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by Scholarships.com Staff

Yesterday, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced that they had reached a settlement with the College Board regarding the preferred lender list controversy that has been unfolding since early 2007.  The investigation revealed that the College Board had been offering discounts on its products to college financial aid offices that agreed to add their student loan service to a preferred lender list.  Discounts of more than 20 percent off the College Board's proprietary software were given in exchange for placement on preferred lender lists.  The College Board pulled out of private loans in 2007, but the investigations continued, culminating in yesterday's settlement, the latest of several with private student lenders.

 The College Board has agreed to adhere to a code of conduct if it ever returns to the private lending market.  The organization will be required to put $675,000 towards developing tools to help students and financial aid offices compare student loan offers.  The College Board will also be required to distribute its new student loan calcualtors and "requests for proposals" (the forms that will allow for comparison among student loans) freely to schools for the next two financial aid cycles. 

This news came as the Career College Assocation, an organization of private career-training institution administrators, released the results of a survey indicating the difficulty that students at two year, for-profit schools currently face finding money for college.  More students are registering but not attending classes, and having trouble finding a private loan without a cosigner.  The majority of schools report students needing to change lenders or facing higher interest rates.  Some students are unable to procure a private loan at all, while others are contending with delayed loan disbursements.  A number of these colleges have stepped in to offer institutional student loans, ranging from less than $1,000 to over $10,000, to students who are unable to meet the gap between their federal student financial aid and their cost of attendance.


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by Scholarships.com Staff

Are you a high school senior who already has entrepreneurial experience?  While all of your friends were being handed pricing guns or learning how to man the drive-thru window at their jobs, did you decide to take a different route and be your own boss?  While a small business definitely makes an impressive line on your college applications, it can be worth scholarship money ($40,000, in fact!) as well as experience and bragging rights.  If you started your own business at least a year ago and are planning to go to college next year, you'll want to look into this week's Scholarship of the Week.  The McKelvey Foundation Entrepreneurial Scholarship can help you pay for school for all four years, and might even cover your full tuition at some state colleges.  Prize:  Up to $10,000 per year for four years  Eligibility:  Current high school seniors who have owned and operated a small business or non-profit organization for at least one year.  The business must generate sales revenue (except in the case of non-profits) and have at least one paid employee.  Students must be planning to enroll at an accredited four-year college or university in the United States.  Deadline:  January 25, 2009  Required Materials:  Applicants must submit an online scholarship application on the McKelvey Foundation website and be able to provide additional documentation when requested.  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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by Scholarships.com Staff

While a change in or loss of employment can be a powerful motivator for many people to go to college to learn new skills and gain new credentials, funding your education can seem impossible with no steady source of income.  At the same time, with a deepening recession and a still-growing unemployment rate, the job market is not favorable for many who have been laid off, especially those who lack a college degree.  Luckily, campus-based aid programs can help make attending college possible for the unemployed.  Several community colleges and at least one private college are now offering tuition discounts for members of their communities who were recently laid off.  Northampton Community College in Bethlehem, PA has been making headlines recently by announcing the revival of its program that waives tuition for prospective students who have recently lost their jobs.  The college has rolled out this tuition waiver in past recessions, allowing displaced workers to attend full-time or part-time and pay only student fees, which are currently $28 per credit.  Student financial aid is available to help especially cash-strapped students cover the cost of fees, as well.  Students are able to take 12 credits tuition-free each term, but must register after students paying full price.  A similar program is being offered at Bergen Community College in Paramus, NJ.  Reading Area Community College in Reading, PA also offers recently unemployed students a one-semester-only tuition waiver covering the cost of up to 13 credits.  All of these community college tuition waivers, as well as one offered by Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, MI are profiled in an article in Inside Higher Ed.  Other schools may offer discounted tuition or additional college scholarships or grants for students who have lost a major source of income due to the recession.  Nearly all colleges are able to offer some additional assistance if students or their parents are facing financial hardships, though, so don't assume college is out of reach just because you don't live in Southfield, MI or Paramus, NJ.  Talk to your financial aid office and see what they can do to help.  And taking some time to conduct a free college scholarship search couldn't hurt, either.

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by Emily

Providing incentives for good grades is an increasingly common policy for parents of elementary and high school students.  In my household, report card day meant personal pan pizzas and a reprieve from the topping battle among my sister who didn't eat cheese, my sister who only ate cheese, and my own vote for a supreme pizza with extra cheese.  After pizza ceased to be a point of contention, my parents switched to the popular plan of offering financial incentives for good grades.  I don't remember the pay scale exactly, but I do remember missing it once I hit college.  Many undergraduate students are probably in the same boat, thinking about how even $10 or $20 per A could mean fewer trips to the plasma bank or even an extra textbook or two next semester.

Two brothers, who also happen to hold economics degrees from Harvard and Princeton, had a similar idea.  Michael and Matthew Kopko launched the website GradeFund last month to apply a model similar to fundraising for a marathon, where sponsors pledge to donate a certain amount per mile completed, to finding money for college.  College students' friends and family members, as well as corporate sponsors and others interested in donating money to help deserving students fund their educations, sign up on the site to give a certain dollar amount per grade earned to a particular student.

Students create profiles donors can search, and are matched up with people interested in helping them finance their educations.  Rather than agreeing to provide student loans or cover tuition in exchange for work, like in other peer-to-peer financial aid programs we've mentioned on our blog, donors on GradeFund, like scholarship providers, don't require anything in return for their donations.  While it's unlikely that a student will pay for their entire university education this way (according to The Chronicle of Higher Education, the current highest pledge per A is $400), they could easily pay for their books and possibly even a good part of other expenses that college scholarships or student financial aid might not cover.  Plus, since these payments are linked to concrete achievements by students already attending college, donors may feel less apprehensive about the recipients of their philanthropy floundering once they face the academic challenges of their undergraduate studies.


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by Emily

Every two years, the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education releases a report entitled "Measuring Up," which grades states in six categories related to higher education.  This year's results were published today and many states are probably wishing they had been graded on a curve.  Out of 50 states, only California received a passing grade in terms of affordability, squeaking by with a C-.  Grades were higher in terms of preparation, participation, completion, and benefits, and all states received an incomplete in learning due to insufficient data.

A state's higher education affordability grade was arrived at by considering the following: family ability to pay at community colleges, state universities, and 4-year private colleges (based on percentage of income after financial aid is taken into account); the level of investment in need-based state financial aid programs (as compared to federal investment in Pell Grants); the presence of low-cost college options; and the average amount students borrowed per year in student loans.  Failing grades suggest that states are not doing enough to make college affordable for their students, especially those from poor and working class families.

If you're a student, you might be wondering what this means for you.  The answer?  Many students in most states may find it difficult to pay for college using their family income and state and federal student financial aid.  And since affordability grades are actually lower this year than two years ago, it may be even tougher now to attend college debt-free.  Be sure to explore student financial aid options beyond state and federal programs early, rather than waiting for your award letter and finding you've come up short.  You can start by doing a free college scholarship search right here at Scholarships.com.

Scores in other categories were not nearly as bleak as in affordability.  However, even though the majority of states received passing scores in four of the five categories in which grades were given, the distribution looks more like a required high school course than, say, a graduate seminar.  Statements that accompany the report further stress that in the center's opinion, states need to improve their contributions to higher education.  You can view the report card for your state on the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education's website.  The Chronicle of Higher Education also provides a chart listing each state's grade in each category.

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by Scholarships.com Staff

As you've probably noticed, the current student loan market is not so great.  Between lenders backing out of the Federal Family Education Loan Program and temporarily or permanently suspending private loan operations, finding a loan has gotten tougher.  Family financial troubles and lenders' increased credit requirements for private student loans have made qualifying for a loan more challenging, as well.  While scholarship opportunities remain available, and many colleges and universities are even implementing new plans to help students cover college costs, many students and families are still coming up short on their tuition bills.

New models for student lending have surfaced in recent years, but have gained media attention as the troubles with student loans have continued throughout 2008.  One idea, which we've blogged about previously, is peer-to-peer lending, where students set up deals with friends, family members, or other interested parties to borrow money for college.  These deals are brokered through a lending company, and since the parties involved typically know each other, interest rates and default rates are expected to be low.

Another lending model that has succeeded in other countries and is now being tested in the United States, is more akin to investing than lending.  Investors, such as individuals or companies, agree to pay for a student's college education.  In return, the student agrees to repay a portion of their income to the investor for an agreed upon period of time.  In some ways, this resembles the income-contingent repayment plans available for federalconsolidation loans.  These contracts are also meeting criticism, including comparisons to indentured servitude.  Others worry that students with prospects for high income will not be interested and that few people will want to invest in humanities students, who are likely to provide low returns on their investments.  Nevertheless, such "human capital" contracts are expected to be well-received by many students and investors.  As reported by The Boston Globe, one company is already piloting a human capital contract program with a handful of business school students pursuing MBA degrees.

While human capital contracts and peer-to-peer lending are unlikely to wholly replace private student loans, they may provide students with more alternatives to the current forms of "alternative loans."  While college scholarships, institutional aid, and federal student financial aid should always come first, some families do need to borrow significantly to pay for school, and many are likely to welcome a wider range of options for doing so.

Posted Under:

Financial Aid , Student Loans


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by Scholarships.com Staff

Though a career in law may sound promising, the cost of law school will not. About 80 percent of law school students borrow money to pay for school, and, depending on the university they attend, graduate with an average student loan debt of $49,000 to $77,000. To encourage future law school students to follow their goals—regardless of tuition prices—we have created a scholarship especially for them.

Students who apply for the Scholarships.com Law Scholarship, this week's Scholarship of the Week, will have the chance to earn $1,000 towards their college education—and it couldn’t be easier. Just respond to the following question in a 250 to 350 word scholarship essay:

"What has influenced your decision to pursue a career in law?"


Prize: $1000

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:

 
  • Criminal Justice
  •  
  • Government
  •  
  • History
  •  
  • Justice/Legal Studies
  •  
  • Law/Pre-Law
  •  
  • Paralegal
  •  
  • Political Science
  •  


    Deadline:

    January 30, 2009

    Required Material:

    A 250-350 word response to the following question: “What has influenced your decision to pursue a career in law?”

    Further details about the application process can be found by conducting a free college scholarship search. Once the search is completed, students eligible for the award will find it in their scholarship list.

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    by Emily

    Yesterday, the Federal Reserve and Treasury announced a new program to further shore up the banking industry in the face of a recession that appears to still be worsening.  The program would devote $200 billion to shoring up consumer credit markets, including credit cards, car loans, and student loans.  The hope is that this new program will make these forms of credit more widely available to people who need them, including students who depend on private loans to help pay for school.

    The New York Times explains that this is the first time the federal government has intervened to finance consumer debt and describes the program as " com[ing] close to being a government bank."  Coupled with recent efforts to expand and sustain federal student financial aid programs, namely the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP), the federal government has expended a fairly vast amount of resources on student financial aid.  However, some are questioning how the money is being spent.

    The Project on Student Debt is one organization that has encouraged the federal government to exclude private student loans from rescue packages.  While the lending industry has been hit hard in the last year, this organization is one of several voices urging that students be steered towards more affordable means of financing their educations.  The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, while supporting the Treasury's decision, also called for a reevaluation of the role of private loans in paying for college.  Private student loans, which carry higher interest rates than federal loans, are intended to be used as a last resort after Federal Stafford Loans, campus-based aid programs, and scholarship money have been exhausted and students are still coming up short on their education expenses.


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    Thanksgiving Week Checklist

    November 25, 2008

    by Scholarships.com Staff

    It's hard to believe, but next week it will be December.  While it's tempting to train your eyes on the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday and the accompanying problem of consuming enough homecooked food to sustain you through finals, the next few months will be busy, especially if you're planning to apply for any sort of financial aid.  Between your high school or college coursework and adjusting your schedule and budget to accommodate winter holidays, December and January tend to fly by.  Since many scholarship application deadlines happen in December and January, now is the perfect time to do a quick scholarship search and double check that you don't miss out on applying for scholarships while you're in Thursday night's turkey-induced coma.

    A Thanksgiving week scholarship application checklist:

    • Search for available scholarships. See if anything new has come up since you last looked.  Many scholarship providers post new information in November, so if it's been a few weeks, now is the time to go back!
    •  
    • Make note of approaching deadlines. While January deadlines may seem a long way off now, consider how many free days you're likely to have between now and then.  Probably not many if you have finals, family, and friends all demanding a large chunk of your time.  Also, several scholarship awards have November/December deadlines, including our own College Health Scholarship, which closes November 30.
    •  
    • Take a hard look at your schedule. By now you should know what the rest of this semester looks like as well as how heavy your next semester will be.  Figure out times you'll be able to get those applications done.  Then take a look at your list of scholarship opportunities and prioritize accordingly.
    •  
    • Do some drafting. You're going to be spending an entire day in a house with your extended family.  Defeat awkward silences and make your relatives feel smart by asking them for input on your scholarship essays.  You don't have to staple your rough draft to the turkey or refuse to let anyone sit until they've proofread a paragraph, but usually there's some downtime where the topic can successfully be brought up.  If nothing else, saying that you have essay writing to do can give you an out when the topic turns to your great aunt's new medication.
    •  

    Posted Under:

    Scholarships , Tips


    Comments

    Burger King Scholars Program

    November 24, 2008

    by Scholarships.com Staff

    High school students, you know that part-time job you have?  It turns out it might be worth more than minimum wage and the very first line on your resume.  Through programs like this week's Scholarship of the Week, part-time student employees can find money for college beyond what they see in their paychecks.

    Burger King's Have It Your Way Foundation offers $1,000 college scholarships to high school seniors in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico who participate in co-curricular or volunteer activities (such as athletics or community service) and maintain their grades while working at least 15 hours a week.

    Prize: $1000

    Eligibility: Current high school seniors with a minimum GPA of 2.5 (out of 4.0) who work part-time and demonstrate community or extracurricular involvement and who plan to enroll in an accredited college or university the following fall.

    Deadline: February 2, 2009

    Required Materials: Completed online scholarship application, found on the Burger King website.

    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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