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by Suada Kolovic

High school students, as you move further into your senior year and really start making decisions that will shape your future – what college you'll attend, how you'll fund this endeavor and what you’ll possibly major in – it dawns on you: “OMG, I’m officially an adult.” And with that realization comes the fact that very soon, you'll no longer (legally) be the responsibility of your parents. Well, not everyone is willing to accept that as their reality: A New Jersey teenager who was financially cut off following her 18th birthday is suing her parents for immediate support, current private school fees and future college tuition.

For months, Rachel Canning has been living with the family of her best friend and classmate, Jaime Inglesino, whose father, attorney John Inglesino, is bankrolling Rachel's lawsuit. Rachel, an honor student who plans on becoming a biochemical engineer, has asked the court to order her parents to pay an overdue $5,306 bill from Morris Catholic High School, finance her living and transport expenses, and grant her access to an existing college fund. Her father, Lincoln Park town administrator and retired police officer Sean Canning, says that his daughter would not abide by a set of household rules and was therefore cut off financially. "She's demanding that we pay her bills, but she doesn't want to live at home. We're heartbroken, but what do you do when a child says, 'I don't want your rules, but I want everything under the sun and you to pay for it?'" (For more on this story, click here.)

While it's not unheard of for young adults to take legal action against their parents, what do you think Rachel's case? Should parents be financially responsible for their child's college education? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.


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by Kevin Ladd

Worrying about the application process is hard enough. When you add tuition costs, necessary savings, and loan interest rates into the equation, the numbers equal a headache. Don’t worry; we’ll give you a hand. Take advantage of the free financial aid calculators provided by Scholarships.com, and take things one day at a time—we’ll crunch the numbers for you.

College Cost Worksheet Calculator

Before accepting college offers, you should know how much an education at your school of choice will cost you. Not everyone has unlimited funds, and assuming that loan payments will take care of themselves after graduation is not the greatest policy. To help you estimate the costs of a college education, we have created a college cost worksheet. Just type in some estimates and find out what you should expect. To search for a college and find the cost estimates by school, you can also use our free college search.

Savings Planner Calculator

To secure a sound financial future, students should search for scholarships and set money aside for college. By using our savings planner calculator, you can find out where you will stand by the time freshman year rolls around. If you are still far behind, you may want to scrooge up, get a head start on scholarship applications and consider a part-time job.

Future College Cost & Savings Calculator

College is expensive, and even those who save are likely to encounter big school costs. Most students will need to make large contributions while attending school. With the help of our Future Cost Savings Calculator, you can estimate just how large your yearly contributions will have to be. We have already taken into account the estimated yearly increases in tuition.

Monthly Loan Payment Calculator

Sometimes loans are unavoidable. If you plan to borrow for an education, you should at least know what to expect when your bill arrives. Having to give up your career of choice in favor (or disfavor) of one that’s less desirable but higher paid can be disappointing. To avoid any problems, figure out how much you can afford to pay each month, and use our calculator to help you do it.


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by Kevin Ladd

Harold Alfond, founder of Dexter Shoe Company, inventor of the factory outlet store and longtime philanthropist has arranged for every child born in central Maine to have a college savings account established in their name upon birth. Eventually, this program will include all children born anywhere in the state.

Alfond died last month at age 93 and, over the course of his life, had donated over $100 million dollars to hospitals, colleges and numerous other charitable causes in Maine. This latest philanthropic act, presumably the last in a long line of generous efforts, will begin with a pilot program on January 1, 2008 at Maine General Health hospitals. Every newborn at the Augusta and Waterville Maine General hospitals will have an account set up in their name with a beginning balance of $500 and it will spread statewide the following year, possibly sooner if it does well. Under the program, each newborn's $500 will be invested in a college tuition account through Maine's NextGen program.

Mr. Alfond, who's wife died in 2005, is survived by a brother, a sister, a daughter, three sons, 13 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.


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by Administrator

Earning an accredited online college degree can be the key to career advancement for many working professionals. In many fields, in order to move ahead, you have to earn an advanced degree.

For example, if you are a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), in order to move to the next level within your field, you need to earn the Registered Nurse (RN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) credential.

However, LPNS often work rotating shifts in hospitals, which makes it impossible to attend traditional nursing degree programs. Online degree programs provide an option for individuals in this situation to keep their variable schedule jobs while working toward and advanced degree that can have a significant positive impact on earning potential.

Even in career fields in which advanced degree requirements are not mandated, continuing education can give workers a competitive advantage in the job market. Most employers are concerned with reducing turnover in the workforce. When employers hire new workers or identify individuals to promote, they look for people who are likely to be successful with the company long term. Seeking an advanced degree lets employers know that you are serious about your career. This can help you stand out from other applicants or candidates for promotions. It is important to explore Doctoral Fellowships and Master's Degree scholarships because if you know how and where to look, growth opportunities are out there and can help you advance your career.

Some companies will hire individuals who don’t have degrees for entry-level positions, but seek degreed individuals for higher level positions and internal promotions. Once you have started working in a career position, it can be hard to find the time to attend college full-time. However, you are often overlooked for advancement opportunities if you don’t have a degree. Instead of feeling trapped permanently in an entry-level job, you can change your situation by seeking an associate degree online or enrolling in an online Bachelor’s degree program.


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by Administrator

People tend to associate high school booster club organizations with raising money to support sports programs and other extracurricular activities at the high school level. Parents who belong to booster clubs are often seen selling refreshments at high school sports events, collecting donations for silent auctions, and selling tickets for fundraisers.

It is true that high school booster clubs exist for the purpose of boosting funding for student programs. Many clubs also earmark some of their fundraising efforts to fund scholarships for deserving student athletes, band members and participants in other school-sponsored activities.

t is true that high school booster clubs exist for the purpose of boosting funding for student programs. Many clubs also earmark some of their fundraising efforts to fund scholarships for deserving student athletes, band members and participants in other school-sponsored activities.

High school booster club scholarship programs are school-specific, so criteria and awards vary greatly from one organization to the other. When you are researching scholarships based on extracurricular activities, don’t overlook the booster club at your school. Contact a booster club officer to find out details about scholarships offered, deadlines, and application procedures.


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by Agnes Jasinski

Despite recent trends of more students across the country enrolling at institutions of higher learning, many students and their families remain mostly uninformed and unprepared to navigate the college and financial aid application process, according to a report issued yesterday called "Planning for College: A Consumer Approach to the Higher Education Marketplace."

The report, from MassINC, a think tank in Massachusetts, looked at decisions students and families need to make when applying to and paying for college, and the information they need to make those decisions. It found that students and parents currently have great difficulty "getting the most out of their col­lege dollar," as the price of higher education only continues to rise.

Perhaps even more alarming is that families have started borrowing more to pay for college, without considering risk and the rate of their return. Related to increases in student borrowing amounts, an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education yesterday looks at the idea that doctoral students finish faster if they take out large loans. The most obvious answer why is that taking out more student loans allows the students to take more classes, and quit part-time jobs that may have been reducing their college costs. It's a choice students must make every day - should you sacrifice some comfort to reduce your student loan debt, even if it means taking longer to complete your degree? It's a personal decision, but students should be aware that they'll be expected to start repaying any debt once they graduate.

The Massachusetts study also found that students and families had little knowledge of tax benefits and college savings plans, and how to compare them. For example, there are 118 different 529 Plans, and the resources out there do little in the way of pointing consumers to the advantages and disadvantages of each. Families and students also admit to knowing little about the actual sticker price of colleges, as that often depends on the funds available to assist incoming students, an unknown when those students first apply.

The report's authors suggest families and students must become more like "savvy consumers" who are able to understand and successfully manipulate the college and financial aid application process to their advantage. The process should also be made less complex, an idea that is already being explored by federal legislation such as the Higher Education Opportunity Act. Finally, families need reliable measures about the educational experience that colleges and universities offer beyond the annual rankings we see in the Princeton Review, for example. According to the report, while the U.S. Department of Education is providing increasingly consistent and accessible indicators, such as graduation rates, this branch of the college-bound decision remains the weakest.


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Easy Ways to Afford Your Dream School

by Brittni Fitzgerald

Whether it is gas, food or tuition, prices are rising on everything. Everyone wants to attend their dream college without having to end up in debt at the end. College tuition will, depending on your university, have a small increase in price every academic year but if you plan ahead and follow these helpful tips, you can ease that financial burden.

First, open a savings account at your local bank to learn how to manage your money. Banks such as Fifth Third offer students goal setter savings accounts, which allow students to put money into the bank to gain interest as well as receive a 10-percent bonus when they reach their goal. A goal can be $500 and up and you cannot make withdrawal until the goal is met. This feature allows the money to grow without allowing you to give in to temptation and drain the account.

Another way to save is by adjusting your meal plan each semester. Most colleges and universities require that all freshmen have a meal plan each semester and upperclassmen usually have some sort of meal plan whether they live on campus or off. Meal plans are packaged with room and board and can become very expensive. Instead of choosing the meal plan with the most meals per day, choose a meal plan that works for your appetite.

Finally, consider applying to be a resident assistant, or RA, in the university dorms. RAs have to take on a lot of responsibilities like mentoring students and enforcing residence hall policies in addition to a full class schedule but the tradeoff is well worth it: Room and board is free.

Though she moved from Fremont, Calif., to Chicago at the age of 5, Brittni Fitzgerald will always remember the sun and fun of California life. She is the youngest of six children and is currently attending Chicago State University. There, Brittni is an accounting major and an active member of the Student Government Association but also a published poet (in 8th grade, her work was published with the Illinois’s 2004 “Celebrate! Young Poets Speak Out”). Brittni enjoys running, swimming, dancing, singing and shopping. Her motto is “Live Life Loud.”


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Are You a Rural or City College Student?

by Carly Gerber

Let’s travel back in time to the beginning of my senior year of high school when my guidance counselor posed this question: “Do you want to go to a university in a rural area or a university in a city?” The question seemed pretty straightforward to me...until I started visiting colleges. Luckily, I visited many types of schools and the visits gave me an idea of where I would best fit but I soon realized that the answer to my guidance counselor’s question was not as black and white as I thought.

From my experience, I learned that you must be as precise as possible when describing where you want to attend college. Some people believe a city school describes any university near a city, not necessarily in the heart of the city. If you prefer one setting over the other, tell your counselor exactly what you are looking for and they will help you find colleges and universities that match your preferences.

There’s also a difference when thinking about rural schools. The University of Wisconsin - Madison and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are Big Ten schools and can be referred to as colleges in rural areas; after visiting both schools, however, one will realize that they are in two very different locations, as one is in a well-to-do suburb while the other is among the cornfields of southern Illinois. I am not suggesting one location is better than another but make sure understand a college’s location and if its location fits your character.

If you have the funds, you should attempt to visit many different colleges; in fact, I suggest starting as early as your freshman year of high school. I visited a university I had been accepted into, but I would have never applied there if I had visited the school before sending in the application. The simple question my guidance counselor asked me was actually quite broad. If you are met with the same query, take time to research the many universities offered so you can decide the location that’s right for you.

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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The Early Bird Gets the (Scholarship) Worm

How Parents Can (and Should!) Begin the Scholarship Search Long Before Their Kids Reach High School

March 7, 2013

The Early Bird Gets the (Scholarship) Worm

by Carly Gerber

Though most of my posts have been geared toward college students, this one is for the parental readers out there. Scholarships aren’t only available to high school and college students but to younger students, too: Not many parents know that they can find scholarships for their children who are as young as 10 years old! What’s more, the scholarship programs available to young children aren’t as competitive, since not many parents know to search so early for financial aid.

As a parent, you may think financial aid isn’t a topic to discuss until your child is in high school but you’re not doing your child or yourself any favors by waiting – financial services are available right now! There are just a few easy steps parents can take to receive scholarships for their child. First, see what interests your child and have them join clubs and organizations that will expand on those interests. (For example, if your child loves to recycle and has a natural interest in learning about the environment, have him or her join an environmental group.) Next, add this information to your scholarship search and see where it takes you. Take Avalon Theisen: She began an environmental group at 10 years of age and with her mother Deborah’s help, she’s already won numerous scholarships. Avalon gets to do something she’s passionate about and earn money toward her college education – talk about a win-win!

Like Deborah, search for scholarships using your child’s interests and experiences – you may be surprised at what you find! If your child has already entered high school, however, it’s not too late to find money for college: There are still PLENTY of scholarship opportunities out there that they can compete for. Work with your son or daughter to complete a Scholarships.com profile, build a resume and start funding their college education today!

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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Worry About Finances Less, Enjoy Life More

Several Websites Make Saving Now (and for the Future) Easy!

April 17, 2013

Worry About Finances Less, Enjoy Life More

by Carly Gerber

Summertime is chock full of activities from music festivals to road trips. Don’t let your current spending limit your options of things you want to do (think: traveling abroad) or things you need to get done (see: paying next month’s rent). Instead, check out these websites (thanks, USA Today!) that can help you manage your money now and even help you save for a future purchase.

For example, Mint.com allows you to easily and securely connect your bank account to the program, which categorizes your spending to see where and how much you’re spending. You may need to cool it with the soy lattes from your favorite café for a few weeks but it’s worth enjoying those summer activities.

Another website is Smartypig.com. Here, you determine your goal and then start saving for it. You can also sync your bank account to Smartypig.com and it will withdraw funds until your goal is met or you can manually withdraw money from your bank account and sync the money to Smartypig.com. Need airfare and a ticket to Bonnaroo? You can set it as a goal on Smartypig.com and start saving!

Maybe you and a few friends are running a marathon and want to raise funds to donate to a worthy cause. If so, Gofundme.com is the place to go. Set up an account, share it on social media sites or through email and collect donations. It’s easy and you can raise money for anything! Need a laptop for college? Create an account on Gofundme.com and you could collect donations from friends and family.

Are there any activities you have planned for the summer or any helpful tips on ways to save? Let us know in the comments section!

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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