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Obama Transitional Website Seeks Comments on College Affordability

Jan 7, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

Barack Obama became known for his web presence during his Presidential campaign.  He and his transition team have kept up this reputation through YouTube addresses and websites such as Change.gov, the official transitional website.  Now the Obama transition team is asking for public comments--or at least blog comments--on issues related to paying for school.  A post on the Change.gov blog is currently soliciting feedback about college affordability.  While there's no guarantee that the President-elect himself will read your post, if you would like to weigh in on educational policy at least in a small way, you can view and comment on the January 5 Change.gov blog post "Keeping College Affordable." 

The blog post, along with many other recent discussions of college costs, makes a nod to former Rhode Island senator Clairborne Pell, who passed away on January 1.  Pell was instrumental in shaping the current federal student financial aid system by helping create the Federal Pell Grant, which was named after him.  Pell Grants continue to make up an important part of the financial aid packages of many students, covering up to the full cost of tuition at some state and community colleges

However, as tuition costs rise, Pell Grants and other sources of federal aid are not enough to make college affordable for an increasingly large number of students.  During his campaign, Obama proposed a few substantial changes to the way college financial aid is structured, and hopefully his administration will do more to seek out and act upon feedback from those who are struggling with the costs associated with higher education.  However, if you're skeptical, or just looking for more immediate ways to make college affordable, there are resources available.  Start with a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com.  Many scholarship application deadlines are approaching in the coming months, but there is still abundant scholarship money for those who take the time to apply.

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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More Colleges Increase Scholarships

Jan 6, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

Full-tuition scholarships, half-tuition scholarships, and financial aid packages free of student loans continue to be unveiled at institutions across the country.  While it may be too late for many students to alter their college application plans, if you are still looking for colleges for 2009, or if you happen to have applied to one of these schools, you may find the following information useful.  This week, The Chronicle of Higher Education profiled several significant scholarship programs private, community, and state colleges are launching or expanding for incoming students in 2009.

Northern Illinois University recently announced the Huskie Advantage, a program that will ensure that all incoming freshmen eligible for Federal Pell Grants will receive enough financial aid to meet the full cost of tuition.  Similarly, Montgomery County Community College in Pennsylvania is raising money to provide larger scholarships to students who receive a small Pell Grant or narrowly miss the cutoff for Pell eligibility.

The University of Pennsylvania will be eliminating student loans from the financial aid packages of all students this fall.  It's the latest in a string of well-endowed private colleges to put forward generous institutional aid for its students.  The Sage Colleges of New York are also following suit, promising to offer aid to meet new students' full financial need in the next academic year.

Two private colleges in Georgia and Minnesota aren't eliminating loans, but they are drastically reducing the cost of college for many applicants.  Agnes Scott College in Georgia is offering scholarships and grants to nearly halve the cost of attendance for all recipients of the Georgia Hope Scholarship, as well as an additional $3,000 grant for first-year students.  Saint Mary's University of Minnesota offers students with family incomes of under $100,000 financial aid packages that will reduce the cost of attendance to the average price of a Big Ten school.  For the neediest 25 percent of students, St. Mary's will provide all of this aid institutionally, allowing students to use federal student financial aid to cover much of the rest of their college costs.

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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Scholarships.com College Science Scholarship

Jan 5, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

While white lab coats and futuristic gadgets dominate the public perception of scientists, as a current or future science major you can expect to play a different, but still essential, role in society once you complete your college education.  Scientists are forever surveying the land, sea and sky to help us understand and make the best of the resources that surround us. To encourage further research and development, Scholarships.com has created a college scholarship especially for current and future students of a wide variety of scientific disciplines. If you’re the science type, take advantage of this scholarship opportunity.

Students who apply for the Scholarships.com College Science Scholarship, this week's Scholarship of the Week, will have the chance to earn $1,000 for college. Best of all, the scholarship application process couldn’t be easier. Just respond to the following question in a 250 to 350 word essay (entries that fall outside of this word range will be disqualified): "What has influenced your decision to pursue a career in science?"

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:

  • Aerospace Technologies
  • Agriculture/Agribusiness
  • Animal Husbandry
  • Animal Science/Dairy
  • Anthropology
  • Applied Science
  • Astronomy
  • Botany
  • Chemistry
  • Communication Sciences
  • Crystallography
  • Earth Sciences
  • Ecology
  • Enology
  • Estuarine Science
  • Entomology
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Health
  • Environmental Science
  • Environmental Studies
  • Family & Consumer Sciences
  • Fishery Science/Management
  • Food Science/ Food Industry
  • Forensics(Medical)
  • Forestry/Natural Resources
  • Genealogy
  • Genetics
  • Geological Sciences
  • Geophysics
  • Horticulture/Floriculture
  • Library Sciences
  • Marine Science
  • Medical Lab Technician
  • Medical Technologist
  • Metallurgy
  • Meteorological Science
  • Microbiology
  • Mineralogy
  • Molecular Genetics
  • Natural Resources Technologies
  • Natural Sciences
  • Neural & Behavioral Science
  • Neurosciences
  • Nuclear Sciences
  • Nutrition Studies
  • Oceanography
  • Oncology
  • Ornithology
  • Pharmacology
  • Physics
  • Physiology
  • Plastics
  • Polymer Technology
  • Pulp & Paper Science
  • Radiology
  • Science (General)
  • Science (Health)
  • Science (Social)
  • Sociology
  • Veterinary
  • Water & Soil Conservation
  • Zoology

Deadline: February 28, 2009

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

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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Community Service Rewarded through Campus-Based Scholarships

Jan 2, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

If you've started volunteering as part of a New Year's resolution, or just because it's something you enjoy, chances are you were thinking more of other people than of yourself when you signed up.  However, the altruistic nature of community service doesn't mean that there are no tangible rewards.  Volunteering makes a great line on a resume and a college application, and is also excellent scholarship essay fodder.  As an added bonus, a growing number of colleges and foundations are awarding substantial amounts of scholarship money for students who devote their time and energy to helping others.

An article on Forbes.com profiles several of the most generous campus-based community service scholarship programs.  Several of these include full-tuition scholarships for students who have participated in volunteer programs in the past or who are interested in making community service a major part of their college experience.  Drew University in New Jersey has recently unveiled a brand new civic scholarship program, following in the footsteps of The College of New Jersey, which also offers a sizable service learning award.  Dozens of other colleges also offer similar scholarship opportunities, many of which are funded through the Bonner Foundation and AmeriCorps.

These full-tuition service scholarship awards can be wholly merit-based or partially need-based.  One reason for colleges' increased interest in service learning awards could be due to their potential to help students feel more involved and thus become more likely to succeed in college.  The Forbes article cited Pat Donahue, director of the civic scholarship program at The College of New Jersey, as saying that service learning has helped retain several at-risk students who are otherwise less likely to complete a degree than many of their peers.

Service scholarships have also been described by some as the new athletic scholarships for a generation of students devoting more time to service than to studying or sports.  As athletic and academic scholarships are as much contingent on future success as on past experiences, so are service scholarships, which often require students to continue volunteering and participating in special courses and activities throughout their college careers.

To find out more about the Bonner Foundation, AmeriCorps, and other community service scholarships, conduct a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com.

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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2009-2010 FAFSA Available Tomorrow

Dec 31, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

Though it's a day off from school and work, New Year's Day is often seen as a day to get down to business.  While you're starting in on your New Year's resolutions, opening up a new calendar, and packing up the holiday decorations, there's one more thing that college students and college-bound high school students should consider doing.  The Department of Education starts accepting the 2009-2010 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (more commonly known as "FAFSA") on January 1.  State application deadlines start happening soon after, beginning with Connecticut's February 15 priority deadline.  So while you might not be starting school until August or September, you want to be applying for financial aid right now.

What You Need

In order to complete a FAFSA, you will need the following documents: 

     
  • your social security card
  •  
  • a driver's license if you have one
  •  
  • bank statements and records of investments (if you have any)
  •  
  • records of untaxed income (again, if you have any)
  •  
  • your 2008 tax return and W2s
  •  
  • all of the above for your parents if you are considered a dependent (to determine dependency status, check here)
  •  
  • a PIN number to sign electronically (go to pin.ed.gov to get one)
  •  
 If you've applied before, you can fill out a renewal FAFSA, which will let you skip a few questions.  You will still need your tax, savings, and investment information for the new year, though.

If you do not have your tax information yet, and most likely you don't, you can use your 2007 tax information to estimate 2008.  That way, you have a FAFSA on file and once you've done your taxes for the new year, you'll be able to submit a correction online.  While that might seem like more work, it's the best recipe for maximizing your state and campus-based aid packages.  If things changed drastically for your family in 2008, apply for student financial aid with the information you have, then talk to your school's financial aid office to adjust your information accordingly.

Why You Should Apply

Completing a FAFSA is an important step in funding your education if you don't plan on paying for everything out-of-pocket.  The FAFSA is used by the Department of Education to determine eligibility for federal student financial aid for college.  This aid includes federal grant programs (such as the Pell Grant), federal work-study, and federal student loans.  It is also used by states to determine eligibility for their financial aid programs, such as state grants.  Colleges also use the FAFSA to determine eligibility for the need-based aid programs they administer.  Finally, many scholarship opportunities request FAFSA information as part of their application process.  Even if you think that you won't qualify for free money in the form of need-based college scholarships and grants, you should still apply.  At the minimum, the vast majority of students qualify for Stafford Loans, low-interest federal student loans that represent one of the best deals in borrowing for school.

Where To Get More Information

Start on the FAFSA homepage and go through the links under "Before Beginning a FAFSA" to get started, especially if this is your first time filing.  You'll find information about application deadlines, required documents, applying for a PIN, and other things you need to know about to begin.  If you don't want to wait until tomorrow, 2009-2010 worksheets are already available on fafsa.ed.gov.  The ambitious among us can even fill out a worksheet now, then copy the information into their FAFSA on the Web beginning tomorrow.

We also offer a wealth of resources on financial aid at Scholarships.com.  Check out the financial aid section on our Resources page for further reading.

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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More Americans Applying to Canadian Universities

Dec 30, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

Recent economic hardships have derailed many families' college plans, prompting some to stop saving and others to start considering less expensive colleges.  For students still determined to attend a prestigious university, another option has been gaining traction.  According to an article in The Boston Globe, applications from American students are up at many of Canada's top universities, indicating a new surge in an already growing trend. 

Since 2001, the number of Americans attending Canadian universities increased by 50 percent, and based on current trends in applications and increased recruiting efforts, growth is expected to continue.  Americans choosing to study abroad in Canada are still eligible for federal student financial aid, even if they attend college abroad for all four years.  And even international tuition in Canada ($14,487 on average) is cheap right now when compared to private college tuition ($19,337 on average) and even out-of-state tuition at some state colleges in the United States.

 Studying in Canada also removes many of the traditional barriers faced by international students.  Many Americans studying in Canada can cheaply and easily return home for holidays.  Students are instructed in English at the majority of Canadian colleges and universities, signs around town will also be in English, and for the most part, accents are not even very pronounced.  Despite their proximity to home, though, students still benefit from being immersed in another culture, and since many of Canada's top schools are situated in urban settings, Canadian universities also present an opportunity to experience life in a big city.

 However, the bargain is dependent on exchange rates.  When the American and Canadian dollars are approximately equal in value, studying in Canada becomes relatively more expensive, as does living in Canada.  Also, while some college scholarships can be applied to tuition at Canadian universities, many stipulate that applicants must be attending college in the United States.  While studying abroad in Canada is an option to consider when looking for ways to get the most educational value for your dollar, be sure to weigh all your alternatives.  Regardless of where you wind up, though, there are scholarship opportunities and other ways to help pay for school.

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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Two Ten Footwear Higher Education Scholarship

Dec 29, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

Picking up a part-time job at the shoe store in the mall might not have felt like an important career move at the time.  But on top of the extra cash and discounted footwear, you can also bring home $3,000 a year in scholarship money.  Two Ten Footwear offers a renewable college scholarship to students who excel academically, demonstrate financial need, and work in footwear, leather, or other allied industries.  If you're a high school senior or undergraduate student and you've spent at least 500 hours in 2008 helping people choose between ballet flats and stilettos and searching the back room for one last pair of size 7 sneakers, you may be eligible for this week's Scholarship of the Week.

Prize:

Scholarship awards of up to $3000 renewable for up to four years, plus one award of $15,000 per year, also renewable for four years

Eligibility:

Applicants must be U.S citizens who have worked in footwear, leather, or allied industries for at least 500 hours in 2008, or the children of employees who have worked in qualified professions for at least two years.  Applicants must also demonstrate financial need, determined by completing the FAFSA.  Students attending or planning to attend an accredited two or four-year college, university, nursing or vocational/technical school are welcome to apply. 

Deadline:

February 16, 2009

Required Material:

Completed online scholarship application and supporting materials submitted on the Two Ten Footwear 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.

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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Application Essay Advice

Dec 24, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

Continuing on the college admissions theme from yesterday, there's a great piece in the Wall Street Journal about the dreaded college application process.  If you're still struggling with those application essays or the thought of the college interview has you panicked, you might want to check out their tips from admissions officers at several competitive private colleges.  Two things struck me when reading their tips.  First, most of this sounds a lot like what I told my students as a college composition teaching assistant.  Second, this advice can easily extend to writing effective scholarship essays.

Most of the advice falls into the category of "be yourself."  Colleges aren't necessarily looking to admit the most indisputably brilliant students in the country, but rather individuals who will contribute to the campus community.  The best tips the Wall Street Journal article offers, at least as far as admissions essays and writing scholarships go, are to choose essay topics that are meaningful to you (even unconventional ones) and to avoid polishing essays to death.

While it's tempting to go straight for the most impressive or altruistic thing you've done if you're asked to describe an experience, admission officials say it's better to go with a topic that actually reveals something about your character.  This definitely goes for scholarship applications, too.  In a stack of essays about volunteering in South America, your story about convincing your peers in the rural Midwest to walk the 12 blocks to school rather than drive may stand out more than you think.  A seemingly mundane essay topic can be interesting if it's written well and it has a clear purpose.

As far as writing well goes, proofread (at the very least, check spelling and grammar and take out notes to yourself or your parents before submitting) but don't adopt such a formal style that all personality is lost.  As long as an essay is written well and isn't way too informal (avoid slang, cursing, and stories of sex, drugs, and bodily functions), your essay is probably professional enough for most admission offices and scholarship essay contests.  Even when you're applying for a law scholarship, writing like a lawyer isn't necessarily the recipe for success.

For more essay-writing tips, check out our resources section.  To find somewhere to use this advice, you may want to use our college search and our scholarship search.

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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Early Applications Up, Regular Applications Down at Many Colleges

Dec 23, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

While there has been much speculation that economic woes would drive students away from more expensive schools, generous financial aid packages, such as those offered by many Ivy League schools, may be driving early applications up.  It's speculated that students whose resources have been reduced and whose options may be limited are vying for any college seat with a full-tuition scholarship attached.

Early action and early decision college application deadlines have now passed at the majority of competitive private colleges.  As the schools begin sorting through these applicants and making admission decisions, many are reporting that numbers are up, in some cases way up.  Stanford University has seen early action applications increase 18 percent this year, while early decision applications have increased by 23 percent at Duke University.  Other selective schools, such as Yale and Northwestern, have seen similar increases, as well.

While regular applications have held steady at Harvard University, other private schools that have seen a surge in early applications have heard from fewer regular decision applicants.  The regular admission pool may have thinned due to students paring down their lists or choosing less expensive state colleges as safety schools.  This could be good news for all of the early applicants who may find themselves bumped into the regular admission pool, though many schools are worried that fewer applicants could ultimately mean fewer enrolled students, especially if more students follow the money to the most affordable schools.

If you're a high school senior still in the process of applying for college, you may want to check out the articles appearing in The New York Times and The San Jose Mercury News this week and consider modifying your college search to take advantage of shifting application patterns.  If you're in the market for a private college and you have the time and money to put together a couple extra application packets, it could pay off, especially if you're able to wait until April or May to make your final decision as to where to go.

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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College Costs , College News , High School

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Students for Change Essay Writing Scholarship

Dec 22, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

Barack Obama's victory in the November election is regarded by many as a historic event.  Whether or not they voted for him, a large number of people feel personally affected by his election as President.  If you have something to say about the importance of this event and what the next four years might bring, expressing your opinion could net you $1000 in scholarship money through this week's Scholarship of the Week, an essay contest sponsored by NLS Publishing.

The Students for Change Essay Writing Contest is seeking scholarship essays of 1000-2000 words that describe, "what the election of Barack Obama, the first African-American President, means to you and your family."

Prize:

Three $1000 scholarship awards

Eligibility:

High school seniors, graduate students, and undergraduate students may apply.  Applicants must be attending college full-time at an accredited United States college or university, or must be planning to enroll full-time in the fall of 2009. 

Deadline:

January 20, 2009

Required Material:

A typed, double-spaced essay answering the prompt, accompanied by a contest entry form.  Essays may be submitted via a variety of methods.

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 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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