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by Kevin Ladd

Each year at about this time, I see students, desperate for financial aid of any kind, begin to despair juuuust a bit. “This scholarship is due in two days… I can’t put together a application/winning essay that quickly!” or something along those lines.  Others complain that the deadlines have passed for many of the scholarships for which they might have applied. There is only really one solution for this and that is for you to begin searching for scholarships earlier in the year."


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by Kevin Ladd

The investigation into policies at study abroad offices has deepened as New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced his decision to subpoena college officials. Now that codes of conduct and student lender subsidy cuts have addressed the student loan scandal, the attorney general is turning his attention to problems within the study abroad offices.

According to the Associated Press, the total number of schools Cuomo is seeking information from has now reached 15.  Among them are notables such as Harvard, Columbia, Northwestern and Brown University.  Fears about the effects that financial arrangements between schools and travel agencies have had on students are at the heart of the problem.

The issue was widely publicized last year when The New York Times ran a story about a Columbia student who was denied credit after studying abroad at Oxford University. The student, Brendan Jones, had decided to take advantage of the cheaper travel rates by using an outside travel agency. After completing the course requirements at one of the most prestigious and recognized universities, Brendan was denied his request for a credit transfer.

Concerns that study abroad advisors may be using such tactics to pressure students into traveling with schools have been on the rise. Also under investigation is the practice of awarding study abroad officials free travel opportunities and giving schools marketing funds after a certain number of student travelers have been secured.

Posted Under:

College Culture , College News


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by Kevin Ladd

Do you love to skateboard? Even thought you aren’t likely to find a college with an officially sanctioned skateboarding team, your appreciation for skateboarding can help you pay for college. The Patrick Kerr Skateboard Scholarship program is open to all graduating US high school seniors who are skateboarders and have a grade point average of 2.5 or higher (4.0 scale).

A total of four scholarships are awarded each year, with one valued at $5,000 and the others valued at $1,000 each. The deadline for the 2008/2009 scholarship program is April 20, 2008. Applicants must submit a complete application package by the deadline. Required documentation includes letters of recommendation, an official high school transcript, information about how the applicant has promoted the sport of skateboarding in his or her community, an essay about how skateboarding has had a positive impact on the applicant’s life and other information. Complete application details are available at www.skateboardscholarship.org.

The Patrick Kerr Skateboard Scholarship fund was established by a group of mothers of young skateboarders, in memory of Patrick Kerr, an honor student and skateboarding activist from Philadelphia. The board of trustees for the scholarship program includes several professional skateboarders, including Tony Hawk, Jen O’Brien, Ricky Oyola and Mike Vallely.


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by Kevin Ladd

The National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs (NANBPWC) sponsors two African American female scholarships each year. This non-profit organization’s mission is to promote and protect the interests of African American women professionals and entrepreneurs. One of the ways the organization meets its mission is by providing college scholarships for African American women.

The National Scholarship:

This African American scholarship is awarded to graduating high school seniors who have a cumulative grade point overage of 3.0 or better (4.0 scale). Applicant packages must include official high school transcripts, two letters of recommendation written on school letterhead, and an essay.

One letter of recommendation must be written by a school counselor or the principal. The other letter must be written from one of the student’s English, math, or science teachers. The essay must address the topic; “Why is Education Important to Me?”

To learn more about these scholarships, just conduct a free, college scholarship search at www.scholarships.com."

Julianne Malveaux Scholarship

Scholarships are awarded on a competitive basis. Candidates must submit the official application form, along with two letters of recommendation, an essay, and an official college transcript.

The essay must explain how the applicant’s career plans are relevant to the scholarship program’s theme, which is “Black Women’s Hands Can Rock the World.” One letter of recommendation must be from one of the student’s professors or academic advisor. The other letter must be from an NANBPWC member.

Posted Under:

Financial Aid , Scholarships


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by Kevin Ladd

Are you a talented artist who wants to major in art in college? There are many opportunities to earn art scholarships. Talk with your art teacher about your goals and ask for advice and suggestions. Art teachers frequently receive notices about art competitions and scholarship programs, so if he or she knows that you are interested you are likely to be among the first students to find out about new opportunities. You should also let your guidance counselor know that you plan to major in art in college. He or she can be a rich source of information and also receives scholarship program notices on a regular basis.

While your art teacher and guidance counselor are excellent resources, don’t depend solely on them to help you find art scholarships. There are many programs that they may never find out about. You need to be proactive in seeking out scholarship opportunities. The first thing you need to do is contact the school that you are interested in attending to find out if they offer art scholarships.

Many organizations and associations throughout the country offer art scholarships to help support talented young artists. Some offer awards to local students, but many are national scholarship programs. For example, the McMillen Foundation funds full tuition art scholarships for students in Washington and Alaska each year and the Namta Foundation, awards eight $1,000 scholarships to art students from any state.

Posted Under:

Financial Aid , Scholarships , Tips


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by Kevin Ladd

Harold Alfond, founder of Dexter Shoe Company, inventor of the factory outlet store and longtime philanthropist has arranged for every child born in central Maine to have a college savings account established in their name upon birth. Eventually, this program will include all children born anywhere in the state.

Alfond died last month at age 93 and, over the course of his life, had donated over $100 million dollars to hospitals, colleges and numerous other charitable causes in Maine. This latest philanthropic act, presumably the last in a long line of generous efforts, will begin with a pilot program on January 1, 2008 at Maine General Health hospitals. Every newborn at the Augusta and Waterville Maine General hospitals will have an account set up in their name with a beginning balance of $500 and it will spread statewide the following year, possibly sooner if it does well. Under the program, each newborn's $500 will be invested in a college tuition account through Maine's NextGen program.

Mr. Alfond, who's wife died in 2005, is survived by a brother, a sister, a daughter, three sons, 13 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.


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by Kevin Ladd

Worrying about the application process is hard enough. When you add tuition costs, necessary savings, and loan interest rates into the equation, the numbers equal a headache. Don’t worry; we’ll give you a hand. Take advantage of the free financial aid calculators provided by Scholarships.com, and take things one day at a time—we’ll crunch the numbers for you.

College Cost Worksheet Calculator

Before accepting college offers, you should know how much an education at your school of choice will cost you. Not everyone has unlimited funds, and assuming that loan payments will take care of themselves after graduation is not the greatest policy. To help you estimate the costs of a college education, we have created a college cost worksheet. Just type in some estimates and find out what you should expect. To search for a college and find the cost estimates by school, you can also use our free college search.

Savings Planner Calculator

To secure a sound financial future, students should search for scholarships and set money aside for college. By using our savings planner calculator, you can find out where you will stand by the time freshman year rolls around. If you are still far behind, you may want to scrooge up, get a head start on scholarship applications and consider a part-time job.

Future College Cost & Savings Calculator

College is expensive, and even those who save are likely to encounter big school costs. Most students will need to make large contributions while attending school. With the help of our Future Cost Savings Calculator, you can estimate just how large your yearly contributions will have to be. We have already taken into account the estimated yearly increases in tuition.

Monthly Loan Payment Calculator

Sometimes loans are unavoidable. If you plan to borrow for an education, you should at least know what to expect when your bill arrives. Having to give up your career of choice in favor (or disfavor) of one that’s less desirable but higher paid can be disappointing. To avoid any problems, figure out how much you can afford to pay each month, and use our calculator to help you do it.


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Federal Student Loans

November 6, 2007

by Kevin Ladd

Loans don’t incite pleasant feelings in students, in anyone on the borrowing side. It doesn’t help that the media has made it a point to discuss, extensively, what appears to be the newest trend… mortgage loan defaulting. Student loans aren't as large as mortgages, but for a growing number, they are catching up.

Regardless of cost, there are a lot of dedicated students out there, and until the college-financing system undergoes a major overhaul (cross your fingers but don't hold your breath), loans may be inevitable. Before taking out loans, students should complete a FAFSA and conduct a free scholarship search. Those who still need money should apply for federal loans. Only after exhausting government loans should one consider private student loans

As a result of the recently passed College Cost Reduction and Access Act, there will be a decrease in interest rates on federal college student loans. That's great news for students with large financial aid needs, but loan rates have not yet been changed. Even before government rates become less expensive, it is in a student's best interest to see what the government has to offer before looking elsewhere. Below are the federal student loan options available to those in need.

Stafford Loans- Students who are interested in taking out a Stafford Loan (or other types of federal student loans) will need to fill out a FAFSA. The amount that a student can borrow will depend on a student’s year in school as well as on whether the Stafford Loan is subsidized or unsubsidized (only a portion of the amount may be subsidized). Stafford Loans disbursed after July 1, 2006 are fixed at a 6.8 % interest rate, but lower rates are in the works.

  • For the 2007-2008 school year, dependent undergraduate students attending college full time may borrow between $3,500 and $5,500 (borrowing limit increases after each completed year).
  • Independent undergraduates or dependents whose parents were denied a PLUS Loan may borrow between $7,500 and $10,500 (again, freshmen may take out less than seniors).
  • The maximum amount of a professional or graduate student loan is a bit larger—as is graduate tuition. This year, students may borrow up to $20,500, regardless of their year in graduate school.

PLUS Loans- The Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students or PLUS Loan is offered to, as the name suggests, parents of undergraduate students. Recently, the loan has also been made available to graduate school students. PLUS Loan amounts may not exceed the total cost of attendance minus any other financial aid received. If the student’s estimated cost of attendance (amount determined by each school) is $6,000 and the student receives $4,000 in aid, only $2,000 may be borrowed. To take advantage of this loan, students must max out their Stafford Loans, and doing so is in a student’s best interest anyway. PLUS Loans have higher interest rates than Stafford Loans; those disbursed on or after July 1, 2006 are fixed at 7.9% for Direct PLUS Loans and at 8.5% for FFEL PLUS Loans.

Perkins Loans- Although Perkins Loans are made with government money, they are normally classified as campus-based aid because they are administered by schools. Perkins Loans are offered to students with exceptional need, and only a limited amount is available. Once a school runs low on Perkins Loan funds, students will not receive as much (the same holds true for federal-work study opportunities). This is why students are generally advised to submit their FAFSA early. The earlier they apply, the greater their chance of receiving some forms of aid. The loan amount received through the Perkins Loan program depends on the amount a school has, on already-received aid and on the financial needs of the student. Students who qualify can borrow up to $4,000 each year and pay it off at a 5% student loan rate.

Posted Under:

FAFSA , Financial Aid , Student Loans


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