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Pell Grants

August 29, 2007

by Scholarships.com Staff

Some of the best things in life are free, especially when it comes to financial aid. Students who fill out a FAFSA will quickly realize that a world of financial assistance is at their fingertips. Of all government aid, Pell Grants are definitely the sweetest. Providing aid to millions of undergraduate students each year, the Pell Grant is the largest grant program in the U.S.

Used loosely, a grant is a monetary award that does not need to be repaid. Graduate school grants tend to come with some research strings attached, but not the Pell Grants. All students who submit a FAFSA will be automatically considered for Pell Grants, and all they need to do is to fill out the admittedly pesky form. Information about whether they qualify for aid and how much aid they qualify for will be sent to students by their respective colleges. These school "award letters" will usually arrive sometime between March and April, though dates do vary.

Students who got into college by the hairs of their chinny chin chin need not worry about being ruled out for aid. Pell grant money has nothing to do with GPA, athletics, involvement, talents, and all other things that make the average student shudder. These awards are based mainly on financial need.

If you are raising your eyebrow suspiciously, you deserve a pat on the back: Pell Grants are not perfect. The government can help you, but only to a point. Aside from the financial aid eligibility issue, Pell Grants have fairly low caps. For the 2007-2008 year, the maximum Pell Grant award is $4,310, and this is not the award most students will receive. The amount of aid a student will receive depends on financial need, the cost of school attendance and the length of stay. The hourly status of a student is also considered. Students who can fit their schoolbooks into a purse will receive less aid than those who attend full time. Graduate school students, unfortunately, are not even eligible. Students who cannot attend with under $5,000 in grants may need to look elsewhere for financial aid. Students who show extreme need, graduate from a competitive school or plan to major in the math & sciences may be eligible for additional government grants. Those who don’t should consider applying for scholarships, non-government grants and fellowships. A great place to perform a financial aid search is Scholarships.com. With 2.7 million scholarships & grants worth over $19 billion, Scholarships.com has something for everyone.

For more information on Pell Grants, visit Student Aid on the Web.

For additional information on financial aid, visit the Resources Section of Scholarships.com.

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FAFSA Grants

September 4, 2007

by Scholarships.com Staff

When combined with free scholarship and grant opportunities found at Scholarships.com, government grants can significantly decrease, if not completely cover, a student’s financial needs. Unlike loans, grants do not need to be repaid; unlike federal work study and assistantships, there is no labor involved. When students submit a FAFSA, they are automatically in the running to receive government need-based grants. The most well-known of these is the Pell Grant, but lesser-known government grants are also available. Here is a breakdown of grants students may find on their FAFSA award letters:

Pell Grants

The Pell Grant is the largest grant program in the United States, awarding undergraduates with millions each year. The Pell Grant is the foundation of all government aid. Seeing as Pell Grant money is free, awesome GPA or not, students should take advantage of all offers before moving on to Federal Work Study and government loans. Unfortunately, students don’t always get their fill with Pell Grants. During the 2007-2008 school year, students may only receive up to $4,310 in aid from Pell Grants, and not all eligible students receive this much. This may seem like a drop in the bucket for those who need $12,000 or more each year, but every penny counts.

FSEOG

Students with extreme need may be eligible for the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG). Like the Pell Grant, this is a grant for undergraduates. It is intended to provide additional assistance to the neediest of students, those with the lowest expected family contributions. Students may receive up to $4,000 each year in FSEOG funding, but awards may be as little as $100 per year. The award received will depend on the time of application, the level of need, and the rules at each school’s financial aid office.

Academic Competitiveness Grant

This is a new grant introduced during the 2006-2007 school year. Students who felt their merit-based aid opportunities were thwarted by grades that did not sufficiently reflect their abilities may receive some compensation. Up to $750 will be awarded to first-year undergraduates and up to $1,300 for second-year full-time undergraduates who have completed a difficult high school program. The state or local education agency is responsible for deciding which schools are deemed rigorous. For information on high school eligibility based on state, visit the Department of Education. As this is still a need-based grant program at heart, only students who were deemed needy enough for Pell Grants can receive Academic Competitiveness Grant money.

National SMART Grant

The National Science & Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (National SMART Grant) is awarded to third and fourth-year college students. Students who major in the physical, life or computer sciences, math, technology, engineering or a foreign language determined to be essential to national security may be able to supplement Pell Grants with SMART Grants. Up to $4,000 per year may be awarded to each recipient. A more detailed list of eligible fields of study may be found here.

Institutional Grants

In addition to government grants, students may find school grants on their award letters. These, unlike the government grants, usually take academic achievement into account. Some may also consider a student’s financial need. To find out more about institutional grants offered at each college, students should visit their school website and conduct a scholarship and grant search at Scholarships.com.

Additional Grants

Above is a list of grants students can receive by submitting their FAFSA, but students don’t need to stop there. Myriad scholarship and grant opportunities are available to them at Scholarships.com, and they aren’t restricted to undergraduates and those determined to be needy by government standards. To conduct a free scholarship and grant search, visit Scholarships.com, and find money for college.

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College Grants , FAFSA



Taxing Matters: Reporting Scholarships and Fellowships to the IRS

September 19, 2007

by Scholarships.com Staff

Scholarships are great, all free money is. But as is true for earned income, students who receive awards may have to report them to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). To be in the clear, undergraduate and graduate students should take the time to check if their scholarships and fellowships are tax free. As long as students are careful about how they spend the money, their awards will probably be tax exempt.

Scholarships and Grants are tax exempt if:

1. The recipient is a degree candidate at an educational institution with a regular faculty, curriculum and enrolled body of students who attend at the location of educational activities.

2. The scholarship money is used for required tuition, fees, books, supplies and equipment. Scholarship money used for room and board, travel and optional supplies is taxable.

3. The recipient is not accepting the scholarship in exchange for services received (e.g., teaching and research). This rule does not apply to scholarships received from the National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program or the Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship and Financial Assistance Program.

Sometimes, only a part of a student’s scholarship or fellowship will be taxable. For example, a student may receive $3,000 in fellowship money from a school. However, $2,000 of the money will be offered in exchange for assisting a professor in her research (fellowship money usually accompanies such stipulations.) The remaining $1,000 will not be taxed, as long as it is used for qualified school expenses. A student’s future research service earnings may have to be estimated and reported, even if the work has not yet been completed.

To be certain that all income is accounted for, students should take a look at scholarship conditions and whether they can be used to cover qualified expenses. Students who believe their scholarship and grant money may be taxable should report their award to the IRS. If the scholarship is not taxable and the student has no income aside from the scholarship, a tax return does not need to be filed.  To find additional information on scholarship, grant and fellowship opportunities, students should conduct a free scholarship search and take a look at Scholarship.com’s financial aid resources.

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Financial Aid Incentives for Teachers

September 27, 2007

by Scholarships.com Staff

Teaching is a reward in itself right? Maybe so, but not making enough money to live a comfortable lifestyle can sure taint that theory. Qualified primary and secondary school teachers are, and have been for a while, in high demand, especially in the Math and Sciences. They play a crucial role in educating the next generation, and they help to instill in students a sense of confidence and a love of learning. Plus, school is mandatory, and someone has to teach the classes.

The government has been trying to make teaching attractive for years, but it’s pretty hard to do without adequate financial bait. Teachers may not strike it big, but students who are still interested may be able to take advantage of certain funding incentives, especially if they choose to spend some time in low-income districts. Here are some options for current and future educators:

1. TEACH Grant: Now that President Bush has [finally] signed the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, a new teaching grant will be made available to students. The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant (TEACH) will allow students who plan to teach in-demand subjects and those who teach at low-income schools to receive $4,000 grants each college year (up to $16,000). High-demand subjects include math, science, foreign language, and special education among others. Smaller grants may also be offered to graduate school students who plan to teach.

2. Federal Perkins Loan Teacher Cancellation: Students who became teachers, counselors or librarians in primary or secondary schools may be able to cancel their Perkins loans after working in low-income areas. To be eligible, educators should teach subjects that are in high demand.

3. Educator Expense IRS Deduction:  Teachers who dig into personal pockets to buy classroom equipment may be partially repaid. According to IRS regulations, teachers and educators who buy books, supplies, equipment and software used in the classroom can deduct these costs from their income. The law may expire at the end of this year so keep your fingers crossed for an extension.

4. Teach for America: Teach for America offers financial assistance to graduates who agree to teach in low-income communities for at least two years. The program is not restricted to those who plan to teach subjects that are in high-demand, and teacher certification is not required. Those who are selected will be paid by the school district, but they will also be eligible for additional AmeriCorps grants as well as temporary student loan deferments. The program is competitive so students with high GPAs and leadership experience have an edge over other applicants. Aside from the grant incentive and the feel-good factor, Teach for America experience looks great on a resume.

Like everyone else, aspiring teachers may be able to decrease college costs by applying for scholarships and grants. Awards are not restricted to teachers nor are they restricted to the select few with exceptional GPAs. As a last-case scenario, students may also take out loans to pay for a college education.

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College Cost Reduction and Access Act Officially an Act

September 28, 2007

by Scholarships.com Staff

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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Tour de Scholarships.com

December 19, 2007

by Scholarships.com Staff

The whole “college graduates earn $1 million more than non graduates over their lifetime” stat is getting a bit trite. I’ll give you a few more if you’re not convinced that college is a worthwhile investment.

College graduates enjoy greater career security

College graduates can offer their children a more secure financial future

College graduates are healthier

College graduates are more likely to contribute to society

Anyway, you get the picture. The problem isn’t that the whole “follow your dreams” thing makes no sense. The problem is affording those dreams and affording the time and preparation it takes to follow them. Most of us don’t make enough money to loll around devoting our days to perfecting our sculpting skills and sharpening our 3 point shots. Even those with less risky dreams can’t always afford to test the waters, especially if the schooling required to get those jobs is too expensive and time consuming. That’s why so many students find themselves having to compromise their initial career goals after realizing their dream jobs won’t allow them to pay off student loans. Let’s just say that the need for qualified teachers isn’t caused by a disinterested public.

Sorry, I didn’t mean to be gloomy. I swear there’s a silver lining. Financial aid in the form of government grants and outside scholarships is readily available to students in difficult situations. Without a cloud of college debt hanging over your head, “The Road Not Taken” may suddenly become an option. The financial aid information found at Scholarships.com will help you familiarize yourself with the FAFSA, government grants, corporate scholarships, private scholarships, the ins and outs of student loans and myriad other financial aid opportunities. Whether you’re interested in preliminary information or ready to get down to business by finding scholarships, we can help you do it.

If you’re not convinced, you can take a tour of our site. Visit our homepage, and take a sort of “Tour de Scholarships.com” if you will. We can help you see how conducting a free college scholarship search will help you find scholarships and grants that, based on the information you provide, you're eligible to receive. Find New York scholarships, scholarships for graduate students, scholarships for minorities, poetry scholarships, music scholarships—you name it, we’ve got it. With information about more than 2.7 million scholarships and grants, Scholarships.com offers more than you’ll know what to do with. If you’re not convinced yet, just take the tour. Like the search, it’s free. You’ve got nothing to lose, and a world of financial aid opportunities to gain.

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Study-Abroad Scholarships

February 22, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

As much as they would like to, not all students can afford to study abroad. Those with jobs at home or bills to take care of may consider travel a luxury, one they have neither the time nor the finances to afford.

If the Paul Simon Study Abroad Foundation Act is passed by the Senate, students with financial problems may receive new federal assistance for travel. Until then, students can look to study-abroad scholarships for help. Regardless of their financial situations at home, students who receive financial aid may be able to overcome obstacles caused by fund shortages.

Check out the study-abroad scholarships below for some options that can help you travel at a margin of the cost. For additional information about college scholarships and grants, try conducting a free college scholarship search.

Study Abroad AIFS Scholarship

Each year, the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS) awards more than $250,000 in scholarships to students who demonstrate academic achievement and submit exceptional scholarship essays. Six different scholarship options are available to students who study abroad during the school year or summer term.

Fulbright Scholarship

The Fulbright scholarship program is the largest U.S. international exchange program. During the 2006 year, nearly six thousand grants were awarded to U.S. students, teachers, professionals and scholars interested in studying or conducting research abroad.

The Gilman International Scholarship Program

The Gilman Program awards 820 scholarships of up to $5,000 to undergraduate students who are citizens of the U.S. The program was created to help students with financial difficulties afford travel abroad. Students with financial need, diverse backgrounds, disabilities, those who attend community college and those in under-represented fields (sciences and engineering) are given preference.

The RTKL Traveling Fellowship

The RTKL Traveling Fellowship was created to encourage travel for the purpose of a professional degree. One fellowship of $2,500 will be awarded each year to the student who submits the best itinerary as it relates to his or her educational goals.

ESAC Scholarship Program

The Europe Study Abroad Center awards scholarships for four-week trips to Prague. The trips are for college students and recent graduates interested in business, marketing and entrepreneurship. Students from any college, major and country are eligible to apply.

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Posted Under:

College Grants , Financial Aid



Research Grants

February 28, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

Students eager to work for multiple degrees deserve some credit--the financial kind. Paying for graduate school is difficult, and many students leave burdened by debt they cannot realistically pay off. The federal Pell Grants students may have received as undergraduates are no longer available, and suddenly, graduate school may no longer seem plausible.

The situation is particularly problematic for students interested in receiving a doctor's degree because many such programs take an average of six to seven years to complete. Most students cannot afford to work and study full-time, so completion of school often hinges on one's ability to afford it. To help graduate students pay for their living and research needs, many universities and financial aid providers offer annual research grants, scholarships and fellowships. To get you started, we have listed a few examples below. For additional information about financial aid for graduate students, you may conduct a free college scholarship search.

AMAF Valuing Diversity Ph.D. Scholarship

This scholarship was created by the American Marketing Association Foundation (AMAF) and the AMA Academic Council to assist students from underrepresented populations in their pursuit of a marketing-related degree. African American, Hispanic American and Native American students enrolled in a full-time AACSB-accredited marketing doctoral program are eligible for this award.

Society of Pediatric Psychology Student Research Award

The Society of Pediatric Psychology Student Research Award is available to current student members of the Society of Pediatric Psychology (SPP). Research projects leading toward a master's or doctor's degree, or ones conducted for independent study, will be considered. Work must be relevant to the subject of pediatric psychology.   Collaborative Research Grants

Collaborative Research Grants are awarded to students working in teams of two or more to complete work that cannot be funded by a one-person grant. Eligible projects include research or conferences that contribute to understanding of the humanities, archaeological research, translations of important works into English and humanities research used to enhance knowledge in science, technology medicine or the social sciences. Grants may be used to fund up to three years of work. 

The Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation (HFG) Research Grants

Awards typically ranging from $15,000 to $30,000 per year for one or two years are awarded by the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation (HFG) to students who participate in research that increases the  understanding of causes, manifestations and control of violence, aggression and dominance.

The National Network for Environmental Management Fellowship Program

The National Network for Environmental Management (NNEMS) Fellowship can be used to fund a project that directly relates to environmental research. About 20 to 30 awards totaling $300,000 are awarded annually. Individual grants will vary depending on the level of education, location and the length of a fellowship. 

Environmental Public Policy & Conflict Resolution Ph.D. Fellowship

Two one-year fellowships of up to $24,000 will be awarded to doctoral candidates by the Udall Foundation. Applicants will have to conduct research on the topic of U.S. environmental public policy or environmental conflict resolution. Students must be entering their final year of dissertation work.

Department of Homeland Security Graduate Fellowship

Undergraduate and graduate students who are pursuing a doctoral or master’s degree and working on a thesis dealing with homeland security may be eligible for this federal award. Students must have a minimum GPA of 3.3. Full tuition and a stipend of $2,300 per month for 12 months will be awarded. In addition to a 10-month internship, one-year of homeland security-related work is required.

Beinecke Scholarship

This award is granted to undergraduate juniors who intend to enter a master’s or doctor's program in the arts, humanities or social sciences. To be eligible, students will need to be nominated by their school. (Interested students should contact their college counselors.) Preference is given to students with financial need.

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Families Disenchanted with Athletic Scholarships

March 14, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

Many talented high school athletes dream of playing at the college level, hopefully beyond it. When the select few receive a call about a team spot and a scholarship opportunity, most are ecstatic to find that their hard work and lengthy dedication has paid off.

Unfortunately, what initially appears to be a dream come true is not always the golden ticket families initially imagined. According to a recent article published in The New York Times, most athletic awards aren’t even close to covering the full costs of a college education. Excluding marketable sports such as basketball and football, athletic scholarships may total as little as $2,000.

Students who are invited to play at private colleges or universities which often cost as much or more than $30,000 per year will hardly be salvaged by such an award. Considering that such students have to juggle long practice hours with travel, classes and homework, they may be better off passing up low-paid team spots for additional study hours and outside scholarship opportunities.

Particularly troubling for families of college athletes is the fact that not all awards are renewable for four years.  Eligibility for N.C.A.A. scholarships is reevaluated annually, and college athletes are not guaranteed continued assistance. When this is the case, students may find themselves with little or no time for a job while attending a college they can no longer afford.

Fortunately for students who are not about to turn down an athletic offer due to funding shortages, N.C.A.A. scholarships are not the only available athletic scholarships. To find college scholarships and grants based on athletic abilities or additional criteria, students can conduct a free college scholarship search. One does not have to be an athletic star or class valedictorian to find award opportunities. Numerous scholarships, grants, fellowships and internships are available to students willing to conduct the search and put forth the application effort.

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Need-Based Financial Aid

June 11, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

Affording a college education is becoming increasingly difficult, but help is available. Students who demonstrate financial need can look to numerous sources for assistance in paying for tuition and living expenses. Even those who do not demonstrate exceptional merit can qualify. Below is a list of financial aid resources students may be eligible to receive based on financial need. Additional need-based awards may be found by conducting a free college scholarship search.

Federal Grants The Federal Student Aid office oversees programs that comprise the nation’s largest source of student aid. Each year, billions in aid are awarded to college students across the country. The best of these, federal grants, do not have to be repaid. Students can look to federally-run need-based grants such as the Pell and the FSEOG to help pay for college expenses. Grants that are based on both merit and financial need—the SMART and the Academic Competitiveness Grant—are also a good option.

Federal LoansThough less attractive than grants, federal loans tend to have lower interest rates and better, more flexible, repayment options than private loans. This holds particularly true for need-based subsidized Stafford Loans and need-based Perkins Loans. Students interested in taking out a federal loan will first have to submit a FAFSA.

Sallie Mae Scholarships The Sallie Mae Fund is one of the largest sources of non-federal college aid. All awards offered by the organization have a need-based component. Since 2001, the Sallie Mae Fund has given away $12.7 million in scholarships to more than 5,000 college students.

College Scholarships Students may be  eligible for need-based aid offered by their college or university. Elite colleges such as Harvard, Northwestern and Stanford have been particularly gracious with their awards—Harvard students whose parents make less than $60,00 do not have to pay for tuition, room and board or expenses—but others are following in their footsteps.

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