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Profitable College Endowments Expected to Fuel Spending Pressures

January 18, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

Tuition hikes and complaints about illegal behavior on the part of financial aid officials and student lenders have put the pressure on colleges to dip into their endowment funds. With new reports showing that endowment returns are on the rise, these pressures are likely to increase.

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, a recently released statement by Commonfund, an endowment manager for more than 1,900 colleges and nonprofit organizations, has shown that returns were averaging 16.9 percent in 2007, up from 10.6 percent the previous year.

Unlike one-time student scholarships, endowments are used to annually award money to college students. These funds are kept intact by investing the original donation and using the returns to provide students with yearly scholarships.

News of funding bounty is likely to prompt legislators to put additional pressure on schools with large endowment funds. Wealthy colleges, some of which are said to have accumulated endowments in excess of $1 billion, are being criticized for keeping their money locked up during a time when student debt is at an all-time high.

The problem with spending more, argue schools, is a strict endowment use policy. Many scholarship providers donate money on the condition that it be used only to assist a designated group of students. For example, a donor may choose to set up an endowment for the sole purpose of helping female students who play croquet, major in English and have a GPA above 3.5 (okay, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch). Point being, schools are legally bound to award scholarships to students that meet particular requirements.

It's hard to argue with that, but perhaps legislators can do something about the whole "legally-bound" part.

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Lender Troubles Trickle Down to Students

January 17, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

It’s no secret that student lenders have had a rough ’07. After an investigation by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo revealed that student lenders had been forming illegal agreements with colleges that promoted their services, the spotlight was cast on negative aspects of student borrowing.

Even though newly established ethics codes are likely force the lending industry to clean up its act, students are not likely to have better borrowing experiences.  The poor housing market has not only affected those looking for mortgages, but also those in need of student loans. To be eligible for loans and loan consolidations, students will soon need proof of greater savings and higher credit scores. According to a CNN report, even students who show promise may see their interests rates increase by an estimated 1 percent.

At the same time, the rewards they receive for paying on time are expected to decrease. After the Higher Education Access Act of 2007 minimized student lender subsidies offered by the government, numerous lenders minimized their student benefits. The savings students were used to receiving for good payment track records are expected to curtail or disappear altogether. 

As always, students have other options. Debt can pose a heavy burden on college graduates, so loans should be used as a last resort. Instead, students can use scholarships to diminish the costs of a postsecondary education. By conducting a free college scholarship search at Scholarships.com, students will have access to a database containing information on more than 2.7 million college scholarships and grants. Just about everyone can find awards they are eligible to receive.

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Posted Under:

College News , Student Loans



FAFSA Audit Shows Payment Flaws

January 16, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

An audit released by the Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General on January 9, 2008 points to problems in financial aid disbursements. Based on audit results, over $1.5 billion in financial aid was awarded to students whose FAFSA responses were either questionable or made them ineligible for aid.

Stated problems included Pell grant overpayments, awards exceeding loan eligibility, citizenship questionability, lack of Selective Service registration and awards offered to students with drug convictions.

Over $812 million was said to be disbursed to 86,246 students who had not resolved their citizenship confirmation problems. More than $447 was offered to males not registered with the Selective Service and over $3 million to students convicted for drug-related matters.

Officials from the Federal Student Aid Department responded by stating that the, “Risk suggested by the report is overstated.” They also claimed the audit had not taken into account additional security measures the department used to minimize errors.

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Posted Under:

College Costs , College News



New NASFAA President Ready for Organization Cleanup

January 15, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

In the wake of a student loan scandal that has made families weary of financial aid officials, lenders and the National Association of Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), the financial aid industry is eager to demonstrate a willingness for change--especially NASFAA.

The massive financial aid organization representing students and financial aid officials at more than 3,000 schools across the nation has made it clear that they are reevaluating the way their organization is run. Like numerous colleges, NASFAA has adopted a new code of ethics that will govern the way they work with student lenders and students.

In addition to the code, NASFAA has announced the appointment of a new president and CEO to replace Dallas Martin, the president who, after 32 years of work, retired amidst scrutiny of ill relations with lenders. Newly appointed President Dr. Philip R. Day has previously served as the chancellor of City College of San Francisco. He has also been the president of Beach Community College, Cape Cod Community College and Dundalk Community College. In a NASFAA news report, Dr. Day stated that he was, “committed to advancing NASFAA’s mission.”

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Posted Under:

College News , Student Loans



Signet Classics Student Scholarship

January 14, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

If you’ve ever curled up with a worn copy of The Scarlet Letter or Great Expectations, you can attest to the fact that there is no cheaper, better way to travel. Now, some students will even be paid for their escapades. That's because Signet Classics, one of the publishers responsible for printing these great books, is sponsoring a scholarship competition for students. Those who participate can share their ideas about Robert Louis’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and hopefully, win money for college in the process.

Prize:

1. Five $1,000 scholarships. 2. Each winner’s school library (or public library) will also win a collection of Signet Classics books worth an estimated $700.

Eligibility:

1. Applicant must be a full-time high school junior or high school senior (or be home schooled) in one of the fifty U.S. states 2. Applicant must be a U.S. resident 3. Applicant must be between the ages of 16 and 18.

Deadline:

Entry must be postmarked by April 15, 2008 and received by April 22, 2008.

Required Material:

1. Three copies of a double-spaced essay discussing one of four proposed topics about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The essay should be between two and three pages in length. 2. The applicant’s English teacher (or parent if home schooled) must send the scholarship essay along with a cover letter on school/parent letterhead that includes: date, student contact (name, grade, address, email, and home phone), name of high school, teacher contact (name, email, and phone), school administration officer contact (name, email, and phone), the number of topic selected,  and certification that the essay is the student’s original work.

Further details, including information about applying for the award and contacting the scholarship provider, can be found by conducting a free college scholarship search. Once a student has completed the search, this scholarship will appear in their scholarship list, provided the student is eligible.

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Higher Education State Appropriations on the Rise

January 11, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

This year has not been a good one for college financial aid officials. The problems began when New York’s Attorney General Andrew Cuomo spearheaded a seemingly endless number of investigations into whether student lenders and financial aid officials had been teaming up at the expense of students. Then there were the stories about study abroad advisors receiving trips by convincing students to travel, and then there were those of athletic departments allowing lenders to use their logos for profit. If the words “financial” and “college” were in the same sentence, the things in between weren’t good.

But a new year has arrived, and with it, hope for a better financial future in higher education-- which is exactly what’s expected. Based on new reports from Illinois State University’s Grapevine Project, state tax appropriations for higher education are expected to rise and give hope to students worried about high costs and low scruples.

North Dakota is expected to experience the greatest percentage change from last year, increasing their yearly state tax appropriations for higher education by 19.1 percent. Next on the list are Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Arizona, each of which has raised their higher education appropriations by 14 to 15 percent. California, while not promising a particularly large percentage increase, is the one expected to appropriate most, over $11 million. With the exception of Rhode Island (which plans to lower appropriations), every state is creating this year's budgets with higher education in mind.

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College News



Top Universities Scramble to Keep up with Harvard's Financial Aid Package

January 10, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

When word spread that Harvard would increase financial aid to both the middle and upper classes, tensions boiled at schools across the country. It was bad enough that Harvard attracted the best and the brightest from every nook and cranny—now they would be inexpensive too. Some guys have all the luck.

To be fair, Duke did beat Harvard in the financial aid race by being the first to announce their plan to pour an extra $13 million into the financial aid program, but their promise was simply not as impressive as the one offered by Harvard. When Duke capped their student loans to prevent debt, Harvard eliminated loans altogether—and replaced them with scholarships.

After Duke announced that parental contributions would no longer be expected from families who made less than $60,000, Harvard (which had already established that policy in 2006), announced that families making between $60,000 and $120,000 would only be required to contribute 0-10 percent of their income. Those making between $120,000 and $180,000 would only have to pay 10 percent of it. 

Shortly thereafter, Stanford jumped on the bandwagon by saying that they too would do more to make their school affordable. According to The Stafford Daily, the school made plans to increase their need-based aid by 15.2 percent. The change would save the average parent $2,000 each year.

The trickle down effect also influenced other schools. Among those with New Year’s resolutions involving financial aid boosts are the University of Pennsylvania, Tufts, Haverford and Swarthmore.

Of course, not everyone gets to benefit. It’s easy to be a philanthropist when you have large endowments in the bank, which not all schools can boast. Students at colleges and universities with less money or larger student bodies were not as satisfied with their financial aid offices.  According to The Michigan Daily, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor would not only leave their policies as they are, they would continue—like many other colleges—to raise their prices. So much for that financial aid revolution we've all been waiting for.

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Scholarships.com "Tell A Friend" $1,000 Sweepstakes

January 9, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

Gossiping doesn’t cause that warm, “I’m so sweet” feeling you get by helping someone—except this time. It’s true, by gossiping, you can help yourself and your friends.  When you tell your pals about Scholarships.com, you will get the chance to pocket $1,000. When they register, they too will get the chance to win.

It really is that easy. Just refer up to ten friends, and every time one of them registers, your name will be entered in our drawing. You will have until March 3, 2008 to get your entry in and to make your friends register. They will thank you for it. 

If you haven’t registered yet, give it a try. The process is both free and easy. Scholarships.com members will have access to a database with information about more than 2.7 million college scholarships and grants worth over $19 billion.

Those who win the giveaway won’t have to stop there, and neither will those who don’t. Many scholarship and grant opportunities are available to students in need of financial aid. Students can find scholarships based on major, age, school … talent, interest, location … job, gender …. Let’s just say that there are many awards to choose from. Check out the official rules for additional information about the Scholarships.com "Tell A Friend" Sweepstakes, and conduct a free college search today.

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Bill Gates on the Education Campaign Trail

January 8, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

With the Iowa election safely behind us, U.S. citizens will soon come to realize that the rest of the country also gets to vote. Yes, it’s true. Citizens in the other forty-nine states can also voice their opinions on key issues. And if Bill Gates has it his way (and he’s been doing well so far), education will be one of those issues.

By donating $30 million to the bipartisan group Strong American Schools, the billionaire is hoping to make education a central matter in the 2008 election. With Bill’s $30 million and another $30 million to its name, the Strong American Schools “Ed in ‘08” effort is hoping to draw some attention, regardless of victorious party.

"Ed in ’08 " hopes that the future president will work to increase teacher salaries, extend school days (I probably lost some of you there) and decrease dropout rates. In addition to helping primary and secondary school students and educators, "Ed in '08 " will help students complete a college education. A total of $50,000 in college scholarships will be given away by Strong American Schools to help students in need of financial aid.

This is not the first donation Gates has made to educational efforts. His Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has given away more than $3.6 billion in education grants. That doesn't take into account the billions it contributed to global development and health improvement efforts. Bill Gates scholarships have provided students across the nation with the money they needed to receive a postsecondary education.

For additional information about scholarships offered by Bill Gates and other providers, you can conduct a free college scholarship at Scholarships.com.

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The Presidential Forum on Renewable Energy Scholarship

January 7, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

The U.S. public cannot help but worry about the future of our environment. The reduction in available energy resources affects us all—regardless of age. By applying for this scholarship, students have a chance to be a part of the solution and to find money for college. To apply for The Presidential Forum on Renewable Energy Scholarship, students will have to create a plan for renewable energy in the U.S. The plan should consist of four to six points that describe the approach this country should take to reduce its dependence on nonrenewable energy resources. Winning scholarship candidates will present a feasible, creative solution and take into account the challenges that may be encountered along the way.

For more information about this and other college scholarships and grants, you may conduct a free college scholarship search. If you are eligible to receive this scholarship, you will find the application and contact details in the “My Scholarships” section.

Prize:

Three winners will receive a $10,000 scholarship

Eligibility:

1. Applicant must be between the ages of 18 and 24 as of January 1, 2008 2. Applicant must be enrolled full-time or part-time in an undergraduate college program 3. Applicant must be a U.S. citizen

Deadline:

February 1, 2008

Required Material:

1. An essay between four and six pages in length (no more than 2,500 words) 2. Verification of college enrollment and U.S. citizenship.

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