November 21, 2008
Interested in online courses? You may want to look into attending college in Minnesota. Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and David Olson, the chair of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) board of trustees, announced a plan to make 25% of the university system's courses available online by 2015. Other state universities, including the University of Minnesota campuses, are strongly encouraged to work towards this goal, as well.
Online courses can benefit students in multiple ways, most notably by saving students living off-campus the cost of commuting and giving them a more flexible schedule so they can more easily juggle work and family commitments in addition to coursework. Additionally, in the cold Minnesota winters, being able to attend class from the comfort of your home is a definite plus (though still having class on those rare snow days could also be seen as a drawback). While online learning requires students to be more self-motivated than those in traditional classes, more and more students are finding such courses appealing.
Online degree programs are gaining popularity across the country. A recent study revealed that over 20 percent of American college students took at least one online course in 2007 and that distance learning enrollment continues to increase. A number of colleges and universities are interested in increasing their online course offerings, and the MnSCU system hopes to beat them to the punch.
November 20, 2008
Amid news of tightening budgets and declining endowments, several colleges and universities are putting a greater focus on shoring up financial aid programs and helping their students find money for college. While reports of hiring freezes and halted construction plans has come from numerous institutions, keeping students in school has remained a priority.
This focus on student financial aid is reflected in recent fund raising shifts, as reported in the Wall Street Journal. Several schools are introducing or ramping up fund raising efforts directed at providing college scholarships and grants for their students. Among the private colleges increasing fund raising efforts are Cornell University and Barnard College. State universities, such as the University of Texas at Austin, are also increasing effort to meet students' growing financial needs.
College presidents at multiple institutions are even dipping into their own salaries and savings to help their schools. A recent news post in the Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis has taken a voluntary 10% pay cut to help reduce operating costs, and the president of the University of Pennsylvania has donated $100,000 to help fund undergraduate research at her university.
All of this goes to show that despite economic trouble, scholarship opportunities are still out there. Keep plugging away at your scholarship search and you can still afford a college education.
November 19, 2008
A struggling economy, shrinking endowments, turmoil in the student loan marketplace, and state budget cuts have all raised questions about students' continued ability to pay for school. However, despite economic troubles, at least one state has plans to launch a new program to help its students find money for college in the form of low-interest student loans.
Connecticut students will soon have one more source of student financial aid, thanks to a new partnership between the state and its credit unions. The loan program, announced yesterday by the governor's office, would provide up to $17.5 million in student loans for college students from Connecticut and students attending college in the state.
Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell met with officials from the state's credit unions on Tuesday to discuss the partnership. Under the proposed college loan program, students would borrow directly from the credit unions at interest rates of 5.75 or 6 percent. Each credit union would be required to offer at least $100,000 in student loans to participate in the program. The loans are designed to help families who don't have access to sufficient amounts of financial aid, such as federal Stafford loans, to cover their tuition bills. The governor's press release did not make mention of borrowing limits or requirements.
November 18, 2008
Are you considering a career in public service, such as working for the government or a non-profit organization, but more than slightly overwhelmed by the thought of repaying your student loans with an often minuscule salary? Realizing that you may actually be taking a pay cut to transition from your summer job to your "grown up" career can be demoralizing, and dealing with debt on top of that certainly doesn't help. While many noble individuals certainly make this sacrifice, perhaps you were hoping to forget where the grocery store kept its "manager's special" items after you graduated. And who can blame you? The college budget diet, and the accompanying lifestyle of cramming half a dozen people into one run-down apartment, eventually does get old. Luckily, there are forms of financial aid out there to minimize or relieve your debt and help you stretch that public servant salary a little further.
Some of the most well-known career-based assistance programs are designed for teachers. The TEACH grant contributes $4000 a year towards the tuition of students who agree to teach a high-need subject at a low-income school for four years. Other programs such as Teach for America offer teaching certification, a stipend, and assistance with student loan repayment to individuals agreeing to teach in certain schools.
Teachers and other public servants can also qualify to have their Federal Perkins Loans canceled, saving up to $16,000. Nursing students and other medical students can get in on this program, as well. The federal government also launched a public service loan repayment program a year ago that will forgive qualifying federal student loan debt for those who commit ten years to public service. In addition, a variety of government scholarships provide incentives for students in various majors to consider federal work.
An article appearing in USA Today this week also mentions some university-specific programs to help steer students towards public service careers. Harvard Law School will waive tuition for one year for students who commit to five years in government or non-profit fields, and Princeton University will provide free master's degrees to eight 2008 graduates who first put in two years in federal jobs. Tufts University is also helping its undergraduate students pay down debt or pursue graduate degrees if they commit a few years to public service work.
If you're leaning towards a career with a government agency or non-profit organization, be aware of the scholarships, grants, fellowships, internships, and loan repayment programs out there. Include a free college scholarship search in your research to find out about many of your options for funding your education and minimizing your debt.
November 17, 2008
Are you a college student? Do you have a blog? Are you concerned about your credit or the dangers of identity theft? Do you want to win $2,000? If so, this week's Scholarship of the Week is for you. The SPENDonLIFE Credit Blogging Scholarship offers a $2,000 college scholarship to a student blogger who posts an entry on his or her blog about either credit or identity theft before December 1.
Blog entries should be original, interesting, and informative, using your creativity and research skills to address a topic within the broad categories of identity theft and credit. Entries should be 400 words or less and should also inform readers of the contest and how they can participate.
Eligibility: Students aged 18 or over currently attending college full-time or part-time at an accredited college or university
Deadline: December 1, 2008
Required Materials: Completed online scholarship application, found on the SPENDonLIFE contest website. Be sure to provide a link to your blog entry about credit or identity theft.
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.
November 14, 2008
For many high school students, graduation cannot come soon enough. While admittedly, I was something of a nerd, going off to college was the single most anticipated event of my young life. I couldn't wait for the academic challenges, the new people, and the more serious learning environment. If someone came up to me when I was 16 and offered me the chance to start community college then, I would have definitely taken it. So I am definitely a little jealous of students in New Hampshire who may soon get that chance.
New Hampshire is one of three states that have agreed to implement some of the policies outlined by the National Center on Education and the Economy's New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce. The commission released a report in 2006 calling for sweeping educational reforms to address America's slipping international standing in several measures of educational success and workforce preparation. Utah and Massachusetts will also implement measures recommended to boost the performance of public schools, including raising teacher pay, giving teachers greater (in some cases, complete) control over schools, implementing more dynamic proficiency tests that provide a more accurate picture of students' abilities, and better monitoring and assisting students at risk of dropping out. The policy New Hampshire is proposing will allow students the option of taking a test after 10th grade and either entering a community college or a college preparatory track if they pass, letting them prepare for college and gain college credits while still living at home, and keeping them from getting bored or coasting through the last two years of high school.
These are only a few of the suggestions found in the commission's report. While there is some skepticism over how much change will actually take place, many states and schools are showing an eagerness for change. It's hoped that innovations in education will help make more students better prepared for attending college and entering the workforce.
November 13, 2008
Enrollment in online courses continued to increase in 2007, according to a new study. Nearly 4 million college students, over 20 percent of the total number of students attending college, took at least one online course in fall 2007, an increase of 12.9 percent over the previous year. With all of the financial turmoil that 2008 has brought, the number of online students is likely to continue to increase, as online enrollment is seen as a cost-effective alternative to having to be on campus for class.
The majority of colleges and universities regard offering online courses or online degree programs as critical to their long-term goals. Schools also reported a need to compete for online students. Since physical proximity isn't a concern, students can take online classes through any school, meaning institutions need to do more to attract students to their distance-learning programs.
Some of this competition comes in the form of innovation. After universities in Canada and Japan made online course material accessible via cell phones last year, Louisana's community colleges followed suit, unveiling a plan this week to centralize their distance learning programs on one website, allowing students to access and complete materials from any device with an internet connection.
As distance learning programs continue to become more popular among students and a greater priority among schools, budget-conscious students may want to look closely at taking some or all classes online. Online courses allow greater flexibility for scheduling around employment or other obligations, save on commuting costs (and the money students spend gulping down cafeteria food, fast food, and expensive coffee while rushing between classes), and allow students to live where they want without worrying about having to get to school each day. All of these things make it easier for you to pay your way through school as a distance learning student. While online classes do require greater self-discipline and are offered in more limited quantities than in-person classes, they are still an option to consider when choosing a college.
November 12, 2008
Colleges are continuing to face financial hardships due to the current global economic crisis. Endowments have shrunken by an average of 30 percent this year, primarily in the last two months. Numerous colleges and universities, both public and private, are cutting or freezing spending, and several institutions have been forced to implement hiring freezes, offer early retirement to employees, or lay off employees. Even Harvard University has announced a more conservative approach to future spending. An article appearing in the New York Times earlier this week shows some schools considering a move away from entirely need-blind admissions policies (which ignore students' ability to pay when determining who to admit) in order to ensure they receive enough tuition revenue to maintain their financial aid programs.
Meanwhile, families are in similarly rough shape. Investments are in trouble, unemployment is up, and families are having trouble getting home equity loans or other lines of credit that they may have previously used to cover tuition. 529 plans have taken a hit, as well, and student loans have also tightened credit requirements. All this means that students might face greater difficulty getting into and paying for school.
So that's the bad news. Now for some good news:
November 11, 2008
November has been designated as National Scholarship Month for 2008. The purpose of National Scholarship Month is to raise awareness of the scholarship opportunities available to high school students, undergraduate students, and graduate students, as well as the numerous benefits of winning scholarships.
November is also an ideal month to start finding scholarships, if you haven't done so already. Many scholarship competitions start or end in November, including our own College Health Scholarship (deadline: November 30) and our College History Scholarship (deadline: December 31). By applying for scholarships now, you're sure to stay on top of those scholarship application deadlines.
Check out our article on National Scholarship Month, which highlights many of the reasons to apply for scholarships. You might also want to browse the Scholarships category on our blog, where you'll find tons of information about scholarships and the benefits they provide. Convinced that scholarships are worthwhile, but not convinced you can win? Head over to our resources section, where you will find tons of advice on scholarship applications. We dispel scholarship myths, show you how to detect scholarship scams, and even offer advice on how to write a scholarship-worthy essay--complete with tips from scholarship reviewers.
So, do you believe that you can win a scholarship? (Because you can!) Then celebrate National Scholarship Month with us and start your scholarship search today. A scholarship search on Scholarships.com is fast, free, and easy, instantly generating a list of scholarship awards that are directly relevant to the information you provide in your profile. We have scholarships in our database for all sorts of people! Find out about athletic scholarships, green scholarships, unusual scholarships, corporate scholarships, women's scholarships, scholarships for minorities, and many more. After all, with 2.7 million scholarships and grants to choose from, we're bound to have something that fits you. And free money for college is always cause for celebration.
November 10, 2008
Are you addicted to the History Channel and HGTV? Do you love old buildings and local history? Do you want to learn more about or get involved in preservation efforts in your community? If you're a high school junior or senior and this describes you, be sure to check out this week's Scholarship of the Week, the American Planning Association High School Essay Contest.
Two $5,000 scholarships will be awarded to high school students who come up with the best historic preservation plans for their communities. Your scholarship essay should be between 1200 and 1500 words and should closely follow the instructions provided on the APA scholarship website. Not only can you learn about your community, earn scholarship money, and explore a potential career, but if you win, you will also receive a stipend of up to $1,000 to travel to an APA conference sometime during your college career to learn more about community planning.
Prize: Two $5,000 grand prize scholarship awards
Eligibility: High school students who are U.S. residents and are juniors or seniors during the 2008-2009 school year.
Deadline: January 15, 2009
Required Materials: Completed online scholarship application, following the instructions outlined by the American Planning Association on their contest website.
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