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Save the Perkins!

Proposed Amendment Will Keep This Loan Alive

Sep 23, 2010

by Alexis Mattera

The Perkins Loan Program has played a vital role in the quest for higher education (mine included) since 1958 but in two years, it could end up just as extinct as dinos and dodos. Can it (and the dreams of countless students) be saved?

The Perkins, or as one supporter affectionately calls it, “the David among the Goliaths of other aid,” is used by 1,800 colleges across the country yet Congress hasn’t provided any new money for the program since 2004. In 2009 alone, colleges awarded 495,000 new Perkins loans at an average of $2,231 per student and its demise would shut out college access to low-income students and eliminate the jobs of campus officials and loan servicers who help distribute the funds. Representative John Spratt clearly understands the importance of the Perkins and is sponsoring an amendment to delay the program’s cancellation – so much so that he held a hearing in Washington yesterday discussing the Perkins’ significance; though it probably won’t pass this year, Spratt is optimistic that with the support of the House Budget Committee and the schools relying on the loans, the amendment has a shot at approval next year.

“By its very nature, the Perkins Loan Program provides schools the flexibility to provide additional aid to needy students. The importance of this flexibility cannot be overstated,” said Sarah Bauder, assistant vice president of enrollment services and student financial aid at the University of Maryland at College Park, in her testimony during the hearing. “Financial aid administrators work where the rubber meets the road and have a unique perspective that allows them to assess students’ and families’ ability to pay for college in ways that aid applications will never be able to assess. When aid administrators see students and families struggling with unique circumstances, they need some flexibility to deliver funds to ensure the success of these students.” One such student, Joseph Hill, also testified. The Georgetown senior stated that though he received $26,000 in scholarships, the Perkins was what made it possible for him to attend the school of his dreams. “Last week, I was talking to my mother, and without hesitation, she said, ‘It still wouldn’t have worked without that Perkins Loan,’ ” Hill revealed.

There’s a lot more to the history of the Perkins and the fight to save it (get the details here) and as a former Perkins recipient, I can’t help but root for this little amendment that could. I'm definitely making a t-shirt.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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You Majored in…What?

What Your College Degree Really Means to Employers

Sep 21, 2010

by Alexis Mattera

Two students from two schools majored in the same subject and obtained degrees in the same field. They took equivalent classes, received identical grades, won similar scholarships and are now both being considered for the same job. Who is the better candidate? Put it this way: You don’t want to be the hiring manager.

In fields like nursing and accounting, there are licensure examinations in place to determine which graduates studied smart and have the greatest understanding of the material they have learned in school. The results are cut, dry and conclusive here but for those organizations hiring graduates from fields without these tests, finding the perfect candidate isn’t easy. In his recent Chronicle of Higher Education article, Forrest Hinton states that the disparity in grades and academic standards is so significant between institutions, departments and instructors that comparing applicants’ transcripts is often just as useless as offering someone a job because of their connections, alma mater or the hiring manager’s gut instinct. Hinton argues that the only way to mend this ailing hiring system is for academia and industry to work together to conclude which skills and knowledge students need to master most. Just because a candidate went to a less-selective college doesn’t necessarily mean they are any less qualified than a graduate of a more competitive institution and the same goes for students who are first-generation, low-income or minorities. Hinton suggests common and field-based assessments should be implemented to separate the candidates who thrive from the ones who will do just enough but, unfortunately, that’s not the world we live in…yet.

Though assessments across a wider variety of fields may be difficult to implement, I think they would make a huge difference in the quality of candidates employers hire and, in turn, the quality of work they produce. What about you, readers? Should someone get the job based simply on where they graduated from or their fluency in the field they seek to work in? What DOES a degree really mean these days and, more importantly, what SHOULD it mean?

And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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MTV’s New Groove

Music Channel and College Board Launch Financial Aid Contest

Sep 17, 2010

by Alexis Mattera

Current high school and college students are probably too young to remember when MTV actually played music videos. It was a glorious time for sure but after hearing this next announcement, I think they will like the network’s new direction just fine.

The NYT’s The Choice blog revealed that instead of launching another mind-numbing reality show, the music channel and the College Board have joined forces for the Get Schooled College Affordability Challenge. The contest – which is being underwritten by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – is open to current and potential college students interested in creating an innovative digital tool that will help more students obtain funds for school. The prize for the winning individual or team? A cool $10,000, as well as a $100,000 budget to bring their idea to life.

A statement released yesterday stated the contest was created to make it easier for students “to navigate what can be a confusing financial aid maze.” This metaphorical roadmap will definitely be a useful one: Each year, countless students are forced to postpone or abandon their dreams of higher education because they cannot pay for school but the Get Schooled creators hope their program will play a role in raising college completion rates.

The contest will run through December 17th so if you think you have what it takes to win, submit your idea here. Best of luck to all who enter!

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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A ‘W’ for Women

For the First Time, Females Earn Majority of Doctorates

Sep 14, 2010

by Alexis Mattera

I’ve been hearing the Spice Girls on the radio a lot lately but before you question my taste in music, I’m thinking the stations had to have gotten wind of this next piece of girl power-infused news: Data released today show that in 2008-2009, women earned the majority of doctoral degrees in the U.S. for the first time ever.

These numbers shouldn’t be surprising given that female enrollment has grown at all levels of higher education (thanks in large part to scholarship funding for both undergraduates and graduates), but the doctoral degree arena has been male-dominated until now. Though the female doctorate majority is slight at 50.4 percent, in 2000 women were earning just 44 percent of doctoral degrees; progress like this in just under a decade is hard to ignore.

The probability a new doctorate recipient being female depends on the field: In the study, just 22 percent of doctorates in engineering were awarded to women and 27 percent in computer science and mathematics. According to Nathan Bell, director of research and policy analysis for the Council of Graduate Schools (the organization that compiled and released the data), this is because the number of undergraduates majoring in these fields remains disproportionate. If it weren’t for this fact, he says, women would have surpassed men in doctoral awards already.

Inside Higher Ed presents additional details from the study here, definitely worth looking into, in my opinion...but what about yours? It doesn't matter if you're male or female, what do you think on this announcement?

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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The $20,000 Blog

Lenovo “University of Bloggers” Scholarship is This Week’s Scholarship of the Week

Sep 13, 2010

by Alexis Mattera

Do you blog? We do and with millions upon millions scattered throughout cyberspace, a more accurate question today is “Why DON’T you blog?” It can be fun, informative and, for several lucky college students, seriously beneficial to their futures (and wallets).

Lenovo’s University of Bloggers is hosting a bloggers contest, where each contestant will create a goal-oriented blog in which they will document their progress toward whichever goal they choose. The winner will receive $20,000 but prizes will also be given to nine runner-up bloggers. You just have to be over the age of 18, enrolled in an accredited college and enter by October 1st to be considered. Not too shabby!

For more information on this scholarship, click here or conduct a scholarship search on our site for others like it. Good luck, bloggers!

And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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AXA Achievement Scholarship

Don’t Wait Until December to Take Advantage of This Scholarship of the Week

Sep 7, 2010

by Alexis Mattera

Yes, there still may be a few weeks left of summer but it’s not too early to start thinking about what’s to come in the months ahead. For high school seniors, that often means college applications and searching for ways to pay for further education without breaking the bank. Scholarships are an excellent way to do this… especially when a single scholarship can make a significant dent in funding your education.

Need more proof? Check out the AXA Achievement Scholarship. Here are the details: The AXA Achievement Scholarship awards $670,000 annually. Fifty two students – one from each state, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico – receive scholarships of $10,000. Of those 52 students, 10 students are chosen as national winners and receive an additional $15,000 scholarship award and the opportunity for an internship with AXA Equitable. Scholarships are awarded to students who demonstrate ambition and drive, determination to set and reach goals and the ability to succeed in college.

The deadline is December 15th but for more information on this and other scholarships, conduct a free scholarship search at Scholarships.com.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest

Deadline Approaching for Scholarship of the Week

Aug 23, 2010

by Scholarships.com Staff

With most fall semesters just beginning or yet to begin, now may be the perfect time to spend some time applying for scholarships that may require a bit more effort on your part. If you’re a stellar writer, spending some of your extra time on an essay scholarship may lead to a decent prize to help cover some of those college costs. This week’s Scholarship of the Week asks applicants to reflect on topics based on the Ayn Rand novel Atlas Shrugged. If you’ve already read the book, the Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest may be a no-brainer for you. If you haven’t read it yet but have impressive speed-reading skills, you may still have enough time to submit an essay before the deadline.

This isn’t an award you can just recycle a previous essay for, unless you have the good luck of having studied the novel in your high school literature class. There are essay and writing scholarships out there though that have more general topics for you to reflect and compose narratives on. Make sure to keep copies of every essay you write, whether it’s for a scholarship or college application. Those personal statements and reflective essays may come in handy when you’re applying for internships, grants, fellowships, or future scholarships.

Prize:

  • 1 First Prize of $10,000
  • 2 Second Prizes of $2,000
  • 5 Third Prizes of $1,000
  • 20 Finalist Prizes of $100
  • 20 Semifinalist Prizes of $50

Eligibility:

Applicants must be high school seniors, college undergraduates, or graduate students.

Deadline:

September 17, 2010

Required Material:

Applicants are asked to write an essay of no fewer than 800 and no more than 1,600 words on one of three topics provided on the Ayn Rand Institute’s website. Essays will be judged on both style and content, including a writer’s grasp of the novel Atlas Shrugged, and may be mailed in or submitted online. Mailed essays should include a stapled cover sheet. The winning essay will be posted online, so applicants must be comfortable having their names posted on the Ayn Rand Institute’s site.

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.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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by Scholarships.com Staff

What better way to kick off the school year than an additional $10,000 to help cover your college costs? This week’s Scholarship of the Week will do just that, and all you need to do is enter a drawing. The ScholarshipPoints.com $10,000 Scholarship offers registered users the opportunity to collect points by completing simple activities on the site; each point a registered user receives equals one entry into any of the site’s scholarship contests. This also isn’t the only time ScholarshipPoints will be awarding this particular scholarship, either. The site hopes to give away $100,000 in 2010.

There are a number of awards out there that don’t require you to write an essay or fill out a lengthy application in order to qualify. While competition for these scholarship contests and sweepstakes will be fierce because there are fewer requirements determining eligibility, someone has to win, right? Why shouldn’t it be you? For more information on similar awards and scholarships based on other criteria, make sure to conduct a free scholarship search and keep your profile updated regularly, as new scholarship contests crop up often.

Prize:

$10,000

Eligibility:

You have to be a registered user of ScholarshipPoints.com to be eligible for this award. Registered users must be enrolled, will be enrolled within the next 12 months, or are planning to enroll in a college or university of the United States and be legal residents of the United States. Residents of Canada and Puerto Rico are not eligible. Winners may have their testimonials and photos displayed on the site, so applicants must agree to those terms.

Deadline:

Midnight on September 14, 2010

Required Material:

Once you’ve registered with ScholarshipPoints.com, all you’ll need to do is log in and enter the scholarship drawing. To earn “scholarship points,” you’ll need to complete simple activities on the site. This can consist of playing games, surfing the web, taking surveys, or reading a blog, among other options. Each activity you complete means one point for you, and one entry into this scholarship contest and others offered by the site.

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.

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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by Scholarships.com Staff

It’s always scholarship season around here, and as a scholarship provider ourselves, we thought the weeks before high school and college students return to their respective schools and campuses would be an appropriate time to go over what to do—and not to do—when submitting a recommendation letter in support of your application for an award.

While it probably won’t be expressly stated in any official scholarship rules, there are certain things you should avoid when considering what to do about that recommendation letter requirement, and certain things that will make one letter more impressive than another. This could mean the difference between you and another applicant, so make sure you put some thought into not only filling out the general scholarship application, but what you pass off as your recommendation letter. All recommendation letters are not created equal, and we’ve highlighted some tips for you below to make you a stronger applicant.

  • It is generally inappropriate for you to ask a relative to write your recommendation letter, unless an award expressly asks you to. Your mother, father, sister, grandmother, uncle, cousin, etc. probably think you’re great already, and it may be tough for a scholarship provider to place much weight on such an endorsement.
  • Try to avoid asking family friends, too, unless they have experience working with you in a professional capacity. It may be fine for you to ask a family friend to write your letter if they were your community service supervisor, for example, but you should probably go another route if they only know you on a personal level.
  • Keep it relevant. Take a look at the experiences you’ve had that relate to the scholarship in question. If it’s a general essay scholarship, talk to a former teacher at your high school or professor if you’re a college student. And ask those educators to submit their letters on letterhead; it isn’t overkill to make your application look as professional as possible.
  • Consult your resume. If it’s a scholarship related to a particular field of study that you have some work experience in, talk to former employers or internship coordinators. They certainly know better than anyone about your experience in that field, and it could boost your application to give the scholarship provider some evidence of your passion for a particular field.
Check out our site for more tips on asking for that scholarship letter of recommendation. And remember: a scholarship provider will be looking at your application as a whole, so even if you’ve written a stellar essay, missing a piece of the listed requirements or submitting a weak attempt at any of the requirements will probably put you out of the running for that award.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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by Scholarships.com Staff

With an increase in programs to keep students in school and a renewed focus on improving college preparedness and high school graduation rates, it’s no surprise that there are scholarships out there that want to help students achieve those goals. This week’s Scholarship of the Week is one such award, and targets college-bound high school students in Oregon who “beat the odds” to get to where they are and onto the path to higher education.

The Beat the Odds Scholarship Program from the Stand for Children Leadership Center awards $2,500 scholarships to students who have overcome personal obstacles and hardships while remaining on track to graduate high school the following year. Winners will be asked to share their stories publicly, so applicants should be comfortable doing so. You don’t need to be attending an Oregon college to apply, but you do need to be an Oregon high school student. Those in other states should try a free scholarship search to find awards they qualify for; as this one asks for volunteer experience, there are dozens of awards out there for those who help out in their local communities.

Prize:

Five $2,500 renewable scholarships

Eligibility:

Applicants must be enrolled in a public high school in Oregon, on track to graduate the coming  June, have a 3.0 GPA showing marked effort, improvement, or success, have succeeded in spite of hardships (the scholarship provider lists disability, personal tragedy, and poverty as examples), have volunteered or participated in other altruistic activities, and have financial need.

Deadline:

September 17, 2010

Required Material:

Those interested in this scholarship have the option of applying online or printing out an application and submitting it by mail. The application will ask for a personal and academic letter of recommendation, and a personal statement of between 500 and 1,000 words. Applicants will also be asked to provide a copy of their high school transcript and a copy of their parents’ most recent federal income tax return.

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.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Scholarships Are Not Just For High School Students

How To Get Aid While In College

Aug 3, 2010

by Derrius Quarles

Many college students end their first year of college with a significant amount of loans and out-of-pocket cost, forcing them to make the decision of either finding another school for the subsequent year or pausing their college education altogether. However, a mistake that can be made by students receiving loans or that have out-of-pocket costs is believing that undergraduate scholarships are not available for those already in college.

What all college students should know is that there are a plethora of scholarships and financial aid available exclusively to undergraduate students. These funds can be awarded based on many things, including community service done in high school in college, family income, the amount of loans used for college, and your academic record while in college. The places you should start looking for scholarships are the financial aid office at your college, where most schools post flyers or have a simple handout that list scholarships that are available for students at the school. The next step is to go directly to your financial aid advisor and ask if he/she knows of any financial aid sources that are available for you.

If you are unsuccessful in finding any opportunities via flyers, handouts, or asking your financial aid advisor, you should schedule a meeting with the director of financial aid at your school and ask them about ways of lowering your loan amounts and out-of-pocket costs. During this meeting you must remember that many students come into the office every day in need of aid so you must stress how important it is for you to receive additional aid if you are going to continue your education. The director may be able to tell you about grants and scholarships that are available to you. The reason you should tap into your school's resources for financial aid first is because most of the money your school has in its budget for financial aid will be available at the beginning of the school year. The longer you wait to investigate, the smaller your chances of receiving additional funds. The key thing to remember is the earlier you inquire, the better.

After you have tapped into all of your school's resources, you should then start your personal search for scholarships. The best place to start this search is of course Scholarships.com. When using the Scholarships.com database you should narrow your search to scholarships and grants available to undergraduate students. After you have done this you should find all of the scholarships you meet the requirements for and you should start your scholarship list. Almost all of these scholarships or grants will require you to write personal statements and obtain one or more recommendations from professors. If you want more information about writing personal statements and essays or getting your recommendations for scholarship applications take a look at my previous entries, "So You Want To Set Yourself Apart Huh?" (personal statements) and "A Strong Foundation Means a Strong Application" (recommendations). These entries will go into deeper detail about how to get great recommendations and how to write personal statements that will set you apart from other applicants.

Besides personal statements and recommendations, any scholarship you apply for as an undergrad will rely heavily on your academic record. This means that doing well in your classes and having a strong GPA will greatly increase your chances of being awarded most scholarships and grants. Your search for financial aid while in college may be a rough one, but it is definitely a search worth making. If you utilize the information listed above you too will soon realize that scholarships are not just for high school students.

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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