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Colleges Accused of Misleading Students About Financial Aid Applications

by Suada Kolovic

Figuring out how you're going to pay for your college education can be daunting. And while no one would argue that filling out the FAFSA is an important piece of the financial aid puzzle, it seems that some colleges might be making the process more complicated...and costly.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland alleged this week that more than 100 universities – including dozens of elite and Ivy League institutions – may be violating the law by telling potential applicants that they have to spend money filling out an unnecessary form. In a letter to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Cummings said 111 universities required a financial aid form developed by the College Board to be considered for any financial aid. Fifty-eight of the schools told applicants that they had to submit the $25 PROFILE form "in order to secure any type of financial aid, including federal student aid," Cummings wrote. The other 53 directed applicants to "submit both the FAFSA and the PROFILE to obtain federal financial aid, although they do not clarify what each form is used to assess." And while Cummings insists that these schools appear to be in violation of the Higher Education Act, some college officials have defended their use of PROFILE, stating that because it takes into account factors the FAFSA doesn't — like home equity and some business income — it allows universities to make fairer decisions on who needs aid the most. Meanwhile, Cummings has requested a meeting with Duncan to figure out what steps need to be taken to ensure that colleges are not creating unnecessary barriers to federal assistance. (For more on this story, click here.)

With all the outrageous fees students already must endure, what do you think of universities adding an additional one? Are you for filling out a form that costs you $25 if there is a chance you might get additional aid or against forking up more money than necessary? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.


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Germans from Russia Heritage Society Youth Essay Contest

This SOTW is Accepting Entries Through March 31st

February 10, 2014

Germans from Russia Heritage Society Youth Essay Contest

by Suada Kolovic

The Germans from Russia Heritage Society Youth Essay Contest encourages students from around the world to learn about the history and culture of the German-Russians, people who emigrated from Germany into Russia during the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, in the USA, Canada and other countries in the Western Hemisphere, these people have become known as Germans from Russia.

The GRHS Essay Contest is open to all students attending public, private, parochial or home schools and to students attending accredited universities as full-time undergraduate students. The subject of the paper must be directly related to German-Russian history heritage or culture and be the contestant’s original work. A contestant does not need to be ethnic German-Russian to enter the contest. Resubmission of previously judged work is not permitted.

For more on this scholarship and other scholarship opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search today!


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How to Maximize Your Financial Aid Package

by Suada Kolovic

Figuring out the bottom line when it comes to the cost of your college education is definitely a stressful part of the process. With everything that goes into determining your financial aid package (your parents’ income, your earnings and your family’s net assets), it’s important to understand that merit aid – aid based on a student’s attributes (academics, athletics, extracurriculars, etc.) – is available to student regardless of their “need.” New federal rules are blurring the distinction between scholarships awarded on merit and grants awarded because of a student’s financial need – for instance, a growing number of colleges now award “need-based” aid to students from families earning six figures! Who would have thunk it?! So, we’ve compiled a few helpful tips to maximize your chances for merit aid and increase your overall financial aid package.

  • Fill out the FAFSA. Federal rules have changed. College aid officials are now allowed to award need-based aid to students whose parents earned decent salaries last year but have recently been laid off, as well as make accommodations for a family’s unique circumstances, such as high medical bills.
  • Apply to schools where you’d rank at the top. While your dream school might be an Ivy League, you should apply to at least a few colleges where your GPA would put you in the top 25 percent of the student body.
  • Apply to schools that offer generous need-based aid. In the 2009-10 academic year, Louisiana College reported that 88 percent of students were receiving non-need based financial aid. Do the schools you’re considering boast the same kind of aid?
  • Do the research. If you’re interested in a college, find out what it has to offer when it comes to merit aid. You might qualify for more awards than you think!
  • Before making a final decision, compare net prices. Consider the cost of attendance in its entirety including tuition and fees, room and board, books and transportation. The school that offers the most in merit aid might not be the best choice; sometimes the college offering the largest merit scholarship might have the highest net price because its tuition is higher.
  • Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Believe it or not, you have negotiating leverage when it comes to your merit aid package. If you have received admission letters from two or more universities and your first choice has a higher net price than your second choice, contact that institution! Some schools might be willing to match the merit aid offered, which would provide you the opportunity to attend your first choice school for less money!

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High School Seniors – This Scholarship of the Week is for You

Deadline for the AFSA Scholarship Program is Approaching

March 3, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

The American Fire Sprinkler Association Scholarship Program is unlike many traditional scholarship essay contests. That’s because instead of writing an essay, applicants will read one. That’s right!

To apply, students must go online and read a short essay about sprinklers and fire safety. After finishing, they complete a 10-question quiz on what they just read. Each correct answer gives the student a chance at winning one of 10 $2,000 scholarships (maximum 10 chances per entrant).

The American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) Scholarship Contest is open to high school seniors in the United States who plan to further their education at a college/university or certified trade school in the United States. Home-schooled students may apply as long as your course of study is equivalent to that of a senior in high school. For more information on this scholarship and other scholarship opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search today!


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Scholarships.com’s “You Like Me…You Really Like Me” Facebook Scholarship is Back!

by Suada Kolovic

We always love hearing from our users so why not let your voice be heard and potentially earn $1,000 or a Kindle Fire for college in the process with Scholarships.com’s “You Like Me...You Really Like Me” Facebook Scholarship! Love our scholarship search? Tell us why. Is our financial aid section really helping you out? Send us an example. Think our college prep section is the bee's knees? Give us a shout out. Awards will go to the users that are making the best use of Scholarships.com’s many resources as determined by our team – impress us!

If you’re new to Scholarships.com and unfamiliar with its contents, take a tour and check out everything we have to offer. Our site is teeming with info – from figuring out the puzzle that is the FAFSA and strategies for winning scholarships to living with a roommate and preparing for an internship – so if you like us (really like us), tell us why.

Step 1: “Like” Scholarships.com on Facebook.

Step 2: Post on our wall how Scholarships.com is helping you with your scholarship search. Once you do this, you are automatically entered to win a $1,000 scholarship or a Kindle Fire for college.

Step 3: You may enter as many times as you want over the course of the contest but please limit your comments to one per day. You must also have a valid Scholarships.com account and adjust your Facebook privacy preferences to allow Scholarships.com to message you should you win. The Scholarships.com Team will then determine which comment best exemplifies what our site is all about and which applicant is using our resources most effectively.

  • Starts: February 14th
  • Ends: March 31st
  • Number Available: 3
  • Amount: $1,000 for one first-place winner; one Kindle Fire each for second- and third-place winners

This scholarship competition is offered by Scholarships.com and is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook.


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Like Scholarships.com? Tell a Friend to Win $1,000 in This SOTW!

This SOTW is Accepting Entries Through March 31st

February 24, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

As a Scholarships.com member, you have free access to a customized scholarship search, detailed financial aid information, an organized college search, standardized test study guides and much more. Like what you see? Spread the word about Scholarships.com to your friends through our “Tell A Friend” Scholarship and you'll have a chance to win money for college - $1,000 for you and $500 for one of your buddies.

To enter, simply copy your personalized TAF referral link and blog it, tweet it, email it, IM it or Facebook it. For every one of your friends who creates a profile on our site by clicking your link, you will be entered to win a $1,000 award; there’s no limit as to how many people you can send your link to and if you win, one of your friends who created a Scholarships.com profile using your link will be chosen at random to win $500.

For more information, visit our Tell a Friend Scholarship page and for additional scholarship opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search today!


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SOTW: A Voice for Animals Contest

This SOTW is Accepting Entries Through May 25th

April 15, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

The Humane Education Network is pleased to announce its Annual “A Voice for Animals Contest" high school contest with prizes totaling $6,000 across several categories including video, essay and blogs. This year the contest concentrates on active involvement in projects which strive to mitigate that suffering of animals.

Only entrants in the 14-15 year old section of the competition are invited to write an essay which addresses either the mistreatment of one animal species or one cause of animal suffering, or the preservation of one species threatened with extinction, occurring anywhere in the world. All entries from 16-18 years olds must either establish a new project or become involved in an existing project and then work on that project for at least two to three months. The project should have a direct impact on animals by means of either direct or indirect intervention. Your submission will document your project and your contribution to that project and, where possible, show how your project/involvement can reduce animal suffering.

For more on this and other scholarship opportunities, complete a free scholarship search today!


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Knock, Knock. Who’s There? Your Admissions Essay.

More Colleges Posing Offbeat Essay Questions

February 26, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

When you envisioned your college application process, I’m sure you thought you were more than prepared. This was the moment you were told to draw on your strengths and articulate every achievement – countless community service hours, a stellar GPA and the fact that you were senior class president – and every sentence would be so perfectly and meticulously thought out that who you were would just leap right off the page. You prepared your answer on why you belonged at your dream college and pinpointed what you had to offer...until you reviewed the actual application and found a serious curveball: I doubt you expected a joke could get you in!

In addition to traditional essay prompts, more and more institutions are jumping on the unconventional question bandwagon and are interested knowing not only why students want to gain admission but just how creative they can be when challenged. Here are some far-from-average questions schools are asking this year:

University of Chicago

  • Tell us your favorite joke and try to explain the joke without ruining it.
  • How are apples and oranges supposed to be compared? Possible answers involve, but are not limited to, statistics, chemistry, physics, linguistics, and philosophy.

University of Virginia

  • What’s your favorite word and why?
  • “To tweet or not to tweet.”

Brandeis University

  • You are required to spend the next year of your life in either the past or the future. What year would you travel to and why?

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • What do you hope to find over the rainbow?
  • Why do you do what you do?

Wake Forest University

  • Give us your top ten list.

Soon-to-be college applicants, what do you think of this approach to the admissions essay? Are you a fan of the challenge or frustrated by the fact that you are expected to impress them with your achievements and extracurricular activities and be witty, too?


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Which Colleges Are Worth the Sticker Price?

Colleges with the Highest Return on Your Investment

March 28, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

With all this talk about possible Pell Grant cuts, acceptance rates plummeting and universities facing serious tuition hikes, which schools are worth the outrageous sticker price of about $200,000? According to PayScale.com’s annual survey of colleges with the highest return on investment rates, Harvey Mudd College tops the list with a 8.8% annual return. PayScale.com’s data is pulled from 1.4 million pay reports from persons who obtained bachelor's degrees in the last 20 years, for more on their methodology click here. Check out who made the cut below:


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SOTW: $2,000 No Essay College Scholarship

College Prowler is Accepting Entries Through March 31st

March 17, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

Winning money for college is great but doing so without having to meet astronomical word counts and double-digit page requirements is even better. Lucky for you, the folks at College Prowler couldn't agree more and have launched the $2,000 No Essay Scholarship.

The scholarship is open to all students and those planning on enrolling within 12 months. The monthly winner will be determined by random drawing and then contacted directly and announced on their Facebook page. One entry per person, but you can come back each month to try again. To apply, please visit College Prowler or complete a free scholarship search to find additional opportunities.


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