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Cooper Union to Charge Undergraduate Tuition in 2014

April 25, 2013

Cooper Union to Charge Undergraduate Tuition in 2014

by Suada Kolovic

It’s official: After 18 months of intense analysis and serious opposition (we’re looking at you, students who barricaded themselves in the college last December), Cooper Union will begin charging undergraduate tuition for the first time.

Faced with a $12 million annual budget deficit, the Board of Trustees voted last week to reduce the full-tuition scholarship to 50-percent for all undergraduates admitted to the institution beginning with the class entering in the fall of 2014. “The time has come to set our institution on a path that will enable it to survive and thrive well into the future,” said board chairman Mark Epstein in an announcement to students and faculty members in the college’s Great Hall. “Under the new policy, the Cooper Union will continue to adhere to the vision of Peter Cooper, who founded the institution specifically to provide a quality education to those who might not otherwise be able to afford it.” None of the 900 current undergraduates would be affected but those considering enrolling in the fall of 2014 and beyond could pay $19,275 a semester.

After the speech, opponents of the decision gathered outside the Great Hall and staged what they called a walkout, arguing that any tuition would alter the essential character of the prestigious school. What do you think of the announcement and the corresponding criticism? Let us know in the comments section.

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California Universities Instate College Graduation Fees

May 15, 2013

California Universities Instate College Graduation Fees

by Suada Kolovic

In the coming weeks, college seniors across the country will take their first steps towards new beginnings with their diplomas in hand…that is, of course, if they pay the recently instated college graduation fees.

According to a recent report, more than half the schools in the California State University system are charging a graduation fee that students are required to pay before receiving their diplomas. While the fees aren’t astronomical (they range from $45 to $115), students are frustrated with a struggling school system that has increased tuition every year and are only now discovering that their diplomas weren’t included in the tuition hikes. "We already have to pay to be here and [now] we've got to pay to leave," California State East Bay sociology major Donnisha Udookon told the Tribune. Students who have long complained about the extra charges agree that by the time they reach graduation, they almost come to expect an add-on fee at every turn. To them, graduation no longer signifies a moment filled with a sense of incredible accomplishment but as the last chance for the institution to nickel-and-dime the graduating student body. (Fine print: Student loans not included.)

Recent college graduates, do you think it’s fair for schools to charge a separate fee for students to receive their diplomas? What’s your school’s stance on graduation fees?

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Rapper Juicy J Awards Student $50,000 College Scholarship

January 16, 2014

Rapper Juicy J Awards Student $50,000 College Scholarship

by Suada Kolovic

While it may come to no surprise that Michele Obama is urging young students to pursue a higher education, she’s not the only one who understands its value. Take for instance Rapper Juicy J: He recently awarded a young woman a $50,000 “twerking” scholarship! Did we mention that her winning entry involved no twerking at all?

Last August, the Oscar-winning rapper launched the Juicy J Scholarship Foundation and tweeted that he would award the scholarship “to the best chick that can twerk.” He later admitted that entrants were not required to do the popular dance move and that he would give the funds to the college-bound recipient who needed it most. And that individual was Zaire Holmes, a 19-year-old student at the State College of Florida. Holmes, a full-time mother and student, said in her video submission that her aspirations of becoming a doctor would require 11 years of schooling and that financial aid alone would not cover her expenses. Touched by her story, Juicy J announced her as the winner and said, “You remind me of myself. When I was 19, I was like really, really working hard.” After her big win, the South Florida native shared her hopes of transferring from the State College of Florida to either the University of Florida or the University of South Florida to study medicine. (For more on this story, click here.)

What do you think of the rapper’s take on giving back to the community? Let us know in the comments section.

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Study: College Pays, Even for College Dropouts

June 11, 2013

Study: College Pays, Even for College Dropouts

by Suada Kolovic

If you’re a high school student, chances are you’ve probably heard this at some point in your high school career: “College graduates will earn $1 million more in a lifetime than those with only a high school diploma.” And while completing your college education is the ultimate goal, students who get at least a partial college education will earn on average more than $100,000 over a lifetime than those with just high school diplomas.

According to a study conducted by The Hamilton Project, a Washington, D.C. think tank, even small increments of additional education pays off: The annual return on a partial education is 9.1 percent and while that’s well below the annual return of 15 percent of those with a bachelor’s degree, it is considerably more than high school graduates with no college education. "It is vastly better to get a college degree," said Adam Looney, policy director at The Hamilton Project. "But I think the evidence says that fears of dropping out, that there are big downside risks to trying it and not finishing it, I think those are overblown. For people who are interested in college, who have ambitions of going and have the ability and qualifications to succeed, I think the evidence suggests it's an extremely good deal right now." (For more on this study, click here.)

Recent high school graduates, do you agree with the study’s findings that investing in some college education is better than none? Let us know in the comments section.

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Debt-Ceiling Deal Spares Pell Grant Program

August 1, 2011

Debt-Ceiling Deal Spares Pell Grant Program

by Suada Kolovic

Unless you’ve taken residence under a rock for the past few weeks, you’ve heard about the debt ceiling crisis. Thankfully, the White House and Congress have reached a deal to raise the nation’s borrowing limit and shrink the federal deficit which avoids many of higher education’s worst-case scenarios, namely cuts to Pell Grants, the end of subsidized student loans or a government default that would leave student financial aid and other funding for colleges in limbo.

Here’s the breakdown: The agreement would cut $1 trillion right away and create a committee to reduce the deficit by another $1.5 trillion by November. If approved in Congress, it will avert default on the nation’s debts and ensure that the government has enough money for federal benefits, including student aid. In layman’s terms, the bill would provide $17 billion for the Pell Grant program but the measure would only be temporary. Because House conservatives oppose tax increases, it is likely that the committee charged with reducing the deficit will favor spending cuts over revenues increase, putting Pell Grants and other student aid programs at risk for cuts in the near future.

Do you think slashing funds for higher education is problematic? Let us know what you think.

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Debt Deal Not So for Graduate Students

August 2, 2011

Debt Deal Not So for Graduate Students

by Suada Kolovic

If you’re a graduate student or considering graduate school, listen up: The debt deal reached by Congressional leaders and President Obama would make graduate school much more expensive.

According to the agreement, Congress would scrap subsidized federal loans for graduate students in an effort to trim the deficits. These loans don’t charge students any interest on the principal of student loans until six months after students have graduated; if they’re eliminated, some students will have to start paying back loans while they’re still in school. And if that isn’t bad enough, Congress will also ax a special credit for all students who make 12 months of on-time loan payments. The changes would take place July 1, 2012 and would save the government $21.6 billion over the next 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

For graduate students who do qualify for the maximum amount of subsidized loans, this new agreement could tack on thousands of dollars to the already staggering cost of going to school. The reason behind the changes is the theory that the money saved by the student loan cuts would help pay to keep Pell Grants, which so far are maintained at a maximum grant of $5,550 a year for some 8 million poor students. “Full funding for Pell Grants is absolutely essential to fulfilling the president's goal of the U.S. once again having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020," said Pauline Abernathy, vice president of the Institute for College Access & Success.

Those considering graduate school, will these changes affect your decision to attend?

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UC Students to Face Additional Tuition Hike

UC Board Approves 9.6-Percent Increase

July 18, 2011

UC Students to Face Additional Tuition Hike

by Suada Kolovic

With the start of the fall semester just weeks away, University of California students can look forward to yet another tuition hike – a 9.6-percent increase, to be exact. On Thursday, the Board of Regents passed a $1,068 hike on top of a previously approved 8-percent hike for 2011-2012 school year. The regents voted 14-4 in favor of the second increase to cope with the $650 million cut in state funding for next year.

Undergraduate and graduate tuition for California residents will increase to $12,192 a year, not including room and board or campus fees. Now sure, that may not seem like much for college tuition but that’s a $1,890 (or 18 percent) increase from the amount UC undergraduates paid the previous year and more than three times what they paid a decade ago.

Leigh Mason, a fourth-year student and student government activist at UC San Diego, said the timing of the tuition increase so close to the fall term has families scrambling. “For a family and student to find that, means it's not only hard but for some impossible,” said Mason, of San Jose. “Why not go to each UC and cut some overhead before coming to us for more revenue?”

According to UC officials, financial aid and tax credits will cover the increased tuition for many families earning less than $80,000 a year and the tuition increases won’t be imposed this coming school year on many families earning less than $120,000 annually. What do you think of the timing of the tuition hike approval? Is it fair for families to face another increase in tuition so close to the start of the fall semester?

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Mork Family Donates $110 Million to USC

May 4, 2011

Mork Family Donates $110 Million to USC

by Suada Kolovic

The University of Southern California has secured a major donation – the fourth of more than $50 million given to the university this school year alone – from Julie and John Mork. The couple donated $110 million to USC to fund the Mork Family Scholars Program, which will provide high school seniors “of extraordinary intellectual talent and capability full tuition and $5,000 living stipends,” the university said in a statement.

John Mork, a trustee who graduated from USC in 1970, is the chief executive officer of Energy Corp. of America, a private company that handles the exploration, extraction, production and transportation of natural gas and oil, based in Denver. “Attending USC is the dream of talented high school seniors from all walks of life,” said John Mork. “We hope this gift will help transform hundreds of young lives.” Julie Mork, who graduated from UCLA, is the managing director of the Energy Corp. of America Foundation, a charitable organization that focuses on children and education. According to the LA Times, about 100 undergraduates will benefit from the scholarships each year.

Now while this is the single largest donation in the university’s history for undergraduate scholarships, it isn’t the Morks first philanthropic gift to the school. In 2005, the family contributed $15 million to the USC Viterbi School of Engineering that resulted in the naming of the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science after the Mork family. And this time around, to show their appreciation, USC will place a plaque with the names and images of the Mork family at Bovard Auditorium.

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Sallie Mae to Cut Student Loan Interest Rates

May 17, 2011

Sallie Mae to Cut Student Loan Interest Rates

by Suada Kolovic

Here at Scholarships.com, we love the idea of students going to college debt-free but the reality is that student loans, for the most part, are a necessity in today’s educational world. And while private student loans should be a last resort when paying for college, it can help bridge the gap for families who have maxed out federal loan limits. The silver lining: Sallie Mae is lowering its interest rates on student loans.

The new cap on Sallie Mae’s rate will be 9.875 percent plus LIBOR, which is the interest rate that banks charge each other for loans. The new lowest available rate will be LIBOR plus 2 percent, which reflects a half percent rate reduction. But remember, the exact interest rate Sallie Mae assigns to a specific loan will vary depending on the borrower’s credit score and repayment option. They’re also offering students the option to make $25 monthly payments while they’re in school to counter interest costs or defer payments until graduation. Another added bonus: For loans disbursed between July 1 and Oct. 1, Sallie Mae is offering free tuition insurance for a year.

All these perks aside, Sallie Mae can’t compete with federal loans that come with a fixed rate of 6.8 percent but a cut in student loan interest rates is still a win in my book.

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Seven Tips for Repaying Your Student Loans

May 19, 2011

Seven Tips for Repaying Your Student Loans

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.
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