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White House Announces Summer Youth Employment Initiative

by Suada Kolovic

If you’re a high school student, you’re probably still enjoying winter break. But with that two-week treat shortly coming to a close, I’m sure there are at least a few of you already looking forward to the warm, lazy months of summer. (I know I always did!) Then again, summer may not be the carefree paradise it once was. Whether you’d like to admit it or not, it’s the perfect opportunity to gain some work experience and this summer, you’re in luck: President Barack Obama is looking to boost summer job prospects for kids.

The White House recently announced that with help from the private sector, it has nearly 180,000 youth employment opportunities for the summer and aims to add tens of thousands more. With unemployment rates still relatively high for adults nationwide, young people are finding it almost impossible to find any employment opportunities. President Obama insisted that with the economy in a rut, the government needs to step in to make sure kids are provided with opportunities to learn skills and a work ethic. One downside of the plan for kids trying to save money for college, cars and other expenses is that many of the positions would be unpaid training opportunities.

Are you already thinking about where you’ll be working this summer? Are you more interested in a paying position or one that would be a killer reference on your resume?


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MIT to Offer Free Online Courses

by Suada Kolovic

Think you have what it takes to go to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology? Let’s be honest, few do but if you’re interested in testing the waters, MIT will soon offer free online certification courses to outside students who complete them!

How will the interactive e-learning venture, known as MITx, work? Here’s the breakdown: MITx will give anyone free access to an online-course platform. Users will include students currently enrolled at MIT as well as external learners like high school seniors and engineering majors at other colleges. They’ll watch videos, answer questions, interact with teachers and other students globally, experience stimulated labs, participate in quizzes and take tests. Still have your doubts? MIT Provost L. Rafael Reif assures interested students, "This is not MIT light. This is not an easier version of MIT," he said. "An MITx learner, anywhere they are, for them to earn a credential they have to demonstrate mastery of the subject just like an MIT student does."

One slight catch is that although MITx courses will carry no cost, the institute plans to charge a “modest” fee for the certificates. (The exact amount is still undecided.) The first course will begin around spring of 2012 but MIT has yet to announce the course. Does this opportunity spark your interest? Should other prestigious institutions – Harvard, Stanford, Brown, etc. – offer similar initiatives? Let us know what you think.


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Scholarship Displacement Explained

by Suada Kolovic

Here at Scholarships.com, we make a point to advocate the importance of funding your college education the right way – for free! – and while financing your higher education solely from scholarships is an amazing feat, there is a factor to consider: scholarship displacement.

If you don’t know what scholarship displacement is, you’re not alone. Believe it or not, winning a scholarship may not be the end-all be-all when it comes to paying for school because they can complicate the financial aid package offered by your intended university. Why? When a student wins a scholarship, the college may reduce the student’s need-based financial aid package to compensate. For example, say a university offers a student a $15,000 grant and an additional $15,000 loan to cover the cost of attending. If the student were then to win a scholarship for $15,000, the college could retract its $15,000 grant. Colleges call this an over-award and the scholarship providers call it displacement.

Although this may seem discouraging, it shouldn’t dissuade you from applying to scholarships altogether. Instead, do your homework, speak with your admissions counselor and know where your intended college stands when it comes to their scholarship policies. If you’re brining a lot of scholarship dollars to the table, you have options. Every college is different and has their own guidelines when it comes to outside scholarships. If one university doesn’t allow you to put those scholarship dollars to other costs – loans, books, room and board, etc. – enroll at one that does. You could also enlist the help of the scholarship sponsor: Some scholarship providers may have a lot of clout with the college, especially if their scholars make up millions of dollars of funding to the college.

If you have any additional questions about scholarship displacement, don’t hesitate to ask us!


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No Access to Social Media at Work is Non-Negotiable for College Students, Recent Grads

by Suada Kolovic

There are a few key moments in life when you step back and say, “That is non-negotiable in my book.” For the most part, they’re usually pivotal moments that deal with relationships, faith and, at times, your job. When it comes to the latter, they are definitely a few factors to consider – How far are you willing to travel for prospective employment? Will you work for minimum wage and no benefits? (I hope not!) – but what if your future employer tells you that social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are off-limits? Well, for some college students and recent grads, that is the absolute definition of non-negotiable…even if the unemployment rate is around nine percent.

According to a recent study by Cisco which surveyed 1,400 college student and 1,400 young professionals between the ages of 21 and 29 in 14 countries, some students would be willing to accept a lower salary in return for technology freedom. The survey also notes that 56 percent of college students said they would either not accept a job offer from a company that blocked access to social media in the workplace or would attempt to sidestep company polices. (For more on the study, click here.)

For those of you with full-time employment, was access to social media a deciding factor? Would you be willing to forgo a higher salary in order to “tweet” and “like” during the workday? Let us know what you think of the study in the comments section.


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Students Searching for Scholarships Find Fees Instead

by Suada Kolovic

The cost of a higher education continues to skyrocket and many students have turned to scholarship search websites to secure funding to bridge the financial gap. Most would assume that using a reputable website would protect them from non-reputable scholarships but that’s not always the case: Students in Florida were upset recently after learning that the United Youth Fitness Scholarship – an award listed on Fastweb, the Sun Sentinel’s Teen Link page and Georgetown University’s financial aid page – charged students a fee to have their essay’s published on the scholarship’s website.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Full Sail University student Emilio Zedan was one of many students that applied for the $1,500 scholarship. Soon after he submitted his application, he received an email saying that although he didn’t win, he did receive an honorable mention and could have his essay posted on the scholarship's website for a $12.95 fee. But why? In email to the Orlando Sentinel, Quinn Cory – the site’s registrant and operator of several other for-profit scholarship sites – explained that the essay publication fees helped pay for the costs of the scholarship and to run the program, adding that his scholarships were 100-percent legal and within all of the bounds of law. (For more on the story, click here.)

Here at Scholarships.com, we understand that scholarship fees are, unfortunately, extremely common. That’s why we only list scholarships after they have been carefully reviewed and verified by our staff so that students will only see legitimate scholarships from organizations that don’t charge fees. By employing this rigorous approval process, we’ve been able to remain one of the most widely-used and trusted free college scholarship search and financial aid resources on the Internet and help students like you earn 100-percent free money for college.


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Top 10 Majors That Will Get You Hired

by Suada Kolovic

If you’re like most college students, you expect to hear those two beautiful words that make all those sleepless nights cramming for exams the last four (possibly five) years worth it upon graduation: “You’re hired.” But with the economy in a relentless slump and the unemployment rate hovering at 9%, college students need to realize that what they choose as a major will influence their career prospects. With that being said, here are Wall Street Journal’s top 10 majors that will get you hired:

What do you think of the majors that made the list? Is your field of study listed? Do studies such as the Wall Street Journal’s influence your academic pursuits or are you unwavering in following your heart when it comes to your major?


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University of Dayton to Offer Free Textbooks

by Suada Kolovic

With the economy in a rut, the unemployment rate declining at a sluggish pace and the cost of a college education rising at an astronomical rate, now is the time to consider your options. Here at Scholarships.com, we can’t stress enough the importance of applying early and often for scholarships and financial aid, but when a college education is still just out of reach, some universities are willing to go the extra mile to help prospective students out. Rising high school seniors, take note: The University of Dayton is offering four years of free textbooks to first-year students who visit the campus and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form by the university’s March 1 application deadline.

According to Dayton officials, the free textbook program is an incentive for families to attend campus visits in a tight economy and as a way to urge families to complete the federal aid form, which is an essential piece of the financial aid puzzle. "Many families don't fill out the form because they believe they don't qualify or think it takes too much time. They miss out on opportunities to get affordable financing or grant funding," said Kathy McEuen Harmon, assistant vice president and dean of admission and financial aid.

Students who fulfill the university’s requirements will receive up to $500 per semester to purchase textbooks at the campus bookstore – funds good toward new, used or rental books. According Harmon, an estimated 75 percent of the first-year class is projected to take advantage of the offer, representing a $1.5 million annual commitment by the University. "We want them to fully understand the rewards of a University of Dayton education and know that those rewards are not out of their reach," Harmon said. "This is a very tangible way to demonstrate our commitment, one they can see immediately."

What do you think of the University of Dayton’s efforts? Are free textbooks enough to get you to commit to an institution? Should others follow suit? Let us know what you think.


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Student Loan Delinquencies Continue to Rise

by Suada Kolovic

While credit card debt, mortgage debt and auto loan debt have all steadily decreased since the fall of 2008, the same cannot be said for outstanding student loan debt, which has climbed 25 percent since the start of the financial crisis. Not only has student debt increased, but more often than not these loans aren’t getting paid off on time. The problem is that students take out sizable loans to pay for tuition to only be met with bleak prospects of employment after college. Those lucky enough to secure a job can also expect lower starting salaries: The median starting salary for a member of the class or 2009 or 2010 is $27,000, down from $30,000 just a couple of years ago.

The debt ceiling deal complicated things a step further by adding additional federal loan provisions. One section of the deal changed the way interest is collected on federal loans for graduate students, meaning that borrowers will start accruing interest on their loans before they’ve graduated. That being said, earning a college degree is still a significant advantage when entering the job market. The Labor Department released a report stating that for workers 25 and over with at least a bachelor's degree, the unemployment rate in July was 4.3 percent, compared with 8.3 percent for workers with "some college," and 9.3 percent for workers with just high school diplomas.

Soon-to-be college students, do you fear crippling student loan debt? What steps are you taking to prevent becoming a statistic?


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Groupon-NLU Deal Doesn’t Guarantee Admission to Graduate Program

by Suada Kolovic

Last week, we shared Groupon’s “experimental” deal offered by National-Louis University which provided bargain hunters with the opportunity to purchase an introductory teaching course at a serious discount. A total of 18 students took advantage of the deal but hopefully they read the fine print: Purchasing the Groupon does not guarantee acceptance to the master’s program that the course is a part of. Whoops.

While the Groupon-toting students will take “Introduction to the Profession and the Craft of Teaching” for the discounted rate, they aren’t technically enrolled at the institution. Instead, each participant will be considered a “student-at-large,” said Nivine Megahed, NLU’s president. The students-at-large will get inside-the-class practicum experience early on in order to get the full effect of teaching prior to applying to the master’s program unlike their traditional counterparts, Megahed said. Often, when aspiring educators teach in a classroom for the first time, “they either love it, or they go running for the hills,” she added.

Once they’ve completed the course, at-large students who want to take part in the program will have to go through the traditional admissions process, which requires a passing grade on the Illinois Basic Skills test. If you bought the Groupon, would this be a deal breaker for you? Do you think NLU should have made such stipulations clear early on?


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Federal Mandate: All Schools Must Offer Net Price Calculators by October 29th

by Suada Kolovic

Here at Scholarships.com, we understand that trying to figure out how much a college education will actually cost you and your family is pretty confusing. With everything that goes into your financial aid packagegrants, loans, scholarships, etc. – the real cost of a college education is muddled in there…somewhere. But fear, not college bound students! All that’s about to change thanks to a mandate by the federal government: All colleges and universities receiving Title IV federal student aid must have net price calculators by October 29th.

According to U.S. News and World Report, the U.S. Department of Education instated the mandate in order to “provide a clearer view of the difference between the total cost of tuition and fees – commonly referred to as sticker price – and the net price, an estimate of the cost subtracting scholarships and grants.” Most students generally receive some institutional aid so the better they understand how much an institution is offering as whole, the better prepared they are to compare the financial aid packages offered by different schools.

What do you think of the federally implemented net price calculators? Do you think it will be an essential piece of the funding your college education puzzle?


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