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by Alexis Mattera

Applying for scholarships requires hard work, creativity and time...not boatloads of cash, frustration and empty promises. Each year, however, students are duped into ponying up exorbitant application fees for scholarships they aren’t even guaranteed to win. This is just plain WRONG, people – scholarships are supposed to be free money for college! – and while we’re betting you’ve already checked out our pages on scholarship scam prevention, the Washington Post recently published some refresher info:

  • Filling out the FAFSA is 100-percent free and you can do it either online or on paper. If you would like to fill it out online, be sure your search terms are correct: A seemingly small typo like "FASFA" can direct you to sites that ask you to pay to file...and the forms they have are sometimes the wrong ones.
  • It's legal for for-profit companies to charge for providing scholarship information but it's illegal for them to collect fees but never provide the information, misrepresent themselves as government officials or guarantee they'll get the student full funding for college.
  • Voice any concerns about an organization to a high school or college counselor; they've been there and done that and can point you to the truth.
  • If you are alerted that you're a finalist for a contest you've never entered or if credit card/banking information is requested online, go no further unless you are positive the organization is legit.
  • Don't give in to anything branded as a "limited time offer" or "exclusive opportunity." They're just high-pressure sales tactics.
  • Investigate the success stories presented at seminars. These so-called "satisfied customers" could have been paid to give glowing recommendations so ask for a list of at least three local families who used the service and contact them directly to make sure the organization delivered on its promises.
  • If you do find a legitimate organization that requires payment, get in writing how much the service costs, what exactly the company will do and the refund policy.

College is expensive enough so save those application fees for books and other college expenses: All Scholarships.com’s services – from the scholarship search and college matchmaker to financial aid information and college preparation tips – are available completely free of charge. You’re welcome!

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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Obama (Sorta Kinda) Keeps His Promise

Changes in Higher Ed Funding Afoot

Feb 15, 2011

by Alexis Mattera

While "Honest Barack" doesn't have quite the same ring as our 16th President’s nickname, we have to give him credit for keeping his promise to privilege spending on education and research...for the most part: Some potentially painful cuts could slice through the higher education pie relatively soon.

First, the good news. The 2012 budget blueprint reveals the maximum Pell Grant (currently set at $5,550 per year) would not be slashed by $845 as originally expected and funding will continue for financial aid programs including AmeriCorps, the Perkins Loan and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant Programs and academic research agencies. The Education Department's overall budget would grow by 4.3 percent in 2012 under the President's budget but despite this positive information, it won’t be all unicorns and butterflies for college students. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the administration had to make some "tough choices" to maintain the current level of funding and compensate for future spending. For example, the department's 2012 budget calls for ending a three-year experiment allowing students to qualify for two Pell Grants in a calendar year and use this funding to attend college year-round, as well as eliminating the subsidy in which the government pays interest on graduate student loans while the students are in school; the Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership Program, the Byrd Honors Scholarships and the TEACH Grant program would also be eliminated.

Obama said, "Education is an investment that we need to win the future...and to make sure that we can afford these investments, we’re going to have to get serious about cutting back on those things that would be nice to have but we can do without," but student advocates, like Justin Draeger, president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, were quick to show their displeasure. "It is regrettable that the administration is proposing to maintain Pell by making cuts to other student aid programs that provide much needed funds to students," he said.

The information above merely scratches the surface (check out Inside Higher Ed’s article for all details) but it’s enough to get the conversation started. What do you think of the proposed budget? Will the changes impact your ability to pay for school? Would you propose a different course of action?

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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by Suada Kolovic

Acceptance letters should be rolling in for the majority of high school seniors and the pressure of deciding where to go is definitely on. A lot goes into deciding what school is the right fit for you, but if you’re interested in what schools have the highest graduation rates...then boy do we have the list for you. And sure, these institutions do have quite impressive graduations rates but keep in mind that high graduation rates don’t necessarily translate into a surefire path to success. It’s also important to note that the majority of schools that made the cut are prestigious and students accepted to the likes of Harvard aren’t likely to dropout.

The study, conducted by College Results Online, a website which uses data from the National Center for Education Statistics and Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, ranked U.S. colleges in terms of 6-year graduation rates. Check out the top colleges and universities with the highest national graduation rates below and click here for the full list as well as profiles of each school.

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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by Suada Kolovic

Have you ever tried to sign up for a class that was full? Maybe it was a class that sparked your interest or one you heard was life altering. What about a class that you needed to graduate, one that you’ve attempted to register for, for the third time no less, and are consistently met with: class is full! Well, you’re not alone. And community colleges are dealing with overcrowding more often than universities. According to a national survey released Wednesday, one in five community college students had a difficult time getting into at least one course that they needed and almost a third, especially Hispanic students, could not get into a class that they wanted.

The national “Community College Student Survey,” which the Pearson Foundation calls the first-ever of its kind, asked 1,434 community college students about what they identified as factors that impede success, as well as the supports needed to help foster success. The respondents noted that problems with the professor or the course topped the list of reasons for dropping a class (61 percent). About 5 percent of students had dropped out during the first few weeks of the semester and 10 percent had seriously considered doing so. The students who considered dropping out – a whopping 20 percent – said they could not get the help they needed, while 66 percent of students surveyed said it is "extremely or very important to have access to academic advisors and to establish relationships with professors" in order to succeed in college. Do you agree with the survey’s findings?

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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by Suada Kolovic

There’s an app for just about everything these days, so it’s about time that there’s one that will help students determine how likely they are to be admitted at their school of choice. The Facebook application, AdmissionSplash, asks students to submit a personal profile including quantitative and qualitative characteristics, such as test scores, grades and extra-curricular activities, which colleges consider when making admissions decisions. Then the program enters that information into a complex algorithm to predict the student’s chance of getting into any of the 1,500 colleges currently included.

According to tests conducted at UCLA and NYU, AdmissionSplash founders looked at three sets of students – 88 and 73 from UCLA and 75 from NYU – and found that the app was able to accurately predict admissions decisions for 85, 91 and 97 percent from each group, respectively. AdmissionSplash co-founder Allen Gannett views the application as a more-personalized college guide book, calling it “a really good tool for narrowing down your choices,” but is quick to point out that students should not rely on it as a sole indicator. Gannet believes the app will help students navigate through the stressful application process and hopes to develop a program that will predict admission chances for law, medical, business and grad school applicants.

High school seniors, are you downloading this app to help you with your application process? Let us know what you think.

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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by Suada Kolovic

Columbia University, one of the eight members of the Ivy League, knows how to have a good time. So much so that the university’s student paper – The Morningside Post – ran a satirical story about a student who was mugged by conscientious muggers.

Jane Watkins, a first year International Security Policy concentrator, was on her way to class when two men wearing ski masks and dressed entirely in black approached her. "They started to run away with my bag but I screamed and begged them to let me have my Statistics homework," Ms. Watkins reported. "I told them they could have my wallet, my iPhone, anything – just not the homework." According to Ms. Watkins’ report, it was then that one of the muggers reached into her purse and retrieved her homework assignment, laying it neatly on the sidewalk next to where the incident occurred.

The story fooled readers and media outlets, most notably Gawker. They linked to the story despite calling it a “credulity-straining report.” The site has since affirmed that the Post article is a satire. Since the backlash, an editorial note was added to the article: “Due to questions from concerned readers, we would like to point out that this is a fictitious story. We thought we’d have a little bit of fun with this one. Imagine if The New York Times had a SIPA beat...”

What do you think of Columbia’s attempt at satire? Do you find it funny? Let us know what you think.

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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A Ripe Idea at UC-Davis

New Facility Combines Winemaking, Wi-Fi

Feb 7, 2011

by Alexis Mattera

The last thing many people want to think about the day after the Super Bowl (beside Christina Aguilera’s National Anthem flub or the overall lack of enjoyable advertisements) is alcohol but this next story won’t add to a hangover. We promise.

The University of California at Davis, long known for its winemaking program, has unveiled new technology at the school’s Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science to fine-tune the fermentation process. Custom-built probes embedded with microchips measure the sugar density and temperature of fermenting wines every 15 minutes; the readings are then wirelessly transferred to a server at the facility and displayed on a large monitor. The use of Wi-Fi to monitor the process is certainly a big step but enology professor Roger B. Boulton says the footprint will be even larger as the measurements will soon be viewable on the Web and via smartphones. Students and researchers will be able to compare their results with expected outcomes and adjust as necessary to determine how different fermenting conditions affect different grape varieties.

Boulton continued to say that the measurement technology puts the university years ahead of commercial operations because it will ultimately reduce the number of failed batches. How green! What do you think of these developments at UC-Davis? Would having access to this new technology get you to consider a major in winemaking?

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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by Suada Kolovic

A recent survey suggests more Americans believe that making higher education more affordable would be the most effective means of helping those who are struggling financially. The Public Agenda study, “Slip-Sliding Away: An Anxious Public Talks About Today’s Economy and the American Dream,” revealed reducing college costs was most important to the 1,004 Americans surveyed at 63 percent, beating out preserving social security (58 percent), cutting taxes (48 percent), reducing the deficit (40 percent), “providing financial help to people who owe more on their mortgage than their house is worth” (22 percent) and others as the best solution.

Why do Americans have so much faith in the higher education system? According to the study, “One reason for the faith in education may be the public’s perception of who’s struggling most in the current economy. Three-quarters of Americans say that people without college degrees are struggling a lot these days, compared to just half who say college graduates are struggling.” Of those respondents who identified themselves as “struggling a lot” financially, 77 percent said they were very worried about having trouble paying for their children’s college educations. In addition, nearly one-third of those who are employed (32 percent) said they were "very worried" about losing their job, while 45 percent said they were “very worried” about paying back debt.

With the economy slowly turning around, are you concerned about the cost of college? If you’re stressed about finding financial aid, you don’t have to be: Check out our free scholarship search and get matched with scholarships just for you today!

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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Your Score’s in the Mail...or Not

One Hundred High School Seniors’ ACT Results Lost

Feb 3, 2011

by Suada Kolovic

What three letters can inspire fear and loathing in the hearts of high school juniors and seniors nationwide? Depending on the region you live in, the answer is either the SAT or ACT. After a tense afternoon of test-taking, the last thing students want to think about is having to take the test again but for a group of Oakland high school seniors, that was their only option because ACT lost 100 of their test scores. According to ABC Local News, the standardized test scores were lost in the mail. ACT informed the affected students of the mishap on part of the organization and said they’d waive the fee for the February test dates. The problem: Some admissions decisions are due by March, so it may be too late for these applicants to be considered by some schools.

A spokesperson for ACT told ABC that the affected students have been “urged to contact the college(s) and inform them of the situation. The students may provide the college a copy of the letter they received from ACT regarding the need for the retest.” The spokesperson added that colleges are usually flexible when such a mistakes occur…and this isn’t the first “mishap” on the part of ACT either: Back in August, a handful of students didn’t receive their marks for months due to postal slip ups and yet here we are once again.

Snail mail is beyond outdated; aren’t there better ways to receive your test scores? ACT, have you heard of e-mail? To those of you who just received your test scores, how would you feel if this happened to you?

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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by Suada Kolovic

Imagine this: There’s a contest at your university to create the next big iPhone app, the next Angry Birds if you will. On a whim, you decide to enter and miraculously (or not so miraculously given your tech savvy) you win! You’re overcome with pride and joy and begin fantasizing about a life of excess. It’s only after you’ve mentally purchased everything under the sun that reality sets in and you realize you haven’t read the fine print: The university where you did the bulk of your designing may assert a partial or complete claim to the product you’ve created. If you think that’s less than awesome, then you’re right on par with a group of students at the University of Missouri at Columbia.

The team of said students designed an iPhone app for a contest hosted by the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism. To be fair, the university did inform students of the policy prior to entering the competition which led to some students dropping out, said Anthony Brown, then an undergraduate in the department of journalism. But despite their reservations, Mr. Brown and his team, fellow students Zhenhua Ma, Dan Wang and Peng Zhuang, decided they’d stay in. They won the competition with an app called NearBuy (which gives you the ability to search for condos and houses by location using the iPhone's built-in locate-me technologies) and contacted the university to assert their ownership and to ask the university to waive any intent to assert ownership, according to the Chronicle. They argued that student inventions, even if fostered to some degree by faculty mentors, stood apart from the work done by faculty members using university resources.

Faculty members of the journalism department signed letters supporting the students’ case. And ultimately administrators agreed with the students and allowed them to maintain full ownership of their app, which to date has been downloaded over a quarter of a million times.

To some extent because of the case, the University of Missouri decided to rewrite its intellectual-property policy to better address student inventions. According to Michael F. Nichols, vice president for research and economic development for the Missouri system, the rules now cover everything from work students do as part of a class, to student work created as part of a competition, to work students do in an extracurricular group that is sponsored by the university. Keep in mind Missouri’s regulations aren’t the norm at all universities. How would you feel knowing, or not knowing for that matter, that if you were to create something on campus your university would have the rights to it?

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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by Suada Kolovic

If you’re a high school senior, you’ll be faced with a major decision in the coming months: choosing the right college. And while there are myriad factors to consider when making your decision, campus housing can be a crucial piece of the puzzle. For the most part, students are required to live in campus housing during their freshman year while upperclassmen tend to live off-campus in apartments. The reason: Most larger universities just don’t offer enough on-campus housing to accommodate their entire undergraduate populations. Yet, that’s not always the case because some prominent institutions with large endowments offer housing for all undergraduates.

According to an analysis of student housing data provided by the U.S. News & World Report, students at many of the country’s top ranked schools opt to remain on campus until they graduate. Of the top 10 national universities with the highest percentage of students living on campus, five are Ivy League institutions. Check out the complete list below (schools are ranked by the percentage of their undergraduate student body living on campus).

  1. Princeton University
  2. Harvard University
  3. California Institute of Technology
  4. Columbia University
  5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  6. Stanford University
  7. Vanderbilt University
  8. Yale University
  9. Dartmouth College
  10. Stevens Institute of Technology

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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