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TRIO Financial Aid and College Assistance Programs

November 27, 2007

by Scholarships.com Staff

The government funds a number of financial aid and mentoring programs, and you are probably—no offense—unaware of most. It’s not your fault. Most students are not well-versed in matters of federal aid because they have not been informed about their options.  Aside from the best-known federal grant, the Pell Grant, most students know little about available federal aid.

The TRIO program (no, this is not an acronym) is one of the lesser-known federal financial aid and counseling programs. It was created to assist students from disadvantaged backgrounds as well as those facing circumstances that hinder their academic pursuits. The TRIO program is made up of six different student programs and a training program for TRIO program staff. It not only addresses financial obstacles caused by affording an undergraduate education but also those caused by affording graduate school.

To be considered disadvantaged, students must have an maximum annual income of $15,315 for a one-person family unit, $20,530 for a two-person family unit, $25,750 for a three-person family unit and $5,220 for each additional person. (The income cutoff is higher in Hawaii and Alaska.)

The student programs offered through TRIO include:

Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program- This program was created to increase the number of underrepresented students who obtain graduate and doctorate degrees.  Eligible students who demonstrate strong academic potential are assisted in their preparation for graduate studies with counselor support, financial aid, research and internship opportunities as well as tutoring programs.

Student Support Services (SSS) Program- The SSS program assists students in meeting their basic college requirements. The goal of the program is to increase student graduation rates and the number of students who continue their education. Eligible students will receive help in securing admission and financial aid to four-year colleges and universities, personal counseling, tutoring assistance, career planning and college scholarship information.

Talent Search- Students eligible for the talent search aid are assisted in completing their high school education and attending a college or university. Eligible disadvantaged students will be offered tutoring, career search aid, college information, counseling and mentoring services.

Upward Bound- The Upward Bound program assists high school students in preparing for college.  It awards aid to financially disadvantaged students, students whose parents did not obtain a bachelor’s education and low-income first-generation veterans pursing a college education. Upward Bound projects include tutoring in math, science, composition, literature and foreign languages. Students are also offering counseling, cultural enrichment programs and work-study programs.

The Upward Bound Math-Science Program- This program was created to improve the math and science skills of students and to encourage them to pursue a degree in the math and sciences. Participating students will receive aid with the help of summer programs, counseling, computer lessons and the opportunity to work with college faculty and graduate students on science research projects.

The Educational Opportunity Centers Program- The Educational Opportunity Centers Program is an assistance service for adults who need help in their pursuit of a postsecondary education. Eligible adults will receive personal counseling, information on college financial aid and tutoring aid.

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Tour de Scholarships.com

December 19, 2007

by Scholarships.com Staff

The whole “college graduates earn $1 million more than non graduates over their lifetime” stat is getting a bit trite. I’ll give you a few more if you’re not convinced that college is a worthwhile investment.

College graduates enjoy greater career security

College graduates can offer their children a more secure financial future

College graduates are healthier

College graduates are more likely to contribute to society

Anyway, you get the picture. The problem isn’t that the whole “follow your dreams” thing makes no sense. The problem is affording those dreams and affording the time and preparation it takes to follow them. Most of us don’t make enough money to loll around devoting our days to perfecting our sculpting skills and sharpening our 3 point shots. Even those with less risky dreams can’t always afford to test the waters, especially if the schooling required to get those jobs is too expensive and time consuming. That’s why so many students find themselves having to compromise their initial career goals after realizing their dream jobs won’t allow them to pay off student loans. Let’s just say that the need for qualified teachers isn’t caused by a disinterested public.

Sorry, I didn’t mean to be gloomy. I swear there’s a silver lining. Financial aid in the form of government grants and outside scholarships is readily available to students in difficult situations. Without a cloud of college debt hanging over your head, “The Road Not Taken” may suddenly become an option. The financial aid information found at Scholarships.com will help you familiarize yourself with the FAFSA, government grants, corporate scholarships, private scholarships, the ins and outs of student loans and myriad other financial aid opportunities. Whether you’re interested in preliminary information or ready to get down to business by finding scholarships, we can help you do it.

If you’re not convinced, you can take a tour of our site. Visit our homepage, and take a sort of “Tour de Scholarships.com” if you will. We can help you see how conducting a free college scholarship search will help you find scholarships and grants that, based on the information you provide, you're eligible to receive. Find New York scholarships, scholarships for graduate students, scholarships for minorities, poetry scholarships, music scholarships—you name it, we’ve got it. With information about more than 2.7 million scholarships and grants, Scholarships.com offers more than you’ll know what to do with. If you’re not convinced yet, just take the tour. Like the search, it’s free. You’ve got nothing to lose, and a world of financial aid opportunities to gain.

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Research Grants

February 28, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

Students eager to work for multiple degrees deserve some credit--the financial kind. Paying for graduate school is difficult, and many students leave burdened by debt they cannot realistically pay off. The federal Pell Grants students may have received as undergraduates are no longer available, and suddenly, graduate school may no longer seem plausible.

The situation is particularly problematic for students interested in receiving a doctor's degree because many such programs take an average of six to seven years to complete. Most students cannot afford to work and study full-time, so completion of school often hinges on one's ability to afford it. To help graduate students pay for their living and research needs, many universities and financial aid providers offer annual research grants, scholarships and fellowships. To get you started, we have listed a few examples below. For additional information about financial aid for graduate students, you may conduct a free college scholarship search.

AMAF Valuing Diversity Ph.D. Scholarship

This scholarship was created by the American Marketing Association Foundation (AMAF) and the AMA Academic Council to assist students from underrepresented populations in their pursuit of a marketing-related degree. African American, Hispanic American and Native American students enrolled in a full-time AACSB-accredited marketing doctoral program are eligible for this award.

Society of Pediatric Psychology Student Research Award

The Society of Pediatric Psychology Student Research Award is available to current student members of the Society of Pediatric Psychology (SPP). Research projects leading toward a master's or doctor's degree, or ones conducted for independent study, will be considered. Work must be relevant to the subject of pediatric psychology.   Collaborative Research Grants

Collaborative Research Grants are awarded to students working in teams of two or more to complete work that cannot be funded by a one-person grant. Eligible projects include research or conferences that contribute to understanding of the humanities, archaeological research, translations of important works into English and humanities research used to enhance knowledge in science, technology medicine or the social sciences. Grants may be used to fund up to three years of work. 

The Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation (HFG) Research Grants

Awards typically ranging from $15,000 to $30,000 per year for one or two years are awarded by the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation (HFG) to students who participate in research that increases the  understanding of causes, manifestations and control of violence, aggression and dominance.

The National Network for Environmental Management Fellowship Program

The National Network for Environmental Management (NNEMS) Fellowship can be used to fund a project that directly relates to environmental research. About 20 to 30 awards totaling $300,000 are awarded annually. Individual grants will vary depending on the level of education, location and the length of a fellowship. 

Environmental Public Policy & Conflict Resolution Ph.D. Fellowship

Two one-year fellowships of up to $24,000 will be awarded to doctoral candidates by the Udall Foundation. Applicants will have to conduct research on the topic of U.S. environmental public policy or environmental conflict resolution. Students must be entering their final year of dissertation work.

Department of Homeland Security Graduate Fellowship

Undergraduate and graduate students who are pursuing a doctoral or master’s degree and working on a thesis dealing with homeland security may be eligible for this federal award. Students must have a minimum GPA of 3.3. Full tuition and a stipend of $2,300 per month for 12 months will be awarded. In addition to a 10-month internship, one-year of homeland security-related work is required.

Beinecke Scholarship

This award is granted to undergraduate juniors who intend to enter a master’s or doctor's program in the arts, humanities or social sciences. To be eligible, students will need to be nominated by their school. (Interested students should contact their college counselors.) Preference is given to students with financial need.

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Perkins Loan Availability Fading

April 3, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

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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College Fellowships

April 14, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

Because graduate and professional school students are no longer eligible for Pell Grants, they must search elsewhere for financial assistance. A common option is the fellowship--a financial aid opportunity created to help graduate students obtain their degree.

Master, doctoral and professional school candidates who demonstrate both merit and dedication are the most common recipients of fellowships. When searching for this type of aid, students are unlikely to come across awards that mirror the goofy, unusual duck tape outfit or left-handed student scholarships. More often than not, fellowships are geared towards students who are serious about their work—ones who display resolve and passion in their respective fields. They are commonly awarded to individuals who plan to conduct research in a certain field or to ones who plan to begin a career in a subject designated by the fellowship provider.

Below are a few examples of fellowship opportunities you may be eligible to receive. Many awards are conferred annually, so check back for updated deadlines. For additional information about financial aid options, try conducting a free college scholarship search.

AACC International Fellowship

The foundation previously known as the American Association of Cereal Chemists (AACC) is awarding fellowships in the amounts of $2,000, $2,500 and $3,000 to students who conduct research directly related to grain-based food science or technology. Students must be pursuing an MS or Ph.D. degree to be eligible.

Department of Homeland Security Fellowship

Tuition, fees and a stipend of $2,300 per month for 12 months will be awarded to graduate students whose thesis deals with science, technology, engineering or math as they relate to homeland security. Applicants must be US citizens and must have a minimum 3.3 GPA on a 4.0 scale.

Richard Morris Hunt Fellowship

Architects pursuing a career in historic preservation may be eligible to win $25,000 in stipend money. Winners from France and the US will practice preservation technologies in each other’s countries over a six month span.

Fellowship for Minority Doctoral Students

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) will award fellowships to minority doctoral students who display potential for becoming accounting educators. Renewable fellowships of up to $12,000 will be given away each year. 

American Graduate Fellowships

Students working towards a doctoral degree in the humanities and attending one of the 23 leading independent research universities in the U.S., Great Britain or Ireland may be eligible to receive a fellowship of up to $50,000. History, philosophy, literature, languages and the fine arts are among eligible fields

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Bill to Aid Lenders Passed by House

April 18, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

On Thursday, the US House of Representatives passed a bill aimed at halting the mass leave of student lenders from the federal loan program. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, more than 50 lenders have left the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program to date. The growing departure has left families fearing that students will have no one to turn to for financial assistance once their Pell Grants and savings run dry.

To lessen the plight of FFEL lenders and students who depend on them for financial assistance, the bill would allow the Secretary of Education to purchase loans student lenders were not able to sell to investors. By pouring money into the loan market, the Department of Education would enable student lenders to use their capital for issuing new loans rather than paying out the original ones.

The new bill also addressed the lender of last resort, an emergency plan wherein guaranty agencies would be forced to lend money to students who were turned away by other lenders. Under the new plan, the Department of Education would have permission to advance funding to the agencies if need should arise.

To make the transition from the FFEL to the lender of last resort loan program easier on students, loans would be petitioned for on a college by college basis rather than a student by student one. Based on previous outlines of the untested program, students in need of a lender of last resort loan would have had to seek permission from the Department of Education and prove that at least two lenders had turned them down before receiving money.

A bill similar to the House version was introduced but not yet addressed by the Senate. Before the ideas are implemented, both the House and the Senate will have to iron out differences and send the final version to the president for approval.

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Free For All: New Medical School to Pay for Incoming Class

May 1, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

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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Financial Aid Available to Graduate School Students

June 17, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

The government recognizes the dire financial circumstances of numerous undergraduate students, and slowly, steps are being taken to change things for the better. Three new federal grants have been created within the past two years, the maximum Pell Grant award has risen and interest rates on undergraduate Federal Stafford Loans will begin their gradual descent this fall. But…where does that leave graduate school students?

According the Council of Graduate Schools, the number of students seeking master’s and doctoral degrees is expected to rise by 12% between 2006 and 2014, and many of these students will need financial aid. While certain aid does not apply to graduate school students, plenty of assistance is available to those who know where to look. Here are just a few options:

Federal Aid Unfortunately, graduate school students are not eligible to receive federal grants, but federal aid in the form of federal work study and low-rate student loans (Stafford and PLUS) are still an option. And while the recently passed College Cost Reduction and Access Act will not lower loan interest rates for graduate school students, those who borrowed before July 1, 2006 will see a substantial drop in their bill. Variable interest rates on federal loans will decrease from 7.22%to 4.21 % this year.

Scholarships and Grants Numerous scholarships and non-federal grants are not just available to graduate school students, they are restricted to them. Companies and organizations frequently offer aid to graduate school students who display an interest in work that aligns with their goals. After all, these scholars can be the future innovators of their industry. To find scholarships you may be eligible to receive based on your year in school or major of interest, try conducting a free college scholarship search.

Employer Assistance Students who commit to working for a certain employer may be lucky enough to receive full or partial compensation for an additional degree. This is often the case with hospital staff, educators and employees who could help their companies profit through new skills and certifications.

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Mastering the College Interview

July 8, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

As if the application process was not enough, the ACT, SAT, GRE etc. not sufficiently stressful, some students must also worry about acing a college interview. Those who wish to enroll in certain undergraduate or graduate school programs may find that the interview is simply unavoidable. Because interviews cannot be proofread by an older sibling, students can use the following pointers to prepare themselves for the big day. 

Location is Key. Before moving on to the content, finalize the basics. Confirm the address and time of the interview, and plan out the best way to reach your location. If possible, visit the meeting place beforehand. If not, at least arrive early. Realizing that the campus layout is confusing, the buildings ambiguously marked and the office hidden in a building labyrinth is not the optimal start to your interview. You need to arrive (outwardly) calm, (seemingly) confident and obviously on time.

Do Your Homework. Interviewers want to hear the following: you want to attend this school; you have a clear, original reason for wanting to pursue your degree, and you’re mature and ready to benefit their institution (as a current student and accomplished graduate). Be prepared to convince them of the aforementioned. Browse the school website, and be prepared to drop some names, numbers or facts. For example, let the interviewer know how the department’s A to B student teacher ratio was impressive, exactly what you had hoped to find, and how very much you would like to help professors C, D or E with their latest research project—it perfectly aligns with your career interests.

Leave a Lasting Impression. Having worked in an admission’s department and attended a board meeting where professors decided the future of incoming (or not incoming) students, I was surprised to see how seriously the interview process was taken. Yes, the board reviewed and heavily emphasized a student's course experience and GPA—over sub sandwiches—but it also paid attention to a student's presentation. Professors remarked about dress code, about how carefully a student considered his or her career goals and about formality. From this I learned that you should dress to impress; prepare specific, original details about current and future goals, and express how important your interview and goals are to you.

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Posted Under:

Graduate School , High School , Tips



Job Prospects Not So Great for 2009 Grads

October 24, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

So you've finally hit your senior year of college and you're anxiously awaiting the day when nobody will ever force you to write another 8-page paper about James Joyce or take another three-hour-long college exam.  You're about to be on your own, earning real money and living the high life (Goodbye, roommates!  Goodbye, budget diet!).  All you have to do now, aside from completing those 21 required credits you need to cram into your spring semester, is find a job.

Survey says you'd better start looking now.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers polled 146 employers in a range of industries this month and calculated a projected hiring increase of just 1.3 percent for 2009.  Anything under 6 percent is considered pretty bad news, according to an article on the subject appearing in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  Campus career centers are advocating that students who plan to graduate in May or August start their job hunt now, rather than waiting until closer to graduation.  Another idea is to look into nonprofit organizations, government jobs, and other fields where demand remains steady in a recession.  Of course, many of them offer lower pay than a college graduate might need to live comfortably while repaying student loans.

Of course, you could also go to graduate school.  It's not too late to register to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), put together a personal statement and some letters of recommendation, and throw yourself into application process.  Some master's programs accept applications into March or April, and possibly even later.  Graduate students gain more knowledge and experience in their field, including valuable teaching and research skills, and can continue to rely on financial aid (including scholarships, fellowships, and assistantships) for two or more years while the economy hopefully stabilizes and job prospects improve.

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Posted Under:

College News , Graduate School , Tips



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