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11 Colleges Where You Can Earn a Degree for Free

July 29, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

Here at Scholarships.com, we make a point to advocate the importance of funding your college education the right way (for free!) and while financing your higher education solely with scholarships is an amazing feat, there is another factor to consider: colleges with no tuition to be begin with. Yup, they totally exist – check out the 11 colleges below where you can earn a degree for free:

We should also mention that elite universities with healthy endowments also tout financial aid programs that pay 100 percent of tuition, room and board and fees for students from families with certain incomes – $75,000 or less at MIT, $65,000 or less at Harvard and Yale, and $60,000 of less at Columbia, Cornell, Stanford, Duke, Brown and Texas A&M. For a more detailed look at any of the schools listed or hundreds of other universities, check out our College Search. And let us know where you’re heading this fall in the comments section!

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Win $10K in this Scholarship of the Week!

This SOTW is Accepting Entries Through July 31st

July 28, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

Looking for a scholarship that doesn’t require an essay? Well, look no further than ScholarshipPoints for your chance to win a $10,000 scholarship. ScholarshipPoints is free to join, fun to participate in, and provides you with the opportunity to win thousands of dollars in scholarships every month. Members earn scholarship points for doing what they already do online: shopping, reading blogs, playing games, searching the web, taking surveys and more! The more you do – the more points you earn – the more chances you have at winning a scholarship. Join today and you could be their next scholarship winner!

For more information on this scholarship and other scholarship opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search today!

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UVA Welcomes “Game of Thrones” Course

July 24, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

Are you one of the millions of Americas suffering from “Game of Thrones” withdrawal? Do you stay up late at night pondering how the Lannister’s will pay their debts next season? Wonder if Ser Gregor Clegane will turn into Cersei’s dream Frankenstein Monster? Speculate when winter will freaking come already?! Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait close to 10 months to get our next “Game of Thrones” fix...unless, of course, you’re at the University of Virginia: This summer, UVA is offering an English course on the wildly popular HBO show. Thronees rejoice!

According to UVA Today, the discussion-based class will be taught by associate professor of English Lisa Woolfork over four weeks this summer. The course will be divided between the first “Game of Thrones” novels and the first three seasons of the show. “One of the goals behind this class was to teach students how the skills that we use to study literature are very useful skills for reading literature and TV in conjunction,” Woolfork said. “‘Game of Thrones’ is popular, it’s interesting, but it’s also very serious. There are a lot of things in the series that are very weighty, and very meaningful, and can be illuminated through the skills of literary analysis.” (For more on this story, click here.)

While classes rooted in popular culture is not a new phenomenon on college campuses – Frostburg State University in Maryland has been offering “The Science of Harry Potter” as a three-credit seminar for years – what’s your stance on the educational value of offering such a course? Do you think colleges are pandering to students’ wants verses needs? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

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Pay It Forward Plan Draws Serious Criticism

July 21, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

When it comes to paying for a college education, it seems as though students have two options: deal with impossibly high payments while they're in school or crippling debt for years afterwards. Well, Oregon students were provided a third option last year when legislators approved the Pay it Forward plan that would allow students to attend state colleges without paying tuition or taking out student loans but would instead commit a small percentage of their future incomes to repaying the state. It turns out, however, that said plan isn't the saving grace for college students afterall.

First proposed by students at Portland State University, Pay It Forward has drawn serious criticism since Oregon passed a law to study the idea. According to a report by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, analysis shows that the plan would leave most graduates deeper in debt than if they had taken out loans and would throw colleges’ balance sheets into uncertainty. Here are some of the more prevalent points in the association’s report but for a more detailed look, click here:

  • Pay It Forward does not account for non-tuition costs like room and board.
  • Students who generally rack up the most debt – those at for-profit and private nonprofit institutions — would not be eligible for the program.
  • The program would have “enormous” start-up costs.

Early estimates suggest that Oregon would have to take about 3 percent of a former student’s earnings for 20 years for it to work. With that being said, what are your thoughts on Pay It Forward? Do you think it’s too soon to tell if this is a viable option for other states to adapt?

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Top 10 Worst College Majors

July 18, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

With recent college graduates facing an unemployment rate of 6.3 percent and substantially lower starting salaries, we have to ask: What path should students take in order to flourish after graduation? And while there isn't one direct route that translates into post-collegiate success, H&R Block has compiled the top 10 majors with the highest unemployment rates for recent college graduates:

  1. Anthropology & Archaeology – 10.5%
  2. Film/Video & Photographic Arts – 12.9%
  3. Fine Arts – 12.6%
  4. Philosophy & Religious Studies – 10.8%
  5. Liberal Arts – 9.2%
  6. Music – 9.2%
  7. Physical Fitness – 8.3%
  8. Commercial Art & Graphic Design – 11.8%
  9. History – 10.2%
  10. English Language & Literature – 9.2%

What are your thoughts on the majors that made the list? Do you agree with the sentiment that these majors that aren't in high demand should be avoided or should students be encouraged to pursue their passion regardless of potentially high unemployment rates? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section. For more information on how to choose a major,the most popular college majors and 10 things to consider before choosing your major, head over to Scholarships.com’s College Prep section.

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The Time is Right to Resolve to Evolve

Our Annual Essay Scholarship is Back – Apply Online Today!

July 15, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

The Resolve to Evolve Scholarship is about more than just making resolutions - it's an opportunity to proactively and progressively confront challenges, however daunting they may be. The R2E Scholarship encourages applicants to move beyond finger-pointing and offer constructive criticism and workable solutions for problems facing an administration or an organization. Ready to create change and further our evolution as individuals and as a society? Review this year’s prompts and submit your essay today!

The R2E Scholarship is open to all United States citizens who are registered users of Scholarships.com, will be enrolled in high school (grades 9 through 12) during the 2014-2015 school year and will be between the ages of 13 and 19 at the time the award is given. The applicant who submits the best overall essay will receive a $2,000 scholarship. One (1) winner will also be selected from each grade level (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior) and will receive a $1,000 scholarship each.

All entries must be submitted via Scholarships.com’s online submission form by the September 15th deadline. Finalists will be notified by mid-October for additional materials. Winners will be notified in mid-November and awarded in early December. For more information on Resolve to Evolve and other scholarship opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search today!

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STEM Graduates More Likely to be Employed...Just Not in STEM Fields

July 14, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

If you're a recent college graduate, chances are you're having a difficult time finding a full-time position in your field of study. It's nothing to be embarrassed about – times are tough and opportunities are slim – but you're not alone: According to new census data, though college graduates with degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics are more likely than other college graduates to have a job, most don’t work in STEM fields.

On Thursday, the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey released data that showed nearly 75 percent of all holders of bachelor’s degrees in STEM disciplines don't have jobs in STEM occupations. Liana Christin Landivar, a sociologist with the Census Bureau, noted that the Census Bureau does not classify doctors as STEM professionals, which would also affect the overall percentages; she also said there are multiple reasons why students don't get STEM jobs. On a positive note, STEM degrees provide a wide range of career options, as students aren't shoehorned into one particular position. Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, said STEM degrees are becoming “universal degrees” and that the report is not an indication of an oversupply of STEM graduates. (For more on this survey, click here.)

Given the collective push across campuses nationwide to increase participation and graduation rates in STEM disciplines, have you been swayed into pursuing a STEM field? Would you accept an offer for a position that wasn't in your field of study? Share your thoughts in the comments section. And for tips on finding employment after college, building a resume and preparing for your first job out of college, check out Scholarships.com’s After College section.

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Five Tips for Maximizing Merit Aid

July 11, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

Figuring out the bottom line when it comes to the cost of your college education is definitely stressful. With everything that goes into determining your financial aid package (your parents’ income, your earnings and your family’s net assets), it’s important to understand that merit aid (aid based on a student’s attributes like (academics, athletics, extracurriculars, etc.) is available to student regardless of their “need.” New federal rules are blurring the distinction between scholarships awarded on merit and grants awarded because of a student’s financial need – for instance, a growing number of colleges now award “need-based” aid to students from families earning six figures! – so we’ve compiled a few helpful tips to maximize your chances for merit aid and increase your overall financial aid package.

  1. Fill out the FAFSA. Federal rules have changed and college aid officials are now allowed to award need-based aid to students whose parents earned decent salaries last year but have recently been laid off; institutions can also make accommodations for a family’s unique circumstances, such as high medical bills.
  2. Apply to schools where you’d rank at the top. While your dream school might be an Ivy League, you should apply to at least a few colleges where your GPA would put you in the top 25 percent of the student body.
  3. Do the research. If you’re interested in a college, find out what it has to offer when it comes to merit aid. You might qualify for more awards than you think!
  4. Before making a final decision, compare net prices. Consider the cost of attendance in its entirety, including tuition and fees, room and board, books and transportation. The school that offers the most in merit aid might not be the best choice; sometimes the college offering the largest merit scholarship might have the highest net price because its tuition is higher.
  5. Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Believe it or not, you have leverage when it comes to negotiating your merit aid package. If you have received admission letters from two or more universities and your first choice has a higher net price than your second choice, contact your first choice institution (which one is “that institution”...first or second choice?)! Some schools might be willing to match the merit aid offered, which would provide you the opportunity to attend your first choice school for less money!

Can you think of any tips that we might have missed? If so, please add them to our comments section! For more information on finding money for college and how to properly fund your college education, check out Scholarships.com Financial Aid section.

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Class of 2008 Grads Doing Fine, Finding Employment

July 9, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

The Class of 2008 graduated college in the midst of the Great Recession but new government data show that in terms of employment, they're doing just fine.

The National Center for Education Statistics study entitled "First Look at the Employment Experiences and Lives of College Graduates, 4 Years On" surveyed 17,000 people who graduated in the 2007-2008 academic year. They found that of those graduates who were not enrolled in further postsecondary studies in 2012, 82.5 percent were employed; of those individuals, 84.5 percent were in one full-time job, 7.8 percent had one part-time job and 7.7 percent had multiple jobs. Anthony P. Carneval, director of Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce, said the 2007-2008 graduates were "basically a step ahead of the storm," in terms of having jobs lined up before the recessions effects were felt. (Unfortunately, students who graduated in 2009 and 2010 were not so lucky.) You'll find several highlights from the study below but for a more in-depth look, click here:

  • Graduates who worked but had never gone on for more postsecondary education had held an average of 2.1 jobs in the years since graduation. Nearly 39 percent had held one job, while 11.4 percent had held four or more jobs.
  • On average, graduates who had not pursued further postsecondary education worked 84 percent of the months since graduating, spent 5.8 percent of those months unemployed and spent 10.2 percent of them out of the labor force.
  • Graduates who were not enrolled in a postsecondary program in 2012 and who had a full- or part-time job worked, on average, 41.2 hours a week in that job. Full-time workers earned an average annual salary of $52,200 and a median salary of $46,000. Part-time workers earned an average of $25,900 and a median of $20,200.

It's important to note that the study doesn't show whether graduates were employed in a field related to their studies, how student loan debt affected graduates' wealth or earning potential, or whether they sought financial support from family members. With that being said, what do you think of the findings? And to the recent college graduates, how is your job search going? Share your thoughts and experiences in our comments section!

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What’s in a Decimal Point?

Online FAFSA Error Makes Low-Income Filers Look Like Millionaires

July 7, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

When it comes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), a decimal point could make a world of difference: An update to this year’s FAFSA has cost some low-income filers a chance at some serious federal student aid.

For the 2014-15 FAFSA, the government expanded several income and asset fields in the online form to accommodate higher incomes. Herein lies the problem: Some lower-income filers are missing the .00 outside the box and entering cents into the text field. And when the do that, an income of $28,532.79, for example, is converted into $2,853,279. Big mistake. Huge. If the error isn't caught or corrected on individual forms, the filers could lose out on Pell Grants or other need-based student aid. According to Jeff Baker, policy liaison at the Education Department’s Office of Federal Student Aid, the department has already identified 165,000 individuals who've made the mistake. He's estimated that a majority of colleges have at least one affected student, while some may have hundreds. "It's a serious problem," said Baker at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators’ annual meeting. "We have to fix it." (For more on this story, click here.)

With all the headaches that typically go into applying for federal aid using the FAFSA, what are your thoughts on the current roadblocks? Why not just have filers round income to the nearest whole dollar amount? For more information on the FAFSA, the importance of applying and what you'll need before you get started, check out Scholarships.com’s Federal Aid section.

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