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by Paulina Mis

The idea that Ivy League schools are reserved for the rich and the richer may soon be a thing of the past. In fact, after unveiling its latest financial aid package, Stanford will become one of the most affordable schools in the country.

According to The Stanford Daily, undergraduate students whose parents make less than $60,000 will soon be spared the tuition, the room & board and other educational expenses. Those whose parents make less than $100,000 will have to pay for the living expenses, but tuition will still be taken care of. As far as the rest are concerned, tuition will soon increase.

The price for a year at Stanford will jump to $47,212 during the 2008-2009 school year—a ludicrous amount for the average family. Thankfully, the average family does not have to worry about it.

However, families whose liquid funds are much smaller than their paychecks and graduate students who do not reap  the benefits of this news are less than thrilled. What seems like a large income on paper may not translate into spending money for a number of families affected by the tuition hike. Students whose parents have large mortgages or investments will have a difficult time setting aside money for the new cost of Stanford. The same is true for graduate students who don’t receive federal Pell Grants to begin with.

Still, Stanford is keeping those who need aid the most in mind, and that's the bottom line. Okay, okay, there is more to that bottom line. In recent months, a number of distinguished schools have announced large increases in financial aid, and Stanford must worry about keeping up with the Joneses. After Duke, the University of Pennsylvania, Tufts, HaverfordSwarthmore and Harvard each stated their intent to make schools more accessible to all, others colleges and universities have been struggling to keep up.

Of course, most students aren’t headed for the Ivy Leagues, and the above only constitute a small minority of all colleges and universities. For most students dealing with financial woes and fears of burdensome student loans, scholarships are still an option. By conducting a free college scholarship search at Scholarships.com, students can find the money they need to complete their education—regardless of the school they attend.

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College Costs , College News


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by Paulina Mis

During the post-Inconvenient Truth months, I couldn't help but steadfastly pursue an eco-friendly lifestyle. Sure, I sporadically recycled before, but, regardless of attacks on film's accuracy, it made things happen for me. Thanks to a great deal of nagging and a plethora of guilt-tripping orations, I even convinced my mom to recycle--on occasion.

If you haven’t been swayed as of yet, here’s another good reason to go green: it pays. To encourage students to learn about the environment, alternative energy and about keeping the land and ecosystem safe, numerous scholarship providers have created eco-friendly scholarships. Check out the awards listed below for options you may benefit from, and conduct a free college scholarship search for additional information about college scholarships and grants.

The Vegetarian Resource Group Scholarship

Each year, the Vegetarian Resource Group gives away two $5,000 awards to students who promote vegetarianism in their schools and communities. Judges will look for essays that best demonstrate the student’s compassion, courage and commitment to promoting a peaceful world through vegetarianism. To be eligible, students must be high school seniors.

Beulah Frey Environmental Scholarship

Students residing in Allegheny, Armstrong, Butler, Beaver, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties may be eligible to win scholarships from the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania (ASWP). High school student who plan to major in a subject that relates to the environment can win $1,000 by applying. 

Volo Bog Offers Scholarships

Two awards in the sum of $1,000 will be awarded to students interested in pursuing a career related to the environment. Applicants must be high school students with a minimum 3.0 GPA and must reside in select Illinois counties.

Action For Nature International Young Eco-Hero Awards

The Action for Nature International Young Eco-Hero Award was created for environmentally-aware students between the ages of 8 and 16. Young kids and teens who have taken action to protect the environment will be recognized for their efforts.

Ben Meadows Natural Resource Scholarship  To be eligible for the Ben Meadows Natural Resource Scholarship, students must be juniors or seniors working towards a bachelor’s degree in majors that include agro forestry, urban forestry, environmental studies, natural resource management, natural resource recreation, wildlife management, wood science, fisheries management and related subjects. Two scholarships in the sum of $2,500 each will be awarded.


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by Paulina Mis

In February, attorney and father James Brady filed a lawsuit against Wheaton College for having charged the family a Wheaton-sized tuition bill during his daughter’s stay abroad. He estimated about $4,500 could have been saved had his daughter been billed for the cost of her South African university tuition. If European students heard the story, they too may have been upset—at the outrageous cost of a South African education.

It comes as no surprise that, even as the dollar weakens against its European counterparts, a college education is still most expensive in the United States. US students who study at four-year public colleges pay an average tuition of $6,185 per year; ones who study at private colleges pay $23,710. According to an article published by the Associated Press, book costs, room & board, living expenses and myriad university fees raise these numbers to $13,589 and $32,307 respectively.

While students abroad undoubtedly have problems of their own, paying for college is unlikely to top the charts. It’s still not uncommon for countries to provide a tuition-free education for all, with a reasonable length-of-study limit and minor fees. When you study in Brazil, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Norway or Sweden, you can breeze through school with bills that vary from small to nonexistent. In a number of more expensive areas, it may cost you a few thousand dollars. Even then, the government is likely to offer some sort of compensation grant.

US students don't leave their tuition problems behind after graduation. In fact, the problems often get worse. About two-thirds of students borrow to complete a college education. Those who borrow leave school with an average debt of about $19,000. Students who go to private schools and ones who stay for another degree are increasingly taking out student loans that exceed $100,000.

While it’s not unheard of for international students to borrow for an education, lower costs mean lower burdens. Oftentimes, income-contingent repayment plans and federal grants offered in exchange for good school performance are an option for struggling students. Comparable opportunities are few and far between for US students. Instead, many overwhelmed students return home again financially dependent on their parents.

That is not to say that tuition hasn't been growing elsewhere, with the United Kingdom being a prime example. In 1998, some college students in the UK were asked to pay for their education, a change that had students taking to the streets in protest.  For the 2007-2008 school year, the UK tuition cap was controversially increased to £3,070 ($6,155), a price that would still make private universities blush, one that would make James Brady rethink his lawsuit. 

Rising tuition may not be uncommon, but we have perfected the trend. Unfortunately, legislation cannot be willed into action. Until federal Pell Grants increase significantly and tuition costs drop dramatically, students can look to college scholarships and grants for assistance. By completing a free college scholarship search, students can find information about numerous awards they may be eligible to receive.


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by Paulina Mis

After an anxious wait on the part of students and lenders, President Bush finally signed the College Cost Reduction and Access Act into law. And you know this is big if MTV reported on the bill even though partying at club Les Deux wasn’t involved.

According to the new law, the maximum Pell Grant offered to students will increase while the subsidies the government offers student lenders will decrease. This is the biggest boost in student aid since the GI Bill for veterans---and a fresh change from the 2005 $12 billion financial aid cut.

Among those who will benefit are needy students eligible for government grants and those who borrow from the government. Currently, students are eligible to receive a maximum $4,310 Pell Grant each year. This number will increase gradually, reaching a high of $5,400 by 2012.

Under the act, new subsidized Stafford loan interest rates will also be cut. A low point of 3.4 percent will be available to students who borrow between July 1, 2011 and July 1, 2012. Unfortunately, students will have to wait until 2008 to take advantage of this change. Until then, they are stuck with the current fixed 6.8 percent loan interest rate.

Students who plan to teach in low-income neighborhoods after graduating may also benefit. Future teachers may receive a $4,000 TEACH Grant for each year they attend school (up to $16,000 for undergraduates and $8,000 for graduates), but a pretty detailed list of additional eligibility criteria must also be met.

The bill was largely a result of New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s investigation into illegal actions within the $85 billion student loan industry. The investigation revealed that numerous financial aid administrators, including one from the Department of Education, received financial incentives from lenders who hoped to improve their standing with schools.

Some of the financial aid changes outlined in the act were previously considered, but Cuomo’s investigation provided much-needed impetus. Although Bush had initially threatened to veto the bill, he agreed to sign once recommended changes were made. In a White House photo, the president is shown signing the bill with four smiling college students, three smiling congressmen and a smiling Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings looking over his shoulder. A sign that read, “Making College More Affordable” hung from his desk.


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Meet Scholarships.com's Virtual Interns: Radha Jhatakia

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!


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College: The Ultimate Life Lesson

by Radha Jhatakia

There are many things I wish I knew before I started college...or even a year or two in! Tips about what professors are difficult, what dining halls serve the best food and where to find the dorms with the most square footage are quite often available but the biggest tip – which you won’t realize until you’re done with school – is that college itself teaches you how to get by in life.

The process begins before college with the prep work you do. You take six classes a semester in high school when during college you take three to five classes depending on the semester or quarter system. You take the SAT or ACT, which test your ability to take a test itself, not your intellectual abilities. You participate in every extracurricular possible to make your transcripts appealing, only to realize that those activities won’t really matter on campus. All of these tasks are tests: In college, you’ll spread yourself thin between a job, challenging classes, clubs and your social life but thanks to your prep work, you’ll know how to balance it all.

Once you’re on campus, college prepares you for the obstacles and struggles that await everyone after graduation. You’ll take engineering courses, biology labs and communications lectures and complete projects and papers to gauge how well you can apply the material you’ve learned and tight deadlines to help you to think on your feet. Whether you’re finding a way to pay off student loans or trying to secure a job in your field, those seemingly small assignments you completed in college will have prepared you to deal with the real world.

You’ll gain a lot from your college experience – friends, memories, knowledge – but most importantly is your degree, a testimony that you will be able to make it in life beyond those hallowed halls.

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.


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Not Enough Financial Aid? You Still Have Options!

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.


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Credit Cards Are Not Magic and Other Money Management Tips

by Radha Jhatakia

Managing money is difficult for many people, not just college students! I’ve been taught to save every penny and paying for school myself has been the biggest reason but friends of mine who haven’t struggled as much don’t have the same outlook. For them, credit cards are magic and their parents are instant money taps.

My best friend is the reason I’m writing this article. She struggles with money but I don’t understand why. She’s been working since she was 16, her parents pay for school and bought her a car yet she doesn’t have a single dime saved! Ever hear the phrase “A penny saved is a penny earned?” I’m guessing she hasn’t but it’s true. Gaining a dollar doesn’t mean you have to spend it because in the future, you may not have that dollar. Here are a few more tips:

Having bad credit now may not matter to you but it will affect you in the future when you apply for home loans and car insurance. Be wise, spend wise and look up the rule of 72.

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.


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Confused in College? Contact a Counselor!

by Radha Jhatakia

You enter college with a major in mind and a plan to get a degree in it. You don’t let the fine print surrounding general education classes, major classes and GPA get in your way but you still may hit a snag or two. If this happens, seek out a counselor.

There is a difference between a general education (G.E.) counselor and a major counselor. A G.E. counselor is there to make sure you get your G.E.s done, have enough credits to graduate and have successfully completed all classes. A major counselor, on the other hand, will make sure you take all the classes you need to get your intended degree. Getting a degree and graduating are two very different things balancing on a fine line.

The assistance you get really depends on the counselor so meet with a few and select the one who “gets” you best. If you have a counselor who isn’t 100-percent sure of the university’s curriculum or graduation/degree requirements, switch as soon as you can; you don’t want to be filing your graduation petition only to realize you are missing a requirement! A good counselor will make it mandatory for you to meet with them a few times each semester to make sure you are on track. He or she will also help you with an education plan so that you know what is necessary to graduate. A great counselor will even recommend that you get a second opinion on his or her advice so don’t be afraid to do so.

You may have known what you wanted to major in forever but don’t let your pride get in the way of accepting some assistance. You’ll be better off for it even after you graduate...which you will, thanks to your counselor’s expertise!

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.


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Staying Safe and Having Fun Are Not Mutually Exclusive

by Radha Jhatakia

Your school needn’t be a known party school for there to be one...or many. Just remember, whether you are throwing a party or attending one, safety should be your first priority.

For party attendees:

  • Keep your beverages in hand. If you put your drink down, get a new one; it’s one of the best defenses against being slipped a “roofie” (aka the date rape drug).
  • Employ the buddy system. Guest lists grow by word of mouth so if you don’t personally know the host, take some friends with you. This will ensure you all arrive at the party and return home safely.
  • Practice safe sex. When some people drink at parties, they have indiscriminate sex. To avoid unwanted pregnancies and STDs, use the above tips or take protection with you whenever you go to a party just in case.
  • Don't give in to peer pressure. Have fun the way you want to have fun. If you're uncomfortable with something going on, remove yourself from the situation.

For party hosts:

  • Card hard. It doesn’t matter if the person is your best friend or if you don’t want to seem lame: If you are caught with someone under 21 at your party, you will be charged with serving alcohol to minors.
  • Be aware. Minors and people in possession of drugs and other illegal items can enter your place of residence if you’re not paying attention. If they are caught, you will pay the price.
  • Manage damage. If something breaks or someone spills, make sure the mess is dealt with or you’ll most likely lose your security deposit.
  • Eliminate alcohol completely. You don't need to get drunk to have a good time. Game nights and movie marathons are just as entertaining!

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.


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