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Scholarships: It’s Not Too Late… But it’s Getting Close

May 21, 2009

by Kevin Ladd

Each year at about this time, I see students, desperate for financial aid of any kind, begin to despair juuuust a bit. “This scholarship is due in two days… I can’t put together a application/winning essay that quickly!” or something along those lines.  Others complain that the deadlines have passed for many of the scholarships for which they might have applied. There is only really one solution for this and that is for you to begin searching for scholarships earlier in the year."

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Tipping the Scales: Choosing Between your Dream School and a Scholarship

May 21, 2009

by Administrator

by CampusCompare 5/21/2009

Every year, high school students across the country rip open the fat admissions envelope from their first-choice only to be thrown a curve ball. Their dream school may have let them in, but they got bubkiss, zero, and zilch in financial aid. Then, just when they thought they were out of luck, they get a hefty scholarship from one of their safeties. Now they are forced to decide between the school of their dreams, and the scholarship of their dreams.

Unfortunately, this is an all-too common scenario. Students often receive more aid from their safety schools than from their first choices. This is because they are generally overqualified, and thus more desirable, to the admissions committee at the less prestigious school. Admissions counselors aren’t foolish. Stats like class rank and SATs are reported by the school, and help make up their reputation. They want to boost their school’s stats by having students at the top of their high school class attend. To lure those top students, they often offer large merit scholarships and grants. And the first-choice schools? They are often much more competitive, so it can be hard to stand out from the crowd and win an award.

So what can you do if you’re stuck between your dream-school and being debt-free? Is it better to attend your 2nd (or 3rd) choice school and not have to take out loans, or to hold out for your no. 1? There’s really no one answer. In general, it’s wise to not borrow more money than you will be making your first-year out of college—this means (for most people) no more than 30-40 thousand dollars for all four years of college. This can easily be done in low interest federal loans. If going to your dream school means taking out $100,000 in private loans, you’ll probably be better off going to a less prestigious school and staying out of debt. Try to compare costs of both colleges side-by-side to see if the difference in aid really tips the scales. Maybe after seeing what both schools have to offer, you’ll decide second-best is actually pretty good. Most colleges offer a good education, and even if it’s not their first choice, most students grow to love their school once they’ve moved in and made friends.

Don’t give up just yet. If you really believe that you’ll be better off at your dream-school, you can make it happen. Try and make up for the lack of financial aid with some private scholarships. Search for corporations, non-profits, and local scholarships designed for students like you. Even if it’s just $500 here and there, in the end it will all add up to the difference between going to your 1st choice and settling for second-best.

CampusCompare is a free website that helps college-bound students find the right school for them by offering free college search tools, like the 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

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Study Shows Standardized Test Prep Can Pay Off

May 20, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

Standardized tests area huge part of the college application process, and one of the biggest issues college-bound students and their families face is whether and how extensively to make use of ACT and SAT test preparation services. Standardized test prep can range from taking a practice test online to spending hours in intensive one-on-one tutoring sessions, with countless options in between.  Debate has raged for years over how much test preparation courses actually pay off, and a new study published by the National Association for College Admission Counseling represents perhaps the most ambitious effort to quantify these gains.

Through analysis of previous research, the NACAC study concludes that a consensus has emerged that score increases for students who use test prep services tend to be fairly small, often only 5 or 10 points on the critical reading section of the SAT and 10 or 20 points on the math section.  Evidence is still inconclusive as to ACT score gains, according to the study.  However, the study also surveyed college admissions offices to determine the impact of score gains and found that score increases on the upper end of this average range can have a significant affect on a student's chances of being admitted to a top college.  Inside Higher Ed has a more detailed breakdown of the study and its implications.

With many high school juniors already signing up to take, or in some cases already awaiting scores from, the SAT and ACT, the release of this study is timely.  It is not a ringing endorsement of extensive and expensive test preparation programs, but does provide an argument for at least taking some time to familiarize yourself with the standardized test you will be taking before you show up for the test day.  If you're competing for admission at your dream school or vying for an academic scholarship, those few extra points on your test score could make all the difference.

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Colleges Rethinking General Ed Requirements

May 19, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

A large part of attending college is gaining exposure to new ideas outside your area of study and acquiring a broad base of knowledge and critical thinking skills along the way.  Traditionally, colleges have pushed students towards this goal through the use of general education requirements, which are rarely met with uniform enthusiasm.  English majors may dread the mandatory laboratory science class, while future engineers may fail to see the point in spending two semesters learning MLA citation style and how to write an argumentative essay.  Other students complain that general education requirements leave their college experience feeling disjointed and not directly connected to their working life. While they may eventually have the chance to draw on knowledge, experiences, or methods of inquiry from all of their classes, many students fail to see how when staring a list of required introductory courses in the face.

Colleges are aware of these concerns and many are beginning to rethink general education requirements, according to survey results highlighted recently in Inside Higher Ed. A number of colleges are studying general education requirements and desired learning outcomes, starting by identifying goals and asking students what they're taking from their courses.  Others are implementing new course requirements to expose students to a variety of disciplines beyond what they would normally get from introductory courses in their first two years of college.  More focus is also being placed on integrating a student's courses into the focus of their degree and career goals with the hope that students will be able to tie these lessons together and bring a more well-rounded approach to their major.

With renewed focus on college costs, the time it takes students to earn a degree, and the value of a college degree in the working world, the attention being paid to these courses seems timely. As many schools begin reevaluating or restructuring general educuation requirements, it's likely that the college experience of today's high school students will be different from not only that of their parents, but also that of today's undergraduate students.  What do you think of required general classes? Does the system need to be changed?  Don't just limit yourself to blog comments! If you're attending college right now, check out this year's Resolve to Evolve Essay Scholarship for a chance to win $1,000 by weighing in on this topic.

And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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SpendonLife Credit Challenged Scholarship

May 18, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

The current state of the economy has made it increasingly difficult for students with poor or average credit to borrow money for college.  With many student loan companies announcing plans to cease or greatly scale back lending, and other companies drastically increasing credit requirements, student borrowers may feel like they have nowhere to turn.  College scholarships, such as this week's Scholarship of the Week, can help bridge this gap, however.  The SpendonLife Credit Challenged Scholarship offers awards of up to $5,000 to students struggling to pay for school after being denied student loans based on credit.

Prize: Up to 10 scholarship awards in amounts ranging from $500 to $5,000

Eligibility: High school students and college students ages 17-25 who will be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program in the 2009-2010 academic year or who are currently enrolled in college.  Applicants must be legal residents of the U.S. and must have been rejected for a private student loan based on credit.

Deadline: June 15, 2009

Required Material: A completed scholarship application and an essay of 500 words or less answering the question, "How has the slowed economy personally affected you, either financially or emotionally?"

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.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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College Presidents Tackle Application Essays

May 14, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

Here's something fun for students who have just finished the college application process, and something instructive for students who are about to start. The Wall Street Journal challenged college presidents to write an admission essay to their own institution, based on this year's admission essay prompts. An article about the problems they faced was published last week, along with the end results of their efforts.

While college presidents don't typically serve on admission committees, the article still gives an interesting insight into what colleges may be looking for, as well as how highly educated people respond to the same questions high school seniors are asked to tackle each year.  There's good advice in here for high school juniors, and high school seniors may receive some comfort from the knowledge that even college presidents still struggle when faced with the task of writing a good college application essay.

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Back to School , High School , Just for Fun , Tips

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Aid Is Available for Older Students

May 13, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

Earlier this week, we blogged about new financial aid opportunities for unemployed adults returning to college. What we didn't mention were all of the forms of financial aid that adults returning to college can already receive. An article in USA Today discusses a number of these options, but we'd like to highlight a few that may be especially useful to people using the recession as an opportunity to return to school.

Federal grant programs have gotten a boost in recent years, and thanks to changes in the way unemployment is treated, more adults returning to school may find themselves eligible for larger grants sooner. If you worked full-time in 2008 but are attending college full-time in 2009, talk to a financial aid administrator after you've completed the FAFSA. You may qualify for more aid than you're initially awarded.

Older students also qualify for more in federal student loans than traditional undergraduate students. Since adults who have dependents, are married, have served in the military, or are over the age of 24 are considered independent, they are eligible for larger federal Stafford loans. Freshmen alone can borrow up to $9,500 through this program, and amounts increase with grade levels.

Finally, a number of scholarship opportunities are available specifically for adults returning to college. In fact, one of the awards offered by Scholarships.com is available to students over 30. Interested parties can read more about the Resolve to Evolve Scholarship and then conduct a free college scholarship search to see what else is out there.

And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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College Grants , FAFSA , Financial Aid , Scholarships

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Incentive for Unemployed to Attend College

May 12, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

The Obama administration recently announced steps that will be taken to make it easier for unemployed Americans to return to college and pay for school. Through a national effort to revise unemployment benefits and financial aid packaging, the administration hopes to make it possible for more displaced workers to return to school.

Currently, many states reduce or cancel unemployment benefits for students who are enrolled in college part-time or full-time, removing the possibility of a financial cushion that could enable more people to afford to enroll in school. In addition, financial aid is calculated based on previous year income, so lost wages are still included when estimating a student’s ability to pay. Even after financial aid is adjusted to reflect a job loss, income from earlier that year is still included and can disqualify a student from receiving a Pell Grant or other need-based aid their first year of school. In some cases, unemployment benefits also are currently counted as income, further compounding the problem.

To help alleviate these problems and encourage the unemployed to enroll in college, financial aid administrators are being given more leeway in using professional judgment to determine unemployed students’ ability to pay, and states are being encouraged to revise their policies to encourage college as an option. In addition, many community colleges nationwide are offering financial incentive to unemployed students who enroll, such as free or reduced tuition. If you’re unemployed and thinking of college, complete the FAFSA, talk to schools in your area, and finally, do a scholarship search to find additional money for college.

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Bridgestone Safety Scholars Video Contest

May 11, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

College and high school students between the ages of 16 and 21 have the chance to win money for college by making a video promoting safer or more environmentally aware driving in this week's Scholarship of the Week.  The Bridgestone Safety Scholars video contest asks students to create an original public service announcement addressing either automotive safety or automotive environmentalism.

Videos must be either 25 or 55 seconds in length, must be the creator's original work, and cannot incorporate content or locations the creator does not have legal permission to use in a film.  Entries can be submitted online between May 27 and June 17, and on June 25 the top ten videos selected by Bridgestone Americas will be posted online.  Three grand prize winners will then be chosen from the top ten by popular voting.  Winners will receive both $5,000 in scholarship money and a trip to the 2010 Chicago auto show.

Prize: $5,000

Eligibility: Students ages 16 to 21 who are United States citizens or permanent residents and are currently enrolled in either high school or an accredited college or trade school.

Deadline: June 17, 2009

Required Material: An original video, 25 or 55 seconds in length, that addresses issues of either automotive safety or automotive environmentalism.  Videos must be uploaded to the Safety Scholars website between May 27 and June 17 along with a completed registration form.

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.

And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Does Facebook Use Affect College Grades?

May 8, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

More material continues to be added to the debate over whether sites like Facebook help or hurt undergraduate students.  Last month, preliminary research by a graduate student at Ohio State University caused a stir by suggesting that the use of social networking websites was somehow connected to lower college grades. Now, a new study published by researchers at Northwestern University, Stanford University, and the University of Pennsylvania suggests that if anything, Facebook users have higher grades than students who do not use social networking sites.

While both studies are very preliminary, their findings have sparked a great deal of discussion and debate.  Many professors and some students regard sites like Facebook as distractions from coursework and assaults on students' attention spans.  Others see no harm and a great deal of benefit from being able to connect with peers and share ideas and information more easily online.  Some instructors have even incorporated social networking into their curricula and have encouraged students to friend them online.

Social networking sites are becoming an increasingly large part of the lifestyle associated with attending college, and are increasingly being used as tools in college admissions, as well.  Do you use any of these websites?  Have you seen any connection between your internet habits and your grades?

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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