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JetBlue Will Pay for Your College

Apr 19, 2016

by Susan Dutca

JetBlue is helping higher education dreams take flight by offering to pay their student-employees' entire tuition bill. College tuition reimbursement is a recent trend by employer-sponsored programs, but this company is allowing their employees to soar through college by paying it all up front.

Some other employer-sponsored college degree programs - like the Starbucks College Achievement Plan - offer to reimburse students once they've earned their degree, help cover a portion of courses costs, or other discounts. The JetBlue Scholars program is offering to pay for employees' associate's degrees. Students wishing to earn a bachelor's degree and who have earned at least 15 college credits will have to pay $3,500 for capstone courses on their own or through scholarships. JetBlue is partnering with Thomas Edison State University - an online, public university in New Jersey to offer the aforementioned degrees. Since its debut in August, 400 JetBlue employees have applied for the program and each student receives in-person coaching and mentorship from one of six JetBlue’s success coaches. Roughly 1,000 of its 18,000 employees are anticipated to participate in the program annually.

Students are able to use their job skills, knowledge, and experience and apply them as learning credits. Though it may not feel like the typical college experience, it is particularly convenient for adults, employees, and nontraditional students. To help those who have been out of school for a while, the coaches "apply to Thomas Edison Sate on behalf of the students" and monitor their credit transfers, provide the different degree options, and create a course schedule for the students. The online program runs through three platforms, including StraighterLine, Sophia Learning, and Study.com.

Is it too good to be true? One professor thinks this initiative is just a way to make the headlines and isn't so much about what's in the student's best interest but rather, it "is being set up on terms favorable for the company." Nonetheless, it's likely that more companies will follow in Starbucks' and JetBlue's footsteps. Other large corporations such as Pizza Hut, Anthem Insurance, and Fiat Chrysler have also jumped on this initiative.

You can pay for any college costs with scholarships. Whether you owe $3,500 or $35,000 there are easy to large dollar scholarships to help reduce your overall cost of attending college. Take JetBlue's advice (and ours) and help foot the rest of your bill with scholarships.

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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Parents, Students Paying $1.5 Billion A Year for Remedial College Courses

Apr 12, 2016

by Susan Dutca

What happens when half a million students are forced to take zero credit, remedial college courses? Parents and students must pay roughly $1.5 million and borrow $350 billion extra a year - even if 74 percent of those students end up delaying college or dropping out. Not only does it break the bank for low-income families, but yes, the affluent families as well. Who's to blame for college unpreparedness?

According to a new report by researchers at Education Reform Now, "American families across all income levels are spending billions each year in extra college costs." Though the common perception is that remedial courses are only available for low-income students or community colleges, it extends to middle, upper-middle, high-income, and many colleges of well. In particular, some of the most affluent students at private nonprofit four-year colleges (the top 20 percent) are taking more remedial courses than students from the bottom 20 percent of national family incomes. Statistics show that over $12,000 extra has been spent by unprepared students from the top income quintile (incomes over $113,440) attending private nonprofit institutions. On average, about $3,000 is paid extra, and $1,000 borrowed to complete remedial courses. Additionally, unprepared students are more likely to delay completing college - or simply drop out. The issue of college unpreparedness is not limited to minority or low-income students, but it penetrates all income levels.

But who's to blame? Researchers point to the "expansive failure of our K-12 education system" and recommend giving secondary assessment when accessing college readiness. Some believe that we are focusing on the wrong topics and should, for example, teach statistics and not algebra since it will be more practical and useful post-college. Others blame the way in which students are evaluated through the "traditional method of scoring." Proponents of the Common Core State Standards, including President Obama and even some conservative allies believe that the "common-sense logic" is premised on the skills necessary to successfully participate and compete in the 21st-century economy and global market. Some schools have already addressed the issue by implementing a "corequisite remediation" model which allows students to take for-credit courses while being enrolled in a "learning support class to help them master the material."

Should both high schools and students be held accountable for their college readiness? Remedial courses are depleting students' financial aid and savings, and have them asking professors whether they know of any scholarships that are intended to help students who have run out of financial aid. You can count on ample scholarship opportunities here at Scholarships.com to leave you financially prepared for college costs. From easy scholarships where you hardly have to do anything to essay scholarships, you have the chance to help fund your higher education dreams.

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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February is Financial Aid Awareness Month

Feb 4, 2016

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 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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Pell Grants for Prisoners? Obama Says Yes

Jan 28, 2016

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 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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Netflix, Facebook Founders to Dole Out Billions for Education Reform

Jan 14, 2016

by Susan Dutca

New year, new initiatives; funded by big name billionaires. Many college students may spend time perusing Facebook or enjoying popular hit series on Netflix such as House of Cards or Orange is the New Black, but the big dogs who founded these entertainment mediums are coming out with greater initiatives: focusing to improve education.

The phrase "the more you have, the more you want" never resonated well with 31-year-old billionaire and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Netflix Cofounder and CEO Reed Hastings isn't a big fan of school boards. What do these big shot billionaires share in common? A strategic plan to invest big money in the nation's future education.

Netflix and...Education

Most people are more familiar with the name Netflix than they are that of the man behind it, Reed Hastings - but that could be about to change. Hastings recently took to Facebook to announce a $100,000,000 philanthropic endeavor: the Hastings Fund. The fund will focus on children's education, as reported by Senior Writer Ben Fox Rubin from CNET News. Hastings has served as President of the Technology Network, served on the California Board of Education for four years, donated $1 million to Proposition 39, and much more. In addition, he has also been part of other academies and programs dedicated to developing teaching videos, with a primary concern of growing high-quality charter schools and developing technology that could transform education. He admits he was never "good at following orders," and volunteered for the Peace Corps. in Swaziland, foregoing the opportunity to "buy yachts" in favor of improving K-12 education and trying to "figure out why our education is lagging when technology is increasing at great rates..." Offering a long-term solution would come from expanding charter schools was his intention while attending Stanford. Netflix got in the way, and Hastings never graduated from Stanford, but his education initiatives and dreams lived on. CNET News reports The Hasting Funds' first two gifts will be given to the United Negro College Fund and to the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley, a "total of $1.5 million to support the education of black and Latino college education." Forbes estimates Hasting's net worth surpasses $1 billion, including $900 million in Netflix stock and options.

Facebook CEO Giving $45 billion for Education

Inspired by the birth of their daughter, Max, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan announced a new initiative to dole out 99% of their Facebook shares - valued at $45 billion - throughout their lifetime to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. The world's largest social media CEO intends to "improve this world for the next generation," according to Zuckerberg. Furthermore, he claims the mission to change the world is a "basic moral responsibility to tilt our investments." Primary areas of focus will be on personalized learning, curing disease, connecting people and building strong communities, according to the couple's open letter to their newborn daughter, Maxima.

The organization would be a limited liability company (LLC) as opposed to a traditional philanthropic organization. Though inspired by the $41 billion Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, it differs in that the Gates Foundation is structured as a tax-exempt, non-profit foundation and charitable trust, and is a 501 (3)(c). The Gates Foundation is not only well-known for its profits but for its efforts battling global poverty, the spread of deadly curable diseases, and improving education overall. Though Zuckerberg has a different philanthropic approach from the Gates Foundation, Gates commented that, "As for your decision to give back so generously, and to deepen your commitment now, the first word that comes to mind is: Wow. The example you're setting today is an inspiration to us and the world."

There has been skepticism and criticism in Zuckerberg's choice of structure, as it could potentially maneuver around legal structures and tax strategies. In response to criticism, he claims "The beauty of having an LLC in today's world is No.1, you have the ability to act and react as nimbly as need be to create change." Zuckerberg, for example, would be able to make political donations and is not required to give 5 percent of its value annually. Regardless of how the funds are allocated, the couple's focus is to gradually seek long-term solutions as opposed to pouring all money into one issue, as evidenced by Zuckerberg in his letter to his daughter;" We must make long-term investments over 25, 50, or even 100 years...the greatest challenges require very long time horizons and cannot be solved by short-term thinking."

Do you support or oppose this initiative by top CEO's when it comes to education? Leave us your thoughtful 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 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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Fixing FAFSA: Acquiring Financial Aid to be Easier, Quicker

Sep 25, 2015

by Susan Dutca

If you've ever had to fill out a FAFSA for college, you may have felt as though you need an accounting degree to understand it, much less complete it. With over 130 questions and averaging 30 minutes to complete, the complexity and tedium of filing for financial aid has been a barrier for students in attending college or receiving the financial aid for which they qualify. The Department of Education announced an initiative Monday to simplify the process and beginning in October 2016, students and their families will be able to complete a simpler FAFSA application.

Currently, students must wait until after most college application deadlines to apply for federal aid - the new FAFSA amendments will enable application as early as October 1 and better align students with college deadlines. The current January 1 application opens after many college application periods have closed and students may not know their entire financial aid package before committing to a college. With the new amendments, students will have a better understanding of the actual cost of their college education. Federal Student Aid awards $150 billion in grants, loans and other types of financial assistance annually. Sadly, about 2 million students enrolled in college who would qualify for a Federal Pell Grant never applied for aid. With the new initiative, the plan to improve the process of applying for federal aid will include:

  • Earlier application - Information for the FAFSA will be readily available around the same time high school students are searching for, and applying to college, meaning less pressure and stress. The current FAFSA application opens January 1 and cannot be completed until after April 15, when tax forms are due.
  • Simpler application - A new data retrieval tool will allow applicants to electronically access tax information directly from the IRS, after filing their 2015 tax returns. This means less income estimates and errors and more accuracy.
  • More students assisted - It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of students, especially first-generation and minority students, will apply for and enroll in college as a result of a simpler FAFSA. In 2013, roughly $45 million was left on the table in Pell Grants due to the complexity of the application.
  • More colleges assisted - As many as 3 million hours are spent annually by colleges and universities verifying FAFSA Information. With the new data retrieval tool from the IRS, colleges and universities will have less trouble verifying tax return information.
  • Do you think the new amendments to the current FAFSA will benefit students as they apply for financial aid earlier and with a simpler application? If you are interested in learning more about FAFSA, federal aid, grants and scholarships, read some of our tips on funding your college education.

    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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    Dietary Restrictions in the Dining Hall

    Sep 21, 2015

    by Christina Zhou

    Although schools are becoming increasingly diverse with its food options, the situation is still fairly grim for those who have special dietary considerations. Foods with strong dietary specifications, such as vegetarianism or religious dietary products, can be difficult to come by and usually do not have many options. However, this deficit can be resolved with the following tips:

    • Stock up on stock. For many, buying the raw ingredients for the foods that they want to eat is unfeasible both practically and financially. However, soups are both easy to prepare and cheap to buy. Additionally, they keep fresh for a long time and can be bought in bulk.
    • Join a group. Nowadays, you can find almost any sort of club you want on a college campus. Try finding a group out there that fits your needs. These sorts of clubs often have get-togethers with opportunities for free food. This way, you have easy access to the foods you need and can bond with other students.
    • Bring snacks. Look into nearby stores and see if you can find options there. Simple things like dried fruit and granola bars are usually cheap and keep fresh for a long time. If you live close enough, you can also try to bring some food supplies from home.
    • Seek out advice resources. There are many nutrition and food services available for students, including dining services and student health. Ask about feasible options nearby as well as nutritional information. Additionally, take advantage of the most underused resource: current students. Talk to them and find out what they do to get around these dining problems. This goes for many other situations as well. The upperclassmen have gone through the same college struggles as you, and are usually more than happy to give advice.
    • 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!

    Comments (17)

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    College Budgets , College Life , Tips , Virtual Intern

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    The Text Book Game

    Aug 24, 2015

    by Christina Zhou

    You’re starting college, excited to be embarking on the next big adventure, and…is that flimsy textbook really $500? For many students, the prospect of obtaining the course booklist on the typical college allowance may seem daunting at first. However, the following tips on how to be smart when buying textbooks can help you save a lot of tears and money.

    • Wait and see. Some (cruel) professors will put texts on the course booklist and never end up using them, causing students to waste money by rushing out and buying them immediately. It’s a good idea to wait a couple days to see which books you really need. Also, try asking previous students which books they used.
    • Ask upperclassmen. Speaking of previous students, upperclassmen can also be a great source for cheap textbooks. If you’re lucky, they might even give them to you for free!
    • Buy used, and online. This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at the number of students who immediately go to the campus bookstore and buy hardcover before looking up the prices of paperback from alternate online sellers. Amazon, eBay, and Chegg are good starting points for your search. However, make sure to check their approval rating before purchasing, as a good price is not worth poor quality.
    • Utilize the library. Schools will sometimes keep a copy or two of popular textbooks in the library. Get there fast before they’re gone, as you are competing with many other students for what is at most a handful of copies.
    • Embrace technology. Print might feel good, but the higher price won’t. Opt for e-books instead, to save on both money and backpack space.
    • Get your money back. Selling your own textbooks after you’re finished with them is a great method to get back some of the initial expense.
    • 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!

    Comments (4)

    Sexual Assault on Campus

    Jul 27, 2015

    by Emily Rabinowitz

    Every week we hear a new story about sexual assault on the college campus. By now the fact that 20% of females and 5% of men “reported being sexually assaulted either by physical force or while incapacitated” is no longer surprising. What most people are surprised about is the fact that 82% of the time, the perpetrator is known to the victim.

    We all know that college is the time to explore new experiences, especially when it comes to relationships and intimacy. However, whether you’re an upperclassmen or a high school student, it’s important to know what resources are and should be available at your school and community if you ever find yourself in a position where you or a friend are in need of help.

    Title IX is a civil right that ensures non-discrimination on the college campus based off of gender and sex. Each school is different in what services they provide via Title IX but they are required by law to have an established procedure for dealing with sexual assault cases.

    Hotlines: Your school may have a crisis intervention team or health office that you can contact if you feel the need. However, many individuals do not immediately feel comfortable sharing their story with officials or friends. There are a variety of hotlines that provide anonymous services:

    Rape, Abuse, Incest, National Network (RAINN) offers an online hotline here: https://ohl.rainn.org/online/ and a telephone line: 800-656-HOPE.

    National Domestic Violence hotline offers online services here: http://www.thehotline.org/ and on the phone 1-800-799-7233

    National Teen Dating Abuse Online Helpline can be accessed here: http://www.loveisrespect.org/

    *Remember, if you are in immediate danger, call 911.

    It is always a good idea to review the policies your school has set in place and make sure that you feel comfortable with them. Because the majority of sexual assault instances occur with acquaintances, be sure to brush up on your understanding of consent and have an open and honest conversation with your partner.

    Does reading this article make you sick to your stomach? Do something about it and conduct a college scholarship search at Scholarships.com to see what student body is waiting for you to lead 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!

    Comments (2)

    A Winning Recipe for College Dining

    Jul 20, 2015

    by Erica Lewis

    Food is important to any college student. Who doesn't love food? When college begins, it's important to think about all of the dining options that are available. Many campuses offer dining halls on campus, with smaller schools having one or two options and larger universities boasting more choices. There are many advantages to eating on campus, the biggest one being convenience: Not only are your options close by but payment is often as easy as swiping your student ID. Many students may be tempted to eat off campus but that can mean going through a lot of money in a hurry.

    Whether on or off campus, it is important to think about the amount of money being spent on food; however, this is especially important if living off campus where you can't necessarily eat at the dining halls for every meal. Buying fast food can seem like a cheaper option but it will add up over time. Money can be saved by buying food at the grocery store; your meals will usually be healthier, too. This could be the nudge you need to learn how to cook!

    Finally, I recommend taking advantage of any opportunities to get free food! This varies from campus to campus but there are usually plenty of chances to get free food if you look for them. (At UNL, for example, many of the less-popular sports offer free food to students for attending.) Other opportunities could be handouts from your campus rec center or from your RA at dorm floor meetings. As a college student, you'll quickly learn to take advantage of anything that's free!

    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!

    Comments (2)

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