by Susan Dutca

There are scholarships, grants, and fellowships that reward students based on academic, athletic, music, and other types of achievements. But now there's one that encourages students who have enrolled to drop out. The Thiel Fellowship awards $100,000 to students who want to build and create things instead of sitting in a classroom. Founded by Peter Thiel, one of Forbes' top entrepreneurs, the fellowship encourages a non-traditional alternative to a college education, and some pretty bright students have jumped on board to learn before they get an education.

Naturally, the Fellowship struck a heated national debate upon its inception. Academics tend to believe that a college education is invaluable, including Stanford's President-to-be Marc Tessier-Lavigne. He was asked about the value of a college degree versus "folks like Peter Thiel telling people not to go to college." He responded, "the complexity of the world is in such a way today that the case for a liberal arts education has never been stronger." Some Ivy League students think differently. Harvard junior Grace Xiao dropped out after receiving the fellowship and her company Kynplex is now funded by the fellowship. Xiao states that, "Federal grants are harder to get which is pushing more researchers to explore early partnerships with industry."

According to The Wall Street Journal, college graduates only recently started earning a higher income than they had over the last decade, and unemployment rates are now declining. Unemployment rates dropped from 7% in 2010 to 4.9% in 2015. The top 25% of students in highly-desirable fields earn at least $60,000 a year. How successful are the Thiel Fellows? The Foundation's website boasts that since its first class, Thiel Fellows have started more than 60 companies that are together worth over $1.1 billion, and have created hundreds of jobs in the course of tackling problems ranging from telemedicine and human longevity to solar energy and clean water."

Spread over two years, the $100,000 grant is reserved for 20-30 young adults under the age of 23 who have strong entrepreneurial ambitions. Applicants do not need to have an incorporated company, a developed product, or even a pitch deck to apply. Fellows don't need to be programmers - others have started up non-profits, launched media companies, and built hardware. The Foundation provides grant recipients with a team of programmers, salespeople, and people with "in-house expertise in engineering, marketing, and design." Fellows are able to meet some of the industry's top leaders and investors for strong networking and business opportunities. The Foundation does not take equity in fellows' companies either. So what is the catch? If you win, you have to drop out of college to accept the fellowship.

In addition to co-founding PayPal in 1998, serving as a director at Facebook, launching Palantir Technologies, funding LinkedIn, Yelp, and other tech startups, Peter Thiel is also a partner at Founders Fund and the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build a Future. His motivation for starting the fellowship? "College discourages students from trying new things and leaves them in horrendous debt." Would you apply for the fellowship? If yes, create a profile today to apply for the fellowship, as well as other scholarship, grant, and fellowship opportunities.

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 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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by Susan Dutca

Between her coursework and political activism, Bernarda Elizabet Garcia actively fights for immigrants' rights, especially when it comes to funding higher education. As a scholarship recipient of the Mario Savio Lecture Fund's Young Activist Award, Garcia is a powerful and influential voice in her community through her advocacy for extending federal financial aid to undocumented college students by "improving the quality of life through immigration reform and education." Though there currently are not many government policies that give financial assistance to undocumented students for higher education, there are other organizations that are dedicated to helping those students pay for a college education.

There are roughly 11.2 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, with 2.1 million potentially eligible for the most recently proposed federal DREAM Act. Only 7,000-13,000 undocumented students are enrolled in college in the United States. According to College Board, college tuition and fees for full-time students at a public four-year institution (in-state) was roughly $19,548 per year in 2015-2016. For out-of-state tuition at a public school, the cost was $34,031 and tuition at a private nonprofit cost, on average, $43,921 in the same year. Without financial aid, it is nearly impossible to afford a college education, especially when many undocumented students come from low-income households.

Though there is no federal or state law that prohibits undocumented students from being admitted or attending U.S. colleges, government policies pose a barrier, as undocumented students do not have access to federal financial aid or Pell grants. However, Georgia, along with Alabama and South Carolina, plan to implement a policy that would ban illegal students from being admitted to their colleges. Just earlier this month, Georgia's Supreme Court rejected an appeal for lowering the in-state tuition for undocumented students. According to Education Reporter Lauren Foreman, following Georgia's decision, eight students from Georgia State University were arrested after refusing to leave a protest. The DREAM Act, a bipartisan legislation introduced in Congress in 2001, failed to pass even after countless reintroductions and a big push in 2010. The goal of the act was to create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented children who grew up in the US. However, all state DREAM Acts are different and are not synonymous with DACA, which is a policy that was created in 2012 by President Obama to grant deferred deportation to those under 31 years of age who came to the U.S. when they were younger than 16.

Another controversial topic is whether or not undocumented students should be eligible for lower tuition - tuition that state residents pay when attending in-state universities and colleges. Currently, the majority of schools charge undocumented students out-of-state tuition. According to the National Immigration Law Center, at least twenty states have passed tuition equity bills that allow undocumented students to pay the same tuition as their classmates, regardless of their immigration status (certain criteria must be met to qualify). Based on the laws passed by these states, there is a general consensus that the state does not "lose revenue from the number of students who would otherwise pay out-of-state tuition," but rather, "it raises the percentage of high school graduates who pursue a college degree."

Organizations such as the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and TheDream.US are dedicated to helping undocumented students earn scholarships to pay for college, regardless of immigration status. Be sure to check with your current or prospective university or college to see what funding opportunities you are eligible for, if you are an undocumented student. Check out our scholarships for undocumented students and scholarships for which you qualify today to help fund your college education.

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 free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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by Susan Dutca

A new study reports that 2015/2016 college freshman embody an all-time high predisposition for civil engagement in the study's 50-year history. According to Mikhail Zinshteyn, political and social crime-fighting students hope to be the new brigade of community leaders and activists this year.

According to the Higher Education Research Institute, who surveyed 114,189 first-year students attending college full-time, 8.5% of students - regardless of race - said there was a "very good chance" that they would engage in student protests in 2015. HERI reports that this is the highest level recorded since its inception in 1967. Black students represented the largest increase in expected student activism with a 16% change from the previous year, where 10.5% of students expected to participate in campus-related demonstrations. Latino students represent a 3.2% increase from 2014 to 2015, where one in every ten Latino student (10.2%) reported a "very good chance" in student activism. 7.1% of white students - compared to the 4.6% in 2014 - also planned to be more involved in social-based demonstrations.

According to the study, every race has seen some level of increased desire to participate in student protests, demonstrations, and rallies. To what might we attribute this trend? Kevin Eagan, director of CIRP claims, "Student activism seems to be experiencing a revival, and last fall's incoming freshman class appears more likely than any before it to take advantage of opportunities to participate in this part of the political process...we observed substantial gains in students' interest in political and community engagement across nearly every item on the survey related to these issues." Another part of the survey records that 59.8% of incoming freshman were likely to vote in a "local, state, or federal election at any point during their college career," which is a 50.3% increase from 2014. According to Eagan, this could very well mean a strong interest and dedication to the community and political realm where college students' roles will "play a critical role in upcoming elections." Zinshteyn also notes the "political leanings" of these students as liberal or far-left, the highest percentage since 1973. Regardless of political affiliation, Zinshteyn notes the "emboldened political attitudes of these 18 and 19-year-olds mirror a rise in volunteerism and commitment to others...offering evidence disputing the view of younger Americans as narcissistic or incurious about the world."

Though the study focused on 2015, this group of individuals have the next four years to push forward their agendas and make an impact in the upcoming presidential election. This means a more politically-aware and knowledgeable body of students are scoping out their best candidate for social change.

Credit is attributed to Mikhail Zinshteyn, who is a contributing writer for The Atlantic and program manager at the Education Writers Association. He has also reported for The American Independent, where he covered state education policy, elections, and economics. Additionally, he manages the Education Writers Association's National Awards for Education Reporting.

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 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 Culture , College Life , College News


by Susan Dutca

Some 200 years ago, attending Harvard may have cost roughly $600.50 a year ($8,371 if you adjust for inflation) in comparison to today's cost of attendance of up to $69,600, according to Greg Daugherty. College Board reports the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2015-2016 school year was $32,405 at private colleges, $9,410 for state residents at public colleges, and $23,893 for out-of-state students at public universities - that's not including room and board, books and supplies, personal, or transportation expenses. What accounts for the tuition increase? There seems to be no definitive answer. However, a new study points to federal student aid, or the pursuit thereof by colleges and universities as the culprit of rising tuition.

The National Bureau of Economic Research reports that between 1987 and 2010, student aid has been the leading cause for college tuition increase. Due to the increased availability of subsidized loans and the appearance of unsubsidized loans, colleges raised tuition knowing that "financial aid will cover the difference," according to Inside Higher Ed. An assistant professor at Indiana University states that "you have to somehow structure it so that colleges can't just increase tuition and capture that money." Some don't buy into this logic - rather they believe that the "college's sticker price is set by its wealthiest student's ability to pay - and the wealthiest students never take out loans." Others blame the lack of state funding or the expense of paying costly faculty salaries.

Some have criticized the study's "hypothetical college" model because it is based on "data from private and public nonprofit institutions" which is a "too-simple way to view a complex problem." In addition to why tuition has to increase, another important question to ask is where is that money going? Not all of endowment money goes towards student aid, and Congress is scrutinizing 56 colleges with large endowments who were "valued in excess of $1 billion as of the 2014 fiscal year." Letters will be sent to these colleges this week, demanding the last five years of financial data as to where the endowment money has been used since the two congressional committees "are not able to accurately assess how colleges and universities are using endowment assets to fulfill their charitable and educational purposes."

Though college tuition is not as low as it was in the 1800's one solution for lowering your college costs and expenses always remains true: scholarships.

Credit attributed to Greg Daugherty, an editor, writer, and editorial consultant with features in TIME Inc., Reader's Digest, Consumer Reports, and other publishers.

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 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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by Susan Dutca

What makes February so lovely? It is Financial Aid Awareness Month, and since filling out the FAFSA is stressful - much like taxes - several higher education institutions and financial aid organizations have jumped on board to provide informational sessions for families and students as they navigate through, and apply for financial aid through the 2016-2017 FAFSA. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the percentage of students applying for, and receiving financial aid for their college education at a four-year-degree-granting institution has increased from 80% to 85% from 2007-08 to 2012-2013. Because of this, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) will be hosting a new topic weekly through a social media campaign that allows parents and students to ask questions about the FAFSA. To participate, NASFAA asks families to send their questions via Twitter using the hashtag #FinAidFeb to receive tips and advice, as well as the common mistakes to avoid. The social media campaign will take place on Wednesday, February 3rd from 7-8 pm ET and Friday, February 5th from 1-2 pm ET. Those interested can simply follow @NASFAA on Twitter or visit them at their website for full schedule and details.

According to the Salisbury Post, help is on the way on "FAFSA Day" at Catawba's College Library, where financial aid officers and specialists are working with seniors and their families to complete the FAFSA. Between February 22 and February 26, local North Carolina State Employee Credit Union branches will also help students complete their FAFSA. Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove, IL is holding a similar series of events throughout February. In light of "FAFSA Frenzy", the Missouri Department of Higher Education is calling for an effort to educate and assist prospective college students, and Webster University is offering sessions on February 28 on its home campus, as well as at its St. Louis region on February 6 and 20. According to the school's statistics, more than 80% of its student population receives financial aid. The college is providing incentive for attending the event by offering attendees the chance to win a scholarship.

When attending any FAFSA informational session, bring your 2015 W-2 forms, and copies of your 2015 tax forms, if they're ready. If you haven't filed your 2015 returns yet, bring any statements of interest earned in 2015, any 1099 forms and other forms necessary to complete your taxes. Later on you may need to go back to your FAFSA and make corrections once the tax returns are filed. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool will help you make accurate corrections within a few weeks of your tax file date.

Tro Onink, CEO of Stratagee and an expert in financial planning, cautions parents about IRA contributions for 2015.Though it may lower tax bills for 2015, it affects the children's financial aid eligibility for the 2016-2017 year. As explained by Onink, individual retirement account (IRA) contributions is factored back to the adjusted gross income (AGI) when financial formulas are used to determine student's financial aid eligibility. When the expected family contribution is calculated, IRA contributions are factored into the adjusted gross income, plus HAS, 401k, 402b and other retirement contributions. He cautions that these formulas would "presume that they [parents] have used that money they're setting aside for retirement to pay for college instead." On the upside, you do not have to record the value of the IRAs as an asset. So what's Onink's main advice? If for example, you invest $10,000 into retirement plans in 2015, your children's financial aid amount could decrease by $2,500 in 2016-2017. Essentially, when you make an IRA contribution, you will be paying more than half the amount you save in taxes when it comes to college expenses. He advocates to save for retirement but be cautions that "just because your adjusted gross income is lower, your income for financial aid purposes will be inflated."

Read more on Financial Aid Information and Financial Aid tips this season as you fill out your FAFSA and don't forget to see how you can supplement federal aid with free money in scholarships.

Credit is attributed to Troy Onink, who has been featured by Forbes, InvestmentNews, myStockOption

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 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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by Susan Dutca

Two for-profit trade schools are being accused of lying to students in order to secure millions in federal funding. After receiving a combined $107 million in federal funding in the 2014-2015 academic year, two for-profit trade schools are temporarily banned from receiving any more funding from the Department of Education after reportedly falsifying documents and student statistics in what is being called an "outright lie to both students and the federal government."

Marinello Schools of Beauty has 56 campuses in California and Nevada, 23 of which will no longer receive federal aid after reportedly requesting aid for students who had "invalid high school diplomas" and making students pay higher monthly out-of-pocket costs to cover tuition - such as $2,500 to $2,750 for books and supplies- even when they qualified for more aid, according to Jillian Berman. Marinello is a for-profit institution that received more than $87 million in Pell grants and federal loans in the 2014-2015 academic year. The chain was already on a "heightened cash monitoring” list, which is usually due to issues involving debt, accreditation or turning in financial information late. Marinello spokesman Joe Hixson plans to appeal the decision since the Department only now "disclosed to us its unfounded allegations." He maintains the intuition's innocence and warns that "[Marinello] will defend itself vigorously, without the federal funds our students deserve, our operations are at risk." This cut would affect 4,3000 students and potentially remove 800 employees from their jobs, according to Hixson.

On the other hand, Under Secretary Ted Mitchell claims that such "questionable business practices" simply "violate [the school's] trust through deceptive marketing practices and defraud taxpayers by giving out student aid inappropriately." Similarly, Computer Systems Institute (CSI) has been accused of "submitting false job placement rates" to students by the Department of Education and the Accrediting Council for Independent College and Schools. CSI had stated 42 of its students who graduated were working for a company called Home Health Consultants - the Department's investigative follow-up found no students worked for HHC or in a related healthcare field. CSI received roughly $20 million in federal funding in the 2014-2015 academic year. For-profit schools have been criticized for enrolling students through "troubling tactics" in order to profit from federal funds, leaving students ill-prepared for the jobs they were promised. While for-profit schools are known for admitting nontraditional students, many students end up borrowing large sums of money that cannot be repaid - but the school gets paid regardless.

Corinthian Colleges, known to be one of the largest for-profit schools in the US, went bankrupt after allegations of falsifying "job placement and graduation rates to lure students," according to Berman. Although the schools have two weeks to dispute the claims, Berman notes the Department of Education must “determine what qualifies as a successful borrower defense claim."

Credit attributed to Jillian Berman who covers student debt and financial issues faced by today's youth, with pieces featured in MarketWatch, The Huffington Post, Bloomberg, and Xconomy.

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 free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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by Susan Dutca

According to President Obama, the Pell Grant Program should be extended to include convicted felons currently in our prison systems so that they may continue their education from behind bars. The US is a "nation of second chances," according to Arne Duncan, the current Secretary of Education, and should offer the incarcerated the option of an at least partially funded post-secondary education. Additionally, the Obama Administration hopes to extend the program through the summer so that students can graduate more quickly, while also providing incentive for students who take a minimum of 15 credits per semester/trimester.

Currently, those incarcerated at a federal or state penal institution are not permitted to receive a Pell grant - Obama's "Second Chance Pell Pilot Program for Incarcerated Individuals" would change that. Additionally, the Department of Education announced two more proposals to the current Pell Grant program which would increase the $29 billion program by $2 billion in the upcoming fiscal year. The proposal will be part of President Obama's budget proposal next month. The "Pell for Accelerated Completion" program allows students with financial need to take summer courses using Pell grant money, unlike the current program, which only covers two academic semesters.

The second proposal, the "On Track Pell Bonus," rewards students who take minimum of 15 credits per semester with $300. Roughly 2.3 million students would benefit from the bonus program. The goal of these two proposals is two-fold: to help students graduate earlier and to provide them with more financial assistance through the Pell Grant. Almost 8.3 million students were awarded the Pell Grant in the 2015 fiscal year, with approximately $28.7 billion in financial aid. According to the Department of Education's budget report, the maximum Pell grant for 2015-2016 was $5,775 but will be reduced to $4,860 next year.

According to the Department of Education, these changes would benefit almost 700,000 students with an additional $1,900 per student (currently, the average amount received by qualifying students is $3,600). Research also shows that 1.5 million high school graduates did not complete a FAFSA in 2014, despite their eligibility, resulting in just under $3B in unclaimed funds. Since today marks National Student Debt day, a group of young activists named the Young Invisibles will convene at the University of the District of Colombia Community College to learn more about the current student debt crisis and find out how they can influence higher education policy. Members of Congress will be present, including keynote speaker, Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Do you think Pell grants should be offered to incarcerated individuals? Would you take more summer courses if the Pell were to be extended? Start a discussion below.

Credit attributed to Jennifer C. Kerr, Associated Press reporter covering education from Washington, D.C.

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 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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by Susan Dutca

The Illinois State Board is tackling the issue of special education funding imbalances with a proposed move of $217,000 from a wealthy suburban school district to schools in need for the 2016-2017 school year. However, Illinois isn't the only state struggling. The US as a whole has highly under-resourced special education programs and schools. Quality is being sacrificed for quantity as well-qualified teachers are being replaced by underqualified teachers for the sake of filling a position.

According to District 35's President, Gary Ruben, though "it is not a good thing for the district," they are financially prepared to have it "built into the budget" and will "continue to provide all the services that [we] need to provide." On average, District 35 spends about $3.7 million a year, with an average budget of $25 million, as reported by Director of Finance Jason Edelheit. If the proposed redistribution takes place, District 35 will lose $126,840. Nonetheless, the ISBE claims it is the "most equitable mechanism in current statute," as it will benefit 77% of students with "the least amount of local wealth and highest concentration of low-income students." According to Daniel Dorfman, the North Shore is anticipated to feel this change, especially elementary school districts and New Trier high school.

Many of the layoffs in CPS negatively affects children who require special services. According to the Lauren Fitzgerald of the Chicago Sun-Times, 80 of the 227 layoffs were in the special education department with 29 of the 180 "district-wide vacancies eliminated." Although 19 special education managers were hired to replace the 32 that were cut, District spokeswoman Emily Bittner claims that the layoffs do not include "classroom positions," and that the needs of every child's "individualized education plan would still be met." According to Chief Forrest Claypool, the cuts are necessary due to the $480 million budget gap.

A North Side CPS principal claims that without special education managers, the support just isn't the same. Managers are responsible for observing kids and providing "human interface" when it comes to making important decisions such as child relocation to another program due to behavioral issues. The ever-changing and "evolving" needs are best handled and met by managers who know if a student needs more assistance, such as a personal aid or more technology.

Specialty schools are under-resourced enough, with a severe shortage of teachers whom districts can barely keep past two years. Due to the shortage, a large number of general education teachers will venture into special education to fill positions. But quantity is not quality. Special needs children are already dismissed by being thrown into general classrooms where their Individual Education Programs (IEPs) are not met, they are improperly dealt with, and lack proper resources. By replacing special-education teachers with those who lack experience in the field and a lack of financial resources, this problem will continue to grow.

If you have the desire to help those with special needs, check out our many scholarships - from education to psychology and social work, there are many organizations dedicated to funding students' higher education goals in special education. If you yourself have a specific disability or impairment, see how you can qualify for scholarships based on that criteria.

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 free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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by Jess Hanch

The FBI is investigating a Kent State University history professor for alleged ties to today's most talked about terrorist organization, ISIS. Professor Julio C. Pino has been under investigation for more than a year by an FBI "joint terrorism task force." The special agent who confirmed the investigation chose to remain anonymous. According to the agent, there is "no direct threat to the university". However, the professor will remain under investigation for his ties to the organization, and for allegedly recruiting students to join ISIS.

Pino openly supports Palestinians in the current Israel-Palestine conflict, and caused controversy on campus when he stated in class that scholars who supported Israel were "directly responsible for the murder of 1,400 Palestinian children, women, and elderly civilians". Although Pino converted to Islam in 2000, he confidently told reporters that he does not support the Islamic State (ISIS), nor does he discuss the terrorist organization in class. He also stated he has always been clear about his political views and "stands in defense for civil-liberties [by] fulfilling my duties as an American citizen by speaking out on issues that some people find controversial," including the Israel-Palestine conflict. In light of the investigation, he told reporters "I follow the law. I advocate that others do also. And I ask others to respect my freedom of speech as much as I respect theirs". This is his first FBI investigation, and he has a clean record.

Pino told reporters that neither the FBI nor Homeland Security had made him aware of the investigation in any way until now. He also had not heard anything from the University. Kent State's University Spokesmen Eric Mansfield told KentWired that "Kent State is fully cooperating with the FBI". The FBI Agent reported to KentWired that they interviewed several faculty members, and some of Pino's students about the accusation however there is no information yet about whether or not Professor Pino was interviewed. There is no further news on what will happen to Pino, and there have been no comments released from faculty or students. As of right now, Pino will continue to teach two history courses at Kent State this year, and will teach in the fall semester.

Although the FBI agent clearly stated that the campus is not directly in danger, the investigation is still prominent enough to make its way into the public eye. How do you stand on this issue? Do you support Professor Pino and his statement about his right to free speech? Would his past statements about the conflict in the Middle East be taken differently if he did not align as Muslim? Start a conversation and leave your comments below.

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 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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by Susan Dutca

The history of beer dates back as far as the 5th century BC and is known to be one of the oldest beverages produced by mankind. However, MillerCoors might not cut it these days for beer aficionados due to the latest cultural trend: microbreweries and craft beer. From your local bar, to the stadium, and now in the classroom, the craft beer industry is starting to dominate its field with universities now offering programs that educate students on the hottest hops and beers to help them launch their careers in the craft beer industry, according to Lisa Rathke of the Associated Press.

Craft beer, as defined by the Brewer's Association, focuses on small-batch, independent, and traditional methods of brewing. The craft industry poses a threat to Big Beer, which fell 2% in 2014. According to industry statistics, craft beer now accounts for a 19% or more of dollar sales. What exactly accounts for this popularity? Some experts point to the "trendy hipsterism" - the "local vibe' that Big Beer just can't match. Brewer Association Director Paul Gatza attributes the increased marvel to beer drinkers' experimentation to brewery experimentation, increased appearance on retail shelves, the social aspect, and its portability. So why not keep up with the trend by becoming more educated and involved in the ever-growing industry?

But there's a catch: you must be at least 21 years of age. Oregon, Vermont, and California all have a minimum drinking age of 21 years and in so far as applying for the programs, students must wait till the legal age to begin their courses. Though the programs are intended to educate and place people in a up-and-coming field, the age at which people may apply may have them delaying their careers and plans until they have reached the age of drinking maturity. The average age for college freshman is 18 years old, while several may be 17 or 19 years old. That said, those intending to enroll in craft beer business courses must wait three to four years before applying and starting. Do you think the age requirement should be lowered?

Ranking at the top in the nation for the most breweries per capita, the University of Vermont offers an online business of craft beer certificate program and optional apprenticeship. According to program director Gregory Dunkling, students apply from all across the nation. Most beer-focused breweries started out five to ten years ago. Industry statistics reveal that in 2014, overall beer sales were up only 0.5% while craft beer sales increased by 17.6%. The U.S. far surpassed 4,000 breweries in September of 2015, and it had not crossed this barrier since 1873. A decade ago, Dunkling claims that home brewers, despite their strong home recipes, lacked "business acumen" - so they hired marketing, sales, and business operation staff. With increased competition in the industry, there's a demand for higher brewer knowledge, especially on the business side. UV's online class offers two separate courses: the Fundamentals of Craft Beer, and then a choice for focus on Digital Marketing, Sales, or Business Operations.

In 2013, Portland State University in Oregon began their online Business of Craft Brewing program and within a week, the class had filled all its seats. Found to be one of the "most successful professional certificate programs," it attracted international students who either "didn't want to necessarily go to college," or had already received a degree - they genuinely wanted to learn how to open their own brew pub, which required a bit more knowledgeable in marketing. Portland State University even offers a scholarship opportunity in craft brewing, titled Pink Boots Scholarship for a woman who earns income from the beer industry.

Also, San Diego State University's College of Extended Studies offers a similar professional certificate in the business of craft beer - from introductory courses such as "Exploring Craft Beer" to "Finance," students can venture into the field at local breweries, to get a hands-on learning experience in the craft beer industry. Students can receive their certificate in less than 1.5 years.

If you have a taste for microbrewery, viticulture, or any related fields of study, search for scholarships today and pursue your higher education dreams with the help of free college money.

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 free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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