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Three States Introduce Bold Changes to Public Education

Nov 14, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

For many high school students, graduation cannot come soon enough.  While admittedly, I was something of a nerd, going off to college was the single most anticipated event of my young life.  I couldn't wait for the academic challenges, the new people, and the more serious learning environment.  If someone came up to me when I was 16 and offered me the chance to start community college then, I would have definitely taken it.  So I am definitely a little jealous of students in New Hampshire who may soon get that chance.

New Hampshire is one of three states that have agreed to implement some of the policies outlined by the National Center on Education and the Economy's New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce.  The commission released a report in 2006 calling for sweeping educational reforms to address America's slipping international standing in several measures of educational success and workforce preparation.  Utah and Massachusetts will also implement measures recommended to boost the performance of public schools, including raising teacher pay, giving teachers greater (in some cases, complete) control over schools, implementing more dynamic proficiency tests that provide a more accurate picture of students' abilities, and better monitoring and assisting students at risk of dropping out.  The policy New Hampshire is proposing will allow students the option of taking a test after 10th grade and either entering a community college or a college preparatory track if they pass, letting them prepare for college and gain college credits while still living at home, and keeping them from getting bored or coasting through the last two years of high school.

These are only a few of the suggestions found in the commission's report.  While there is some skepticism over how much change will actually take place, many states and schools are showing an eagerness for change. It's hoped that innovations in education will help make more students better prepared for attending college and entering the workforce.

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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Online Enrollment Continues to Increase

Nov 13, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

Enrollment in online courses continued to increase in 2007, according to a new study.  Nearly 4 million college students, over 20 percent of the total number of students attending college, took at least one online course in fall 2007, an increase of 12.9 percent over the previous year.  With all of the financial turmoil that 2008 has brought, the number of online students is likely to continue to increase, as online enrollment is seen as a cost-effective alternative to having to be on campus for class.

The majority of colleges and universities regard offering online courses or online degree programs as critical to their long-term goals.  Schools also reported a need to compete for online students.  Since physical proximity isn't a concern, students can take online classes through any school, meaning institutions need to do more to attract students to their distance-learning programs.

Some of this competition comes in the form of innovation.  After universities in Canada and Japan made online course material accessible via cell phones last year, Louisana's community colleges followed suit, unveiling a plan this week to centralize their distance learning programs on one website, allowing students to access and complete materials from any device with an internet connection.

As distance learning programs continue to become more popular among students and a greater priority among schools, budget-conscious students may want to look closely at taking some or all classes online.  Online courses allow greater flexibility for scheduling around employment or other obligations, save on commuting costs (and the money students spend gulping down cafeteria food, fast food, and expensive coffee while rushing between classes), and allow students to live where they want without worrying about having to get to school each day.  All of these things make it easier for you to pay your way through school as a distance learning student.  While online classes do require greater self-discipline and are offered in more limited quantities than in-person classes, they are still an option to consider when choosing a college.

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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More Financial Ups and Downs for Schools and Students

Nov 12, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

Colleges are continuing to face financial hardships due to the current global economic crisis.  Endowments have shrunken by an average of 30 percent this year, primarily in the last two months.  Numerous colleges and universities, both public and private, are cutting or freezing spending, and several institutions have been forced to implement hiring freezes, offer early retirement to employees, or lay off employees.  Even Harvard University has announced a more conservative approach to future spending.  An article appearing in the New York Times earlier this week shows some schools considering a move away from entirely need-blind admissions policies (which ignore students' ability to pay when determining who to admit) in order to ensure they receive enough tuition revenue to maintain their financial aid programs.

Meanwhile, families are in similarly rough shape.  Investments are in trouble, unemployment is up, and families are having trouble getting home equity loans or other lines of credit that they may have previously used to cover tuition529 plans have taken a hit, as well, and student loans have also tightened credit requirements.  All this means that students might face greater difficulty getting into and paying for school.

So that's the bad news.  Now for some good news: 

     
  • Congress has expanded the Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act (ECASLA) to make it easier for banks to access enough funds to make loans.  The increases in unsubsidized Stafford Loan limits have also been renewed into the next academic year.  This could further shore up the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) and make it easier for students to borrow what they need to pay for school.  A new economic stimulus package is in the works, as well, and part of the money involved may go to Federal Pell Grants.
  •  
  • Despite financial difficulties, colleges are pledging to maintain or increase their spending on campus-based aid for their students.
  •  
  • The Department of Education is planning to present its vision for simplifying and improving the federal student financial aid program.  One of the most notable aspects of the new plan is the proposal to shorten the FAFSA on the Web application.  Greater efforts to standardize federal aid among colleges are also being proposed.
  •  
  • A new study indicates that what you get out of a college experience might be less dependent on where you go to college than on how you choose to approach your education.  Researchers found more variance among learning outcomes and student satisfaction within institutions than among them.  In fact, 90% of the difference in quality reported by students occurs among individual students attending college on the same campus.  So if you do find yourself having to take a pass on your dream college, a positive attitude can make your experience at your safety school just as rewarding.
  •  

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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November is National Scholarship Month

Nov 11, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

November has been designated as National Scholarship Month for 2008.  The purpose of National Scholarship Month is to raise awareness of the scholarship opportunities available to high school students, undergraduate students, and graduate students, as well as the numerous benefits of winning scholarships.

November is also an ideal month to start finding scholarships, if you haven't done so already.  Many scholarship competitions start or end in November, including our own College Health Scholarship (deadline: November 30) and our College History Scholarship (deadline: December 31).  By applying for scholarships now, you're sure to stay on top of those scholarship application deadlines.

Check out our article on National Scholarship Month, which highlights many of the reasons to apply for scholarships.  You might also want to browse the Scholarships category on our blog, where you'll find tons of information about scholarships and the benefits they provide.  Convinced that scholarships are worthwhile, but not convinced you can win?  Head over to our resources section, where you will find tons of advice on scholarship applications.  We dispel scholarship myths, show you how to detect scholarship scams, and even offer advice on how to write a scholarship-worthy essay--complete with tips from scholarship reviewers.

So, do you believe that you can win a scholarship? (Because you can!) Then celebrate National Scholarship Month with us and start your scholarship search today.  A scholarship search on Scholarships.com is fast, free, and easy, instantly generating a list of scholarship awards that are directly relevant to the information you provide in your profile.  We have scholarships in our database for all sorts of people!  Find out about athletic scholarships, green scholarships, unusual scholarships, corporate scholarships, women's scholarships, scholarships for minorities, and many more.  After all, with 2.7 million scholarships and grants to choose from, we're bound to have something that fits you.  And free money for college is always cause for celebration.

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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New Studies Show Benefits of Scholarships

Nov 7, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

College students who receive generous scholarship opportunities are relieved of some of the financial burden of paying for school.  But to what extent does this benefit translate into other positive outcomes?  How, specifically, does winning scholarships help students achieve their college goalsFour studies being presented this week at the Association for the Study of Higher Education's annual conference seek to answer these questions.

Two studies focused on recipients of the Gates Millennium Scholarship, an extremely generous scholarship for minorities offered by Bill and Melinda Gates.  A third tracked recipients of the Kalamazoo Promise, the first in a series of large-scale full-tuition local scholarship programs, which provides scholarship funding to all qualifying Kalamazoo, Michigan residents who choose to attend one of Michigan's state colleges.  The fourth looks at University of Iowa applicants' responses to financial aid offers.

The study of University of Iowa students reinforces the idea that scholarship money steers students' college plans, especially among certain minority groups.  African American and Hispanic students were less likely to attend the university, presumably choosing a more affordable or more generous institution, if they did not receive the amount of financial assistance they had hoped for.  These results reinforce the importance of college affordability and will hopefully encourage universities to offer more generous awards to student populations they wish to attract.

While institutional financial aid influences students' college choices, so do other scholarships. Studies showed that Gates Millennium Scholars and Kalamazoo Promise recipients appear more inclined than their peers of similar backgrounds towards applying to and ultimately choosing colleges that are pricier or more competitive.

Gates Millennium Scholars are also more likely to graduate--matching graduation rates of higher-income students--as well as to graduate on time.  In fact, 90 percent of these students finished a four-year degree in four years, which is proving to be an increasingly rare accomplishment among students currently attending college.

In some ways, these studies reinforce things many students already knew.  Scholarships influence students' college choices.  Scholarship winners go to better schools, are more likely to graduate, and are more likely to graduate sooner--and the studies suggest this because they won a scholarship, not just because they're smart and motivated.  Even if none of this is news to you, it should still be a powerful motivator for you to start your own scholarship search.  It does appear to be the formula for college success.

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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Some Good Reasons to Attend College

Nov 6, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

U.S. News had an interesting piece in their education section last week about the monetary benefits of a college degree.  Citing government statistics and several recent studies, the author related that students who complete a bachelor's degree can expect to earn $300,000 more in today's dollars over the course of their working lives than students who just complete high school.  Students who earn a professional degree, go to law school, or complete business school can expect to earn even more.

A full-time worker with a bachelor's degree makes about $20,000 more a year than a student with a high school diploma, and a student with, say, an MBA can expect to make about $100,000 more than a high school grad each year.  While such annual income disparities add up to more than $300,000 over a lifetime of work, studies citing that figure also adjusted for inflation, the extra money high school grads earn in those first four or five years, and the average cost of attending college for four years.

Another benefit of a college degree is a better chance of landing and keeping a job: the unemployment rate for college grads is half what it is for those who don't go to college.  Students from low-income backgrounds also reap more benefits from receiving a degree, as they're able to land not only higher-paying, but also more stable jobs and better-benefited jobs, and to have opportunities that would not have been available to them otherwise. Going to college can also provide significant academic advantages for your future children.

So if college costs are daunting and you're considering whether your education is going to be worth the price you pay for school, do some research.  You're statistically more likely to live a better life in a lot of ways if you go ahead and earn that degree.  There are tons of reasons to go to college, and also tons of ways to help with funding your education.  Do a thorough college search to find the best and most affordable fit for your educational goals, and then search for available scholarships and other financial aid to help you pay the bill.

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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Election Results and Higher Education

Nov 5, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

The election is over, and while we're still waiting for some results to come in, such as the ultimate fate of Colorado's anti-affirmative action ballot measure, most races have been decided and commented on. Overall, higher education fared well yesterday, and Inside Higher Ed provides a breakdown of wins and losses for college-related measures, as welll as an in-depth discussion of the brand new affirmative action ban in Nebraska.

The biggest focus this morning has been on Barack Obama's presidential win. News sources across the country are already speculating on what he will and will not be able to accomplish once he takes office in January. While Obama had stated in his second debate with Senator McCain that he planned to make education a priority for his administration, concerns are being expressed over financial barriers to his proposals. As President, Obama would like to shore up the Federal Pell Grant program, eliminate the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) in favor of Direct Loans, and implement a $4,000 tax credit for families with students in college, among other goals. However, the economic crisis may make these goals difficult.

A more Democratic Congress also has ambitious plans that could affect higher education, including potentially revisiting a bill that would allow private student loans to be discharged in bankruptcy. Democrats also are hoping to provide more money for job training programs to community colleges, as well as more support for and fewer restrictions on research conducted by universities. Congress also expects to revisit and revise No Child Left Behind, the Bush administration's ambitious, though largely unpopular, education bill.

Education policy makers will also change in January, with some seats in the House and Senate educational committees being vacated and a new Education Secretary coming in with the new president. How the results of the election will change the face of attending college and funding your education remains to be seen.

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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Times Aren't Tough All Over

Oct 29, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

In the current economy, the outlook can seem pretty bleak for those just starting down the path towards a college degree.  Declining private loan availability, tighter credit requirements, soaring tuition rates, less money being saved for college, and cuts in higher ed funding make going to college tougher now than it's been in the past.  Students leaving school also face a tougher hiring situation and steep student loan debt.  And those trying to remain in academia permanently face hiring freezes and fewer available tenure-track positions.

This is the situation in most of the country, but a few states rich in oil and natural gas are now experiencing a different reality.  Texas, Wyoming, Alaska, and North Dakota, among other mineral-rich states, are updating, expanding, and generally improving their education systems in the wake of budget surpluses.  This means hiring more faculty, building better facilities, adding degree programs, and possibly even halting the steady advance of tuition increases.  North Dakota is even considering providing its students with more grant and scholarship opportunitiesTexas universities, in particular, are upping their recruitment of high-quality faculty according to an article appearing today in The Chronicle of Higher Education

So, if you're still wide open about where you'd like to attend college and you don't mind extreme heat, extreme cold, or a fair amount of isolation, maybe you want to direct your college search towards a state with a booming economy.  Attending college in Alaska or North Dakota is certainly an unusual move, but if you're paying less for tuition and gaining access to rapidly expanding university resources and job opportunities, it could pay off in the end.

 Looking for other unconventional educational opportunities in the recession? You could also move to Detroit and win a newly-established Kid Rock Scholarship to attend Wayne State University.  Of course, there's always the option of spending more time on your financial aid and scholarship search so you can more easily afford a wider range of schools.  But where's the adventure in that?

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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More Schools Plan to Adopt Direct Lending in 2009

Oct 28, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

Fewer students may have to worry about finding a new lender for their Stafford Loans next year, as more colleges are turning to federal Direct Loans for student loans.  A web-based poll of college financial aid administrators at schools participating in the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) revealed that six percent of those surveyed are planning to make the switch to direct lending next year, with an additional 29 percent seriously considering it as an option.

This means that Direct Loans could very likely become the leading supplier of student loans in 2009.  Since direct loans are taken out from the government, rather than from a bank, the stability they provide is proving popular among student borrowers.  Already, the amount of money in the direct borrowing system has grown by 50 percent this year, whereas the amount in FFELP is up only 7 percent.  While most students have been able to find different lenders and continue borrowing what they need in student loans, attending college at a school that participates in direct lending can save students a bit of hassle in getting financial aid

While a move towards direct lending means that students at participating schools won't be able to cash in on incentives banks might offer during student loan repayment in the future, these options have become scarce in the last year due to the federal subsidy cuts and credit troubles banks have faced.  The disappearance of the FFELP's advantages coupled with the uncertainty and instability caused by the credit crisis will likely continue encouraging schools to turn to Direct Loans to service their Federal Stafford Loans.

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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Job Prospects Not So Great for 2009 Grads

Oct 24, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

So you've finally hit your senior year of college and you're anxiously awaiting the day when nobody will ever force you to write another 8-page paper about James Joyce or take another three-hour-long college exam.  You're about to be on your own, earning real money and living the high life (Goodbye, roommates!  Goodbye, budget diet!).  All you have to do now, aside from completing those 21 required credits you need to cram into your spring semester, is find a job.

Survey says you'd better start looking now.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers polled 146 employers in a range of industries this month and calculated a projected hiring increase of just 1.3 percent for 2009.  Anything under 6 percent is considered pretty bad news, according to an article on the subject appearing in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  Campus career centers are advocating that students who plan to graduate in May or August start their job hunt now, rather than waiting until closer to graduation.  Another idea is to look into nonprofit organizations, government jobs, and other fields where demand remains steady in a recession.  Of course, many of them offer lower pay than a college graduate might need to live comfortably while repaying student loans.

Of course, you could also go to graduate school.  It's not too late to register to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), put together a personal statement and some letters of recommendation, and throw yourself into application process.  Some master's programs accept applications into March or April, and possibly even later.  Graduate students gain more knowledge and experience in their field, including valuable teaching and research skills, and can continue to rely on financial aid (including scholarships, fellowships, and assistantships) for two or more years while the economy hopefully stabilizes and job prospects improve.

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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Student Loan Debt Continues to Increase

Oct 23, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

The Project on Student Debt just published information on the average student loan debt load for students graduating college in 2007.  The report shows that average student debt increased 6 percent from 2006 to 2007, while the average annual salary of college graduates increased by only 3 percent.  The percentage of students borrowing remained the same at 59 percent nationally, though some individual states experienced double-digit increases, including North Dakota, which surged ahead 14 percent to capture the #2 spot for percentage of student borrowers, with 75 percent of its students taking out loans, following South Dakota's 81 percent.

While more North and South Dakotans borrow than residents of any other state, Iowans have the highest average debt load of $26,208, followed closely by New Hampshire's $25,211.  States that fared well were Utah and Hawaii with the lowest average debt ($13,266 and $14,911 respectively) and Nevada and Utah with the lowest percentage of borrowers (40 and 42 percent).  The report also contains information for individual private colleges and state universities for 2007, as well as a list of the schools with the highest and lowest levels of student debt.

So if you're still in the midst of your college search, you may want to check out the full report from the Project on Student Debt, complete with a state-by-state interactive map.  If you're planning on attending college in a high-debt state, don't panic.  Just devote a bit more time to finding money for college, such as doing a thorough scholarship search.

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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