September 5, 2007
Many students are in desperate need of financial aid, and setting up a scholarship
is a wonderful way to help them. According to the National Center for Education
Statistics, the average cost of a college education in 2006-2007 was $10,454 at
public colleges and $26,889 at private ones. With Pell Grants capping at $4,310 this year, government money hardly cuts it.
Here are a few things providers should think about when creating a scholarship.
An easy way to create a one-time or annual scholarship is to submit award information
to a local scholarship foundation. It should be noted that annual scholarships (endowments)
may require the provider to come up with more than $20,000. Ongoing scholarships
are similar to bank accounts in that interest accrues on the initial deposit. The
earned money then becomes an award. If winners are to receive a significant amount
of money, a large initial donation may be required.
As long as scholarships are used for college expenses, they are usually tax-exempt.
However, there are some IRS regulations, and they are particularly strict when it
corporate scholarship providers.
Scholarships are a great source of support to students who face difficult circumstances
or enter underrepresented fields. Regardless of targeted recipients, providers should
be clear on who they are looking for. There is no point in reading applications
from students who won’t be considered. Criteria such as GPA, field of study, year
in school etc. should be specific, but lax enough to give students a shot.
With the help of Scholarships.com,
advertising can be a cinch. Once a provider submits scholarship information, it will be made available to students who visit our site. To prevent providers from being inundated with applications from
ineligible students, Scholarships.com will only show the scholarship to students
who meet its eligibility criteria.
July 3, 2008
A college education is an expensive purchase. It’s certainly an investment, but an expensive one nonetheless. Many students are forced to take out thousands in student loans to afford college, but some are so close to paying for school that accumulating college debt on account of minor need would be a shame.
For many such students, tuition installment plans may be a good option. Certain colleges and universities allow students to split up their semester or trimester payments into monthly installments. They pair up with one or more tuition installment plan companies which administer the services, and make the option of enrolling available to those who are interested.
Students and parents who receive steady paychecks and those awaiting college scholarship or grant awards may benefit from the tuition installment plan option. Such plans are interest free, but, unfortunately, they are not cost free. Individuals who use tuition installment plans usually have to pay administering companies annual enrollment fees or finance charges, ones that usually average between $30 and $60. Certain participating colleges may also ask that those enrolled pay a large portion of their college tuition and fees up front.
Students considering a tuition installment plan should contact their college financial aid office to find out if the plan is available and, if so, what fees are involved.
July 8, 2008
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.
July 9, 2008
Dorms are filled to the brim with students your age, and therein lies their charm. But after finding a group of people you enjoy spending time with, their appeal slowly fades. Dorms are cramped, noisy, and, eventually, old news. But before you can hug your RA goodbye, you need to find an apartment, and that takes some planning. The following tips can help you find the best-suited home at a reasonable price.
Determine Boundaries. Before the apartment hop begins, establish a general search boundary. Off-campus apartments may be cheaper, but, depending on location, the class hike may be substantial. Decide which is the bigger priority, finance or location, and be realistic about how far you are willing to walk—in boots on a rainy, snowy day—to your perfect residence.
Get a Head Start. If you attend a large state school, chances are, you have options. But you can only be as picky as the time allows. Begin your apartment search early, around December or January. If you wait until the summer months to find an apartment for the upcoming year, you may find your options slim. Stake your claim before someone else can.
Look at Reviews. What you don’t see when you visit an apartment—the unreachable repairman, the stinky, bug-ridden basement—may come back to haunt you. One of the best ways to gauge a potential home is by seeking out feedback from previous tenants. Reviews of landlords and apartments can frequently be found in campus newspapers, both on and offline. You may also want to ask around. Satisfied and disgruntled students alike are often willing to let you know what they think.
Budget. When budgeting, you have to consider paying for school, for residence, for food, for leisure, for holiday gifts, for transportation, for emergencies and so on. If you're an apartment penny pincher, it's best to limit surprises. Ask landlords about any city or tenant fees that may be tacked on to the lease, and find out if if gas, water, parking or an internet/cable package are included. If you don’t plan to stay on campus during the summer months, also ask about a 10-month lease option. The need for apartments drops during the summertime, and many students have a hard time finding individuals willing to sublet at full price. By asking the right questions and budgeting accordingly, you can avoid many such problems down the road.
July 10, 2008
Each year, thousands fall victim to scholarship scam artists. With the costs of a college education rising annually, it should come as no surprise that certain individuals choose to take advantage of the situation by establishing fraudulent financial aid organizations and competitions.
Students who visit our site can rest assured knowing that the information provided to them at Scholarships.com is completely free of charge. We will never ask visitors to pay for the college scholarship search, and our financial aid information is completely cost free. Before posting award details on our site, we screen scholarship providers carefully; any scholarships deemed suspicious are immediately removed from the Scholarships.com database.
The federal government is also working to crack down on scholarship crime, regularly monitoring scholarship abuse. The Scholarship Fraud Prevention Act of 2000 has made more severe the punishments for scammers, and it has called for a mandatory report of scholarship scams to be prepared annually by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Secretary of Education. This report, including the names of current defendants in scholarship scam allegations, may be found on the FTC website.
Be on the lookout for the signs of scholarship scams listed below and report any suspicious behavior to the provided contacts.
Scholarship Scam Warning Signs
o Organizations promise scholarships for an upfront fee.
o Organizations ask students for a scholarship application fee.
o Organizations promise to complete applications and obtain scholarships for the student.
o Organizations say their scholarship information cannot be found anywhere else (most reputable awards are listed publicly; providers want you to apply!)
Report Suspicious Scholarship Behavior to: US Department of Education Office of the Inspector General 1-800-MIS-USED; Better Business Bureau (BBB) 1-703-525-8277; Federal Trade Commission (FTC) 1-202-FTC-HELP
November 28, 2007
Understanding college aid jargon can be tough. Learning about college requirements, school testing and financial aid applications is difficult enough. Bring snooty words and acronyms into the picture, and you’ll find yourself rereading the same sentence ten times.
To get into the college game, you have to know how to talk the talk. That’s where we come in. Scholarships.com offers you free access to a college prep and financial aid glossary that will help you decipher “advanced” school vocabulary. Before you get into the nitty gritty details of college planning, you need an overview, and we can help you with that.
Those applying for federal financial aid will need to know what a Pell grant is, how the Cost of Attendance (COA) is determined, and what the federal work study program (WSP) has to do with their student aid report (SAR). It can be a lot to handle at first, but these are words worth knowing. You are likely to come across them when applying for aid, and when you do, you’ll know what you’re dealing with.
Such knowledge is particularly important for students who apply for loans. To make the best, most affordable choices, these students will need to know the difference between Perkins loans, Stafford loans, PLUS loans and private loans. Before signing anything, it’s important to know about Annual Percentage Rates (APR), accrued interest, loan deferment, loan defaulting and consolidation. The glossary will provide quick answers to these and other financial aid questions.
By taking advantage of the resources offered at Scholarships.com, you can feel confident about your financial aid and college planning decisions. Just breathe, and take things one step at a time. Sit down at the table with your financial aid documents and a glossary. Slowly things will begin to make sense. When you think you have the basics down, you can count on Scholarships.com for more in-depth information.
October 18, 2007
It’s difficult to read a national newspaper–your choice–for longer than a week without coming across at least one article dealing with the environment. Why should a blog be any different? Jokes and polar bears aside, the environment is in need of some true student TLC, and students have plenty of it to give. Here are some things each of us can do to help.
1. Get educated Change starts with education. When searching for potential colleges, take into consideration the variety of classes offered. The more options schools have, the more you can dabble in various interests, especially the environment. By educating yourself about environmental issues, you can learn about ways to improve the situation, and what’s more, inspire others with your newfound knowledge. When you let people see how the environment affects them personally, you are more likely to convince them that their efforts and time are worth the investment.
2. Turn off the lights Saving money and energy is a click away, or a clap clap. Remember to turn off lights and appliances when you are through with them. Pay extra attention to air conditioners—open windows and running air conditioners make mother earth cry.
3. Live by the triple R’s Many of us already reduce, reuse and recycle to some extent, but most of us don’t really crack down on bad habits. By making the three R’s your mantra, you can reduce emissions, save some tree lives and fatten your piggybank.
4. Write to Congress This one is for the ambitious. Begin a petition in support of the Kyoto Protocol to be sent to Congress; or at least sign the one you make your friend create. So far, 172 countries and governmental entities have signed the pact limiting emissions. Somehow the U.S. is not one of them.
5. Take public transportation A great benefit to most on-campus travel is the abundance of public transportation. Taking the bus or train to school can reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and it can also free up some time to chat or study. It may not be the most convenient way of getting around, but improvement isn’t always convenient. For those who live close by, riding a bike, rollerblading or walking is also a good option.
6. Bring your own bags and mugs Try stuffing your groceries into a backpack, and bring mugs to coffee shops. (Or visit ones that offer in-house cups.) Some stores and coffee shops will even give you discounts for doing so.
7. Be laptop savvy in class You won’t look like you’re too cool for school by bringing your laptop to lectures—really. Students can save much paper by appending and saving posted online notes on laptops. By bringing a laptop to class, you can save trees and increase the likelihood of future legibility. Plus, editing is easier on a computer, and most students can type more quickly than they can write. If you’re not one of them, it’s about time you practiced.
There are plenty of things students can do to make a difference, and many are already hard at work. This year, Scholarship.com’s annual Resolve to Evolve scholarship prizes were awarded to students who wrote the best essays on problems dealing with standardized testing and the environment. See what the winners had to say on the topic, and check out Scholarships.com's new Resolve to Evolve $10,000 essay scholarship. You can also search our database for college scholarships and grants; begin finding money for college today!
December 21, 2007
Wind, rain or shine, college tuition bills always safely make it to your mailbox, or the inbox. Even if you’re struggling financially, there’s no need to give up. Whether you’re having trouble keeping your spending in check or are hindered by college bills, things can be better. The new year is coming up, and you deserve a new chance, a minty fresh start. Students looking for a way to save should follow this advice to get things right in '08.
1. Look for scholarships. Applying for scholarships is a great way to save for college. It doesn’t cost to apply—don’t listen to anyone who suggests you should pay—and the rewards tend to be large. Try conducting a free scholarship search to find scholarships and grants you may be eligible to receive.
2. Avoid magazines and websites with appealing products. Oftentimes students will be unaware they’re in need of something until they see it in a magazine. If it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind. Marketers have a way of making whatever it is that catches your eye look more amazing and necessary than it really is. The best way to avoid their evil traps is to stay out of their way.
3. Skip the details at restaurants. I can’t tell you to skip the restaurant thing. Going out for dinner is just part of the student culture, and if you can’t eliminate it, be smart about it. If you skip the appetizers, lose the dessert and trade in water for a soft drink, you can cut your bill in half. Those that go out to eat for the company more than the food can also go straight for the appetizer and stop there. They tend to be oversized anyway.
4. Watch your phone plans. For some reason, students always seem shocked when an insane phone bill comes in the mail. If you know you’re a chatterbox, you should plan accordingly. Get the same plan as the people you chat with most, start a family plan and watch the texting.
January 30, 2008
Students who sign up for classes don’t always know what they’re getting into. Boring teachers aside, the work may be both overwhelming and useless. If that's the case, it may be time to get out before it’s too late. Here are some things to remember before making the final decision.
Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst Dropping classes may be the best way to avoid unnecessary work or burnout, but it sure is a pain. It takes time, sometimes money, and it nearly always causes stress. That’s why it’s best to ask around before choosing classes. Find out if any of your friends have taken the class. Is it difficult? Is it interesting? Is the teacher effective in helping students develop critical skills?
Most importantly, figure out if the class coincides with your future goals and current interests. During high school, I signed up for an accounting class thinking it would provide me with practical insight into the business world. Though business was not in my future, I thought that everyone could benefit from some business basics. After a few weeks of scribbling numbers into a never-ending stream of credit and debit columns, I raised my hand and asked the teacher if this class would prepare me for something other than accounting. Turns out, it wouldn’t. It’s too bad I didn’t know that sooner.
Give Yourself a Reality Check Difficulty is a commonly cited reason for dropping classes, and it's a perfectly good reason. It’s important to be realistic about your abilities and your schedule. When a class is just adding to your already full workload, rethink it. Being able to drop a class doesn’t make you a quitter; it makes you a realistic and mature decision maker, one that values their sanity and health.
Consider Class Importance Before dropping a class, be sure that you can afford to do so. If you’re in college, dropping a class may put you below full-time status subsequently decreasing your eligibility for a full financial aid package (both scholarships and federal student aid).
Dropping required college classes may also be troublesome. When students decide to get rid of a requisite, they may be forced to take on a heavier workload in future semesters. A heavier workload may in turn lead to scheduling difficulties caused by core courses that overlap in time.
Sometimes, a class may simply be unavoidable. Once again, be realistic when you judge. If you think you can do without the class, let it go. If you know that dropping the class will only lead to future troubles, just grin and bear it for a while.
Be Cost Conscious If you’re in high school, dropping a class will probably save you money (unless you're paying for AP classes ). Once you graduate high school, it’s a different story. Most colleges and universities fine students who drop their classes too late into the semester. That’s why it’s important for students to be aware of the costs involved in taking on classes and dropping them. If you plan to drop a class, do so before the fee deadline. If you’re worried about the costs of taking on additional classes, stick with the basics and take enrichment courses once you can afford them.
June 10, 2008
Who wants to waste their senior year analyzing the deeper message behind The Scarlet Letter, differentiating between cations and anions (cations are “paw”sitive), or charting calculus equations? Obviously, few of us want to make high school more difficult than it already is. That being said, the advantages of enrolling oneself—when possible—in challenging Advanced Placement (AP) courses can extend beyond the twelfth grade. Below are just a few reasons why you should consider college-level classes.
Sooner of later, you will have to take them. Unpleasant core subject requirements won’t go away when you get to college. Sure, more classes will be relevant to your major, but some headaches will still exist. Instead of taking the standard versions now and the advanced versions later, knock out two birds with one stone.
Save money. On average, college prices are rising at rates that outpace inflation. If you want to save money, don’t stay in school longer than you have to. Within reason, challenge yourself by completing extra credits, and finish school on time.
Make your college years a bit easier. Many students are taken aback by the increased expectations of college instructors. According to the St. Petersburg Times, about a quarter of first-year college students do not return the following year. By taking AP classes, students can become acquainted with the increasingly difficult college curriculum and nip workload problems before they arise.
Impress College Admissions Officials. Most of us are aware of the advantages, both social and financial, of college graduates. But before you reach for that diploma, you must first be accepted. Advanced Placement classes will show admissions officials that you are taking initiative and working hard. In other words, you are the kind of candidates who deserves the chance (and possibly the scholarship) needed to attend their school.
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