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by Paulina Mis

Kathy L. Hardy, her two daughters and two other associates are being charged for having allegedly taken out numerous fraudulent private student loans since 2005. The five women were accused of having received a combined sum of more than $690,000 by filling out over 70 student loan applications, reported U.S. News.

Though many of the loan applications were denied, a number of lenders, including Sallie Mae, the biggest student lender in the business, lent tens of thousands to the applicants. By using stolen Social Security numbers and the information of victims whose names resembled their own, the five women were able to slip by lender verifications.

The FBI's investigation into the matter began when one of the victims complained that someone had taken out a loan under her name. Upon further investigation, it was found that the women alleged to have been at fault had stolen numerous identities—including one that belong to a deceased person—to collect money.

The case raised concerns that the stealing of identities to obtain private student loans may be too simple. Because private student loans are easier to obtain than Federal Stafford and Perkins Loans, and because private student loans are not sent directly to colleges and universities, the potential for fraud may be considerable.

To minimize the chance that similar problems will arise in the future, a congressional provision that would force student lenders to forward loans directly to schools is being considered.  The suggestion has received mixed reviews from lenders who, one hand, would like to eliminate the possibility of fraud, and, on the other, want to facilitate the borrowing process for potential customers.


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by Paulina Mis

Despite an initial House split over some of the bill’s provisions—an incident which nearly doomed approval by the House—an agreement on the veteran college aid bill was reached by both Congress and the President. On June 30, President Bush signed into law the bill which would, among other things, provide veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars additional assistance in affording a college education.

The new law—similar in content to the WWII GI Bill—will call for an increase in the college financial aid  awarded to troops who have served in either war for a minimum of three years. Sufficient assistance to pay for the most expensive public college or university in their respective states will be available to the veterans.  Those who are eligible will also receive a monthly stipend to offset housing costs and other college-related expenditures.

The legislation will more than double the federal funding veterans previously received for a postsecondary education. Even those who are not currently planning for college can benefit as the money may be transferred to a veteran's child or spouse. 

Perhaps the more controversial part of the bill was that which allocated $162 billion to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to ABC News, the new funds would bring the total amount approved for war expenditures to about $850 billion over the last five years. In reference to the bill, President Bush stated that, "Our nation has no greater responsibility than to support our men in women in uniform - especially because we're at war."


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by Paulina Mis

A college education is an expensive purchase. It’s certainly an investment, but an expensive one nonetheless. Many students are forced to take out thousands in student loans to afford college, but some are so close to  paying for school that accumulating college debt on account of minor need would be a shame.

For many such students, tuition installment plans may be a good option. Certain colleges and universities allow students to split up their semester or trimester payments into monthly installments. They pair up with one or more tuition installment plan companies which administer the services, and make the option of enrolling available to those who are interested.

Students and parents who receive steady paychecks and those awaiting college scholarship or grant awards may benefit from the tuition installment plan option. Such plans are interest free, but, unfortunately, they are not cost free. Individuals who use tuition installment plans usually have to pay administering companies annual enrollment fees or finance charges, ones that usually average between $30 and $60. Certain participating colleges may also ask that those enrolled pay a large portion of their college tuition and fees up front.

Students considering a tuition installment plan should contact their college financial aid office to find out if the plan is available and, if so, what fees are involved.


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Eugene S. Thorpe Award

July 7, 2008

by Paulina Mis

The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), a free-market organization that studies and advances the freedom of philosophy, is administrating the $2,000 Eugene S. Thorpe scholarship essay award for writers of all ages. The award was established in memory of Eugene S. Thorpe, a supporter of FEE and a firm believer in hard work, free trade, small government and self-reliance.

Students, writers, educators and business professionals of all ages and locations are eligible to apply. Interested individuals must submit a 2,000 to 3,000 word-essay addressing Adam Smith’s claim that, “The division of labor is limited by the extent of the market.” The essay must answer the following questions: 1. “What light does this shed on the current movement toward globalization?” 2. “Are the dangers in having government facilitate it in any affirmative way?”

Prize: 1. $2,000 2. Winner’s article will be published in The Freeman.

Eligibility: 1. The competition is open to writers of all ages, including students, freelance writers, educators and business professionals. (Students need not be majoring in journalism or political science to apply.) 2. Applicants cannot be FEE employees or their immediate family members, trustees or editors or columnists of The Freeman.

Deadline: August 15, 2008

Required Material: 1. A 2,000 to 3,000 word essay that is written in English, titled, double spaced and typed in 12-point font. Essays must be nonfiction, and citations should be included within the text. Submissions must be the original work of the writer or writers and may not have been previously published. 2. Essays must be submitted as an email attachment to FEE. The email should include the author’s first and last name, address, and phone number.

Further details about the application process 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 search results.


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by Paulina Mis

Each year, thousands fall victim to scholarship scam artists. With the costs of a college education rising annually, it should come as no surprise that certain individuals choose to take advantage of the situation by establishing fraudulent financial aid organizations and competitions.

Students who visit our site can rest assured knowing that the information provided to them at Scholarships.com is completely free of charge. We will never ask visitors to pay for the college scholarship search, and our financial aid information is completely cost free. Before posting award details on our site, we screen scholarship providers carefully; any scholarships deemed suspicious are immediately removed from the Scholarships.com database.

The federal government is also working to crack down on scholarship crime, regularly monitoring scholarship abuse. The Scholarship Fraud Prevention Act of 2000 has made more severe the punishments for scammers, and it has called for a mandatory report of scholarship scams to be prepared annually by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Secretary of Education. This report, including the names of current defendants in scholarship scam allegations, may be found on the FTC website.

Be on the lookout for the signs of scholarship scams listed below and report any suspicious behavior to the provided contacts.

Scholarship Scam Warning Signs

o Organizations promise scholarships for an upfront fee.

o Organizations ask students for a scholarship application fee.

o Organizations promise to complete applications and obtain scholarships for the student.

o Organizations say their scholarship information cannot be found anywhere else (most reputable awards are listed publicly; providers want you to apply!)

Report Suspicious Scholarship Behavior to: US Department of Education Office of the Inspector General 1-800-MIS-USED; Better Business Bureau (BBB) 1-703-525-8277; Federal Trade Commission (FTC) 1-202-FTC-HELP

Posted Under:

Financial Aid , Scholarships , Tips


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by Paulina Mis

The morose state of the lending industry, recent cuts in federal loan subsidies and a loss of interest in loan securities investing have caused chaos within the student loan market over past months. According to Forbes, Student Loan Corp., a previous division of Citibank, has become the latest victim in the student loan credit crunch, announcing plans to lay off 146 of its 523 employees.

On Wednesday, the company announced that the 146 Student Loan Corp. jobs, plus an additional 28 Citibank N.A positions, would be eliminated sometime in August. The affected employees will be offered counseling, assistance in finding new work, severance packages and, for some, the chance to take advantage of job openings in other parts of the country. Business has been so poor for the company that their stock has dropped by 48% over the past 52 weeks, reported Forbes

Student Loan Corp. is just one of many companies who have been forced to either cut jobs or to exit the student loan industry altogether. Other major lenders who have either stopped or suspended offering certain student loans include Bank of America, NextStudent, Brazos, and American Education Services. Even Sallie Mae, the largest student lender in the business has been struggling to stay afloat, suspending select loan services.


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by Paulina Mis

The Voice of Democracy Scholarship is an annual competition administered by the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ (VFW’s). Since 1947, the organization has been helping students pay for school, giving away more than 2.5 million in prizes each year. To compete, students will have to write and record a broadcast script that addresses the following theme: “Service and Sacrifice by America’s Veterans Benefit Today’s Youth by...”The applications will be judged on originality, content and delivery.

Prize: 1. Up to $30,000 in scholarship money 2. An expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C.

Eligibility: 1. Applicant must be a student in grades 9-12 2. Applicant must be enrolled in a public, private or parochial high school or home school in the U.S., its territories and possessions, or in an overseas U.S. military/civilian dependent school. 3. Foreign exchange students, those over 20 and previous first place Voice of Democracy winners are not eligible to compete.

Deadline:November 1, 2008

Required Material: 1. A 3-5 minute essay recorded on a neatly labeled cassette tape or CD. The reading must address this year’s theme and must be recorded in the student’s voice. 2. A typed version of the essay. 3. A completed entry form.

Further details about the application process 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 search results.


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by Paulina Mis

All entries have been cast, all information verified, and yes, a winner has been chosen. Matt D. of Newport, KY has been randomly selected as latest winner of the Scholarships.com $1,000 Tell A Friend Sweepstakes. By referring his friends to Scholarships.com, Matt was able to secure $1,000 towards a college education.

"Winning the sweepstakes was really exciting! It was the first scholarship I applied for and … I won,” he told us. Once again proving that financial aid is available to those who search, Matt was able to join the growing list of Scholarships.com Success Stories.  By giving them free access to our scholarship search, providing them with valuable college-funding resources and personally sponsoring numerous sweepstakes and scholarships, Scholarships.com has assisted myriad students in affording a postsecondary education.

Every three months a new Scholarships.com user is selected as the Scholarships.com Tell A Friend Sweepstakes winner. Applying couldn’t be easier—no essays and no recommendations required. For the chance to win $1,000, just visit our Tell A Friend Sweepstakes page. You can enter the names and email addresses of up to ten friends, and, if they join the site, you will both be eligible to win $1,000. The more friends you refer, the more entries you’ll receive. Submit now for the chance to win!


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by Paulina Mis

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation granted nearly $900,000 for work on four issues of The Future of Children , a biannually-released journal about effective policies and programs for children. Since its inception in 2000, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has granted nearly $16.5 billion to provide for the health and education of people living in the US and abroad. In addition to sponsoring numerous education-related initiatives, the foundation created one of the biggest, most lucrative scholarship programs in the country, the Gates Millennium Scholars.

Their latest donation will be used by the Brookings Institute and the Princeton Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs—co-publishers of The Future of Children —to conduct research, disseminate information, host conferences and pay for additional efforts related to the four issues.  According to a Woodrow Wilson School news release, the proposed journal topics will include Children in Fragile Families, Children and Youth in Immigrant Families, Work and Family Balance and Postsecondary Education.

The Future of Children is aimed at identifying the research and policies that could assist families in raising their income and paying for school. To this end, researches will study the problems affecting individuals between the ages of 16 and 26, as well as those of their children. Their findings will be disseminated at no charge, and, once available, the results will be posted on www.futureofchildren.org. To encourage legislators to concentrate their efforts on bettering the circumstances of America's youth, journal contributors will also host numerous public awareness events.


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by Paulina Mis

The National Peace Essay Contest, a scholarship sponsored by the United States Institute of Peace, gives students the chance to voice their opinions on matters regarding international peace and conflict. By administering this award, the institute hopes to promote thoughtful discussion between youth, educators and national leaders alike.

Students interested in this year’s scholarships will have to write a 1500-word essay discussing the steps international entities such as the UN, governments and government or non-government organizations can take to protect individuals from crimes against humanity during times of warfare. An example of two foreign conflicts and possible measures that could be taken to promote their peace will have to be identified.

Applicants should also designate a coordinator such as a teacher, parent or youth leader to act as a contact between them and the US Institute of Peace. Coordinators will be responsible for reviewing the entries and ensuring that scholarship essays are the original work of the applicant.

Prize: 1. National first place award $10,000 (includes state awards) 2. National second place award $5,000 3. National third place award $2,500 4. Fifty-three state awards $1,000

Eligibility: 1. Students must be in grades nine through twelve in any of the fifty states, the District of Columbia or, if they are U.S. citizens, abroad. 2. Applicants may not have been previous first-place state winners or immediate family members of the institute. 3. Students may participate with the sponsorship of an essay coordinator.

Deadline: February 1, 2009

Required Material: 1. Two registration forms, one filled out by the student and one by the teacher 2. A 1500-word essay addressing this year’s topic

Further details about the application process 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 search results.


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