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Seven Tips for Repaying Your Student Loans

by Suada Kolovic

If you’re a recent college graduate, chances are you’ll have to start paying off your student loans sooner than you think. And even with the economy in a slump, don’t expect a free pass on not paying your loans. Are you starting to panic? Well, don’t! There’s a ton of advice out there to help students stay on track and courtesy of the U.S. News and World Report, here are seven tips for repaying your student loans.

  • Repay you student loans automatically. Make things easier on yourself by setting up automatic withdrawals from your bank account. This reduces the chance of late or missing payments.
  • Aim for 10 years. The traditional repayment period for student loans is 10 years and ideally you'll be able to pay off all your debt within that time period. If you end up struggling with your monthly payments, however, you could stretch out your loans to 20 or even 30 years. Your monthly payments will become more manageable but you will end up paying a lot more in interest.
  • Stay organized. Having multiple student loans can be a challenge to keep track of but with the government's National Student Loan Data System, you’ll be able to track all your federal student loans in one place.
  • Pay off the loans with the highest interest rates first. A high interest rate costs you every month and compounds that amount you owe every month you aren’t paying off the entire balance.
  • Consider IBR. The IBR is a federal Income-Based Repayment program that allows a borrower to repay his or her federal loans based on what is affordable and not what is owed.
  • Keep abreast of student loan developments. Staying informed is just as important as making your payments. Familiarize yourself with websites that are devoted to college debt issues like Project on Student Debt and the National Consumer Law Center's Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project.
  • Contact the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman. Sometimes your relationship with a lender can go belly-up. If you end up in a dispute, the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman may be able to help resolve the issue.

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Scholarships.com’s Resolve to Evolve Scholarship is Back!

by Suada Kolovic

It’s that time of year again when Scholarships.com relaunches our Resolve to Evolve Scholarship. This isn’t your typical essay scholarship: The R2E (as we like to call it) is about providing students with the opportunity to move beyond finger-pointing and offer constructive criticism and workable solutions for problems facing an administration or an organization. Essays must be written in response to one of two questions; this year, they focus on the possible detrimental effects of technology on the masses and whether or not a college degree has value.

This scholarship is open to all United States citizens who are registered users of Scholarships.com, will be enrolled in high school (grades 9 through 12) during the 2011-2012 school year and will be between the ages of 13 and 19 at the time the award is given. The applicant who submits the best overall essay will receive a $2,000 scholarship. One (1) winner will also be selected from each grade level (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior) and will receive a $1,000 scholarship each.

The deadline for entries is August 15, 2011. Winners will be notified in late September and announced mid-October. For more information on this scholarship and other scholarship opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search today!


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Sallie Mae to Cut Student Loan Interest Rates

by Suada Kolovic

Here at Scholarships.com, we love the idea of students going to college debt-free but the reality is that student loans, for the most part, are a necessity in today’s educational world. And while private student loans should be a last resort when paying for college, it can help bridge the gap for families who have maxed out federal loan limits. The silver lining: Sallie Mae is lowering its interest rates on student loans.

The new cap on Sallie Mae’s rate will be 9.875 percent plus LIBOR, which is the interest rate that banks charge each other for loans. The new lowest available rate will be LIBOR plus 2 percent, which reflects a half percent rate reduction. But remember, the exact interest rate Sallie Mae assigns to a specific loan will vary depending on the borrower’s credit score and repayment option. They’re also offering students the option to make $25 monthly payments while they’re in school to counter interest costs or defer payments until graduation. Another added bonus: For loans disbursed between July 1 and Oct. 1, Sallie Mae is offering free tuition insurance for a year.

All these perks aside, Sallie Mae can’t compete with federal loans that come with a fixed rate of 6.8 percent but a cut in student loan interest rates is still a win in my book.


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Hundreds of Colleges Still Accepting Applications

by Suada Kolovic

High school seniors, are you down about not getting a fat envelope from any of the colleges you applied to? Worried that your college dream is quickly fading? Seriously starting to freak out?! Well, turn that frown upside down because there are hundreds of colleges that are still accepting applications.

According to a Space Availability Survey by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), as of May 4th, 293 schools are still accepting applications. The list is comprised of schools that either didn’t fill all open spots for next year’s freshman class or have application deadlines later than the May 1 norm. "A lot of times, people think if there's any schools left, they can't be good schools," says Todd Johnson, consultant at College Admissions Partners. "It's not going to be the top liberal arts colleges or the top national universities, but there are some good, solid schools on there."

Check out a few notables below, for the full list of colleges still accepting applications, click here.


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Texas A&M President Too Popular on Facebook

Hits Friend Maximum, Seeks Advice on How to Stay Connected with Students

May 6, 2011

Texas A&M President Too Popular on Facebook

by Suada Kolovic

Having too many friends on Facebook seems like an unlikely problem for the president of a major university to have, but R. Bowen Loftin, the president of Texas A&M, isn’t your average administrator. Mr. Loftin not only has a Facebook account but accepts friend requests from his students. And while you’d assume students would cringe at the thought of friending such an authoritative figure, it’s in fact the exact opposite: He’s so popular that he’s hit Facebook’s max of 5,000 friends.

Diana C. McDonald, the college’s director of social media and marketing programs, says the Mr. Loftin likes the personal interaction of having a Facebook profile rather than say a Facebook fan page. “Our president is definitely not in the ivory tower,” she says. “We definitely don’t want to put him there.”

Mr. Loftin is so distraught that he’s solicited advice on what to do via – what else? – his Facebook wall. He asks his friends, who are mostly students, “I have a lot of friends requests pending, so I am asking for your advice on how best to keep connected to all of you.” And suggestions are pouring in. Some propose Mr. Loftin seek other social networking sites, possibly defriend those who weren’t his real friends or even start a Twitter account. With all the issues students are facing – crippling debt, soaring unemployment rates – is this really an issue a university president should focus on? Would you friend your school’s president?


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Illinois State Senate Passes DREAM Act

DREAM Act Passes with Overwhelming Bipartisan Majority

May 5, 2011

Illinois State Senate Passes DREAM Act

by Suada Kolovic

After much heated national debate, the Illinois state Senate passed the DREAM Act, a measure that will give undocumented students who’ve graduated from high school, completed two years of college or military service and have no criminal record a shot at citizenship. The bill passed the Senate by a margin of 45-11, with wide bipartisan support – 11 Republicans supporting the bill alongside 34 Democrats.

It is important to note that the State of Illinois does not have the authority to grant citizenship, but will instead create a “DREAM Fund” – a scholarship account funded entirely by private dollars that will provide scholarships to undocumented students seeking higher education. The fund would also encourage counselors to receive training on educational opportunities for undocumented students, as well as open up college savings programs and prepaid tuition programs to all Illinois residents.

The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), one of many pro-immigrant groups that descended on Springfield for Wednesday's vote, tweeted "Perfect timing. The state Cinco de Mayo celebration has started in the State Capitol."


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Mork Family Donates $110 Million to USC

by Suada Kolovic

The University of Southern California has secured a major donation – the fourth of more than $50 million given to the university this school year alone – from Julie and John Mork. The couple donated $110 million to USC to fund the Mork Family Scholars Program, which will provide high school seniors “of extraordinary intellectual talent and capability full tuition and $5,000 living stipends,” the university said in a statement.

John Mork, a trustee who graduated from USC in 1970, is the chief executive officer of Energy Corp. of America, a private company that handles the exploration, extraction, production and transportation of natural gas and oil, based in Denver. “Attending USC is the dream of talented high school seniors from all walks of life,” said John Mork. “We hope this gift will help transform hundreds of young lives.” Julie Mork, who graduated from UCLA, is the managing director of the Energy Corp. of America Foundation, a charitable organization that focuses on children and education. According to the LA Times, about 100 undergraduates will benefit from the scholarships each year.

Now while this is the single largest donation in the university’s history for undergraduate scholarships, it isn’t the Morks first philanthropic gift to the school. In 2005, the family contributed $15 million to the USC Viterbi School of Engineering that resulted in the naming of the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science after the Mork family. And this time around, to show their appreciation, USC will place a plaque with the names and images of the Mork family at Bovard Auditorium.


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No Signal, No Problem

IU Language App Doesn’t Require Internet Connection

May 3, 2011

No Signal, No Problem

by Suada Kolovic

For U.S. soldiers working in Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan, interacting with locals is a daily struggle due to the language barrier. Locals speak Pashto, one of the region’s primary languages, which has 44 letters and its own unique calligraphy – a challenge for even the most linguistically gifted. But thanks to language specialists at Indiana University, there’s now a free iPad app that provides an interactive tutorial for the Pashto script. The kicker? It’ll work in even the most remote areas because the program resides on the device and does not require 3G or Wi-Fi Internet access.

Christopher Atwood, chair of IU Department of Central Eurasian Studies and interim director of the Central Asian Region (CeLCAR), said, "Americans are finding themselves thrown into contact with Pashtuns and the Pashto language without having the time for much formal classroom experience. Portable tools like this will help them make the most of any formal instruction.”

What do users have to look forward to? The application provides users with the opportunity to watch and listen to video recordings of Pashto speakers pronouncing each letter of the alphabet. Plus, it gives them a range of opportunities to practice reading and writing and trains them to recognize the various shapes of the letter in their context. The app isn’t available yet – it’s currently being reviewed by Apple and if approved will be available through the company’s app store this month – but the Indiana developers are already preparing a version for several smartphones and a version for the BlackBerry and Android-based tablets as well.

Posted Under:

College News


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The Plagiarist’s Weapon of Choice

Plagiarism Flagged at Social and User-Generated Websites Most Often

May 2, 2011

The Plagiarist’s Weapon of Choice

by Suada Kolovic

Looking over your peer’s shoulder during a test or copying from the encyclopedia are out but plagiarizing off user-generated sites – ones that your peers had a hand in publishing – is in, according to a recent study.

The findings were released by iParadigms, the creator of Turnitin, a plagiarism-detection service that checks for possible plagiarism by comparing submitted papers to several databases using a proprietary algorithm. The study consisted of analyzing 40 million papers submitted by high school and college students over a 10-month period. Chris Harrick, vice president of marketing at Turnitin says the findings show, “that plagiarism in sourcing work is going the way that everything else in the world is going. People are relying more on their peers than on experts.”

It’s important to note that the study does have its faults. Turninit specifically detects “matched content” and not outright plagiarism. So, while the software will flag material from a paper mill, it will also flag material that has been properly attributed and cited. That aside, here’s the breakdown of study:


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Calling All Dancers in this Scholarship of the Week

by Suada Kolovic

Is dancing your passion? Then put your best foot forward and try out for the Jessica Karrat Dance Scholarship. The Jessica Karrat Dance Scholarship Fund is dedicated to providing funds for individuals who wish to participate in dance education. It seeks to provide aspiring dancers with the opportunity to fulfill their dreams whether to start a dance career or continue with their dance education.

Scholarship recipients must be residents of the United States or programs must benefit United States citizens. A minimum award of one scholarship, in the amount of $500 per year, is being awarded to assure that the scholarship will be significant enough to provide financial assistance. For more information on this scholarship and other dance scholarship opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search today!


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