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by Paulina Mis

When doors to the new University of Central Florida College of Medicine open in 2009, they will open with a bang. In the hope of attracting the best and the brightest, medical practitioners and college representatives from the University of Central Florida have raised enough money to reimburse the first class for all four years of medical school. They will cover not only the tuition but also the fees and living expenses. With the Association of American Medical Colleges estimating the average debt of medical school graduates to be at about $139,000, the deal is sweet enough to cause a toothache.

“I think setting the bar high for the quality of the first class will set the stage for the caliber of every class that follows,” said Tavistock Group director and donor Rasesh Thakkar. Fundraisers have been in place since 2007 to make that happen. After tapping all possible resources, the school is expecting to admit a class of about 120 students which, based on a four-year plan, will receive a grant worth approximately $160,000.

Students interested in attending the school may begin applying in June of 2008. If accepted, they will automatically receive the award---no lengthy essay competitions, no laborious commitments, just money. “UCF stands for opportunity,” states the university website. When studies and internships leave little time for outside work, a full tuition scholarship is the epitome of such opportunity.


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by Paulina Mis

After passing the Senate and the House in varying formats, a compromise was reached on legislation that would help lenders stay afloat in a troublesome student loan market. The Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act of 2008 was sent to the President yesterday, and rapid approval is expected.

If signed into law, the bill would give the Secretary of Education the right to buy loans from struggling lenders, thus providing them the capital needed to offer new student loans. Worried that lenders may continue to depart from the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program—as fifty have already done—legislators have been scurrying to provide financial assistance before the school year begins. Though the law would only serve as a backup plan, the hope is that knowledge of a federal cushion would make both lenders and students more willing to engage in business.

To decrease student dependence on private lenders, ones generally offering loans options that are more expensive and less flexible than those offered by FFEL lenders, the maximum sum a student could borrow from the government was also increased. According to The Christian Science Monitor, the caps on unsubsidized loans available to students of any income level would increase by $2,000 for each school year. Dependent students would now be able to borrow up to $31,000 for their undergraduate education.


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by Paulina Mis

As a means of promoting diversity and developing talent, Scholarships.com has created a new set of scholarships for high school and undergraduate students. The “Fund Your Future” area of study scholarship consists of thirteen $1,000 awards to be granted to students who pursue a postsecondary education in one of thirteen designated fields and 185 related majors. Included is the Scholarships.com Business Scholarship, an award for students who plan to or are already majoring in business and related studies.

Scholarships.com understands that writing a 2,000 word paper on trickle-down economics can be a turnoff to students who lack both money and time. That’s why we’ve simplified things, and cut the requirements down to a 250 to 350 word scholarship essay. Students interested in applying for the award will have to submit an online response to the following question: "What has influenced your decision to pursue a career in business?"

Prize:

$1,000

Eligibility:

1. Applicant must be a registered Scholarships.com user. Creating an account is simple and free of charge. 2. Applicant must be a US citizen 3. Applicant must be undergraduate student or a high school senior who plans to enroll in a college or university in the coming fall 4. Applicant must have indicated an interest in one of the following majors:

Business, Accounting, Actuarial Science, Business Administration, Advertising, Economics, Finance, International Business, Management, Marketing/Distribution, Hotel/Restaurant Management, Human Resources, International Affairs, Real Estate/Development, Sports Administration, Manufacturing, Engineering Management, Retail

Deadline:

May 31, 2008

Required Material:

A 250 to 350 word response to the following question: “What has influenced your decision to pursue a career in business?"

Further details about the application process and about contacting the scholarship provider can be found by conducting a free college scholarship search. Once the search is completed, students eligible for the award will find it in their scholarship list.


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Common Scholarship Myths

April 1, 2008

by Paulina Mis

Numerous students find themselves doubting whether applying for scholarships is really worth their time.  They assume that competition is tough and that most applicants have an exceptional academic record—not true. It’s in a student’s best interest to maximize his/her financial aid potential by giving scholarships a shot. Check out some common scholarship misconceptions below before passing up valuable options.   1. All scholarship contests are competitive—There is no denying that a few national scholarship competitions can be difficult to win. Certain corporations go out of their way to advertise their philanthropic actions, and they create very minimal eligibility criteria to encourage students to apply. However, millions of scholarships are available, and most are neither well-advertised nor open to every student.

Try searching for awards you are eligible to receive based on strict criteria. If you’re a Chicagoan and you find an award available only to high school seniors residing in Illinois, go for it. Remember, the competitors are just as intimidated by you as you are by them. Don’t give up before you start.   2. Applying for scholarships will reduce federal student aid eligibility— A number of students worry about federal aid reductions resulting from scholarship winnings. Let’s set the record straight. According to Federal Student Aid representatives, Pell Grant awards will not be reduced because of scholarships. It is, however, possible for schools to limit certain loan eligibility or to reduce school scholarship offers. But unless you’re expecting a full ride from Harvard, you have nothing to worry about. Even if you are, the effects will be minimal, if any.   3. It’s easier to work for the money—Yes, you are pretty much guaranteed a paycheck when you work, but working is not the easiest way to find money for college. Student jobs are a great source of supplementary income, but, realistically, a student paycheck is unlikely to cover tuition. Plus, scholarships and jobs are not mutually exclusive. If you have the chance to win $3,000 by spending three or four hours typing away, take advantage of it. You may have to work an entire summer for that money. Even if you don’t win, the few hours won’t destroy your social life.


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by Paulina Mis

The credit crunch and its negative impact on student borrowers is no longer news.   Both FFEL and private lenders have been responsible for financial tensions, and now there’s more to gripe about. Numerous colleges have been complaining that they are not receiving sufficient funding to cover their students' Perkins Loan needs.

Perkins Loans are awarded to students by colleges and universities, but the government provides much of the funding. Because these loans are restricted to students who show particular financial need, shortages will affect students whose families have the lowest incomes most.  Perkins Loans have the cheapest interest rates and the most lenient payment options as far as government loans go, as far as most student loans go. Students are asked to pay a 5 percent interest rate on Perkins Loans as opposed to 6.8-7.22 percent on federal Stafford Loans and 7.9-8.5 percent on federal PLUS Loans. Those who turn to private lenders can expect even higher rates.

Due to a poor loan market and a lack of government subsidies, many schools have been forced to cut back on both the number and the size of their Perkins Loans. According to U.S. News & World Report estimates, about 50,000 students who would have qualified for Perkins Loans last year will not qualify for them this year.  Those who do qualify may still see their loan limits diminish. Technically, students can borrow up to $4,000 in Perkins Loans (though the number may be lower for those deemed less needy), but certain colleges will be decreasing the maximum funds available to students. 

This has left families worried that they may be forced to rely on private student loans after reaching their federal loan limits.  After dealing with increasing default rates, both Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) lenders and private lenders have been forced to make loans more difficult to receive and less appealing to borrowers. Major lenders are becoming sticklers about eligibility criteria and have been cutting back on the benefits offered to students with good paying records.  

Students who are no longer eligible for Perkins Loans still have financial aid opportunities. By applying for college scholarships and grants, students may find college funding they do not have to repay. Before considering loans, students should conduct a free college scholarship search to find awards they may be eligible to receive. It is also important to fill out a FAFSA each year. Just because an individual is not eligible for Perkins Loans does not mean they will not be awarded free money in the form of Pell, FSEOG, SMART or TEACH grants.


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by Paulina Mis

Deciphering the rewards one receives after filling out a FAFSA may be just as difficult as filling out the form itself. Students who plan to take advantage of government loans must pay particular attention to Award Letters detailing their financial aid options.

One of the difficulties associated with taking out government Stafford or PLUS Loans is understanding the differences between the two programs that administer them, the Direct Student Loan Program and the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program. Students should be aware that although federal Stafford and PLUS Loans may be taken out through either program, the interest rates and conditions may differ based on which is used.

If the college or university participates in the Direct Loan Program, students will borrow money directly from the government at rates that, if the loan is a PLUS Loan, may be slightly lower than those offered through the FFEL program. If the school participates in the FFEL Program, students will be borrowing from a lender they have chosen to work with. 

While certain schools participate in both of these programs, about 80 percent of the time, a student will be borrowing through the FFEL program. If a student is taking out only Stafford Loans, the differences are slim. Because lenders participating in the FFEL Program are subsidized by the government, they have to abide by a rule that states all Stafford Loans taken out on or after July 1, 2006 will have interest rates fixed at 6.8 percent.

However, students who also take out a PLUS Loan (a loan offered to parents and graduate students), the interest rates and repayment plans may differ based on program and lender. Students whose parents have borrowed through the Direct Loan Program on or after July 1, 2006 will have their PLUS Loan interest rates fixed at 7.9 percent. If the PLUS Loan is borrowed through the FFEL program, the interest rate may be no greater than 8.5 percent. Individual lenders will choose whether they will set their interest rates at this or a lower number.

It is important that students who borrow through the FFEL Program take more than interest rates into consideration when choosing a lender. Details such as the length or repayment and the penalties for late payments should be considered. Some lenders also offer financial perks to students who have good payment histories, and these should also be taken into account. Usually, schools will provide students with a list of preferred lenders to help them sift through their options, but students should also take other lenders into consideration. While students can trust most financial aid offices to provide them with the most affordable and best-rated lender suggestions, incidences of financial relationships between schools and lenders  suggest that students should also conduct some research of their own. 

For more information about federal aid, students can take a look at the Scholarships.com Resources section. To find information about scholarships opportunities, students can complete a free college scholarship search.

Posted Under:

FAFSA , Financial Aid , Student Loans


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by Paulina Mis

Are you in the mood for easy money? Well you came to the right place. Coca-Cola, NCAA and Chuck. E Cheese have recently teamed up to give away scholarship money, and they're making it really easy to apply. Because this is more of a college sweepstakes than it is a college scholarship, registration from an eligible applicant is the only requirement.

By applying, students (or parents applying on behalf of students) will be entered into two contests, the College Bound Scholarship and the Instant Win Game. The winner of the College Bound contest will be randomly selected to win $25,000 in scholarship money. Those who win the Instant Win Game will receive one of numerous sponsor-brand prizes.

For more information about this and other college scholarships and grants, you may conduct a free college scholarship search. If you are eligible to receive this scholarship, you will find the application and contact details in the “My Scholarships” section.

Prize:

1. One $25,000 scholarship 2. One hundred POWERade Sweatshirts 3. One hundred Wilson NCAA basketballs 4. One hundred fold-out chairs 5. One hundred Coke Zero t-shirts 6. Two hundred POWERade sports bags

Eligibility:

1. Applicant must be 18 years old or older 2. Applicant must be a resident of the 50 United States, District of Columbia or Canada 3. Applicant may not be an employee, child or immediate sibling of employees of Coca-Cola, NCAA or Chuck E. Cheese. 4. Each applicant may only enter 1 time per day

Deadline:

May 1, 2008 at 11:59 p.m. ET

Required Material:

1. Online registration


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Women's Scholarships

March 12, 2008

by Paulina Mis

Women may have equal rights under the law, but their movement is far from over. According to the American Association of University Women Education Foundation, one year after graduating, women who work full time earn 80 percent of what men do. Ten years later, that percentage rises to 69 (with work hours, occupation and parenthood taken into account). Even as women continue to outperform men in every academic college major, this gap persists.

But there’s no room for self pity. Being proactive is the best solution, and many scholarship providers are here to help women reach their full potential. With the help of numerous internships, fellowships, scholarships and grant opportunities, colleges, foundations and private donors are helping females afford the education and training they need to succeed.

If you’re a current or future female student, or if you know someone who is, check out the women's scholarships below. For additional scholarship and grant opportunities, try conducting a free college scholarship search.

AAUW American Fellowships

Each year, the American Association of University Women offers fellowships to assist women pursuing a doctoral degree. Winners are chosen based on academic record, teaching experience and commitment to helping women in the community. A $30,000 postdoctoral research leave fellowship as well as a $20,000 dissertation fellowship are available.

APS/IBM Research Internship for Undergraduate Women

Undergraduate females have the chance to win a paid, ten-week internship at one of three IBM locations. In addition to the pay, winners will receive a $2,500 grant and the opportunity to work with an IBM employee. The American Physical Society (APS) and IBM will award this internship to sophomore and junior college women interested in pursuing a graduate education in science or engineering.

Executive Women International Scholarship Program (EWISP)  Eligible high school juniors will have the chance to win a $10,000 college scholarship by applying for the Executive Women International Scholarship. Application rules and deadlines will vary based on local Executive Women International program chapters.

Women in Business Scholarship  Women who pursue an undergraduate business degree and demonstrate potential in their field may be able to win a $5,000 scholarship for college. Applicants will have to submit a scholarship essay of 500 words or less as well as two letters of recommendation. 

Talbots Women's Scholarship Fund

The Talbots Women's Scholarship Fund will award five $10,000 scholarships and fifty $1,000 scholarships to women who return to school to pursue a two or four-year college degree. Women must have earned their high school diploma or GED at least ten years ago. Six judges including five-time Olympic champion Evelyn Ashford, Judge Milian of “The People’s Court” and More Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Peggy Northrop will judge applications.

Microsoft Women Scholarship

Microsoft is awarding scholarships to women interested in pursuing an education in the computer sciences and related fields. To be eligible, students must maintain a 3.0 GPA and be enrolled in a full-time bachelor’s degree program at a college or university in the US, Canada or Mexico at the time of submission.


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by Paulina Mis

Speaking before the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings told representatives what they wanted to believe, but didn’t: the college aid crisis was under control. After months of financial struggles, a number of student lenders have decided to discontinue their participation in the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFEL), leaving students to look elsewhere for college funding.

A troublesome lending market and a new law limiting government subsidies to student lenders have many lenders rethinking their participation in the FFEL.  With less government backing and greater default rates, some student lenders are finding it necessary to cut back on student benefits, increase borrowing criteria, and sometimes, leave the government program completely.

These changes have left families worried about finding sufficient student loan assistance from the government, concerns Spellings has tried to diminish. During her testimony, the education secretary stated that so far, “No institutions have notified us that any eligible student has been denied access to federal loans.”

If true, students and parents would be relieved to know that they can still take advantage of low interest government loan rates rather than relying on private, more expensive, student lenders. According to Spellings, the government would step in before students were forced to rely solely on private lenders.

One safeguard proposed by Spellings was the option for schools participating in the FFEL program to switch to the government's Direct Loan program, one in which students bypass government-subsidized lenders and borrow straight from the government.

Ms. Spellings also pointed out that Pell Grants, federal need-based awards that do not need to be repaid, have been increasing and will likely continue to do so. Students who receive free grant money will have fewer loan needs---to an extent. Currently, those eligible for Pell Grants may only receive $4,310 per year, and not all are eligible for this form of federal student aid.

Still, the Secretary of Education maintained a positive outlook and expressed confidence that most student lenders are not in critical positions stating, “More than 2,000 originating lenders participate in FFEL...a small number of these lenders have reduced their participation or stopped origination new loans.”


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by Paulina Mis

After years of attacking the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), elementary and high school educators have received some promising news. The Bush administration has finally admitted to certain No Child Left Behind deficiencies and chosen to make some adjustments, in select areas.

Rather than branding all underperforming schools as failing—even those with improved test scores—the administration has proposed distinguishing between schools with serious scholastic troubles and those with slightly sub par scores. To date, one of the biggest issues critics have had with the No Child Left Behind was the program’s lack of flexibility. Because all student groups, regardless of English fluency, have had to meet state proficiency requirements, numerous schools, especially ones in low-income areas, have encountered problems. After a few failed attempts to meet state testing standards, schools were faced with funding losses and possible closings.

Those that were successful in meeting most requirements but found it difficult to raise the scores of a select student group were treated the same as all other “failing” schools. According to The New York Times, 10 percent of the nation’s schools were subsequently identified as “in need of improvement”, a percentage large enough to make additional result evaluation critical.

Under the proposed NCLB plan, up to ten states will have the option to focus their efforts on schools with the greatest scholastic needs rather than on ones with mild testing setbacks.  However, only ten schools will have this opportunity, and only those with near perfect records of having abided by the NCLB law will be eligible.

Program evaluation methods are just a few of the many controversial aspects of the NCLB. For better or for worse, the law has had a dramatic affect on teachers and school administrators across the nation. More importantly, it has had a great impact on many elementary and high school students.

To promote student awareness and challenge students to proactively respond to controversial issues, Scholarships.com has created the Resolve to Evolve essay contest. This year, one of our two topics addresses the effectiveness of the No Child Left Behind Act. A total of $10,000 will be awarded to winning applicants who submit their essays.

For additional information about eligibility, requirements and other response options, students and teachers may visit our Resolve to Evolve page. For information about scholarships, grants and other financial aid opportunities, students should complete a free college scholarship search.  


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