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Students Searching for Scholarships Find Fees Instead

October 10, 2011

Students Searching for Scholarships Find Fees Instead

by Suada Kolovic

The cost of a higher education continues to skyrocket and many students have turned to scholarship search websites to secure funding to bridge the financial gap. Most would assume that using a reputable website would protect them from non-reputable scholarships but that’s not always the case: Students in Florida were upset recently after learning that the United Youth Fitness Scholarship – an award listed on Fastweb, the Sun Sentinel’s Teen Link page and Georgetown University’s financial aid page – charged students a fee to have their essay’s published on the scholarship’s website.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Full Sail University student Emilio Zedan was one of many students that applied for the $1,500 scholarship. Soon after he submitted his application, he received an email saying that although he didn’t win, he did receive an honorable mention and could have his essay posted on the scholarship's website for a $12.95 fee. But why? In email to the Orlando Sentinel, Quinn Cory – the site’s registrant and operator of several other for-profit scholarship sites – explained that the essay publication fees helped pay for the costs of the scholarship and to run the program, adding that his scholarships were 100-percent legal and within all of the bounds of law. (For more on the story, click here.)

Here at Scholarships.com, we understand that scholarship fees are, unfortunately, extremely common. That’s why we only list scholarships after they have been carefully reviewed and verified by our staff so that students will only see legitimate scholarships from organizations that don’t charge fees. By employing this rigorous approval process, we’ve been able to remain one of the most widely-used and trusted free college scholarship search and financial aid resources on the Internet and help students like you earn 100-percent free money for college.

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Tips on How to Network While Still in College

September 29, 2011

Tips on How to Network While Still in College

by Suada Kolovic

If you’re in college, chances are you’ve been reminded – on a daily basis, no less – about the importance of networking in the adult world. Why wait until then? Get a head start on building your network and you might connect with someone that could potentially help you find a job after you graduate. Need some help getting started? Check out U.S. World News’ six tips to network while still in college:

  • Play the student card: Take advantage of the fact that you’re still a student. Alumni are more likely to help you while you’re still in school because you’re just asking for advice and not looking for a job, says Heather Krasna, director of career services at the University of Washington's Evans School of Public Affairs. Ask questions, request an informational interview and grow those relationships while there’s no pressure.
  • Use your friends’ parents as resources: Believe it or not, your friends’ parents are great contacts. Not only do they offer decades of experience but since there’s already a relationship established, you’re more likely to be comfortable asking for advice and possibly their contacts!
  • Get out of the bubble: Some campuses offer that country-like feel, a pastoral paradise if you will. And while it’s great not having big city distractions, it can hinder your networking opportunities. Emily Bennington, who helps college graduates transition into careers through her company, Professional Studio 365, suggests, “Rather than using your savings for a spring break in Daytona ... go to a conference that's within your industry.”
  • Use LinkedIn: So you’re a whiz when it comes to Twitter and Facebook but if LinkedIn isn’t on your radar, you’re going to fall behind professionally. The sooner you familiarize yourself with LinkedIn, the better. Boasting more than 100 million members, it’s a great way to engage with professionals in your desired field.
  • Use Twitter strategically: Sure, Twitter keeps you posted on what’s most important to you (be that Kim Kardashian or Scholarships.com) but it can also provide an avenue for you to connect with professionals in your field. Make a list of people in your industry who you look up to and use the network strategically to connect with them.
  • Get an internship: This tip is an oldie but a goodie. The value of an internship is undeniable – not only will you walk away with real-life experience to put on your resume, an internship puts you in eyesight of people who work in your field and positions you conveniently ahead of other job seekers.
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Federal Mandate: All Schools Must Offer Net Price Calculators by October 29th

September 16, 2011

Federal Mandate: All Schools Must Offer Net Price Calculators by October 29th

by Suada Kolovic

Here at Scholarships.com, we understand that trying to figure out how much a college education will actually cost you and your family is pretty confusing. With everything that goes into your financial aid packagegrants, loans, scholarships, etc. – the real cost of a college education is muddled in there…somewhere. But fear, not college bound students! All that’s about to change thanks to a mandate by the federal government: All colleges and universities receiving Title IV federal student aid must have net price calculators by October 29th.

According to U.S. News and World Report, the U.S. Department of Education instated the mandate in order to “provide a clearer view of the difference between the total cost of tuition and fees – commonly referred to as sticker price – and the net price, an estimate of the cost subtracting scholarships and grants.” Most students generally receive some institutional aid so the better they understand how much an institution is offering as whole, the better prepared they are to compare the financial aid packages offered by different schools.

What do you think of the federally implemented net price calculators? Do you think it will be an essential piece of the funding your college education puzzle?

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Recent Grads Say High School Wasn’t Challenging Enough

August 31, 2011

Recent Grads Say High School Wasn’t Challenging Enough

by Suada Kolovic

What high school student doesn’t love the idea of selecting a course based on the common knowledge the teacher is totally laidback and you’re guaranteed an easy A without much effort? We’ve all been there before and with all the classes high school students are required to take, many attempt to pack their electives with cushy classes before the reality of challenging college courses set in. But at what cost? According to a survey of 2010 high school graduates released by the College Board, 90 percent said their high school diplomas were not enough to compete in today’s society.

Almost half of the 1,507 students surveyed said they wish they took different classes in high school, specifically more challenging science, math and writing courses. As for the students who decided to take Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses – 39 percent of those surveyed – agreed that the extra difficulty was worth it. In hindsight, the majority of students agreed that high school graduation requirements should be made tougher, and nearly 70 percent said that graduating high school was “easy” or “very easy.” Some students even went on to say that high school didn’t adequately prepare them for college, 54 percent of graduates said that their freshman year college courses were more difficult than expected, and a quarter needed to take remedial classes during their freshman year.

Those of you still in high school, does the study’s findings encourage you to take more difficult classes while in high school? What changes should high schools make in order to better prepare students for college? Do you think it’s a high school’s responsibility to encourage students to take AP or IB courses?

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Four Tips to Financially Prepare Your Student for College

August 19, 2011

Four Tips to Financially Prepare Your Student for College

by Suada Kolovic

It seems like just yesterday that your kid was, well, just a kid, asking for a ride to the movies and throwing a tantrum on the floor. Now your child has walked across their high school stage, tossed that mortarboard in the air and is heading for college in the fall. If this is the first child you’re sending off, it’s normal to be apprehensive about letting go but remember, this is their moment. College is a time for them to discover who they are and figure things out for themselves. That being said, you can help financially prepare your student for college. Check out the four tips from U.S. World and News Report on finding the balance between supplying enough funds and when letting your child struggle is okay:

  • Don’t deposit and dash: Some parents might opt to supply their student with extra spending money for the upcoming school year but it has the potential of backfiring almost instantaneously. If you’re doling out a year’s worth of funds without a framework about budgeting, they’ll be calling for pizza money by October. Take the time to discuss the importance of month-to-month budgeting and understanding the reality of unexpected expenses.
  • Embrace – and limit – financial slip-ups: Once you’ve discussed a budget, step out of the process and leave it up to your child to make it work, recommends clinical psychologist Jerry Weichman. "One of the best things parents can do is to allow your kids to struggle financially for a little bit if they mismanage their money, because the consequences are so much easier for them now versus what that would equate to when they're adults. You learn so much more from your mistakes than your successes."
  • Encourage financial freedom: Having your child work in college is a great way to lower the potential of student loan debt as well as understanding the responsibilities that come with being an adult. Allow your child to allocate earnings, providing them the opportunity to make a connection between money earned and money spent.
  • Utilize web resources: Letting go might be easier said than done, but neither you nor your student need to tackle the upcoming challenges alone. A bevy of financial aid resources is just a click away. Check out Scholarships.com for tips on everything from balancing work and college and where to work on campus to money management skills and tips for going on a budget diet.
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High Schools Seniors: 5 Things to do Before Summer’s Up

August 15, 2011

High Schools Seniors: 5 Things to do Before Summer’s Up

by Suada Kolovic

Ah, senior year. It’s a time chock-full with to-dos, from finalizing your college choice and filling out applications to applying for scholarships and getting your financial aid in order. And with summer slowly coming to a close, it’s a good time for rising high school seniors to realize that some deadlines are just around the corner. So rather than let the last weeks of summer slip away, avoid the fall time crunch and consider U.S. News and World’s top suggestions of five simple things you can do now:

  1. Examine school prices: Relying on just the sticker price when making your college selection is a huge mistake. For the most part, sticker prices are often meaningless. Take the time to do some serious research and understand the real cost of the institutions you’re interested in.
  2. Know deadlines: Keeping track of the various deadlines you’ll have to meet is essential for a successful senior year. In order to make things easier, use Scholarships.com’s calendar as a reference!
  3. Get started on your college essay: Writing a college essay is one of the most nerve-wracking chores high school seniors face. To relieve some of the pressure, start early. Think about it: If you start now, you’re more likely to be able to devote the time needed to do a great job.
  4. Consider supplemental materials: If you’re an artist, musician or actor, applying for colleges (and scholarships!) may be more time consuming. In some cases, you’ll have to audition and have an impressive portfolio to standout. Some schools also require SAT Subject Tests so find out and book exam dates now.
  5. Research: If you haven’t begun researching schools, get started now. Check out schools online, take virtual tours and really consider what qualities are most important to you. Think about what you want out of your college experience – whether it’s a school with a strong academic record, impressive athletic teams or diverse social programs and services – and take a hard look at whether you’re applying to schools for the right reasons.
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University of Dayton to Offer Free Textbooks

August 17, 2011

University of Dayton to Offer Free Textbooks

by Suada Kolovic

With the economy in a rut, the unemployment rate declining at a sluggish pace and the cost of a college education rising at an astronomical rate, now is the time to consider your options. Here at Scholarships.com, we can’t stress enough the importance of applying early and often for scholarships and financial aid, but when a college education is still just out of reach, some universities are willing to go the extra mile to help prospective students out. Rising high school seniors, take note: The University of Dayton is offering four years of free textbooks to first-year students who visit the campus and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form by the university’s March 1 application deadline.

According to Dayton officials, the free textbook program is an incentive for families to attend campus visits in a tight economy and as a way to urge families to complete the federal aid form, which is an essential piece of the financial aid puzzle. "Many families don't fill out the form because they believe they don't qualify or think it takes too much time. They miss out on opportunities to get affordable financing or grant funding," said Kathy McEuen Harmon, assistant vice president and dean of admission and financial aid.

Students who fulfill the university’s requirements will receive up to $500 per semester to purchase textbooks at the campus bookstore – funds good toward new, used or rental books. According Harmon, an estimated 75 percent of the first-year class is projected to take advantage of the offer, representing a $1.5 million annual commitment by the University. "We want them to fully understand the rewards of a University of Dayton education and know that those rewards are not out of their reach," Harmon said. "This is a very tangible way to demonstrate our commitment, one they can see immediately."

What do you think of the University of Dayton’s efforts? Are free textbooks enough to get you to commit to an institution? Should others follow suit? Let us know what you think.

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And Forbes’ Top American Schools Are…

August 4, 2011

And Forbes’ Top American Schools Are…

by Suada Kolovic

High school seniors, do you know where you want to spend the next four years? Sure, it may still be summer and you’re nowhere near crunch time when it comes to making that decision, but go ahead and get a head start and check out some of the top schools in the country, according to Forbes Magazine.

Every year Forbes puts together a list of the best undergraduate institutions in the country, focusing on areas that matter most to students: quality of teaching, great career prospects, graduation rates and low levels of debt. Here’s the numerical breakdown: Post-Graduate Success (30%), which evaluates alumni pay and prominence; Student Satisfaction (27.5%), which includes professor evaluations and freshman to sophomore year retention rates; Debt (17.5%), which penalizes schools for high student debt loads and default rates; and Four Year Graduation Rate (17.5%) and Competitive Awards (7.5%), which rewards schools whose students win prestigious scholarships and fellowships like the Rhodes and the Fulbright. Here are the top 10:

  1. Williams College
  2. Princeton University
  3. United States Military Academy
  4. Amherst College
  5. Stanford University
  6. Harvard University
  7. Haverford College
  8. University of Chicago
  9. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  10. United States Air Force Academy

For the second year in a row, Williams College has been named as the best undergraduate institution in America. And with total annual costs adding up to nearly $55,000, it’s certainly not cheap but the 2,000 undergraduates here have among the highest four-year graduation rates in the country, win loads of prestigious national awards like Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships, and are often rewarded with high-paying careers. Does this information have you rethinking where you’ll apply?

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Amazon Launches Digital-Textbook Rental Service

July 21, 2011

Amazon Launches Digital-Textbook Rental Service

by Suada Kolovic

Broke college students across the country have reason to rejoice: Amazon has unveiled an e-textbook-rental program which has the potential to save students up to 80 percent on textbooks!

The program will provide students with the opportunity to download temporary copies of textbooks from Amazon’s website for reading on a Kindle e-book reader, computer, tablet or smartphone running free Kindle software. The system allows customers to specify rental periods lasting anywhere from a month to a year. Students will have the option to purchase the e-book during or after a rental period, or extend a rental period in daily increments. Still not sold? Let’s use a real-life example: Intermediate Accounting retails at $197 in print and $109 as an e-book but with Amazon’s program, a student can rent the e-book for three months at the low price of $57!

And what about the students who scribble notes in the margins and saturate textbooks with fluorescent ink? Well, Amazon’s got that covered, too! Not only can students highlight and take notes in their digital textbooks but they’ll be able to refer to any margin notes and highlights made after the rental period is over. And with the cost of traditional print textbooks ranging in the thousands over the course of a college career, odds are rental programs like these will undoubtedly take off.

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Top 10 Least Expensive Public Colleges for In-State Students

June 14, 2011

Top 10 Least Expensive Public Colleges for In-State Students

by Suada Kolovic

It seems like students are willing to do just about anything to save on tuition, from saying “I do” to asking for handouts to applying early and often for college scholarships. But what if you’re not willing to take the plunge, have a sense of humility and scholarships just aren’t covering the astronomical costs tied to college tuition? Then attending a public school might be your best bet and to slash the bill even further, selecting an in-state public school is the way to go!

According to a survey conducted by U.S. News, the average tuition and fees for in-state residents among the 452 public colleges that reported data was $7,042 for the 2010-11 school year. Check out the 10 least expensive public schools for in-state students, accounting for tuition and required fees (but not room and board, books, transportation or other miscellaneous college costs) below.

  1. New Mexico Highlands University
  2. Macon State College
  3. Fayetteville State University
  4. California State University—Northridge
  5. Elizabeth City State University
  6. University of Wyoming
  7. University of North Carolina—Pembroke
  8. North Carolina A&T State University
  9. Eastern New Mexico University
  10. Fort Hays State University
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