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Books on the House!

National Academies Press Puts All 4,000 Books Online for Free

June 3, 2011

Books on the House!

by Suada Kolovic

If you’re a college student on a budget, everything’s coming up roses for you today. Not only is it National Doughnut Day, where you can snag a complimentary tasty treat at Dunkin’ Donuts or Krispy Kreme (I did!) but the National Academies Press announced it will offer its entire PDF catalog of books for free. You read that right! The press, which is the publishing arm of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council, will offer files that can be downloaded by anyone absolutely free of charge.

Barbara Kline Pope, executive director for the press, said it had previously offered 65 percent of its titles – ones that were narrow in scope – for free. “The 35 percent that we are adding today will reach a wider audience, and we are doing it because it’s central to our mission to get this information to everyone,” she said. What can students, educators or anyone for that matter look forward to? A wide array of titles including “Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Management of Chemical Hazards,” which costs $99.95 in hardcover. (Woah!)

“Eight years ago, if we did this, we would have lost substantial amounts of money,” Pope said. “But our costs have come down a lot, and our institution says they will stand behind us even if we do lose money.” Let’s hope this trend catches on and others jump on the freebie bandwagon!


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Top 10 Least Expensive Public Colleges for In-State Students

by Suada Kolovic

It seems like students are willing to do just about anything to save on tuition, from saying “I do” to asking for handouts to applying early and often for college scholarships. But what if you’re not willing to take the plunge, have a sense of humility and scholarships just aren’t covering the astronomical costs tied to college tuition? Then attending a public school might be your best bet and to slash the bill even further, selecting an in-state public school is the way to go!

According to a survey conducted by U.S. News, the average tuition and fees for in-state residents among the 452 public colleges that reported data was $7,042 for the 2010-11 school year. Check out the 10 least expensive public schools for in-state students, accounting for tuition and required fees (but not room and board, books, transportation or other miscellaneous college costs) below.

  1. New Mexico Highlands University
  2. Macon State College
  3. Fayetteville State University
  4. California State University—Northridge
  5. Elizabeth City State University
  6. University of Wyoming
  7. University of North Carolina—Pembroke
  8. North Carolina A&T State University
  9. Eastern New Mexico University
  10. Fort Hays State University

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Helpful Tips on Maximizing Merit Aid

by Suada Kolovic

Figuring out the bottom line when it comes to the cost of your college education is definitely a stressful part of the process. With everything that goes into determining your financial aid package (your parents’ income, your earnings and your family’s net assets), it’s important to understand that merit aid – aid based on a student’s attributes (academics, athletics, extracurriculars, etc.) – is available to student regardless of their “need.” New federal rules are blurring the distinction between scholarships awarded on merit and grants awarded because of a student’s financial need – for instance, a growing number of colleges now award “need-based” aid to students from families earning six figures! Who would have thunk it?! So, we’ve compiled a few helpful tips to maximize your chances for merit aid and increase your overall financial aid package.

  • Fill out the FAFSA. Federal rules have changed. College aid officials are now allowed to award need-based aid to students whose parents earned decent salaries last year but have recently been laid off, as well as make accommodations for a family’s unique circumstances, such as high medical bills.
  • Apply to schools where you’d rank at the top. While your dream school might be an Ivy League, you should apply to at least a few colleges where your GPA would put you in the top 25 percent of the student body.
  • Apply to schools that offer generous need-based aid. In the 2009-10 academic year, Louisiana College reported that 88 percent of students were receiving non-need based financial aid. Do the schools you’re considering boast the same kind of aid?
  • Do the research. If you’re interested in a college, find out what it has to offer when it comes to merit aid. You might qualify for more awards than you think!
  • Before making a final decision, compare net prices. Consider the cost of attendance in its entirety including tuition and fees, room and board, books and transportation. The school that offers the most in merit aid might not be the best choice; sometimes the college offering the largest merit scholarship might have the highest net price because its tuition is higher.
  • Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Believe it or not, you have negotiating leverage when it comes to your merit aid package. If you have received admission letters from two or more universities and your first choice has a higher net price than your second choice, contact that institution! Some schools might be willing to match the merit aid offered, which would provide you the opportunity to attend your first choice school for less money!

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Businessweek’s Top Undergrad Business Schools

by Suada Kolovic

Interested in a career in business? You’re not alone. Year after year, Business Management and Administration are reported to be among the most popular college majors with students today. Why? Because not only is it a profitable major, but a business education can lead to a broad range of careers. So, if you're interested in a career that is in high demand and practical, check out the top undergrad business schools according to Businessweek.

The rankings are based on student satisfaction, post graduation outcomes and academic quality. Businessweek surveyed approximately 28,000 students from 113 institutions to describe their experiences. Then asked 246 recruiters to identify which institutions provide the best new hires and have the most innovative programs. From more information on this survey and the complete list of institutions ranked check out Businessweek. And if you’re concerned about how you’re going to pay for this lucrative education in business, conduct a free scholarship search today!


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Controversy: Scholarships for White Men Only

by Suada Kolovic

A non-profit group in Texas is offering college scholarships to a demographic it says has fewer scholarship opportunities than other groups – white males.

The group, called the Former Majority Association for Equality (FMAFE), was formed by Texas State University student Colby Bohannan. He’s an Iraq war veteran who decided to return to school but said he had trouble finding college scholarships for which he qualified. "I felt excluded," Bohannon told The Austin American-Statesman. "If everyone else can find scholarships, why are we [white males] left out?" So Bohannon and some friends founded FMAFE group, which plans to provide as many as five $500 scholarships to deserving white men – at least 25 percent Caucasian to be exact – who have at least a 3.0 grade point average and substantiate financial need. "We know that we're going to be receiving some vicious attacks, from people claiming that we are racists, or promoting some bigotry-filled agenda," he said. But Bohannan reiterates that the group’s aim is to help students and not jump on any political agenda or bandwagon.

The group was formally incorporated in Texas last March, and is currently accepting applications for Fall 2011. "We're not looking for blond-haired, blue-eyed, stereotypical white males," he said. "My feeling is that if you can say you're 25 percent Caucasian, you're Caucasian enough for us."


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March Means Deadlines, Deadlines, Deadlines!

by Suada Kolovic

Deadlines and due dates are serious stressors for almost everyone on the planet and this anxiety is only intensified when there’s money on the line. In the month of March, scholarship deadlines are ample and abundant to say the least and here at Scholarships.com, we know that you’re so busy during the school year with homework, extracurricular obligations and jobs that finding the time to successfully apply for scholarships and actually meeting those scholarship application deadlines can seem downright impossible. With the right strategy and willpower, however, you can stay on track and easily defeat those deadlines woes.

Perhaps the best advice for meeting scholarship application deadlines is to be honest with yourself about what you’re likely to finish and how long it’s likely to take you. If you know that you’re not going to be able to write a scholarship-worthy essay in less than a day, then you should either give yourself more time to prepare a particular scholarship application or to cross that essay scholarship off your list of potential sources of scholarship money. The key to effectively meeting scholarship application deadlines and winning scholarships is to effectively prioritize your scholarship opportunities and application efforts. Don’t strain yourself, don’t procrastinate and don’t force yourself into a situation where you must submit subpar work. Give yourself time, get organized and prepare as much as possible beforehand and you’ll be on well on your way to success in your scholarship search.

Below are some scholarships with fast-approaching applications deadlines. Remember, the sooner you start your scholarship search the better; it really could make all the difference when it comes to making a serious dent in your post-college financial situation.

  • GE-Reagan Foundation Scholarships

    Honoring the legacy and character of our nation's 40th President, this program rewards up to 20 college-bound students who demonstrate exemplary leadership, drive, integrity, and citizenship with financial assistance to pursue higher education. These renewable scholarships are $10,000 annually per recipient – that’s potentially up to $40,000 per recipient over the course of their college careers. The application deadline is March 18th.
  • The "You Like Me…You Really Like Me" Facebook Scholarship

    The "You Like Me...You Really Like Me" Facebook Scholarship will go to the Scholarships.com fan that is making the best use of our website’s many resources as determined by comments on our Facebook page. Love our scholarship search? Tell us why! Is our financial aid info really helping you out? Send us an example! Think our college prep section is the best? Give us a shout out! The application deadline is March 31st.
  • Zinch Weekly "Three Sentence Essay" Scholarship

    Writing three sentences and banking $1,000 to put toward college may seem like a dream but it is indeed a reality with the Three Sentence Essay from Zinch. Though many essay scholarships have word count requirements in the hundreds or thousands, Zinch caps theirs at 280 characters and requires applicants to respond to a prompt that changes on a weekly basis. All high school and college students (including international students) are eligible to participate so go ahead and check out the prompt, think about it some and submit a concise yet thoughtful answer worthy of $1,000.
  • Kohl's Cares Scholarship Program

    The Kohl’s Cares® Scholarship Program recognizes and rewards young volunteers (ages 6-18) whose efforts have made a positive impact on their communities. This year, Kohl’s plans to recognize more than 2,100 kids with prizes ranging from $50 Kohl’s Gift Cards to $1,000 or $10,000 scholarships. Nominations accepted online from February 1st through March 15th. Winners are chosen based on the project, benefits and outcomes.
  • GoDaddy.com .ME Scholarship

    The Go Daddy .ME Scholarship is all about YOU! Do you have what it takes to be a Go Daddy Scholar? We want to know how the Internet or Internet technology (e.g., websites, blogs, forums, social media, etc.) has helped you during the course of your studies. Have you used the Internet to advance your athletic, artistic or intellectual pursuits? How do you envision benefitting from it through college and beyond? Tell us in 500 words or less and you can become one of 10 Go Daddy Scholars to receive $10,000 for your college tuition. The application deadline is March 15th.

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GOP Congressman: Pell Grants are Becoming ‘The Welfare of the 21st Century’

by Suada Kolovic

The GOP is no stranger to controversy and Friday’s interview with Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) was no exception. In a radio interview with Blog Talk Radio, Rehberg went on a rant in which he compared the Pell Grant Program – the nation’s largest financial aid program – to the likes of welfare and denounced the fact that students who receive them don’t have a graduation requirement. "You can go to school, collect your Pell Grants, get food stamps, low-income energy assistance, section 8 housing, and all of a sudden we find ourselves subsidizing people that don’t have to graduate from college.” Rehberg added under the federal program, a student could "go to school for nine years on Pell Grants and you don’t even have to get a degree."

Jason Delisle, director of the Federal Education Budget Project at the New America Foundation, took issue with Rehberg's comments. "I don't know if it's a fair characterization that someone has decided to go through the hoops of applying to college, getting enrolled and showing up every day because it's the welfare lifestyle," he said. "If the issue is people are being lazy and living off the dole, so to speak, I don't think their first step is to enroll in college."

For the 2012 fiscal year, the Pell Grant program is set to exceed $40 billion. Some lawmakers have been exploring ways to reduce the cost of the programs by lowering the maximum grant size – which is currently $5,550 – or restricting eligibility. In Montana, Rehberg recently voted for the House GOP budget resolution, which would reduce the maximum Pell Grant to $4,705 and narrow the eligibility of applicants. If you’re eligible for Pell Grants, what do you think? Are Rehberg’s assumptions out of line?


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Which Colleges Are Worth the Sticker Price?

Colleges with the Highest Return on Your Investment

April 8, 2011

Which Colleges Are Worth the Sticker Price?

by Suada Kolovic

With all this talk about possible Pell Grant cuts, acceptance rates plummeting and universities facing serious tuition hikes – Arizona universities could face hikes of up to 22% – which schools are worth the outrageous sticker price of about $200,000? According to PayScale.com’s annual survey of colleges with the highest return on investment rates, the California Institute of Technology tops the list with a 12.2% annual return. PayScale’s data is pulled from 1.4 million pay reports from persons who obtained bachelors degrees in the last 20 years, for more on their methodology click here. Check out who made the cut below:


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UCs Out-of-State Solution

UCs Accept Highest-Ever Rate of Non-Residents

April 20, 2011

UCs Out-of-State Solution

by Suada Kolovic

With California universities facing massive budget cuts in the upcoming year, the state has turned to a creative way to fill the void: According to data released by the University of California, out-of-state and international student admissions are at an all-time high and these students are paying pay about $23,000 more a year than their in-state counterparts.

The LA Times reports that applicants from other states or countries made up 18.1% of the 72,432 students admitted to at least one of the nine undergraduate UC campuses, up from 14% last year. At UC Berkley and UCLA – two of the most selective colleges in the UC System – the trend of accepting out-of-state and international students was most dramatic at 31.2% and 29.9% respectively. Why? The UC system is dealing with a crippling decline of investments from the state of California. Bloomberg reports that the state's current UC funding is back at 1998 levels, despite an additional university campus and 70,000 more students.

So where does this leave Californians who were looking forward to the affordability and convenience of a state school? With a slim chance that there’s a fat envelope headed their way. The fact is that higher acceptance rates for non-Californians means that more state residents were denied admissions at their first- and second- choice state campuses. Do you think it’s reasonable for schools in such serious financial strains to accept students based on their home addresses?


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Wharton MBA Earns a Whopping $350,000 Starting Salary

by Suada Kolovic

You read correctly, a Wharton graduate nabbed the highest annual base salary last year with a private equity firm in New York. The staggering $350,000 starting salary was more than three times the median base salary – $110,000 – of the MBA’s classmates. Yet, these high paying salaries are anything but unique: MBAs from some of the top business schools in the U.S. – Wharton, Stanford, U. Chicago, Columbia and Northwestern – reported that the highest base salary received by a 2010 graduate was $300,000 or more. These figures come from annual summaries of employment of the most recent graduating class. The Wharton MBA career report, which gets its data from student surveys, includes information on compensation, location of employment and the industries in which the graduates now work.

According to management professor Mathew Bidwell, it is both the characteristics of the individual and of the job itself that lead to large starting salaries. “These [private equity] firms tend to have reasonably few people managing very large sums of money,” said Bidwell, whose research focuses on employment. “As you get more senior, each person potentially has quite a substantial impact on the success or the failure of the fund.”

At Wharton, the $350,000 salary earned last year isn’t even a record. In 2009, the top-earning graduate landed a $420,000 base salary…wow. Now, I’m sure you’re thinking where do I sign up, but how important is a high paying salary to you? Are you thinking about changing career paths in order to rake in the dough?


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