March 26, 2008
The recipe for the No Child Left Behind Act seems simple: identify ineffective schools, and improve their student performance. Sprinkle in a dash of funds, a threatening environment for underperforming teachers, and melt away problems at 365°.
Unfortunately, most successful plans call for more than a dash of funds. And as was demonstrated by a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the No Child Left Behind progress, funding problems have been leaving states struggling to comply with the program’s requirements. Of particular concern were two NCLB provisions responsible for regulating the allocation of federal education funds.
As mandated by the No Child Left Behind, states are required to set aside 4 percent of the federal assistance they receive to help low-income students and use that money to improve schools that have failed to meet state academic expectations. No problem there. Because most poorly-scoring schools are low income, the 4 percent used to improve schools would indirectly help the low-income students.
The problem arises when another provision comes into the picture. According to the “hold-harmless” rule, states are not allowed to set aside more money for a poorly-performing school if it means having to cut back on other school district grants, reports the Washington Post. Because of this stipulation, numerous states have been finding it difficult to come up with sufficient money to help poorly performing schools while maintaining previous assistance levels to other school districts.
According to the GAO report, the “hold-harmless” provision has prevented 22 states from setting aside the required NCLB funds. Some states have made up differences by taking advantage of other federal and state funds, but not all have been able to do so successfully.
Insufficient funding is just one of many concerns cited by NCLB critics. Others have included a diminished focus on untested material and a decrease in attention paid to advanced students. High school seniors interested in voicing their opinions on the NCLB, both positive and negative, may do so by applying for the Scholarships.com 2008 Resolve to Evolve Scholarship. Seven applicants who submit the most thought-out and well-crafted responses will be awarded with scholarships ranging between $1,000 and $3,000. For additional information about this and other college scholarship and grants, students may conduct a free scholarship search.
March 25, 2008
Joining the growing number of student lenders that have chosen to opt out of the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program, the Brazos Higher Education Service Corp has announced that it too would discontinue their participation. The combination of a troublesome lending market and the passage of an act reducing federal subsidies to FFEL lenders have left students and parents worried about their college funding options.
Brazos is just one of the 26 lenders that have already stopped providing FFEL loans to students, reports The Wall Street Journal. Because Brazos is one of the largest student lenders, the news is particularly disconcerting to families already fearful of less-than-promising student loan options.
More than eighty percent of all federal student loans are provided by federally-subsidized lenders that participate in college FFEL programs. The remaining federal loans are disbursed through the less-popular Direct Loan program which allows students to borrow directly from the government.
Speaking to the US House Committee on Education and Labor, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings recently proposed that more schools simply adopt the federal Direct Loan program. The suggestion sounds promising, but administrative setbacks and budget availability may prove to be a problem.
Though only a small percentage of the estimated 2,000 student lenders have pulled out of the FFEL program, the market is dominated by the top fifty lenders, a number of which have already left the FFEL program. Included in NASFAA's list of lenders that have either ended or suspended their FFEL services are the large originators NextStudent, Goal Financial, College Loan Corporation and College Board.
Before turning to loans for their financial aid needs, students should search for college scholarships and grants that may provide them with cost-free college funds. By conducting a free college scholarship search at Scholarships.com, student will receive access to more than 2.7 million scholarships and grants worth over $19 billion.
March 24, 2008
Numerous people have worked hard to keep the memories of the Holocaust alive. Despite their efforts, many students know little about the World War II years. By encouraging them to inquire about the stories and to research the violent acts that occurred during the Holocaust, the Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation hopes to help students learn from the past and to change the future.
This year, thirty high school scholarships will be awarded to students who write the best, most-researched Holocaust essays. Those who participate will be asked to write a paper of no more than 1,200 words analyzing why the remembrance, history and lessons of the Holocaust must be passed on to a new generation. They must then suggest ways in which students can fight future prejudice and violence. Students whose essays show the greatest promise will be awarded scholarships ranging from $300 to $10,000.
1. Ten first-place winners will receive scholarships ranging between $2,500 and $10,000. They will also be awarded an all-expense-paid trip to the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. 2. Ten second-place winners will receive scholarships of $500. 3. Ten third-place winners will receive scholarships of $300.
1. Applicant must be 19 years old or younger. 2. Applicant must be enrolled as high school student in grades 9-12. 3. Applicant must be a resident of the U.S. or Mexico or must be a U.S. citizen living abroad. 4. First-place winners must agree to participate in the Washington, D.C. trip.
April 30, 2008 by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time
1. An essay of 1,200 words or less submitted online. 2. A works cited, reference page or bibliography
Further details about the application process and about contacting the scholarship provider can be found by conducting a free college scholarship search. Once the search is completed, students eligible for the award will find it in their scholarship list.
March 20, 2008
For many disabled individuals, completing school can be a struggle. Such students may have to consider not only their scholastic aspirations but also their health and wellbeing when making important college decisions. Whether additional efforts must be applied to maintaining a proper diet, lowering stress, completing assignments in a timely matter or any number of other priorities, dealing with both disabilities and classes can prove to be a challenge.
Insufficient college funds are a common setback for many disabled students, for any students. To help with this aspect of college, numerous disability scholarships have been created for those with financial needs. Take a look at the disability scholarships listed below for awards you may be eligible to receive. For additional information about scholarships, grants, internships and fellowships, try conducting a free college scholarship search.
The Association of Blind Citizens Reggie Johnson Scholarship
The Association of Blind Citizens (ABC) will be awarding this disability scholarship to a number of legally blind students. One $2,000 scholarship and eight $1,000 scholarships will be awarded to winners. Applicants will have to submit a 300 to 500 word autobiographical essay explaining how the award could assist them in achieving their college or vocational program goals.
Scholarship Trust for the Hearing Impaired
Each year, the Travelers Protection Agency (TPA) provides students who are deaf or near deaf with scholarship awards. The number of recipients and award sizes may vary based on Trust Executive Committee recommendations.
disABLEdperson Inc. College Scholarship Competition
Students eligible for this disability scholarship will have the chance to earn $750 to be used towards their college education. Applicants will have to answer the annual essay question and fully complete an online scholarship form. Students must be attending a 2 or 4 year US college or university and must have a disadvantage or deficiency that interferes or prevents normal achievement in a certain area.
Scholarship for People with Disabilities
The Scholarship for People with Disabilities annually provides students with scholarships of up to $1,000. To be eligible applicants must have a physical or sensory disability and must demonstrate scholarship need. This award is limited to students who are Minnesota residents or who have received Courage Center services.
1-800-Wheelchair Scholarship Fund
High school and undergraduate college students who apply for the 1-800-Wheelchair Scholarship will have the opportunity to win $500 for college. Students must be at least 16 years old and must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0. Preference will be given to applicants with a mobility disability, but disability is not a requirement.
Ethel Louise Armstrong Foundation Scholarship
With the help of the Ethel Louse Armstrong Foundation (ELA), female graduate students with physical disabilities may win up to $2,000. Applicants must be active in a disability organization and must be willing to provide ELA with scholastic and career updates. To apply, students must submit an essay of 1,000 words or less explaining, “How I will change the face of disability on the Planet”.
March 19, 2008
After years of attacking the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), elementary and high school educators have received some promising news. The Bush administration has finally admitted to certain No Child Left Behind deficiencies and chosen to make some adjustments, in select areas.
Rather than branding all underperforming schools as failing—even those with improved test scores—the administration has proposed distinguishing between schools with serious scholastic troubles and those with slightly sub par scores. To date, one of the biggest issues critics have had with the No Child Left Behind was the program’s lack of flexibility. Because all student groups, regardless of English fluency, have had to meet state proficiency requirements, numerous schools, especially ones in low-income areas, have encountered problems. After a few failed attempts to meet state testing standards, schools were faced with funding losses and possible closings.
Those that were successful in meeting most requirements but found it difficult to raise the scores of a select student group were treated the same as all other “failing” schools. According to The New York Times, 10 percent of the nation’s schools were subsequently identified as “in need of improvement”, a percentage large enough to make additional result evaluation critical.
Under the proposed NCLB plan, up to ten states will have the option to focus their efforts on schools with the greatest scholastic needs rather than on ones with mild testing setbacks. However, only ten schools will have this opportunity, and only those with near perfect records of having abided by the NCLB law will be eligible.
Program evaluation methods are just a few of the many controversial aspects of the NCLB. For better or for worse, the law has had a dramatic affect on teachers and school administrators across the nation. More importantly, it has had a great impact on many elementary and high school students.
To promote student awareness and challenge students to proactively respond to controversial issues, Scholarships.com has created the Resolve to Evolve essay contest. This year, one of our two topics addresses the effectiveness of the No Child Left Behind Act. A total of $10,000 will be awarded to winning applicants who submit their essays.
For additional information about eligibility, requirements and other response options, students and teachers may visit our Resolve to Evolve page. For information about scholarships, grants and other financial aid opportunities, students should complete a free college scholarship search.
March 18, 2008
Speaking before the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings told representatives what they wanted to believe, but didn’t: the college aid crisis was under control. After months of financial struggles, a number of student lenders have decided to discontinue their participation in the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFEL), leaving students to look elsewhere for college funding.
A troublesome lending market and a new law limiting government subsidies to student lenders have many lenders rethinking their participation in the FFEL. With less government backing and greater default rates, some student lenders are finding it necessary to cut back on student benefits, increase borrowing criteria, and sometimes, leave the government program completely.
These changes have left families worried about finding sufficient student loan assistance from the government, concerns Spellings has tried to diminish. During her testimony, the education secretary stated that so far, “No institutions have notified us that any eligible student has been denied access to federal loans.”
If true, students and parents would be relieved to know that they can still take advantage of low interest government loan rates rather than relying on private, more expensive, student lenders. According to Spellings, the government would step in before students were forced to rely solely on private lenders.
One safeguard proposed by Spellings was the option for schools participating in the FFEL program to switch to the government's Direct Loan program, one in which students bypass government-subsidized lenders and borrow straight from the government.
Ms. Spellings also pointed out that Pell Grants, federal need-based awards that do not need to be repaid, have been increasing and will likely continue to do so. Students who receive free grant money will have fewer loan needs---to an extent. Currently, those eligible for Pell Grants may only receive $4,310 per year, and not all are eligible for this form of federal student aid.
Still, the Secretary of Education maintained a positive outlook and expressed confidence that most student lenders are not in critical positions stating, “More than 2,000 originating lenders participate in FFEL...a small number of these lenders have reduced their participation or stopped origination new loans.”
March 14, 2008
Many talented high school athletes dream of playing at the college level, hopefully beyond it. When the select few receive a call about a team spot and a scholarship opportunity, most are ecstatic to find that their hard work and lengthy dedication has paid off.
Unfortunately, what initially appears to be a dream come true is not always the golden ticket families initially imagined. According to a recent article published in The New York Times, most athletic awards aren’t even close to covering the full costs of a college education. Excluding marketable sports such as basketball and football, athletic scholarships may total as little as $2,000.
Students who are invited to play at private colleges or universities which often cost as much or more than $30,000 per year will hardly be salvaged by such an award. Considering that such students have to juggle long practice hours with travel, classes and homework, they may be better off passing up low-paid team spots for additional study hours and outside scholarship opportunities.
Particularly troubling for families of college athletes is the fact that not all awards are renewable for four years. Eligibility for N.C.A.A. scholarships is reevaluated annually, and college athletes are not guaranteed continued assistance. When this is the case, students may find themselves with little or no time for a job while attending a college they can no longer afford.
Fortunately for students who are not about to turn down an athletic offer due to funding shortages, N.C.A.A. scholarships are not the only available athletic scholarships. To find college scholarships and grants based on athletic abilities or additional criteria, students can conduct a free college scholarship search. One does not have to be an athletic star or class valedictorian to find award opportunities. Numerous scholarships, grants, fellowships and internships are available to students willing to conduct the search and put forth the application effort.
March 12, 2008
Women may have equal rights under the law, but their movement is far from over. According to the American Association of University Women Education Foundation, one year after graduating, women who work full time earn 80 percent of what men do. Ten years later, that percentage rises to 69 (with work hours, occupation and parenthood taken into account). Even as women continue to outperform men in every academic college major, this gap persists.
But there’s no room for self pity. Being proactive is the best solution, and many scholarship providers are here to help women reach their full potential. With the help of numerous internships, fellowships, scholarships and grant opportunities, colleges, foundations and private donors are helping females afford the education and training they need to succeed.
If you’re a current or future female student, or if you know someone who is, check out the women's scholarships below. For additional scholarship and grant opportunities, try conducting a free college scholarship search.
AAUW American Fellowships
Each year, the American Association of University Women offers fellowships to assist women pursuing a doctoral degree. Winners are chosen based on academic record, teaching experience and commitment to helping women in the community. A $30,000 postdoctoral research leave fellowship as well as a $20,000 dissertation fellowship are available.
APS/IBM Research Internship for Undergraduate Women
Undergraduate females have the chance to win a paid, ten-week internship at one of three IBM locations. In addition to the pay, winners will receive a $2,500 grant and the opportunity to work with an IBM employee. The American Physical Society (APS) and IBM will award this internship to sophomore and junior college women interested in pursuing a graduate education in science or engineering.
Executive Women International Scholarship Program (EWISP) Eligible high school juniors will have the chance to win a $10,000 college scholarship by applying for the Executive Women International Scholarship. Application rules and deadlines will vary based on local Executive Women International program chapters.
Women in Business Scholarship Women who pursue an undergraduate business degree and demonstrate potential in their field may be able to win a $5,000 scholarship for college. Applicants will have to submit a scholarship essay of 500 words or less as well as two letters of recommendation.
Talbots Women's Scholarship Fund
The Talbots Women's Scholarship Fund will award five $10,000 scholarships and fifty $1,000 scholarships to women who return to school to pursue a two or four-year college degree. Women must have earned their high school diploma or GED at least ten years ago. Six judges including five-time Olympic champion Evelyn Ashford, Judge Milian of “The People’s Court” and More Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Peggy Northrop will judge applications.
Microsoft Women Scholarship
Microsoft is awarding scholarships to women interested in pursuing an education in the computer sciences and related fields. To be eligible, students must maintain a 3.0 GPA and be enrolled in a full-time bachelor’s degree program at a college or university in the US, Canada or Mexico at the time of submission.
March 11, 2008
In February, attorney and father James Brady filed a lawsuit against Wheaton College for having charged the family a Wheaton-sized tuition bill during his daughter’s stay abroad. He estimated about $4,500 could have been saved had his daughter been billed for the cost of her South African university tuition. If European students heard the story, they too may have been upset—at the outrageous cost of a South African education.
It comes as no surprise that, even as the dollar weakens against its European counterparts, a college education is still most expensive in the United States. US students who study at four-year public colleges pay an average tuition of $6,185 per year; ones who study at private colleges pay $23,710. According to an article published by the Associated Press, book costs, room & board, living expenses and myriad university fees raise these numbers to $13,589 and $32,307 respectively.
While students abroad undoubtedly have problems of their own, paying for college is unlikely to top the charts. It’s still not uncommon for countries to provide a tuition-free education for all, with a reasonable length-of-study limit and minor fees. When you study in Brazil, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Norway or Sweden, you can breeze through school with bills that vary from small to nonexistent. In a number of more expensive areas, it may cost you a few thousand dollars. Even then, the government is likely to offer some sort of compensation grant.
US students don't leave their tuition problems behind after graduation. In fact, the problems often get worse. About two-thirds of students borrow to complete a college education. Those who borrow leave school with an average debt of about $19,000. Students who go to private schools and ones who stay for another degree are increasingly taking out student loans that exceed $100,000.
While it’s not unheard of for international students to borrow for an education, lower costs mean lower burdens. Oftentimes, income-contingent repayment plans and federal grants offered in exchange for good school performance are an option for struggling students. Comparable opportunities are few and far between for US students. Instead, many overwhelmed students return home again financially dependent on their parents.
That is not to say that tuition hasn't been growing elsewhere, with the United Kingdom being a prime example. In 1998, some college students in the UK were asked to pay for their education, a change that had students taking to the streets in protest. For the 2007-2008 school year, the UK tuition cap was controversially increased to £3,070 ($6,155), a price that would still make private universities blush, one that would make James Brady rethink his lawsuit.
Rising tuition may not be uncommon, but we have perfected the trend. Unfortunately, legislation cannot be willed into action. Until federal Pell Grants increase significantly and tuition costs drop dramatically, students can look to college scholarships and grants for assistance. By completing a free college scholarship search, students can find information about numerous awards they may be eligible to receive.
March 7, 2008
With all this talk about colleges hoarding snowballing endowments, it may come as a surprise that sometimes, college funds do dry up. Such is the case at numerous universities receiving business scholarship money from the Roy F. and Joann Cole Mitte Foundation.
Indiana University at Bloomington, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University at University Park, St. Edward’s University, Texas A&M University at College Station and Texas State University at San Marcos (which even has a building named after the founders) each received annual financial support from the multi-million dollar fund.
According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, the foundation was worth $26 million in 2006. The loss was said to be caused by a stock market downturn, but there are suspicions that it may also have something to do with the founders’ son, Scott Mitte. A past article published by The Boston Globe stated that Mr. Mitte’s compensation had increased by $189,000 and his spending on travel and meetings grew by more than $180,000 in just one year. The article dated November 3, 2003 also mentions that a sexual harassment case against Mr. Mitt had cost the foundation $139,000 in legal fees.
Rather than leave their students without promised aid, most of the schools have decided to use their own funds to support them. Texas State University, the alma mater of the founders, will continue to receive scholarship money from the foundation, but other schools must dig into their own pockets to cover the expenses.
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