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by Susan Dutca

Not even a day after the FBI announced her "extremely careless" dissemination of sensitive and classified information via a private server, Hillary Clinton proposed a tuition-free college program for roughly 80 percent of American families. Amidst the email traffic scandal, Clinton is moving forward and attempting to handle a new beast: college affordability.

Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, also feels the Bern when it comes to college tuition. But unlike Bernie Sanders - who proposed free public higher education for all - she proposed "debt-free" education for students from families with incomes of up to $125,000. The plan, aimed to entice young voters, would offer free tuition to families earning $85,000 a year at first and gradually increase to a $125,000 threshold by 2021. Furthermore, she pledged to restore year-round Pell grants and impose a three-month moratorium on all repayments for federal student loans, which would allow borrowers to finance their loans or move into income-based repayment options.

Clinton herself cautioned young Bernie supporters in the past saying, "When somebody tells you something is free, ask for the fine print." With a looming national debt exceeding $19T ($1.3T of which is student loan debt), freebies may seem appealing. However, the issue of tuition inflation persists. Incentives such as these are not available to hardworking parents and incentivize families to make a calculated goal to meet the bare minimum requirements, and nothing beyond it. Furthermore, students who have spent years paying off their student loan debt will not be receiving any reimbursement checks. Many taxpayers who wouldn't receive any benefits from the program (those who have already paid college tuition for their progeny or don't have kids) are forced to pay into programs they may not support.

Though Clinton may face consequences as large as losing her security clearance, she made no comments regarding the FBI's address and instead focused on solving one of the nation's largest debt issues.

In your opinion, do you think a free college education program is feasible? Do you think it will help alleviate or solve the student debt issue? Leave your thoughtful opinions below to start a discussion.

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 Susan Dutca

Malia Obama won't be the first child of a president to be accepted into Harvard University, but her decision to take a gap year sets her apart from the traditional college-bound student. As the gap year trend gains popularity in the US, there is still some reluctance in putting pause on a college education. Could it pose some trouble for those who aren’t socialites?

Despite her father's advice to "not stress too much about one particular college," or focus on name-brand, Malia chose to attend one of the nation's most prestigious and expensive universities. Come fall of 2017, she’s expected to add her name to the long line of ultra-wealthy celebrities and American figures who attended Harvard, including John Adams II, Abraham Lincoln’s son, and John F. Kennedy's daughter.

What exactly is a gap year? It is the time students defer from attending college, right out of high school, in order to pursue other avenues such as traveling, gaining work experience, and getting in touch with their inner soul and desires prior to settling into what could be considered a form of adulthood. One person's productive gap year could easily be another's 12-month vacation. There's been no word as to what Malia will do during this gap year, but a survey indicated that many students focus on personal growth, traveling and experiencing cultures, while taking a break from academics. This gap could serve as a good time to increase community service and learn skills you may not otherwise learn during college. Essentially, a way to avoid the "growing rate of student burn-outs."

Taking a year off could be pricey and not ideal for low-income students. According to one study, the "majority of people who do not go straight to college after high school end up having a much harder time completing their degrees...getting married, having a baby, becoming financially responsible for siblings, or losing academic motivation "may truncate one's higher education pursuits. While the American Gap Association boasts success with students who took a gap year, the majority of the students had college-educated parents and came from household incomes of more than $100,000 a year. These students already have a greater likelihood for success; many of them having parents who could pay their college tuition. Furthermore, federal financial aid waits for no one. Students would have to apply for the year in which they would enroll which could consequentially "make it harder for students on aid to plan a gap year." And while Harvard condones a gap year, the trend is not widely-accepted at other colleges and universities.

Do you think a gap year is a good option for students? Trying to find yourself by putting college off may come with a price. While some students take a gap year to work minimum wage and help fund their college education, we believe that you should be rewarded for your academic, athletic, and extracurricular achievements without having to take time off school. Tuition prices are only increasing, and won't remain stagnant even as you take a gap year. The best way to make college affordable is through free money: scholarships.

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 Susan Dutca

What happens when half a million students are forced to take zero credit, remedial college courses? Parents and students must pay roughly $1.5 million and borrow $350 billion extra a year - even if 74 percent of those students end up delaying college or dropping out. Not only does it break the bank for low-income families, but yes, the affluent families as well. Who's to blame for college unpreparedness?

According to a new report by researchers at Education Reform Now, "American families across all income levels are spending billions each year in extra college costs." Though the common perception is that remedial courses are only available for low-income students or community colleges, it extends to middle, upper-middle, high-income, and many colleges of well. In particular, some of the most affluent students at private nonprofit four-year colleges (the top 20 percent) are taking more remedial courses than students from the bottom 20 percent of national family incomes. Statistics show that over $12,000 extra has been spent by unprepared students from the top income quintile (incomes over $113,440) attending private nonprofit institutions. On average, about $3,000 is paid extra, and $1,000 borrowed to complete remedial courses. Additionally, unprepared students are more likely to delay completing college - or simply drop out. The issue of college unpreparedness is not limited to minority or low-income students, but it penetrates all income levels.

But who's to blame? Researchers point to the "expansive failure of our K-12 education system" and recommend giving secondary assessment when accessing college readiness. Some believe that we are focusing on the wrong topics and should, for example, teach statistics and not algebra since it will be more practical and useful post-college. Others blame the way in which students are evaluated through the "traditional method of scoring." Proponents of the Common Core State Standards, including President Obama and even some conservative allies believe that the "common-sense logic" is premised on the skills necessary to successfully participate and compete in the 21st-century economy and global market. Some schools have already addressed the issue by implementing a "corequisite remediation" model which allows students to take for-credit courses while being enrolled in a "learning support class to help them master the material."

Should both high schools and students be held accountable for their college readiness? Remedial courses are depleting students' financial aid and savings, and have them asking professors whether they know of any scholarships that are intended to help students who have run out of financial aid. You can count on ample scholarship opportunities here at Scholarships.com to leave you financially prepared for college costs. From easy scholarships where you hardly have to do anything to essay scholarships, you have the chance to help fund your higher education dreams.

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!

Comments (2)

by Susan Dutca

Donald Farish, Roger Williams University's President earns over $425K annually and wants you to stop blaming colleges for higher education's unaffordability.

What accounts for college unaffordability? According to Farish, it is the "concentration of wealth at the top," or "wealth inequality", which is interesting coming from somebody making almost 10 times the average American worker's salary. He does not however, believe in the "concerns about salaries of some presidents and the cost of DI athletics" that "continue to attract attention." Donald Farish served as President of Rowan University from 1998 until 2011, with an average salary of $300,000 - plus a $15,000 annual bonus. Currently, he is the President at Roger Williams University at a salary of over $427,000.

Farish believes that "wealth inequality is an issue that must be addressed if America is to continue to have a strong and growing national economy." This is coming from a man whom Rowan University bought out at a cost of $600,000, in exchange for his early resignation. Such buyouts, according to Executive Director of the Common Sense Institute of New Jersey, are common but this one “cost the full tuition and fees of 25 students each year to cover the cost of the buyout" and calls the practice of compensating presidents on their way out "unfortunate".

According to Victor Fleischer's published report "Stop Universities from Hoarding Money", wealthy universities such as Yale spend their enormous endowments primarily on compensation for private equity fund managers - roughly $480 million. Compare that to the $170 million spent on tuition assistance, fellowships, and scholarships spent on students; all the while Yale continues to charge its students $45,800 in tuition, room and board. Fleischer claims that this trend - which pays private equity fund managers more than students - exists at Harvard, the University of Texas, Stanford, and Princeton. The problem is that "we've lost sight of the idea that students, not fund managers, should be primarily beneficiaries of a university's endowment. The private-equity folks get cash; students take out 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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by Susan Dutca

Student loans made the list for the Top 10 Consumer Scams in Illinois, ranking 7th with 1,500 of the 25,094 complaints that are seen by Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office. As if the 40 million Americans who hold $1.2 trillion in debt wasn't bad enough, student loan scams joined the list of scams including abusive debt collection practices, mortgage lending, and payday loans, according to Gail MarksJarvis.

Most people know that one of the top consumers scams out there is identity theft. What's not as well-known is the large number of students who fall victim to student loan scams. Though they may be promised debt relief by making upfront payments of hundreds of dollars, with no relief to ever come, according to MarksJarvis. The scammers who once defrauded people with mortgage relief scams, according to MarksJarvis, now ventured into new territory: student loans. Madigan has targeted one of the scamming businesses based in Lombard, National Student Loan Rescue, and filed suit against them on Monday. They reportedly "advertised it would get student loans out of default, remove wage garnishments, lower monthly payments and secure loan forgiveness, but didn't deliver after accepting upfront fees."

What happens when government, income-based repayment programs aren't doing enough to help students with their debt? Borrowers turn to alternate options and fall victim to scam artists. Madigan blames the inefficient of such federal loan services for "keeping people in debt" and disabling them from contributing to the economy through purchases such as car-buying. Furthermore, she criticizes the quick relief forbearance which provides temporal relief with added interest charges to be paid later. This only perpetuates the cycle of debt, according to Madigan.

To "relieve" student loans, private companies are actually just filing paperwork to consolidate borrower's federal loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan. That means they're charging more than $1,000 for services that the Department pf Education offers free of charge. Some fraudulent businesses will advertise on the radio, using titles such as "federal" or "national," even though they are private businesses. If they promise to relieve student debt outright or get you out of default, they're most likely scamming you. If it seems too good to be true, it most likely is. For the complete list of top Illinois scam complaints, as well as options for helping borrowers on repayment options, read here.

Word of advice from Madigan: borrowers should never have to pay for information on paying back loans. A way to spot scams is "noting requests for upfront payments." Likewise at Scholarships.com., where we believe that no scholarship search or scholarship should ever cost a penny, as those are only the practices of sharks and scammers when it comes to the business of awarding money, not taking it.

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 Susan Dutca

Tuition assistance from scholarships may be cut as much as 30 percent by fall 2017 for tens of thousands of New Mexico students. Proceeds from lotteries, including the January $1.6 billion Powerball, are not able to keep pace with higher education cost increases.

Ticket sales are down, college tuition costs are up, and state budgets are tight. As a result, lawmakers in eight states are considering cutting lottery-funded scholarship programs. New Mexico has one of the best lottery-based scholarships in the country, helping roughly 90 percent of all first-year, full-time students with full-tuition aid. According to an associate VP at the University of Mexico, students who normally qualify for such aid would have to pay nearly $1,700 out of pocket annually if the budget cut takes place, which will most likely necessitate taking out more in student loans. According to the Department of Education, only 60 percent of students would receive full-tuition benefits, instead of the current 90 percent.

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According to Susan Montoya Bryan, one reason New Mexico ticket sales have started to decline is that millennials tend to not buy lottery tickets; most likely because they opt to pay for gas at the pump instead of going into the convenience store. In several attempts to close the gap, New Mexico lawmakers have tried measures such as a "one-time appropriation to prop up scholarships and shifting $19 million in liquor tax revenue," moving unclaimed prize money to the lottery tuition fund, raising eligibility requirements to a 2.5 GPA, and having applicants complete at least 15 credit hours per semester at a four-year school.

Bryan reports that annual revenue from lotto ticket sales is about $40 million and tuition costs for eligible students are expected to surpass $65 million. Federal data already indicated that New Mexico has the highest student loan default rate. New Mexico is not the only state facing this financial dilemma. Tennessee tried a short-term goal by setting up an endowment to fund scholarships through interest and earnings. Georgia was the first to introduce lottery-based scholarships, nearly two decades ago, but had to make changes in 2011 which resulted in a 25 percent decrease of qualifying students. Republican state Rep. Jason Harper recommends that scholarships are used only after all financial aid is exhausted.

Lucky for you, we offer you tons of scholarship opportunities for which you may qualify that are not affected by the lottery system.

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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Talk is Cheap. College Isn't.

New Policy to Eliminate Pell Grants, Federal Loans, Tuition Tax Credits

Feb 23, 2016

by Susan Dutca

Talk is cheap when it comes to politicians' promises, but one thing that remains expensive is a college education. From vetoing a scholarships bill that would free up $721 million for community colleges and scholarships for low-income students, to killing the Senate Bill 180 which would require the New Mexico Lottery to provide $41 million to a college scholarships fund there has been no resolution to the budget stalemate since July 1, 2015. New America Higher Education has one resolution: out with the old, in with the new. That means removing federal loans, federal tuition vouchers, Pell grants, and tuition tax credits.

In their policy paper, "Starting from Scratch: A New Federal and State Partnership in Higher Education," New America Higher Education expressed their vision to reconstruct and repair the "broken system of financing higher education." The team plans to scrap the archaic system and replace it with a "federal-state financial partnership" where the government would dole money to states, which would go to colleges and universities - taking into account important factors such as enrolled low-income students. Students would only have to pay their Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and the state would be held accountable for student outcomes such graduation rates and securing employment. In addition to lowering tuition, the cost of living expenses such as room and board, transportation, and childcare costs would be lowered.

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States would have to maintain their current funding as provided in their individual budgets, match federal funding by 25 percent, and be responsible for performance and costs. There would be a bonus to states that contribute more than expected and also, a bonus for colleges who enroll more than 25 percent of low-income students. What's the catch? The plan would cost roughly $38 billion annually, and states would have to contribute an additional $17.9 billion. The existing system has left about 7 million borrowers in default with their student loans and the report claims that "going to college has left them in a much worse position than if they had never enrolled."

The partisanship disaster continues as colleges and universities haven't received "operating money from the state since July 1," according to Celeste Bott of the Chicago Tribune. The MAP grant provides up to $5,000 in financial aid to students who demonstrate need, according to the Illinois Student Assistance Commission. Some claim the scholarships bill would snag money from social service providers who provide care for the state's "most vulnerable residents," or that states simply do not have the money to spend. Governor Rauner agrees that the school funding formula needs to be changed.

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Do you support New America's Higher Education proposal? Leave your thoughtful comments below. Don't wait another day - take advantage of the available scholarships and learn more about grants and financial aid 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!

Comments (27)

by Susan Dutca

There are scholarships, grants, and fellowships that reward students based on academic, athletic, music, and other types of achievements. But now there's one that encourages students who have enrolled to drop out. The Thiel Fellowship awards $100,000 to students who want to build and create things instead of sitting in a classroom. Founded by Peter Thiel, one of Forbes' top entrepreneurs, the fellowship encourages a non-traditional alternative to a college education, and some pretty bright students have jumped on board to learn before they get an education.

Naturally, the Fellowship struck a heated national debate upon its inception. Academics tend to believe that a college education is invaluable, including Stanford's President-to-be Marc Tessier-Lavigne. He was asked about the value of a college degree versus "folks like Peter Thiel telling people not to go to college." He responded, "the complexity of the world is in such a way today that the case for a liberal arts education has never been stronger." Some Ivy League students think differently. Harvard junior Grace Xiao dropped out after receiving the fellowship and her company Kynplex is now funded by the fellowship. Xiao states that, "Federal grants are harder to get which is pushing more researchers to explore early partnerships with industry."

According to The Wall Street Journal, college graduates only recently started earning a higher income than they had over the last decade, and unemployment rates are now declining. Unemployment rates dropped from 7% in 2010 to 4.9% in 2015. The top 25% of students in highly-desirable fields earn at least $60,000 a year. How successful are the Thiel Fellows? The Foundation's website boasts that since its first class, Thiel Fellows have started more than 60 companies that are together worth over $1.1 billion, and have created hundreds of jobs in the course of tackling problems ranging from telemedicine and human longevity to solar energy and clean water."

Spread over two years, the $100,000 grant is reserved for 20-30 young adults under the age of 23 who have strong entrepreneurial ambitions. Applicants do not need to have an incorporated company, a developed product, or even a pitch deck to apply. Fellows don't need to be programmers - others have started up non-profits, launched media companies, and built hardware. The Foundation provides grant recipients with a team of programmers, salespeople, and people with "in-house expertise in engineering, marketing, and design." Fellows are able to meet some of the industry's top leaders and investors for strong networking and business opportunities. The Foundation does not take equity in fellows' companies either. So what is the catch? If you win, you have to drop out of college to accept the fellowship.

In addition to co-founding PayPal in 1998, serving as a director at Facebook, launching Palantir Technologies, funding LinkedIn, Yelp, and other tech startups, Peter Thiel is also a partner at Founders Fund and the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build a Future. His motivation for starting the fellowship? "College discourages students from trying new things and leaves them in horrendous debt." Would you apply for the fellowship? If yes, create a profile today to apply for the fellowship, as well as other scholarship, grant, and fellowship opportunities.

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 Susan Dutca

Between her coursework and political activism, Bernarda Elizabet Garcia actively fights for immigrants' rights, especially when it comes to funding higher education. As a scholarship recipient of the Mario Savio Lecture Fund's Young Activist Award, Garcia is a powerful and influential voice in her community through her advocacy for extending federal financial aid to undocumented college students by "improving the quality of life through immigration reform and education." Though there currently are not many government policies that give financial assistance to undocumented students for higher education, there are other organizations that are dedicated to helping those students pay for a college education.

There are roughly 11.2 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, with 2.1 million potentially eligible for the most recently proposed federal DREAM Act. Only 7,000-13,000 undocumented students are enrolled in college in the United States. According to College Board, college tuition and fees for full-time students at a public four-year institution (in-state) was roughly $19,548 per year in 2015-2016. For out-of-state tuition at a public school, the cost was $34,031 and tuition at a private nonprofit cost, on average, $43,921 in the same year. Without financial aid, it is nearly impossible to afford a college education, especially when many undocumented students come from low-income households.

Though there is no federal or state law that prohibits undocumented students from being admitted or attending U.S. colleges, government policies pose a barrier, as undocumented students do not have access to federal financial aid or Pell grants. However, Georgia, along with Alabama and South Carolina, plan to implement a policy that would ban illegal students from being admitted to their colleges. Just earlier this month, Georgia's Supreme Court rejected an appeal for lowering the in-state tuition for undocumented students. According to Education Reporter Lauren Foreman, following Georgia's decision, eight students from Georgia State University were arrested after refusing to leave a protest. The DREAM Act, a bipartisan legislation introduced in Congress in 2001, failed to pass even after countless reintroductions and a big push in 2010. The goal of the act was to create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented children who grew up in the US. However, all state DREAM Acts are different and are not synonymous with DACA, which is a policy that was created in 2012 by President Obama to grant deferred deportation to those under 31 years of age who came to the U.S. when they were younger than 16.

Another controversial topic is whether or not undocumented students should be eligible for lower tuition - tuition that state residents pay when attending in-state universities and colleges. Currently, the majority of schools charge undocumented students out-of-state tuition. According to the National Immigration Law Center, at least twenty states have passed tuition equity bills that allow undocumented students to pay the same tuition as their classmates, regardless of their immigration status (certain criteria must be met to qualify). Based on the laws passed by these states, there is a general consensus that the state does not "lose revenue from the number of students who would otherwise pay out-of-state tuition," but rather, "it raises the percentage of high school graduates who pursue a college degree."

Organizations such as the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and TheDream.US are dedicated to helping undocumented students earn scholarships to pay for college, regardless of immigration status. Be sure to check with your current or prospective university or college to see what funding opportunities you are eligible for, if you are an undocumented student. Check out our scholarships for undocumented students and scholarships for which you qualify today to help fund your college education.

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!

Comments (15)

by Susan Dutca

Some 200 years ago, attending Harvard may have cost roughly $600.50 a year ($8,371 if you adjust for inflation) in comparison to today's cost of attendance of up to $69,600, according to Greg Daugherty. College Board reports the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2015-2016 school year was $32,405 at private colleges, $9,410 for state residents at public colleges, and $23,893 for out-of-state students at public universities - that's not including room and board, books and supplies, personal, or transportation expenses. What accounts for the tuition increase? There seems to be no definitive answer. However, a new study points to federal student aid, or the pursuit thereof by colleges and universities as the culprit of rising tuition.

The National Bureau of Economic Research reports that between 1987 and 2010, student aid has been the leading cause for college tuition increase. Due to the increased availability of subsidized loans and the appearance of unsubsidized loans, colleges raised tuition knowing that "financial aid will cover the difference," according to Inside Higher Ed. An assistant professor at Indiana University states that "you have to somehow structure it so that colleges can't just increase tuition and capture that money." Some don't buy into this logic - rather they believe that the "college's sticker price is set by its wealthiest student's ability to pay - and the wealthiest students never take out loans." Others blame the lack of state funding or the expense of paying costly faculty salaries.

Some have criticized the study's "hypothetical college" model because it is based on "data from private and public nonprofit institutions" which is a "too-simple way to view a complex problem." In addition to why tuition has to increase, another important question to ask is where is that money going? Not all of endowment money goes towards student aid, and Congress is scrutinizing 56 colleges with large endowments who were "valued in excess of $1 billion as of the 2014 fiscal year." Letters will be sent to these colleges this week, demanding the last five years of financial data as to where the endowment money has been used since the two congressional committees "are not able to accurately assess how colleges and universities are using endowment assets to fulfill their charitable and educational purposes."

Though college tuition is not as low as it was in the 1800's one solution for lowering your college costs and expenses always remains true: scholarships.

Credit attributed to Greg Daugherty, an editor, writer, and editorial consultant with features in TIME Inc., Reader's Digest, Consumer Reports, and other publishers.

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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