January 25, 2012
Contributed by Guest Blogger Derrius L. Quarles, aka the MillionDollarScholar
Did you know that the months of January through April have more scholarship deadlines than all of the other months combined? That means this is the time to get off of your rump and compete for free money for college. If you haven’t started already, the things you should start working on are the four basic components of all scholarship applications:
If you have already started creating these components, that’s good...but you are not off the hook that easy! You want to now develop these components to the best possible quality before you submit any of your applications. It is best to start with the component that will take the most time and that is your writing (personal statements/scholarship essays). The greatest piece of advice I could give you in regards to your writing is to go back and check for two things: creativity and authenticity. When I say creativity I am talking about how you relay information to the reader. Have you ever heard someone say, “sometimes it's not what you say, it's how you say it”? That proverb is exactly what creativity in your essays is all about. You want to find small ways to make your writing unique and stand out from the crowd of other essays. I am not going to tell you specifically what you should do to make your essays more creative, because if I did, then it wouldn’t really be you that is being creative. That gets into my next point about writing: make it your own. You want to show the person or people reading your essays who you are. If you are passionate about something, I should be able to know that after reading what you wrote. If you have an idea about what you want to do for the rest of your life, make sure you show that. Lastly, complete three rounds (yes, I said three rounds) of editing where you check and correct small mistakes like missing and unnecessary punctuation or words, run-on sentences and misspelled words in all of your essays and online application content (academic info, activities, etc.). Skip over this last step only if you don’t like winning free money.
For your recommendations, you want to remember three things:
It takes a lot of time to put together an entire scholarship application and I am sure you may be thinking about all of the other work and activities you may have to do. Not to worry. This season there are some new resources around to assist you with your scholarship writing and resume. You can get free writing feedback at MillionDollarScholar.com, which is a recently released website full of information and tools to help students in the process of winning scholarships. The writing feedback will provide specific advice about how to make your writing better. To help you develop your scholarship resume you can utilize the Million Dollar Scholar Resume Builder. With this tool, you can input information online that can quickly be transferred to a Word document for resume creation. This tool has been specifically set up to help you provide the information and history that most scholarships will require.
Alright scholar, you now know that it is the season of free money. You have the information and you now know about a new resource to make the process less stressful. Do not let this scholarship season pass you by!
August 30, 2010
There will be another Cappex scholarship next month, but if you want to get in under the wire for this month's offering, you still have time! The Cappex "I Don’t Want To Pay For College" Scholarship will be available through the end of tomorrow, August 31st. Read on for details on how to enter before it's too late. Check it out:
Want to go to college but can’t pay for all of it? Let Cappex.com help with our $1,000 "I Don’t Want to Pay for College" Scholarship. No essays or tedious forms required. Just fill out a profile about yourself and you’ll be eligible for this and many more scholarships from Cappex. Plus, your free Cappex profile will match you with billions more in scholarships from colleges and other organizations.
For more information, visit http://www.scholarships.com/scc.aspx?pid=745
March 26, 2010
It would seem there are a substantial number of students in California that are relying on local community colleges to provide them with the education they need. Fortunately for them, nearly all of California’s community colleges are willing to dip into their reserves to enroll these unfunded students. Still, though, many of these schools have waiting lists in the thousands as the price of higher education rises and there just aren’t enough paid-for chairs to go around.
Of course, this also raises the issue of whether the number of students being added to the classrooms will have a detrimental impact on the quality of education students can expect to receive at one of these colleges. For example, College of the Sequoias has increased their average class size by about 20% (from 26 to 31 students per class) in addition to using almost $2 million from its reserves to accommodate some students who would probably have had to wait until next year (perhaps longer) to enter college otherwise and whose prospects of employment would not have been very good, either.
With unemployment as high as 18% in the surrounding region, College of the Sequoias’ president Bill Scroggins feels it is his duty to do all he can to make sure as many of these folks as possible have the opportunity to receive a post-secondary education. In Mt. San Jacinto College’s immediate surroundings the unemployment rate is at 15% and, consequently, more than 25% of its students are unfunded. While these schools have not yet furloughed faculty or cut their pay, many other budgetary cuts have been made, such as eliminating travel and conference budgets. Clearly these are short-term solutions and a more permanent solution will need to be found, but at least some of the unfunded students are being taken-in and given an opportunity to get the education they will need in order to work toward their desired career.
Apparently, while California’s economy is running at a high deficit, there are these small bastions of efficient colleges who managed to put away some of their assets for a few years’ worth of rainy days. Hopefully the economy that surrounds them will turn around before their reserves are depleted and the would-be students in the surrounding communities find themselves entirely dependent upon state and federal funding.
March 24, 2010
Today, at 7PM EST, Scholarships.com's own Kevin Ladd will be giving a presentation on the scholarship search, focused primarily on high school juniors. The webcast will be hosted and produced by CollegeWeekLive.com, a site that offers virtual college fairs featuring all sorts of presentations from colleges, financial aid professionals, and much more. There is a College Chat, Student Chat, information on federal aid such as the FAFSA and even video chats.
Today, Kevin's presentation will address scholarships and the importance of beginning your search early, citing scholarships offered throughout a student's high school years as well as the benefit of having familiarized yourself with the financial aid and scholarship search process long before your senior year. In fact, there are some scholarships specifically targeting high school juniors for which you won't qualify if you put off searching for financial aid until your senior year in high school.
The earlier you begin searching for scholarships, the better chance you have of finding the best ones and being awarded free money for college. For more on this and to "virtually" visit some college halls while you are at it, check out CollegeWeekLive.com and don't forget to be there at 7PM Eastern Time to see Kevin's presentation on finding scholarships. If you do miss it today, you can search for it in the College Week Live archives tomorrow and thereafter, but if you catch his live presentation today, you will be able to text any questions you might have.
March 23, 2010
In addition to the expansion of health coverage for Americans, another significant change has been made and another major economic issue addressed with the termination of the bank-based system of federally subsidized student loans.
With a vote of 220 to 211, the controversial bill, HR 4872, was passed by the House on Sunday and is expected to gain Senate approval within a few days. The bill, known best for the health-care provisions it contained, also addressed and closed the twenty year debate over whether to include private lenders in the federal student loan system.
Most of the savings expected to be derived from this major change (estimated at approximately $61 billion over the next decade) will be used for increasing the value of the Pell Grant for low-income students. Historically black colleges and community colleges are also expected to benefit from the savings this program offers. The House passed a similar bill in September of 2009, but didn't garner enough votes to pass the Senate. This time around, it was packaged with the health-care measure, and the amount dedicated to education has been reduced.
March 10, 2010
Perhaps, for the time being, American colleges (see Harvard, Princeton, Yale, etc.) are among the most desirable in the world, but there is some concern that this might not always be so and that perhaps this shouldn't be taken for granted.
Before Toyota started shipping automobiles to the United states in ever-increasing quantities, General Motors ruled. The American car was king in the U.S. and led all other auto companies world-wide for three quarters of a century. That began to change in the 80's and now it is not uncommon, even right here in the heartland of America, to see more Japanese cars on your morning commute than those manufactured in the United St. Could we have learned a lesson from Japan? Taken a page from their playbook maybe and avoided the enormous failure and subsequent government bailout of what was once the auto sales leader for 77 consecutive years? There are those who believe education is set on a similar trajectory. Here are five things we might want to consider:
October 20, 2009
Early decision (ED) is an increasingly popular choice for college applications. The reason? Well, actually there are a couple.
First of all, by applying early, students get their admissions notifications early: try around December 15, the same time that regular decision applications are due. This can be a huge relief, knowing where you will be attending college an entire semester before your fellow students.
Another advantage, and a hotly contested one, is that there is evidence that applying early increases your chances of being admitted in the first place, especially among elite colleges. Schools like Amherst College and University of Pennsylvania boast significantly higher acceptance rates for students applying early—almost double that of their regular decision counterparts.
But beware: early decision has some serious pitfalls. For starters, you are locked into admissions should you be accepted. So if you are just starting your college search, you might be jumping the gun by committing to one school. Some schools have, instead, an Early Action deadline which gives you the same early admittance but without being tied down to that school.
Although the acceptance rates for ED can be significantly higher, you should take into account the competitiveness of the application pool. Early Decision applications need stellar junior year grades, as colleges won’t get to see any senior year transcripts. Applicants also tend to be very motivated, as they have already done a lot of college research early. While ED can help you if you are already a competitive applicant, it is not a miracle for mediocre students looking for admissions into a competitive college. Look at your college admissions chances objectively: if you are already competitive applicant, but could use a boost than early decision might help.
Another problem with being locked into ED is that you have no freedom to compare financial aid offers. If finances are even a minor factor in your decision, you should seriously rethink applying Early Decision. By applying to multiple schools, you are able to compare offers from different schools and even use them as bargaining chips against each other.
Basically, unless you are positive that you want to go to a college, and positive that you can afford 100% of the tuition (or the school promises to meet 100% of all demonstrated financial need), early decision college applications might not be for you.
CampusCompare is a free college search engine with tons of interactive tools and blogs that help you find your best-fit college. Check out more at http://www.campuscompare.com.
June 25, 2009
Guest posting by CampusCompare.com
Duhn duhn duhn... Today is the day that SAT scores will be released. Whether you’re jumping up and down or getting ready to jump off a bridge, there are some things you can do to get the most out of your SAT scores.
Good news: Congrats! You aced the SAT’s and now the world is your oyster. Or so you thought. Taking the SATs is just one tiny step in the long college application process:
Bad News: Don’t worry. If your scores are not as high as you like, there are a couple things you can do to mitigate the disaster.
May 21, 2009
by CampusCompare 5/21/2009
Every year, high school students across the country rip open the fat admissions envelope from their first-choice only to be thrown a curve ball. Their dream school may have let them in, but they got bubkiss, zero, and zilch in financial aid. Then, just when they thought they were out of luck, they get a hefty scholarship from one of their safeties. Now they are forced to decide between the school of their dreams, and the scholarship of their dreams.
Unfortunately, this is an all-too common scenario. Students often receive more aid from their safety schools than from their first choices. This is because they are generally overqualified, and thus more desirable, to the admissions committee at the less prestigious school. Admissions counselors aren’t foolish. Stats like class rank and SATs are reported by the school, and help make up their reputation. They want to boost their school’s stats by having students at the top of their high school class attend. To lure those top students, they often offer large merit scholarships and grants. And the first-choice schools? They are often much more competitive, so it can be hard to stand out from the crowd and win an award.
So what can you do if you’re stuck between your dream-school and being debt-free? Is it better to attend your 2nd (or 3rd) choice school and not have to take out loans, or to hold out for your no. 1? There’s really no one answer. In general, it’s wise to not borrow more money than you will be making your first-year out of college—this means (for most people) no more than 30-40 thousand dollars for all four years of college. This can easily be done in low interest federal loans. If going to your dream school means taking out $100,000 in private loans, you’ll probably be better off going to a less prestigious school and staying out of debt. Try to compare costs of both colleges side-by-side to see if the difference in aid really tips the scales. Maybe after seeing what both schools have to offer, you’ll decide second-best is actually pretty good. Most colleges offer a good education, and even if it’s not their first choice, most students grow to love their school once they’ve moved in and made friends.
Don’t give up just yet. If you really believe that you’ll be better off at your dream-school, you can make it happen. Try and make up for the lack of financial aid with some private scholarships. Search for corporations, non-profits, and local scholarships designed for students like you. Even if it’s just $500 here and there, in the end it will all add up to the difference between going to your 1st choice and settling for second-best.
CampusCompare is a free website that helps college-bound students find the right school for them by offering free college search tools, like the Financial Aid Calculator, information on 15 categories of college life for over 3,000 colleges, and expert, hype-free college admissions advice. Check us out at http://www.campuscompare.com
March 13, 2009
It seems Sallie Mae wants nothing to do with PLUS Loans and it's possible many other lenders will be reticent to bid on the graduate student and parent targeted loans at the upcoming "auction". Supposedly, the government is not allowing lenders to make enough money on these loans for it to be sufficiently profitable so they are opting to invest their capital elsewhere.
Some are claiming this is a ploy to get a larger cut than what the government currently allows. This certainly isn't out of the question, and it seems likely that Sallie Mae would participate if the "price were right", but this is likely beside the point to those seeking financial aid for college. They just want to know how they are going to pay for school if nobody wants to underwrite their PLUS Loan.
There is no question it's difficult to get a loan for education these days and getting more so by the day. Naturally, it would be ideal if every student attending college next year could find sufficient scholarships, grants and other "free" money to pay for their entire education but we are all well aware that is fairly unlikely for most. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try. It is rare that those who do, somehow, find a way to get through college without taking out loans are not quite surprised themselves. The key is to search for scholarships and to do so with the belief you can win. Because you can. You probably won't win them all, but you might win some of them, right? Improve your odds by applying to as many as you can from now until every deadline has passed! You may not get all of your tuition paid for (some of you will, though!) but that's no reason not to try, right? Some of you will be able to pay about half, or even more than half and that's huge. Even if you were able to get $3,000 a year? Or even $2,000? Maybe go to state school instead of that pricey private college you were going to attend. Now that $3,000 is much more substantial, isn't it? Consider all of these things and conduct a free scholarship search today and see what's available out there before you start looking at loans.
Back to PLUS Loans and Sallie Mae's absence from the upcoming auction. The idea is that lenders actually have to "bid" on the loans by stating their lowest acceptable federal subsidy rate they are willing to accept to make the loan. They have to give their absolute best offer in competition with other lenders, which should, in theory, benefit those taking out the loans. This "auction" format began just a couple of years ago and may already be on its way out, as President Obama has called for the elimination of the entire guaranteed-loan program. Naturally, this puts further strain on those still trying to move forward with the auction, which will now be without Sallie Mae, who makes 40% of PLUS Loans in the guaranteed-loan program. It is difficult to know how big an impact this will have on the event, but you can rest assured it does not bode well for students counting on PLUS Loans to fund their education.
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