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Yesterday, the House of Representatives formally introduced legislation to reshape federal student loans, federal Pell Grants, and other aspects of student financial aid. The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009 builds on presidential budget recommendations and features several substantial changes to student aid. [...]

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Yesterday, President Obama announced a new focus on community colleges in a speech delivered at Macomb Community College in Michigan. Obama pledged $12 billion to improve facilities, increase enrollment, and boost graduation rates at the nation's community colleges, a shift in education policy from the traditional focus on K-12 education and public universities. In addition to the proposed federal funding increase, Obama's speech also called for community colleges to graduate five million more students by the year 2020. [...]

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This week's Scholarship of the Week is a video contest for undergraduate and high school students, ages 19 and younger, who are interested in issues of free speech and free expression in schools. The 2009 Youth Free Expression Network Film Contest offers students a chance to create a video response to the question "free speech in schools (does it exist?)" and compete for a $1,000 cash prize as well as a $5,000 film school scholarship. Videos can be any genre, including documentaries, music videos, experimental films, or animation. Entries will be judged on content, artistic and technical merit, and creativity. [...]

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Earlier this week, U.S. Bank announced that it would cease to act as a lender for Stafford Loans issued through the Federal Family Education Loan Program. U.S. Bank was the sixth largest participant in FFELP as of 2008, according to the Student Lending Analytics Blog, yet this news has caused barely a ripple. [...]

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We've previously blogged about the increase in student borrowing shown by the latest data from the National Center for Education Statistics. As more think tanks and other groups begin to analyze this information, additional reports are emerging to provide more details on who is borrowing the most. The latest report comes from Education Sector and bears the title, "Drowning in Debt: The Emerging Student Loan Crisis." While the report has been criticized by some as alarmist in tone, it does provide insight into students' growing reliance on student loans. [...]

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While fall classes may still seem far off for many students, incoming college freshmen and transfer students are already attending summer orientation and registration sessions. Choosing classes leads directly to one of college's biggest sticker shocks: the price of textbooks for those introductory classes. With individual texts regularly carrying triple-digit price tags, a semester's worth of textbooks you may never touch again can seem an unreasonable expense. [...]

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Congress has passed and President Obama has signed a bill that provides "technical corrections" to the Higher Education Act, which Congress renewed last year. In addition to offering clarification on several points and correcting minor errors, the Technical Corrections bill also makes some useful changes to federal student financial aid. [...]

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Pursuing a career in education shows a commitment to increasing knowledge and improving the lives of others. However, in order to become an educator, you need a college education, and the prospect of a teacher's salary can make many students reluctant to borrow heavily to achieve this goal. Thankfully, there are a number of education scholarships that offer future teachers an alternative to student loans. One of them is this week's Scholarship of the Week, the Scholarships.com College Education Scholarship. High school seniors and current undergraduate students are invited to write a scholarship essay explaining what influenced them to pursue a career in education for a chance to win a $1,000 college scholarship. [...]

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Earlier this week, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities released information on tuition increases at private colleges and universities for the 2009-2010 academic year. While tuition is increasing on average, the good news is that the tuition increase is the lowest in 37 years. [...]

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When Michael Jackson died, the world lost not only a talented pop musician, but also a notable philanthropist. Over the course of his career, Michael Jackson donated over $300 million to at least 39 charitable organizations and also made generous financial contributions to numerous individuals, especially children and their families. While many of his charitable acts focused on helping sick or injured children around the globe, he also made substantial contributions to education. [...]

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While it falls in the middle of summer on most academic calendars, July 1 marks an important date for financial aid each year.  On July 1, the Education Department switches from the 2008-2009 academic year to the 2009-2010 one, and new federal rules for financial aid go into effect. This means new loan consolidation and repayment options, lower interest rates on some federal student loans, among other changes for students receiving federal student financial aid. [...]

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Scholarship opportunities for international students can seem few and far between. However, money is out there. If you want to study in the United States but are having trouble finding money for college due to your citizenship status, this week's Scholarship of the Week is for you. The myUsearch International and Undocumented Student Scholarship will award $1,000 to one student who is not a United States citizen but plans to attend college in America. All you have to do is register on myUsearch and complete a short scholarship essay to be eligible. [...]

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As part of his campaign's focus on education, President Obama pledged his administration would address issues of the financial aid application process, such as the length and complexity of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has previewed some of the administration's proposed changes, with a formal announcement expected today. While not as sweeping as the two-page FAFSA EZ Congress already mandated when renewing the Higher Education Act last year, these changes are still a step towards simpler financial aid applications. [...]

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International relations and national security remain hot topics in American politics, so it's no surprise that scholarship opportunities exist to foster new thinking and innovative ideas in such fields.  Students interested in issues of national security, counterintelligence, and international affairs are invited to apply for this week's Scholarship of the Week, the Jim and Anna Hyonjoo Lint National Security Scholarship.  This scholarship essay contest awards $1,000 to the student who writes the best original essay addressing an issue of importance to national security and related fields.  In addition to the scholarship prize, winners will also see their essays published by the Lint Center. [...]

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With President Obama's proposal to end the bank-based Federal Family Education Loan Program, there has been much speculation on what role would be left for banks in student loans, as well as which banks would be allowed to play that role.  An announcement made yesterday by the Department of Education indicates that at least four banks will remain involved in federal student loans for the forseeable future. [...]

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With unemployment continuing to rise, college savings funds still performing poorly, and some states being forced to make cuts to grant and scholarship programs, many students are likely to be facing a very different financial situation when it comes to paying for college in 2009, as opposed to 2008.  Students who have experienced a significant change in their financial circumstances since completing the FAFSA, such as a loss of income and savings, can appeal to their college's financial aid office for a chance at more need-based college scholarships and grants. [...]

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Did you think your high school's administrators were strict?  Chances are they've got nothing on Suzanne Lukas, the superintendent of Bonny Eagle High School in Maine.  During the school's graduation ceremony, a student pointed to his friends and blew a kiss to his mom when his name was called.  Instead of shaking his hand and handing him his diploma, the superintendent told him to return to his seat empty handed.  He still hasn't received his diploma. [...]

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There are scholarship opportunities out there for every talent, interest or skill.  Through this week's Scholarship of the Week, the Calm-A-Sutra of Tea Scholarship Competition, you can win a $15,000 college scholarship just for demonstrating your knowledge of tea and your ability to drink it creatively.  Students are asked to create a 1 to 2 minute video of themselves drinking black, green, white or oolong tea while describing the health benefits of tea and to upload the video to YouTube.  Entries are judged on their health-related messges, creativity, individuality and popularity.  No scholarship essays require [...]

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Early reports suggest that summer enrollment is up at colleges across the country, likely due at least in part to the recession.  Since summer jobs are harder to find and some summer internships have also been taken off the table, more students are looking to summer classes as a way to stay productive between spring and fall semesters.  Dwindling college funds and other economic difficulties may also be pushing students to try to finish college as quickly and cheaply as possible.  Most state colleges and community colleges offer summer classes, as well as many private schools. [...]

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Aspiring chefs in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and other locations across the country recently received the chance to compete for a wide range of culinary arts scholarships through the Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP), a non-profit organization that helps underserved students prepare for careers in the restaurant and hospitality industry.  The annual C-CAP scholarship contest awards scholarships of up to the full amount of tuition at leading culinary schools to students who have participated in their programs. [...]

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DeVry has announced that it will be awarding 500 scholarships to students attending its seven colleges: DeVry University, Keller Graduate School of Management, Ross University, Chamberlain College of Nursing, Apollo College, Western Career College, and Fanor.  Scholarships will be awarded to adult students who are starting college or returning to college after an absence this fall.  The announcement is timed to celebrate the addition of DeVry, Inc. to the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index this week. [...]

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