August 26, 2008
California's community colleges system plans to begin offering $1,000 scholarships to many of its students in 2009, according to an article in Diverse Issues in Higher Education. The schools received a $25 million endowment in May from a foundation that supports education and the arts, and will receive matching funds of up to another $25 million after fundraising efforts this fall. These scholarship opportunities will help make college more affordable for anywhere from 1,250 to over 5,000 students annually, depending on the amount of money California community colleges are able to raise to contribute to the fund.
This is just one of several efforts being undertaken by California's community colleges in order to start tapping into alumni donations and building endowment funds to help students pay for school. The San Mateo Community College foundation has increased its staff and started publishing an alumni newsletter to solicit donations, and the Foundation for California Community Colleges, which will administer the new scholarship fund, is helping other schools devise strategies for fundraising.
As community college enrollment continues to increase and states continue to cut funding to community colleges in order to balance their budgets, it makes sense for community colleges to increasingly turn to philanthropic gifts to meet their students' needs. If other states follow California's example, attending college at a two-year institute could become a more attractive option for many students who are strapped for cash or coming up short on financial aid at a more expensive institution. In addition to scholarships administered by the colleges, community college students are also eligible to compete for many private scholarship awards.
To research community college options in California or other states, check out our college search tool. To find out about additional sources of scholarship money, fill out a profile on Scholarships.com and conduct a free scholarship search.
August 27, 2008
The city of Akron, Ohio plans to introduce a scholarship fund to encourage its high school graduates to stay in the city for college. Akron's plan follows in the footsteps of other cities with similar programs, such as Kalamazoo, Michigan, which gained national attention with the launch of the Kalamazoo Promise scholarship in 2005. An anonymous donor contributes to the Kalamazoo Promise fund, which offers free tuition to graduates of Kalamazoo high school attending college at local schools, such as Western Michigan University. At least 19 cities have followed suit in the last three years, according to the Associated Press, with many relying on private donors to provide scholarship awards.
But no donors have come forth in Akron, so the city is trying something new: leasing its sewage system to a private company, then using the money to establish a scholarship fund. The measure, which has earned the somewhat derisive nickname "stools for schools," is up for a vote in November. While any additional scholarships for high school students are welcome, this measure does come with some drawbacks. Up to 100 city employees in Akron may find themselves without jobs in an already tough economic climate and many residents have issues with the city choosing to privatize public works.
Additionally, students may not be interested in the scholarship anyway. Presently, only 600 Akron high school graduates attend the University of Akron, and the proposed tuition plan will only subsidize what's left of tuition after students' other scholarships are taken out, leaving them with the guaranteed responsibility of room and board. The scholarship committee is also throwing around the idea of attaching a thirty-year residency requirement to the scholarship money, converting the scholarships to student loans for all students who choose to leave Akron before retirement.
While local scholarships are usually a great idea for students, they can stop being appealing if too many requirements are attached. My guess is that few students will want to have their entire lives planned out for them in high school, especially if a change in plans carries a financial penalty of tens of thousands of dollars. Whether or not this measure passes in November, many students from Akron will undoubtedly want to continue their scholarship search. And Scholarships.com is a great place to start, with our database of 2.7 million college scholarships and grants worth over $19 billion, without a 30-year residency requirement in sight.
August 29, 2008
An article that appeared yesterday in the UK's Times Higher Education carries an important reminder for students attending college on both sides of the pond: don't trust spell check to always suggest the right word. The publication's recently revived contest for the best college exam bloopers asked professors to submit anonymous examples of some of their students' worst for-credit writing. Most of the entries highlighted in the article are a case of students accidentally using a different word than what they meant.
If you're not the best speller, you may want to take these examples to heart and remember to use the dictionary to look up the meanings and spellings of words you're not sure of, rather than simply relying on a spell checker or guessing. For example, "academic" and "epidemic" may sound similar, but they carry very different meanings. And don't think these mistakes are something that only the stereotypical stuffy tweed-clad British professor will notice--anyone in the business of evaluating writing is likely to pick up on errors of meaning in essay writing.
This advice applies not only to essays you'll write for introductory college courses, but also to college applications and scholarship application essays, as well. Many students run their entries for scholarship essay contests through a spellchecker of some sort (though some don't even do that), but a surprising number of students fail to take the next step and make sure that the words they're using mean what they think they mean. Over-reliance on the thesaurus can produce a similar effect. While the denotative meanings of two words may appear to be closely related, their connotations could be worlds apart.
September 2, 2008
Aspiring artists, break out your pens for this week's Scholarship of the Week, the Christophers' Poster Contest for High School Students. The art scholarship competition, which carries a grand prize of $1000, encourages high school students to create an original poster featuring the text "you can make a difference." Just by using your artistic talent in two-dimensional or computer-generated art to create a poster, you could be $1000 closer to funding your education, without having to worry about GPA, test score, or financial need requirements.
The Christophers is a non-profit organization founded in 1945 for the purpose of using media to encourage people to make positive changes in their community. 2008-2009 is the 19th year they've helped students pay for school through this poster competition.
Prize: 1st prize is $1000, 2nd prize is $500, 3rd prize is $250, and five honorable mentions receive $100 each.
Eligibility: High school students currently enrolled in grades 9-12.
Deadline: January 19, 2009.
Required Materials: One 15" by 20" poster and a completed application form, which is available on The Christophers' website. Posters must include the words "you can make a difference" and be the original work of one student.
Further details about the application process can be found by conducting a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com. Once the search is completed, students eligible for this scholarship award will find it in their search results.
September 8, 2008
As a means of promoting diversity and developing talent, Scholarships.com has created a new set of scholarship awards for high school students and undergraduate students. The Scholarships.com “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 College English Scholarship, an award for students who are pursuing or planning to pursue a degree in English or Literature. To ensure that current and future English majors receive the funds they need to afford a quality education, we have created a scholarship opportunity especially for them.
If you’re interested in applying for the Scholarships.com College English Scholarship, write a 250 to 350 word scholarship application essay in response to the following question (entries that fall outside of this word range will be disqualified): “What has influenced your decision to pursue a career in English?”
Deadline: October 31, 2008
Required Material: A 250 to 350 word response to the following question: “What has influenced your decision to pursue a career in English?”
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.
September 15, 2008
Let's be honest. Sometimes, the contest rules for scholarship opportunities can just be too limiting. Lengthy forms, essay prompts, and word counts can all suck the joy right out of scholarship applications. While specific requirements can be nice for some, others just need a little more flexibility to express themselves fully. For those free-spirited students, we have this week's Scholarship of the Week, the Frame My Future Scholarship Contest.
The Frame My Future Scholarship Contest, sponsored by Church Hill Classics and diplomaframe.com asks students to share their plans for their future after graduation, composing an original piece that shows, "how I frame my future." The only requirement for the entry is that it fit on an 8.5 x 11" piece of paper. Otherwise, the format is completely up to you. Submit a drawing, an essay, a photograph, a collage, or anything else you can think of, either online or by mail. The top 24 entries will be posted on Framemyfuture.com, where the public will be able to vote for their favorite, and the five most popular will be awarded $1,000 college scholarships.
Prize: Five winners will each receive a $1,000 scholarship award.
Eligibility: The contest is open to U.S. high school seniors and college students who will be working toward a degree in the 2009-2010 academic year.
Deadline: March 31, 2009.
Required Materials: An entry form, available on the contest website, and an 8.5 x 11 inch piece of paper with your original creation on it. Submissions are accepted online or via mail.
September 22, 2008
Lately, we've made a few blog posts about efforts to lower the amount students are forced to spend on college textbooks. Professors are starting to turn to more and more online and open-source course material, Congress has legislated changes in the way textbook sellers do business, and students at the University of Michigan can now print a bound copy of a non-copyrighted book for $10. However, cool stuff happening at other schools or scheduled to happen in the future doesn't necessarily help you afford that $150 biology textbook now. For those of you still struggling with coming up with an additional $500 or more to buy books, this week's Scholarship of the Week can help.
Beans for Books, a non-profit organization started by students working at coffee shops, raises money to help top students afford the textbooks they need to continue to succeed in college. Grants of $500-1000 are awarded each semester to be used solely for buying books. The application cycle for the spring semester is just beginning, so if you're anticipating a semester laden with science, math, and foreign language classes, now is the time to apply!
Prize: Winners will receive a grant of $500-1000 to be spent on textbooks for the next college term.
Eligibility: Students who will be enrolled in college in the following semester, and who demonstrate financial need and maintain a GPA of at least 3.7 on a 4.0 scale.
Deadline: Varies by semester.
Required Materials: Completed online scholarship application, available on the Beans for Books website.
September 23, 2008
A study abroad experience can be an important part of attending college. Study abroad programs expose college students to other languages and cultures, giving them a valuable experience beyond mere tourism, and allowing them to gain a better sense of the wider world and their place in it. For many students, trips abroad help shape their identities and their college experiences, typically for the better. However, for many students, studying abroad is still seen as an option open only to white, well-traveled, and well-off students.
This stereotype has been highlighted both by popular media (the Chronicle of Higher Education points to a post in the popular blog Stuff White People Like, which humorously explains trends embraced by young, urban, middle-class, and predominately white people) and by academia. Unfortunately, unlike other stereotypes and scholarship myths, it has some truth to it, as more white students tend to travel abroad while in school. However, colleges and scholarship providers are struggling to change this and attract more minority and working-class students to study abroad programs.
Over the last few years, many schools have increased efforts to promote study abroad as something not only attainable but desirable for students who haven't yet traveled outside the US. These efforts include making minority students more visible in promotional materials, making shorter and more affordable study abroad options available, and highlighting financial aid opportunities available to lower income students.
One such scholarship award, mentioned in the Chronicle of Higher Education article, is the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program, which helps fund semesters abroad for Pell Grant recipients. Numerous other study abroad scholarships exist, and low-income and minority students, as well as any students unsure of their ability to afford to study outside the country, are encouraged to apply. To find out more about study abroad programs, talk to the study abroad office at your college. To find more scholarship money for study abroad, conduct a free scholarship search on Scholarships.com, where we list several awards applicable to studying outside the country, as well as other opportunities for need-based financial aid and scholarships for minorities.
September 25, 2008
In the wake of the credit crisis of the past year, innumerable articles have been written about the impact on the student loan industry, as several student lending agencies have been forced to stop offering federal and private loans to students or at least scale back their operations considerably. Credit requirements have gotten more stringent for students whose lenders are still in business, and taking out a student loan is an even more time-consuming and uncertain process now than ever.
At the same time, the economic downturn that's accompanied the credit crisis is highlighting the difficulty students are facing repaying all of these student loans--loans they're being told now that they're lucky to get. Many students feel caught in a difficult position. Do they take out student loans, go horribly in debt, but get to ultimately pursue a fulfilling degree and a potentially more fulfilling career? Do they work full-time through school and take longer to get the degree and spend less time in their dream job? Or do they minimize debt by going to work sooner in a field that's easier to break into and requires less education?
According to the results of a survey published in the Boston Business Journal, that first option might not even be an option for many students. An online poll of 336 recent college grads revealed that 47 percent said that their career pursuits were influenced by their need to make student loan payments, while 25 percent reported putting future education plans on hold in order to minimize debt. While these numbers are the results of only one web survey, they still send a pretty clear message that avoiding student loans is a good idea when trying to pay your way through school.
Congress is advocating the wider adoption of college savings accounts, such as 529 plans, and more universities are retooling their financial aid packages to benefit more needy students and rely more heavily on scholarships than on student loans. Many of the nation's top colleges have made a commitment to helping all accepted students afford to attend, and other schools are offering larger scholarship awards to students who most need them, as well. For example, Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia just launched the Starfish Initiative, where anonymous donations are used to cover the remaining tuition balances of deserving seniors who might otherwise need to take out a substantial private loan or leave college.
But institutional aid and college savings accounts aren't the only options available to students. A vast number of scholarship opportunities are out there, and despite the scholarship myths you may have heard, you can fund a substantial portion of your college education with such sources. So start your scholarship search early and be persistent. While soaring college costs and a weak economy may make it harder to pay for school, they don't mean you have to stay home or be overwhelmed by debt. Do your research and find out what resources are available to help fund your education.
September 29, 2008
This week's Scholarship of the Week is an essay scholarship for all the opinionated female college students out there. The Independent Women's Forum is sponsoring an essay contest open to any woman currently enrolled in a four-year college or university. The essay prompt asks students to share their opinions on the cost-effectiveness of federal spending to combat the potential impact of global climate change. A 750-word response could earn you up to $5,000 in scholarship money!
Prize: One first prize winner will receive $5,000. Second and third prize winners will receive $2,000 and $1,000 respectively. Ten honorable mentions will each receive $250.
Eligibility: Female students of any age enrolled in a four-year college or university during the 2008-2009 school year.
Deadline: December 1, 2008.
Required Materials: Completed scholarship application, available on the Independent Women's Forum website, and an essay of no more than 750 words answering the question posted on the IWF Essay Contest website.
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