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Scholarships.com College Education Scholarship

July 6, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

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.

Prize: $1,000

Eligibility: Applicant must be a U.S. citizen, a registered user of Scholarships.com, and an undergraduate student or a high school senior who plans to enroll in a college or university in the coming fall. Applicant must have indicated an interest in Child Care/Education, Education, Health Education, Music Education or Special Education.

Deadline: August 31, 2009

Required Material: Completed online scholarship application, including essay of 250-350 words answering the question, "What has influenced you to pursue a career in education?"

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.

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Tuition Increases 4.3 Percent at Private Colleges

July 2, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

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.

Tuition and fees are projected to go up an average of 4.3 percent at private colleges and universities nationwide, with some colleges managing to hold their increases even lower or freeze tuition rates to help students struggling to pay for school in the current economic climate. While it still greatly outpaces inflation, it's lower than the average increase over the last 10 years, which has been around 6 percent. The survey did not address changes in the cost of room and board.

Meanwhile, private colleges are also increasing institutional grant and scholarship aid. On average, schools allocated 9 percent more to college scholarships and grants for 2009-2010 than the previous academic year.

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Michael Jackson's Scholarship Contributions Live On

July 1, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

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.

One of the charities Michael Jackson supported most generously and publicly was the United Negro College Fund, which helps support African American students in their college goals. He first began supporting the UNCF in 1984 and participated in several fundraisers for the organization. One of his donations established the Michael Jackson Scholarship, which has existed as an endowed scholarship since 1986, supporting students attending college with the goal of pursuing careers in the performing arts. His generous contributions have allowed the UNCF to extend scholarship opportunities to hundreds of African American students over the last 25 years.

To learn more about the Michael Jackson Scholarship, you can visit the UNCF website. You may also want to do a scholarship search on Scholarships.com to find more scholarship awards for African American students and students interested in the arts. All Michael Jackson, a Michael Jackson fan website, has more information about Jackson's many charitable contributions.

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Financial Aid Changes Happening July 1

June 30, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

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.

One big change you likely already know about if you have applied for financial aid for fall is that Pell grants are going up from a maximum of $4,731 for 2008-2009 to a maximum of $5,350 for 2009-2010.  This change has already been widely publicized and is already reflected on your financial aid award letter.

Changes for current undergraduate students that you may not already know about include lower interest rates and lower loan fees on federal Stafford loans.  The interest rate on subsidized Stafford loans for undergraduate students will drop from 6.0 percent to 5.6 percent on July first.  Rates will not change for unsubsidized loans, graduate students, or federal PLUS loans.  The upfront loan fees on all Stafford loans will fall from 2 percent to 1.5 percent. Students who have older Stafford loans or PLUS loans with variable interest rates will also see lower interest rates as of July 1, provided they have not already consolidated their loans.

Those who are considering loan consolidation will see one of the biggest changes on July 1, with the unveiling of a new consolidation program through the federal Direct Loans program.  It will allow students to participate in an income-based repayment plan that will forgive any outstanding debt after 25 years.  Payments will be capped at 15 percent of whatever you earn above 150 percent of the federal poverty level and no payments will be required if your earnings fall below 150 percent of the federal poverty level.

Finally, since July 1 marks the start of the new academic year for financial aid, today is the last day to file a 2008-2009 FAFSA.  If you are planning to enroll in summer courses and have not yet applied for aid, you may want to check with your school to see whether summer is counted as part of 2008-2009 or 2009-2010 for financial aid purposes.  If your school counts summer as part of the previous academic year and you have not yet filed a FAFSA, you will want to do so right now.

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myUsearch International and Undocumented Student Scholarship

June 29, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

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.

Prize: $1,000

Eligibility: International students and other non-citizens planning to study in the United States. Must begin your first semester at an accredited undergraduate institution on or before October 1, 2010, either as a freshman or a transfer student.

Deadline: July 15, 2009.

Required Material: Completed myUsearch registration, plus an essay addressing how the completion of a U. S. degree will impact your life, your family, and your home community.

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.

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Make the Most of Your SAT Scores

June 25, 2009

by Administrator

Guest posting by CampusCompare.com

Duhn duhn duhn... Today is the day that SAT scores will be released. Whether you’re jumping up and down or getting ready to jump off a bridge, there are some things you can do to get the most out of your SAT scores.

If you got...

Good news: Congrats! You aced the SAT’s and now the world is your oyster. Or so you thought. Taking the SATs is just one tiny step in the long college application process:

  • Re-evaluate your college options. Are there some “reaches” that are looking more like “targets”? Or are some of your “targets” now “safety” schools? Make sure your scores match your college list. You may even want to consider applying to some schools that weight the SAT highly. Often large state-schools look for high SAT scores as they are a more objective measure of admissions, and these schools tend to me inundated with applicants. Add a couple to your pile, and you may wind up pleasantly surprised come the spring.
  • Search for scholarships. Some merit scholarships, both national and those offered by individual colleges, offer monetary amounts for higher SAT scores. Some even have minimums whereby you are not eligible if you get below a certain score. Use your high score to your advantage and get scholarships for high-achieving students such as yourself.

Bad News: Don’t worry. If your scores are not as high as you like, there are a couple things you can do to mitigate the disaster.

  • Retake the SATs. Many, many students take the SATs multiple times. If you didn’t get the score you wanted, try to study and brush up on areas you had trouble with. A lot of colleges let you report your highest score, so retaking your SATs can give you a boost.
  • Look into Financial Aid Calculator, information on 15 categories of college life for over 3,000 colleges and expert, hype-free college admissions advice. Check us out at http://www.campuscompare.com.

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Education Secretary Duncan Proposes Changes to FAFSA

June 24, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

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.

Changes will be rolled out in phases, with the first phase being a smarter FAFSA on the Web.  Rather than forcing students to read fine print to determine whether they need to provide information requested by each question, as of next January, the application will use the information students have provided to determine which questions they need to answer.  Students with independent status will not be shown the questions about parental income and low-income students will not be shown certain questions about assets that they don't need to complete.  This is a fairly simple step to save time and hassle, and eliminate some of the barriers that keep students most likely to be eligible for federal grant programs from applying.

A pilot program has also been initaited to test the feasibility of allowing students to access their tax information online to complete the FAFSA.  If successful, it could be expanded to all users, saving headaches involved in finding their 1040s, W2s and related forms, then scouring each for the correct lines to copy into the FAFSA.

Duncan also stated that the administration will seek permission from Congress to begin taking steps that could eventually result in eliminating the FAFSA entirely and relying solely on tax information to apply for federal student financial aid.  While not explicitly stated by Duncan, it could be an end result of his request to Congress to remove questions from the FAFSA that do not pertain to information reported to the IRS on a student's (or their parents') 1040.  Once the complicated need analysis formula of the FAFSA has been set aside in favor of this simplified process, the idea of allowing students to apply for aid by checking a box on their tax return seems almost within reach.

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Gates Foundation Launches Community College Grant Program

June 23, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has announced new grants to help states and community colleges improve remedial education and college completion.  The grants, totaling $16.5 million, were awarded to five states and fifteen community colleges and represent the second wave in an effort the foundation began in 2004.

As college costs continue to rise, an increasing amount of attention is being paid to community colleges as a cost-effective alternative to the traditional four-year university.  Greater emphasis on higher education, such as President Obama's earlier urging for every American to receive some amount of post-secondary education, have also brought community colleges into focus.  In addition to being affordable and local, community colleges often focus on career-oriented education, which can help the unemployed or those who are looking for better job security quickly and effectively pick up skills and certification to achieve career goals.

Despite the benefits of a community college education, many students who enroll struggle to finish.  As many as 60 percent of community college students may need remedial courses, including up to 90 percent of low-income and minority students at these institutions, and students requiring remediation are currently at a disadvantage when it comes to successfully completing requirements to earn a degree. Grants from the Gates Foundation aim to help colleges continue to address this problem, building on the success of previous Gates-funded programs that saw the number of students successfully moving to college-level coursework rise by 16 to 20 percent.

Students will benefit from this grant money through increased access to support services, such as tutoring and academic advising, that can help them meet their college goals.  Improved remedial education, a federal focus on community colleges as vital educational institutions, and new state efforts to smooth the process of transferring from two-year to four-year state colleges all have the potential to help a greater number of Americans attain a higher education, and to do so at a lower cost.

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Jim and Anna Hyonjoo Lint National Security Scholarship

June 22, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

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.

Prize:

$1,000

Eligibility:

Applicants must be admitted to a university and must plan to enroll as undergraduate students or graduate students in the fall semester.  The scholarship is open to students of any major who show an interest in national security, counterintelligence, or international affairs. 

Deadline:

July 31, 2009

Required Material:

Completed scholarship application, including an application essay, personal statement, letter of recommendation, and official transcript.

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.

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Three Universities Subpoenaed in Admissions Investigation

June 19, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

Want to get into college but don't have the best grades?  Consider making friends with some prominent politicians, then apply in Illinois.

Earlier this month, The Chicago Tribune revealed the existence of a special admissions list at the University of Illinois main campus that consisted of politically connected applicants.  Now, records from University of Illinois, Northern Illinois University and Southern Illinois University have been subpoenaed in the ongoing federal investigation of corruption charges against former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.  Investigators want to determine whether Blagojevich recommended candidates for admission into state colleges in exchange for money or favors.

While going for the wow factor of a big name is an understandable strategy when it comes to letters of recommendation, it looks like more may have been going on with some applications in Illinois. There are concerns that some well-connected applicants received extreme advantages in admissions, in some cases getting in seemingly solely based on who they knew, even over the objections of the admissions officials reviewing their college applications.  The University of Illinois has suspended its special admission list and claimed to have not followed practices out of line with what other colleges do in considering applications.

The practice of relying on political connections in the college application process is not unique to Illinois, but in light of recent scandals in the state, it is garnering a lot of attention.  Using clout to get into college is still a  highly contentious practice in any case, whether the applicant is connected to university officials or state government figures.  Hopefully, this scandal will influence colleges to think twice before overlooking merit in favor of connections in future admissions decisions.

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