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Audit Reveals Problems with Colorado Scholarship Program

September 30, 2009

by Scholarships.com Staff

Colorado's CollegeInvest agency, an organization in charge of state loan forgiveness and scholarship programs, is facing criticism and increased scrutiny from the state's legislature after an audit revealed conflicts of interest and a surprisingly low number of scholarship awards being made by the board. The state legislature will now require the agency to report to them monthly to ensure proper oversight of the state's scholarship and student loan funds.

The audit found that the CollegeInvest Early Achievers Scholarship, a fund that awards high-achieving high school students with college financial aid, had only given out a tiny fraction of the awards it was expected to since it was established in 2005. Students opt into the scholarship program as 7th, 8th or 9th graders and pledge to take pre-college coursework in high school and maintain a GPA of 2.5 or better. The Colorado legislature estimated that the scholarship fund would award about $3.8 million in scholarships per year, but awarded only $91,000 this year. A volunteerism scholarship program and a student loan forgiveness programs managed by CollegeInvest also fell significantly short of goals and projections.

Meanwhile, the fund incurred over $12 million in administrative expenses beyond salaries and benefits for its employees. Reports on the audit note that the program has spent $10 on administrative costs for every $1 in scholarships awarded. The audit also found conflicts of interest with the board awarding funding to other organizations they were connected to and giving out large payments to financial advisors.

CollegeInvest officials say that the program is off to a slow start and that potential conflicts of interest were disclosed and didn't affect board decisions. For now, the state legislature has just asked for increased oversight of the program. But for Colorado students who were expecting to benefit from academic scholarships, community service scholarships, or loan forgiveness programs for which money is in place but funds aren't being awarded in large amounts, any change in these programs cannot come soon enough.

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Emc² Election Multimedia Contest for Cash

June 2, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

Student Pugwash USA, an organization dedicated to promoting social responsibility and technology, is giving away multiple cash prizes—not to mention conciliatory awards—to individuals who best answer the following question: “If you could send a message on a science, technology, or health issue to the next U.S. president and Congress, what would it be?”

Students interested in the Emc2 Election Multimedia Contest for Cash may respond to the question in a 5-minute audio, a 5-minute video or a 750 word essay. The grand prize winner will receive $2,000, and two runners up will receive $1,000 and $500 respectively. All applicants will receive a Student Pugwash t-shirt or Frisbee (while supplies last).

Prize

-Grand Prize: $2,000\r\n-Second Prize: $1,000\r\n-Third Prize: $500

Eligibility

-Applicants must be between the ages of 16 and 25 at the time of submission.\r\n-Applications which endorse a particular candidate for office will not be considered.

Deadline

July 15, 2008

Required Material

-An audio, video or essay response to the following question: “If you could send a message on a science, technology, or health issue to the next U.S. president and Congress, what would it be?”\r\n-A completed registration 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 list.\r\n
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GreenNote to Manage Friend, Community Loans

June 4, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

GreenNote, a new peer-to-peer lending company has embarked on the business of pairing college students with familiar faces willing to lend them money. Stressing that the company itself is not a lender, GreenNote instead plans to help users obtain student loans from the people they know…officially.

To create a match, GreenNote asks that students contact their family, friends or community to find individuals who are willing to provide them with financial aid. GreenNote’s role in the partnership lies in the paperwork. For a 2% borrower loan fee and a 1% lender management fee, the company sets up a legally binding agreement, complete with tax work, credit bureau reporting and school disbursements. It’s like asking the people you trust for some assistance—with an official contract and interest fees at hand.

As uncomfortable as the concept of formalizing a friend’s aid may sound, it may be a consoling alternative to borrowing from private lenders at bloodcurdling rates. Though more lax than the typical federal or private loan process, GreenNote’s services are similar to those of other lenders.

Borrowers will be paying the standard Federal Stafford Loan 6.8% interest rate, will have the option of deferring payments while in school and will have a six month grace period upon graduating before their first balance is due. Luckily for them, they will not be required to pass a credit check and do not have to worry about the maximum federal loan cutoff. Then again, lenders are likely to know more about them than their credit checks can ever let on.
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New Report Details College Enrollment, Graduation Rates, Financial Aid

June 5, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

The National Center for Education Studies (NCES), the primary federal organization in charge of collecting, analyzing and reporting academic information, released a report on Tuesday detailing the latest statistics on college students. Included were college enrollment trends, graduation rates and information about the financial aid received by students who began college after 1999.

According to the report, a total of 18 million undergraduate and graduate school students were enrolled in a college or university during the fall of 2006. Based on analysis of these students, as well as of those who enrolled in a four-year institution in 2000 or a 2-year institution in 2003, it was found that:\r\n
    \r\n
  • 62 percent of college students attended 4-year institutions, 37 percent attended 2-year institutions and 2 percent attended institutions with programs of shorter lengths.
  • \r\n
  • About 58 percent of first-time, full-time bachelor degree seekers completed their degree after six years; only 36 percent graduated after four.
  • \r\n
  • Approximately 50 percent of full-time students seeking a bachelor’s degree at a private, not-for-profit institution graduated within four years; 29 percent of students at public universities completed school by this time.
  • \r\n
  • During the 2005-2006 school year, 75 percent of first-time, full-time degree-seeking students received financial aid in some form (including federal loans)
  • \r\n
  • Of those students receiving financial aid, 28 percent received assistance in the form of a federal grant. The average grant totaled $2,923.
  • \r\n
  • During the 2005-2006 school year, 46 percent of first-time, full-time students who sought a degree took out student loans; of these, 60 percent attended a 4-year, private, non-for profit university and 44 percent attended a 4-year, public institution.
  • \r\n
  • The average public, 4-year institution used about 25 percent of its income for instruction, 12 percent for research and 10 percent for hospitals. Private, 4-year institutions and public, 2-year institutions used about 32 and 39 percent of income respectively for instruction.
  • \r\n
\r\n 

 
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President Wants Financial Aid Transferability Provision in GI Bill

June 6, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

After threatening to veto a bill aimed at boosting financial aid to veterans who pursued a postsecondary education, the president is now expected to ask Congress for even more funding. The White House has indicated that should a new provision allowing troops to transfer their education benefits to families be added, President Bush would be more inclined to sign.

The surprising turn of events is not likely to go over well with conservative Democrats, suggested an Associate Press article. Though many supported the idea of awarding sufficient aid to cover a four-year degree at the most expensive state university, some party members are weary about increasing the current proposal by $25 billion.  Worried that the sufficient funding could not be raised by simply cutting back in other areas, they are not expected to concede. When combined with the bill's provisions to increase funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the final request could near or exceed Bush’s initial call for a $108 billion cap.

Referred to as the 21st Century GI Bill of Rights, the veteran benefits portion of the bill also requests unemployment compensation, aid to farmers and highway construction funds, stated the ArmyTimes, all of which could make an agreement more difficult, even if Congress agrees to add Bush's provisions. The bill will next be reevaluated by the House where the new proposal and the Senate version of the bill will be considered.
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Scholarships.com Computer Science Scholarship

June 9, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

As a means of promoting diversity and developing talent, Scholarships.com has created a new set of scholarships for high school students and undergraduate students. The Fund Your Future” Area of Study College Scholarship consists of thirteen $1,000 prizes to be granted to students who pursue a postsecondary education in one of thirteen designated fields and 185 related majors.

Among them is the Scholarships.com Computer Science Scholarship, an award for students who plan to or are already majoring in computer science and related areas of study. Over the last decade, computer science has become an increasingly popular major, one that has contributed to cutting-edge technology and addictive gadgetry.

If you’re interested in being a part of the computer industry, start now. Enroll in your college of interest, and we’ll help you pay for it.  To apply for this essay scholarship, respond to the following question in 250 to 350 words (entries that fall outside of this word range will be disqualified):

“What has influenced your decision to pursue a career in computer science?”

Prize:

$1,000

Eligibility:

1. Applicant must be a registered Scholarships.com user. Creating an account is simple and free of charge.\r\n2. Applicant must be a US citizen\r\n3. Applicant must be undergraduate student or a high school senior who plans to enroll in a college or university in the coming fall\r\n4. Applicant must have indicated an interest in one of the following majors:

• Computer Science\r\n• Computer Technology\r\n• Drafting/Computer Aided Design\r\n• Information Systems Engineering\r\n• Information Technology\r\n• Mathematics\r\n• Satellite Imagery\r\n• Telecommunications

Deadline:

August 30, 2008

Required Material:

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

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 list.
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Need-Based Financial Aid

June 11, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

Affording a college education is becoming increasingly difficult, but help is available. Students who demonstrate financial need can look to numerous sources for assistance in paying for tuition and living expenses. Even those who do not demonstrate exceptional merit can qualify. Below is a list of financial aid resources students may be eligible to receive based on financial need. Additional need-based awards may be found by conducting a free college scholarship search.

Federal Grants The Federal Student Aid office oversees programs that comprise the nation’s largest source of student aid. Each year, billions in aid are awarded to college students across the country. The best of these, federal grants, do not have to be repaid. Students can look to federally-run need-based grants such as the Pell and the FSEOG to help pay for college expenses. Grants that are based on both merit and financial need—the SMART and the Academic Competitiveness Grant—are also a good option.

Federal LoansThough less attractive than grants, federal loans tend to have lower interest rates and better, more flexible, repayment options than private loans. This holds particularly true for need-based subsidized Stafford Loans and need-based Perkins Loans. Students interested in taking out a federal loan will first have to submit a FAFSA.

Sallie Mae Scholarships The Sallie Mae Fund is one of the largest sources of non-federal college aid. All awards offered by the organization have a need-based component. Since 2001, the Sallie Mae Fund has given away $12.7 million in scholarships to more than 5,000 college students.

College Scholarships Students may be  eligible for need-based aid offered by their college or university. Elite colleges such as Harvard, Northwestern and Stanford have been particularly gracious with their awards—Harvard students whose parents make less than $60,00 do not have to pay for tuition, room and board or expenses—but others are following in their footsteps.

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Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG)

June 12, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

The Higher Education Reconciliation Act of 2005 created two new grant opportunities for college students—the Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG) and the National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (SMART). Though these grants have already been in effect for two years, few students know about them. Below you will find information about the Academic Competitiveness Grant. For details concerning the SMART Grant, you may visit the Scholarships.com Blog or the Federal Student Financial Aid for College Section.

Academic Competitiveness Grant Overview

The Academic Competitiveness Grant is available to undergraduate students who are US citizens and who are enrolled in their first or second academic year at a two or four-year degree-granting institution. This grant is called competitive for a reason. To receive the award, students must have demonstrated their academic potential by having completed, successfully, a difficult program of study during high school. Those who are found to be eligible during their sophomore year of college must also maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA.

What one considers competitive can be a matter of option, but the Department of Education has set up some guidelines. Students who have completed a minimum of two AP or IB courses and those who have participated in the State Scholars Initiative or a similar program may be eligible for the grant. Students who meet the eligibility requirements can receive up to $750 for their first year of study and up to $1,300 for their second year of study.

Those interested in receiving the grant will have to submit a FAFSA. (Financial need is one component.) The Student Aid Report, a summary of answers reported on the FAFSA, will indicate whether a student is eligible to answer further ACG questions. If an ACG is granted, it will be awarded as a supplement to the Pell Grant money received by the student.

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Posted Under:

College Grants , FAFSA , Financial Aid



Student Loan Guaranty Agencies

June 13, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

Students who enter into loan agreements can be bombarded with unfamiliar terms and overwhelming agreements. The meaning of a student lender is obvious enough--it's the entity in charge of borrowing money--but the role a guaranty agency plays in the student lending process is a bit less obvious. The information below will give you a better idea of how guaranty agencies work, and how their work affects you.

What are guaranty agencies?

Guaranty agencies are state or private non-profit organizations in charge of administrating the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program, one that subsidizes participating student lenders. Because lenders who participate in the FFEL program receive subsidies from the government, they must abide by certain rules. (e.g. they cannot charge an interest rate higher than that set each year by the government.) In return, the government agrees to insure them through one of the 35 existing guaranty agencies. If an individual defaults on a student loan, a guaranty agency will pay the student lender most of the remaining loan balance.

How do guaranty agencies affect me?

Students who enter into a loan agreement with an FFEL lender agree to pay their guaranty agency a maximum 1% default fee (also known as a guaranty fee) to cover insurance costs.  Guaranty agencies with a sufficiently large reserve may choose to lower or eliminate the student default fee. Some may also reduce fees for students who sign up for direct bank withdrawal or for those who make a certain number of on-time payments.

If a guaranty agency is forced to repay a student lender for a student's loan default, they are also responsible for collecting the outstanding balance. Students who are unable to fulfill their borrowing responsibilities due to certain circumstances may be eligible to have their loans discharged (forgiven).

For additional information about the guaranty agency serving your state, you may contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID or visit the Department of Education website.

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Posted Under:

FAFSA , Financial Aid , Student Loans



Scholarships.com College Engineering Scholarship

June 16, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

As a means of promoting diversity and developing talent, Scholarships.com has created a new set of scholarships for high school students and undergraduate students. The “Fund Your Future” Area of Study College Scholarship consists of thirteen $1,000 prizes to be granted to students who pursue a postsecondary education in one of thirteen designated fields and 185 related majors.

Among them is the Scholarships.com Engineering Scholarship, an award for students who plan to or are already majoring in engineering and related areas of study. To ensure that current and future engineering students receive the funds they need to afford a quality education, we have created a scholarship especially for them.

If you’re interested in applying for the Scholarships.com College Engineering Scholarship, respond to the following question in 250 to 350 words (entries that fall outside of this word range will be disqualified):

“What has influenced your decision to pursue a career in engineering?”

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:

• Chemical Engineering • Civil Engineering • Concrete Engineering • Electrical Engineering • Engineering • Engineering Management • Environmental Engineering • Fire Protection Engineering • Mechanical Engineering • Mining Engineering • Railway Engineering

Deadline:

September 30, 2008

Required Material:

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

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 list. 

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