip.
August 12, 2008
Nearly 17% more students completed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) between January and June 2008 compared to the same period in 2007 according to a report released last month by the Department of Education. Several states, including California and North Carolina, have seen an even more marked increase, with at least 20% more students applying for federal student financial aid for college this calendar year.
This increase in applications for financial aid is largely attributed to the rising cost of a college education, the recent loan crunch, and the general economic downturn, which are all making it more difficult for families to completely cover the cost of tuition. More people may also be applying for financial aid due to increased awareness of its existence, thanks to recent news coverage of financial aid issues.
Aside from longer lines at the financial aid office in the fall, this news is likely to have little impact on students attending college this year (although you may want to apply early for a work-study job lest you discover that the only available job is on the receiving end of that financial aid line). Aid programs with limited funds, such as state grants and campus-based programs like Perkins Loans and work-study jobs, could potentially be exhausted a bit earlier this year, but students still procrastinating on applying for financial aid should still fill out a FAFSA if they haven't missed their school's deadline. Federal aid, such as Stafford Loans and Pell Grants, is still available to late applicants, and as long as they haven't missed any deadlines, students could still manage to receive awards given on a first come, first serve basis.
For students considering financial aid for the 2009-2010 academic year, we recommend deciding early whether you intend to apply for federal aid (not sure? Use a college cost worksheet to estimate your actual cost of attendance), researching your school's financial aid and scholarship application deadlines (especially since some institutional scholarships are need-based), doing your taxes as soon as possible, and completing the FAFSA on the Web in January or February (or as far in advance of the deadline as possible) to ensure that you're considered for all the aid for which you're qualified (to get an idea, you can use the Department of Education's FAFSA4caster). Also, continue to conduct regular scholarship searches and to apply for scholarships, since scholarships continue to be the best way to make up the difference between what college costs and what you can afford to pay for school.
August 11, 2008
The Scholarship of the Week for this week is the Fleet Reserve Assocation Americanism Essay Contest, a scholarship essay contest for students in high school and junior high. Contestants need to write a scholarship-worthy essay of 350 words or less on the theme "what the United States flag stands for." Applicants should submit their completed scholarship application packet to their nearest FRA branch, which does not necessarily need to be in their home state. Essays are first judged at the local level, with winners progressing to regional and national finals.Prize:
The Grand National Prize is $15,000 U.S. Savings Bond, with $5,000, $3,000 and $2,000 Savings Bonds awarded to the first, second and third place winners in each grade category. Certificates and other prizes are awarded at the branch and regional levels, as well.
All students entering grades 7-12 in the fall, as well as home schooled students at an equivalent grade level, are eligible for this scholarship.
Entries must be postmarked by December 1, 2008.
August 8, 2008
Earlier this week, Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick asked his state's wealthiest universities (such as Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) to help bail out the Massachusetts Education Financing Authority (MEFA), which announced last week that it would not be able to provide loans to over 40,000 students this fall. However, as an article published today in The Chronicle of Higher Education explains, many parties regard this request as well-intentioned but highly problematic, mainly due to recent lawsuits and legislation regarding potential conflicts of interest in relationships between colleges and student loan providers. The Massachusetts state treasurer, who vetoed the governor's request to invest money in MEFA, stated that bailing out MEFA was not a good investment and could set a dangerous precedent for use of state funds. While several colleges said they would consider investing in MEFA to help them provide enough loans to be able to receive assistance from the federal government, none have yet said yes, and many express concerns about what people will think of their relationship with the lending agency once the economy recovers. When viewed in light of last year's preferred lender list scandal, such hesitation is understandable.
However, while both sides of this issue have adopted positions based on sound principles and the belief in doing what will ultimately be best for students, thousands of students are still left in a lurch when it comes to finding money for college. With the new Higher Education Act still sitting on President Bush's desk, and the school year fast approaching, many families, and not just ones in Massachusetts, may be struggling to find ways to pay for school. It's never too late to start applying for financial aid, though! Students who haven't yet done so should complete a FAFSA on the Web, which could potentially qualify you for federal grant programs. Once you've received your financial aid award letter, be sure to talk to your school's financial aid office, especially if you plan on receiving loans. Finally, students of all ages should also check out our free scholarship search, as there are scholarships being awarded year-round, and scholarship awards can be one of the best means of funding your education.
August 7, 2008
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