January 6, 2009
Full-tuition scholarships, half-tuition scholarships, and financial aid packages free of student loans continue to be unveiled at institutions across the country. While it may be too late for many students to alter their college application plans, if you are still looking for colleges for 2009, or if you happen to have applied to one of these schools, you may find the following information useful. This week, The Chronicle of Higher Education profiled several significant scholarship programs private, community, and state colleges are launching or expanding for incoming students in 2009.
Northern Illinois University recently announced the Huskie Advantage, a program that will ensure that all incoming freshmen eligible for Federal Pell Grants will receive enough financial aid to meet the full cost of tuition. Similarly, Montgomery County Community College in Pennsylvania is raising money to provide larger scholarships to students who receive a small Pell Grant or narrowly miss the cutoff for Pell eligibility.
The University of Pennsylvania will be eliminating student loans from the financial aid packages of all students this fall. It's the latest in a string of well-endowed private colleges to put forward generous institutional aid for its students. The Sage Colleges of New York are also following suit, promising to offer aid to meet new students' full financial need in the next academic year.
Two private colleges in Georgia and Minnesota aren't eliminating loans, but they are drastically reducing the cost of college for many applicants. Agnes Scott College in Georgia is offering scholarships and grants to nearly halve the cost of attendance for all recipients of the Georgia Hope Scholarship, as well as an additional $3,000 grant for first-year students. Saint Mary's University of Minnesota offers students with family incomes of under $100,000 financial aid packages that will reduce the cost of attendance to the average price of a Big Ten school. For the neediest 25 percent of students, St. Mary's will provide all of this aid institutionally, allowing students to use federal student financial aid to cover much of the rest of their college costs.
January 5, 2009
While white lab coats and futuristic gadgets dominate the public perception of scientists, as a current or future science major you can expect to play a different, but still essential, role in society once you complete your college education. Scientists are forever surveying the land, sea and sky to help us understand and make the best of the resources that surround us. To encourage further research and development, Scholarships.com has created a college scholarship especially for current and future students of a wide variety of scientific disciplines. If you’re the science type, take advantage of this scholarship opportunity.
Students who apply for the Scholarships.com College Science Scholarship, this week's Scholarship of the Week, will have the chance to earn $1,000 for college. Best of all, the scholarship application process couldn’t be easier. Just respond to the following question in a 250 to 350 word essay (entries that fall outside of this word range will be disqualified): "What has influenced your decision to pursue a career in science?"
Eligibility: U.S. citizen Registered Scholarships.com user. Creating an account is simple and free of charge. After you have created an account, conduct a free scholarship search to view and apply for this award. Undergraduate student currently enrolled or a high school senior who plans to enroll in a college or university in the coming academic year Applicant must have indicated an interest in one of the following majors:
Deadline: February 28, 2009
Required Material: A 250-350 word response to the following question: “What has influenced your decision to pursue a career in science?”
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.
January 2, 2009
If you've started volunteering as part of a New Year's resolution, or just because it's something you enjoy, chances are you were thinking more of other people than of yourself when you signed up. However, the altruistic nature of community service doesn't mean that there are no tangible rewards. Volunteering makes a great line on a resume and a college application, and is also excellent scholarship essay fodder. As an added bonus, a growing number of colleges and foundations are awarding substantial amounts of scholarship money for students who devote their time and energy to helping others.
An article on Forbes.com profiles several of the most generous campus-based community service scholarship programs. Several of these include full-tuition scholarships for students who have participated in volunteer programs in the past or who are interested in making community service a major part of their college experience. Drew University in New Jersey has recently unveiled a brand new civic scholarship program, following in the footsteps of The College of New Jersey, which also offers a sizable service learning award. Dozens of other colleges also offer similar scholarship opportunities, many of which are funded through the Bonner Foundation and AmeriCorps.
These full-tuition service scholarship awards can be wholly merit-based or partially need-based. One reason for colleges' increased interest in service learning awards could be due to their potential to help students feel more involved and thus become more likely to succeed in college. The Forbes article cited Pat Donahue, director of the civic scholarship program at The College of New Jersey, as saying that service learning has helped retain several at-risk students who are otherwise less likely to complete a degree than many of their peers.
Service scholarships have also been described by some as the new athletic scholarships for a generation of students devoting more time to service than to studying or sports. As athletic and academic scholarships are as much contingent on future success as on past experiences, so are service scholarships, which often require students to continue volunteering and participating in special courses and activities throughout their college careers.
To find out more about the Bonner Foundation, AmeriCorps, and other community service scholarships, conduct a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com.
December 29, 2008
Picking up a part-time job at the shoe store in the mall might not have felt like an important career move at the time. But on top of the extra cash and discounted footwear, you can also bring home $3,000 a year in scholarship money. Two Ten Footwear offers a renewable college scholarship to students who excel academically, demonstrate financial need, and work in footwear, leather, or other allied industries. If you're a high school senior or undergraduate student and you've spent at least 500 hours in 2008 helping people choose between ballet flats and stilettos and searching the back room for one last pair of size 7 sneakers, you may be eligible for this week's Scholarship of the Week.
Scholarship awards of up to $3000 renewable for up to four years, plus one award of $15,000 per year, also renewable for four years
Applicants must be U.S citizens who have worked in footwear, leather, or allied industries for at least 500 hours in 2008, or the children of employees who have worked in qualified professions for at least two years. Applicants must also demonstrate financial need, determined by completing the FAFSA. Students attending or planning to attend an accredited two or four-year college, university, nursing or vocational/technical school are welcome to apply.
February 16, 2009
Completed online scholarship application and supporting materials submitted on the Two Ten Footwear website.
December 24, 2008
Continuing on the college admissions theme from yesterday, there's a great piece in the Wall Street Journal about the dreaded college application process. If you're still struggling with those application essays or the thought of the college interview has you panicked, you might want to check out their tips from admissions officers at several competitive private colleges. Two things struck me when reading their tips. First, most of this sounds a lot like what I told my students as a college composition teaching assistant. Second, this advice can easily extend to writing effective scholarship essays.
Most of the advice falls into the category of "be yourself." Colleges aren't necessarily looking to admit the most indisputably brilliant students in the country, but rather individuals who will contribute to the campus community. The best tips the Wall Street Journal article offers, at least as far as admissions essays and writing scholarships go, are to choose essay topics that are meaningful to you (even unconventional ones) and to avoid polishing essays to death.
While it's tempting to go straight for the most impressive or altruistic thing you've done if you're asked to describe an experience, admission officials say it's better to go with a topic that actually reveals something about your character. This definitely goes for scholarship applications, too. In a stack of essays about volunteering in South America, your story about convincing your peers in the rural Midwest to walk the 12 blocks to school rather than drive may stand out more than you think. A seemingly mundane essay topic can be interesting if it's written well and it has a clear purpose.
As far as writing well goes, proofread (at the very least, check spelling and grammar and take out notes to yourself or your parents before submitting) but don't adopt such a formal style that all personality is lost. As long as an essay is written well and isn't way too informal (avoid slang, cursing, and stories of sex, drugs, and bodily functions), your essay is probably professional enough for most admission offices and scholarship essay contests. Even when you're applying for a law scholarship, writing like a lawyer isn't necessarily the recipe for success.
For more essay-writing tips, check out our resources section. To find somewhere to use this advice, you may want to use our college search and our scholarship search.
December 23, 2008
While there has been much speculation that economic woes would drive students away from more expensive schools, generous financial aid packages, such as those offered by many Ivy League schools, may be driving early applications up. It's speculated that students whose resources have been reduced and whose options may be limited are vying for any college seat with a full-tuition scholarship attached.
Early action and early decision college application deadlines have now passed at the majority of competitive private colleges. As the schools begin sorting through these applicants and making admission decisions, many are reporting that numbers are up, in some cases way up. Stanford University has seen early action applications increase 18 percent this year, while early decision applications have increased by 23 percent at Duke University. Other selective schools, such as Yale and Northwestern, have seen similar increases, as well.
While regular applications have held steady at Harvard University, other private schools that have seen a surge in early applications have heard from fewer regular decision applicants. The regular admission pool may have thinned due to students paring down their lists or choosing less expensive state colleges as safety schools. This could be good news for all of the early applicants who may find themselves bumped into the regular admission pool, though many schools are worried that fewer applicants could ultimately mean fewer enrolled students, especially if more students follow the money to the most affordable schools.
If you're a high school senior still in the process of applying for college, you may want to check out the articles appearing in The New York Times and The San Jose Mercury News this week and consider modifying your college search to take advantage of shifting application patterns. If you're in the market for a private college and you have the time and money to put together a couple extra application packets, it could pay off, especially if you're able to wait until April or May to make your final decision as to where to go.
December 22, 2008
Barack Obama's victory in the November election is regarded by many as a historic event. Whether or not they voted for him, a large number of people feel personally affected by his election as President. If you have something to say about the importance of this event and what the next four years might bring, expressing your opinion could net you $1000 in scholarship money through this week's Scholarship of the Week, an essay contest sponsored by NLS Publishing.
The Students for Change Essay Writing Contest is seeking scholarship essays of 1000-2000 words that describe, "what the election of Barack Obama, the first African-American President, means to you and your family."
Three $1000 scholarship awards
High school seniors, graduate students, and undergraduate students may apply. Applicants must be attending college full-time at an accredited United States college or university, or must be planning to enroll full-time in the fall of 2009.
January 20, 2009
A typed, double-spaced essay answering the prompt, accompanied by a contest entry form. Essays may be submitted via a variety of methods.
December 19, 2008
We've said it before and I'm sure we'll say it again. Despite the economy, money for college is still available. A scholarship search, a visit to your college's student financial aid office, and a quick perusal of recent college news should all confirm this. But if you're someone who needs additional empirical evidence, a survey conducted by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, a group representing private colleges (whose students typically rely more on institutional aid than state college students) also supports this conclusion. The results, which were published Thursday, show that only 8.4 percent of institutions surveyed have frozen or cut student aid for either this academic year or the next.
While not fantastic news, when taken in context with the rest of the survey's results, it is encouraging. Nearly 68 percent of colleges reported a significant decline in their endowments and many colleges reported concerns over fundraising, tuition, and other sources of revenue. Despite this, though, colleges seem to be putting their students' interests first when dealing with budget concerns. For example, 31 percent of colleges surveyed don't yet have plans to increase tuition for 2009-2010, and at least two respondents specifically mentioned increasing student financial aid in their comments. The most popular cost-cutting measures have been freezing hiring, restricting travel, and slowing construction. Cutting student services, campus-based aid programs, and academic programs have been the least popular moves.
To find out more about how small private colleges are weathering the economic downturn, you can visit NAICU's news room. To scope out private colleges near you, conduct a free college search on Scholarships.com.
December 18, 2008
While many colleges are finding the funds to expand their financial aid offerings in response to economic woes, state higher education systems have not all been so fortunate. Michigan and New Jersey are both considering cuts to their state scholarship awards, the Michigan Promise and New Jersey STARS programs.
In the face of a $1 billion budget shortfall, Michigan may have to do away with the state's promise scholarship, in addition to making several other tough financial decisions. The Michigan Promise offers residents up to $4,000 per year towards tuition and fees at state colleges and universities. If the proposed budget cut goes through, the class of 2009 will be the last group of high school students to have this award available for college.
When faced with budgetary woes, the state of New Jersey also turned to its state academic scholarship programs, New Jersey STARS and New Jersey STARS II. However, rather than scrap the programs entirely, the legislature has voted to make them more selective. STARS, which pays for tuition and fees at community colleges will now be available to only the top fifteen percent of New Jersey high school graduates, while STARS II, which helps STARS scholars go on to complete a four-year degree at a state college, will only be available to students who maintain a GPA of 3.25 or higher. The amount of funding for STARS II, previously the total cost of tuition and fees, will now be capped at $7,000 per year.
December 17, 2008
Amid all the bleak news about college affordability, family finances, and the economy in general, it's nice to hear something good every now and then. And there is good news out there. Despite financial hardships, many colleges are not only continuing to offer generous financial aid packages, but are actually expanding scholarships, grants, and tuition waivers for needy and deserving students. As a taste of what's out there for students across the country, we're presenting a roundup of campus-based aid programs announced this week. Conduct a college search on Scholarships.com to learn more about these and other schools committed to helping students enroll and stay enrolled. While you're at it, be sure to start a free college scholarship search to find more ways to fund your education.
A number of cities, states, and universities offer promises, guarantees, or other commitments to cover four years' full tuition for financially needy or academically gifted students. While a wave of these scholarship and grant programs were launched in financially better times, more are still being unveiled in the current economic climate.
Manchester College in Indiana has rolled out a "Triple Guarantee" that promises to make college more affordable and less stressful for its students. Qualifying students are guaranteed a combination of federal, state, and institutional aid up to the total cost of tuition and mandatory fees for four years. Students with a 3.3 GPA or higher who qualify for the Pell Grant are guaranteed full-tuition grant aid. On top of paying tuition for four years for needy students, the college also guarantees four-year graduation for everyone who meets progress requirements, and will allow qualified students who need a fifth year to attend for free until they graduate. Finally, the school also guarantees a year of free tuition for additional coursework or certifications for students who fail to find a job placement or a spot in graduate school within six months of graduation.
In a similar vein, St. John's University in New York is also offering a substantial tuition discount to unemployed alumni. Graduates of St. John's who were laid off in the economic downturn can return to college to pursue a graduate degree for half-price. Alumni will also receive free career counseling services and see their application fees waived for graduate programs.
Finally, Texans get multiple pieces of good news. More students at Rice University will be able to graduate debt-free, as the university has expanded its no loan program to families making up to $80,000 per year. Students with family incomes over the $80,000 threshhold who still qualify for need-based aid will not be asked to borrow more than $10,000 in student loans for four years. Lamar University is also making college more affordable for Texans by unveiling the Lamar Promise, which will cover tuition and fees for all freshmen and transfer students who qualify as "dependent" students for federal aid whose families make less than $25,000 a year. Students who make more are likely to also receive substantial financial aid packages. Tuition assistance will come in the form of state, federal, and institutional financial aid.
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