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Prepping for a Summer Abroad: Financial Edition

May 26, 2011

by Mariah Proctor

When people hear I’m getting ready to leave on my third study abroad, there are no questions asked – just resentful looks that say ‘Well, aren’t you the cultured little rich girl.’ Okay, maybe the looks aren’t that venomous but the idea holds true. If you are considering studying abroad but think you can’t afford it, listen up: You can.

My first study abroad was paid for in the way many people pay for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land: through money left by my grandparents. There was something tender about imagining my grandfather working hard as a schoolteacher and saving every penny – pennies that would one day take me to Jerusalem. But the inheritance-type funds had run dry when I was asked to go to Southeast Asia for a summer, so my second study abroad saw a more creative, financial-finagling me.

The first step in paying for a semester of international intrigue is finding funding from your home institution. Most international study programs have discount or program-specific scholarships. Also, make sure you fill out the FAFSA to get a Pell grant if you’re eligible. Not everyone knows those government pick-me-ups can be applied to international study...but now you do. Go after one!

There are study abroad-specific scholarships all over the Internet (Scholarships.com is rich with financial opportunities that can be applied). The Phi Kappa Phi Study Abroad Scholarship and the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship are two of the most well-known sources of study abroad funding, plus oodles of country-specific and area of study specific-grants.

If you are persistent about diversifying your sources of funding, studying abroad can be less expensive than staying on campus. The most important thing is not to let the cost of a plane ticket or the dollar-to-euro exchange rate scare you away from what will be a fulfilling experiences in your young life. There’s no rule that says only rich kids can travel; if you dream of pyramids or tropical breezes, stop dreaming and start doing. Bonus: Studying abroad provides rich material for grad school application essays.

Mariah Proctor is a senior at Brigham Young University studying theatre arts and German studies. She is a habitual globe-trotter and enjoys acoustic guitar, sunshine and elephant whispering. Once the undergraduate era of her life comes to an end, she plans to perhaps seek a graduate degree in film and television production or go straight to pounding the pavement as an actor and getting used to the sound of slammed doors. Writing has and always will be the constant in her whirlwind life story.

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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Consider Location, Location, Location When Selecting Your School

May 25, 2011

by Jacquelene Bennett

During my senior year in high school, I sent out applications not only to schools in my home state of California but to schools in Rhode Island, Washington and even England. I ultimately decided to stay in California because while going to a school in a different state or country sounded appealing and fun, it was just too unrealistic for me. Why? Location mattered.

Attending college in a different state can often times cost a fortune - not only are you paying out-of-state tuition rates (this doesn’t really apply to those going to private universities; they’re expensive regardless of where you live and attend) but you have to pay an arm and a leg to travel home for holidays and summer break. Also, there’s that issue of being away from your family: If you’re like me and have younger siblings, you want to be able to go to their basketball games and celebrate their birthdays. I knew that if I went too far from home, I would get too homesick and not enjoy my time at college.

Now I have nothing against those people who attend school in a different state – in fact, two of my closest friends at school are from Washington and Colorado – I’m just saying to think about what’s best for you. Can you afford the expenses? Can you stand to be away from your family? These are questions to ask yourself because you can still go away to school and be close to your family. I do...it’s just a matter of picking the right college. I go to a university that’s about 90 minutes from home; this is enough distance so that I feel like I have my own life here at school but am close enough that I can go home on the weekends if I want.

Jacquelene Bennett is a rising senior at the University of Redlands where her areas of study are creative writing, government and religious studies. When she is not studying or working, you can usually find her eating frozen yogurt or blogging about her day. She has a cactus named Kat and believes that Stephen Colbert is a genius. Jacquelene works hard, laughs hard and knows that one day you’ll see her name in lights.

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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Not Enough Financial Aid? You Still Have Options!

May 25, 2011

by Radha Jhatakia

There are many factors that affect where, when and if students attend college, the most important being financial aid. So what can a student do when he or she hasn’t received enough funding?

If you need financial aid to make college a reality, contact the financial aid offices at the schools you’re considering before applying. Find out the costs of tuition, room and board, and other college living expenses and defray these costs by applying for as many scholarships and grants as you can. The college will be more likely to help fill any financial gaps if you’ve shown initiative and determination.

Another method is writing formal letters to financial aid administrators. Describe your financial aid situation (including hard numbers), your home life, factors affecting your ability to pay for college and things that you could not put on the FAFSA such as a home mortgage or other payments that your parents need to make. Fax this letter, mail it by certified mail and email a copy to each school as well. If the school cannot offer you free money, they can sometimes offer an additional loan of some sort.

If all else fails, call the colleges and schedule appointments with the deans or heads of the financial aid offices. Some colleges have tuition waivers which allow students with special conditions to be exempt from paying tuition. If the school does not offer this option, you can still seek out non-school loans through banks or private companies. These loans often have higher interest rates, require co-signers or do not have grace period to pay off loans after graduating; in my opinion, however, the cost of not getting a college education is much higher than amount of these loans.

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major who will be transferring to San Jose State University this fall. She’s had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.

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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Make Yourself Marketable This Summer

May 23, 2011

by Casandra Pagn

While a summer home from college should be relaxing, fun and regenerative, the three or so months away from school can also be the perfect time to bulk up the ever-elusive skills section of a resume or job application.

I totally understand that many college students need to take any ol’ job during the summer to save some cash for the school months. Whether you are waitressing, painting houses or mowing lawns, there are still a multitude of ways to continue to make yourself (and your resume) marketable during the summer.

First and foremost, internships (paid or unpaid) can often be tailored to the hours and schedule that you’d like to work. But, if an internship seems too time consuming, have no fear. Here are some other ways to make your summer count:

  • Contact local professionals to set up appointments to shadow them. This will give you some insight into that career and it’s something that you can bring up during future interviews to show you’re being proactive in that field.
  • Browse through your local park district or community college catalog and see what affordable, useful classes they offer. An introductory language course is a low time commitment and is a great asset to any resume, as are computer courses in a program that you’re not familiar with. At the end of the class, you will have learned the keys to a program that employers find valuable, such as Microsoft Excel or InDesign.
  • Borrow some how-to books from the library and teach yourself something! There are a ton of books on building websites and using graphic design programs, so why not take check one out and give it a try? It can’t hurt to learn those skills and the library membership is usually free.

Chicagoland native Casandra Pagni spent the past four years in the wonderful city of Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan. From watching football games in the Big House to bruising her knees playing intramural broomball on ice, she had the time of her life while at Michigan and embraced her inner and outer sports fanatic by covering the softball and hockey teams for the campus newspaper, The Michigan Daily. Casandra was also a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority and a teacher ambassador and this past April, Casandra graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English and earned a secondary teaching certification. She is currently in Chicago looking for a teaching position.

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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Can You Dig This Scholarship of the Week?

Big Dig Scholarship Deadline is June 1st

May 23, 2011

by Alexis Mattera

We’ve seen it in movies and read about it in books: Someone unearths a time capsule buried long ago and learns something vital from its contents. Does it happen in real life? Sure but for this Scholarship of the Week – the Big Dig Scholarship – you’ll only need a metaphorical shovel and a way with words.

The Big Dig Scholarship asks students to find an item currently available for purchase for under $500 that will have immense value in the future. Applicants must then write a 500- to 1,000-word essay detailing their decision to be in the running to win a $3,000 scholarship for college. Interested? Here are the questions each essay must answer:

  • What is the item you are going to bury?
  • Where could you purchase this item today?
  • How much does this item cost?
  • What made you choose the item?
  • Why do you believe that the item will have immense value 200 years from now?

Essays will be graded primarily on originality and depth of content but grammar, punctuation and spelling will also be taken into consideration. Applications are due June 1st and the winner will be selected and notified by July 15th.

For more information about this award, complete a free scholarship search today!

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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Meet Scholarships.com's Virtual Interns: Radha Jhatakia

May 20, 2011

by Radha Jhatakia

Hi all! My name is Radha and I’m one of Scholarships.com’s newest virtual interns!

In high school, I was a well-rounded student – high GPA, honors classes, extracurricular activities and volunteer work...you name it, I did it – but after getting accepted by both the University of the Pacific and the University of San Francisco, limited finances and financial aid prevented me from attending either school. To save money to put toward transferring, I instead enrolled in De Anza College and Evergreen Valley College to complete my gen eds. It wasn’t easy (De Anza was a distant commute and made it difficult for me to take the classes I needed to transfer) but I amassed enough credits to transfer after two years. I didn’t get into my first choice (UCLA) and my second choice (Berkeley) did not have my intended major so I enrolled at UCSB, where I was accepted into the Honors Program and received plenty of financial aid. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out as planned when my transfer status affected my major so I am back at EVC but transferring to San Jose State University in the fall. Whew!

I’ve always enjoyed writing (I hope to write a book someday) and I believe my interest in working with others – plus my excellent persuasion abilities – will lend itself to a career in public relations. Being a Scholarships.com virtual interns complements my goals perfectly: It’s an excellent opportunity to gain experience in something I enjoy doing and since I’m always looking for scholarships to pay for school, writing for a website that helps students do just that seemed ideal. Hope you’ll all enjoy reading my opinions and advice just as much as I enjoy sharing them!

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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How to Move Out Without Getting Stressed Out

May 20, 2011

by Jacquelene Bennett

It’s that time of the year again – summertime...and moving time for many college students. Here are a few simple tips for moving out of your doom or apartment:

  • Donate your stuff rather than throw it away. It’s the end of the year and you are realizing how much stuff you have accumulated over the last nine months. Rather than throwing away those jeans that don’t fit or that lamp you never use, donate them. At the end of every school year, Goodwill sets up a donation center on my campus where they will take everything from used clothing to electronics. See if your school does the same!
  • Utilize your school’s on-campus storage spaces. If your residence hall offers temporary summer storage for students, take advantage of it! Space is usually limited but this is a great option for storing things that you won't need during the summer months (think: mini-fridge and cooking utensils). If your school doesn’t have storage on campus, get some friends to split the cost of renting a storage locker somewhere near campus. Bonus: Many facilities offer discounts to college students.
  • Make sure to clean. It might be a hassle to vacuum the floors and take out the trash but it will cost you less in the long run. Schools often charge fees for unclean rooms (at my school, it’s $25 for every bag they fill with trash from a room) so if you don’t want to be billed, make sure it’s clean!
  • Keep it organized. Don’t just throw items in random boxes and suitcases; take the time to label them and make sure everything is secure. This will help when physically moving all your stuff and when you unpack later on at home.

Jacquelene Bennett is a rising senior at the University of Redlands where her areas of study are creative writing, government and religious studies. When she is not studying or working, you can usually find her eating frozen yogurt or blogging about her day. She has a cactus named Kat and believes that Stephen Colbert is a genius. Jacquelene works hard, laughs hard and knows that one day you’ll see her name in lights.

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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Seven Tips for Repaying Your Student Loans

May 19, 2011

by Suada Kolovic

If you’re a recent college graduate, chances are you’ll have to start paying off your student loans sooner than you think. And even with the economy in a slump, don’t expect a free pass on not paying your loans. Are you starting to panic? Well, don’t! There’s a ton of advice out there to help students stay on track and courtesy of the U.S. News and World Report, here are seven tips for repaying your student loans.

  • Repay you student loans automatically. Make things easier on yourself by setting up automatic withdrawals from your bank account. This reduces the chance of late or missing payments.
  • Aim for 10 years. The traditional repayment period for student loans is 10 years and ideally you'll be able to pay off all your debt within that time period. If you end up struggling with your monthly payments, however, you could stretch out your loans to 20 or even 30 years. Your monthly payments will become more manageable but you will end up paying a lot more in interest.
  • Stay organized. Having multiple student loans can be a challenge to keep track of but with the government's National Student Loan Data System, you’ll be able to track all your federal student loans in one place.
  • Pay off the loans with the highest interest rates first. A high interest rate costs you every month and compounds that amount you owe every month you aren’t paying off the entire balance.
  • Consider IBR. The IBR is a federal Income-Based Repayment program that allows a borrower to repay his or her federal loans based on what is affordable and not what is owed.
  • Keep abreast of student loan developments. Staying informed is just as important as making your payments. Familiarize yourself with websites that are devoted to college debt issues like Project on Student Debt and the National Consumer Law Center's Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project.
  • Contact the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman. Sometimes your relationship with a lender can go belly-up. If you end up in a dispute, the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman may be able to help resolve the issue.

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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Scholarships – Are They Really Worth My Time? YES!

May 17, 2011

by Jessica Seals

A typical soon-to-be college student’s priority list probably looks a little something like this:

But wait!!! With all of the excitement of starting college, students can forget to get their finances together to pay for it all! Many students don’t realize that they can eliminate student loan headaches simply by starting the scholarship application process early. By doing so, students have more time to get their application materials together and apply for more scholarships because they are not rushing to submit everything on deadline day.

From my own personal experience, I found it advantageous to apply for scholarships early. I joined websites like Scholarships.com so that I could keep track of deadlines and scholarships that I qualified for. I sent it all of my materials early and when I started receiving letters that began with “Congratulations!” it made the time that I spent applying for scholarships worthwhile.

Another bit of advice that I found helpful was applying for scholarships even if the amount seems small. During my freshman year of college, I applied for the new member scholarship for the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society despite the fact that the award amount was $300. Nothing could make my smile turn into a frown that day because winning the scholarship meant that I wouldn’t have to pay out of pocket for books in the upcoming semester.

My final advice: Apply for as many scholarships as possible because you might just be what the scholarship committee is looking for. Even the smallest award can help pay for something!

Jessica Seals is currently a senior at the University of Memphis majoring in political science and minoring in English. At the University of Memphis, she is the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, and Black Scholars Unlimited. She also volunteers to tutor her fellow classmates and hopes to attend law school in the near future.

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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All Media Are Not Created Equal

Tablet, Smartphone Interest Soars While E-books Fail to Gain Traction

May 13, 2011

by Alexis Mattera

With the popularity of wireless computing devices among college students, it would seem that e-textbooks would be just as attractive for this tech-savvy generation. Not so, according to a new survey: The printed textbook is still the big man on campus.

Student Monitor’s survey of 1,200 full-time students at four-year institutions revealed that although 54 percent of respondents owned smartphones, 87 percent owned laptops and nearly 50 percent reported interest in purchasing a wireless reading device, only 5 percent of respondents purchased access to an e-textbook this spring – and usually only because professors required them to. The proportion of students who rented at least one printed textbook, however, doubled to 24 percent from last spring. With campus bookstores and independent sites like Chegg.com making book rental easier and more available, the trend is only expected to grow: Thirty-six percent of underclassmen said they are either likely or very likely to rent at least one textbook next semester.

The main reason students are renting textbooks instead of buying the electronic versions? The savings, which were reported as about $127. With that kind of money back in the bank, students could splurge on their other "likes" the survey revealed...or maybe get a head start paying off some of those student loans. Which side are you on in the textbook debate – Team E-book or Team Rental – and why?

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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Meet Scholarships.com’s Virtual Interns: Allison Rowe

May 6, 2011

by Allison Rowe

As a rising senior at Washington State University, I have a lot on my plate – balancing two majors, maintaining honor roll grades and working to realize some serious career aspirations – but I wasn’t always this way. If I can ever convince you of one thing, it is the infinitely transformative power of the college experience.

Lazy. Pessimistic. Socially awkward. These words describe my high school self. Not only did I take the second chance granted to everyone at my WSU freshman orientation, but also realized everyone is free to reinvent themselves as many times as they wish during these four years, so long as they are brave enough to embrace opportunity when it arises.

If you aren’t in a club and don’t have a job, if you haven’t applied for scholarships or attended your professors’ office hours, if you skip class and don’t give back to your community, if you haven’t made a new friend all semester, listen up: You are missing crucial opportunities and wasting money! Though hipsters would like to convince you otherwise, participation in college IS cool and its payouts are unlimited. You can boost your resume, pay off debt and eat free food with friends all at once by taking full advantage of services and activities your fees pay for. This is especially true now with widespread tuition increases (WSU’s has jumped more than 30 percent since I enrolled) and using your time in college efficiently should become a top priority.

Now I do not mean to suggest you must do all those things simultaneously, but the general consensus among seniors is that a busier life is a happier life! During my time as a Scholarship.com virtual intern, I hope to help you all get involved early and build a strong, diverse skill sets to maximize the true potential of your college experiences.

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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