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Report: Millions of Graduates Hold Jobs that Don’t Require College Degrees

by Suada Kolovic

It wasn’t too long ago that the majority of American’s agreed that one had to earn a college degree in order to succeed in the workforce. Unfortunately for millennials, the rate of success after obtaining said degree is no longer so intrinsically tied: According to a report, millions of college graduates suffer a mismatch between education and employment and hold jobs that don’t require costly degrees.

The study from the Center for College Affordability and Productivity says that nearly half of all American college graduates in 2010 – nearly three years after the recession began – were underemployed, holding relatively low-paying and low-skilled jobs. Of the 41.7 million working 2010 college graduates, about 48 percent work jobs that require less than a bachelor’s degree and 38 percent of those polled didn’t even need a high school diploma. Authors Richard Vedder, Jonathan Robe and Christopher Denhart agreed that the country could be overeducating its citizens and questioned if too many public dollars were being spent on producing graduates that the nation’s economy doesn’t need. "Maybe we should incentivize colleges to more accurately counsel students," Vedder told the Chronicle of Higher Education. "If you get a degree in business administration, you may not necessarily walk into a middle-class life. There's a good chance you may end up being a bartender." (For more on this study, click here.)

Do you think that a college degree is necessary for gainful employment and upward mobility? Let us know what you think.


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Changes to 529 Savings Plans

February 5, 2013

Changes to 529 Savings Plans

by Suada Kolovic

Figuring out how you’re going to pay for your college education can be intimidating. No one wants to pay off student loans for the rest of their lives, full-tuition scholarships are rare and federal student aid seldom covers all college costs but if you’re lucky enough to have a parent or relative willing to help curb the financial strains, it’s important to note that college savings plans are becoming increasingly flexible and affordable. Here are some of the changes to the 529 savings plans for 2013:

  • Increase gift tax exemptions: Grandparents can gift $14,000 annually before they’re charged a gift tax. Since five years of the exempted amount can be gifted at one time, that’s a five-year donation of $70,000 per grandchild while a married couple could potentially gift $140,000, provided they don’t give additional funds to the same grandchild in the five-year span.
  • Expanded qualified expenses: Last year, families couldn’t use 529 plan funds for laptops, iPads, internet service and software but the IRS is going high tech and realizes these are necessary items for higher education. Parents of a student who receives a full or partial scholarship can now use the funds to enhance their child’s educational experience.
  • Declining plan prices: Competitive bidding among plan management companies to run 529 plans on behalf of states is contributing to the trend of downward pricing. (For more information about 529 plans, click here.)

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Four College Majors to Avoid

February 7, 2013

Four College Majors to Avoid

by Suada Kolovic

With recent college graduates facing an unemployment rate of 7.8 percent and substantially lower starting salaries, we have to ask: What path should students take in order to flourish after graduation? And while there isn’t one direct route that translates into success, Georgetown University’s Center on Education has compiled a list of majors that college students should avoid:

  • Liberal Arts (Unemployment Rate for Recent College Graduates 9.2 percent): Studying a broad palette of subjects including everything from literature and philosophy to history and sociology sounds like a dream. Unfortunately, employers may not see a liberal arts degree in the same divine light as the ancient Greeks did.
  • Philosophy and Religious Studies (Unemployment Rate for Recent College Graduates 10.8 percent): With the demand for these two degrees particularly lackluster, it’s difficult to justify them as your desired majors. Susan Heathfield, a career expert and writer of About.com’s Guide to Human Resources, suggests considering a degree in communications instead.
  • Information Systems (Unemployment Rate for Recent College Graduates 11.7 percent): "I'm not exactly sure what someone would do with [an information systems] degree in the current world," Heathfield says. "In the early days, the roles of various programmers, software developers, and network administrators were more distinct, but not anymore. Now the degree to have is computer science or computer engineering."
  • Architecture (Unemployment Rate for Recent College Graduates 13.9 percent): Thanks to the massive hit the housing and commercial real estate industries took in the past decade, architecture has highest unemployment rate among the degrees examined. If you’re interested in the process of planning and designing, engineering might be a more lucrative option.

What are your thoughts on the majors that made the list? Do you agree that they should be avoided at all costs or should students be encouraged to pursue their passion regardless of potentially high employment rates? Let us know in the comments section.


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Study: Pell Grant Restrictions Affect Enrollment at Community Colleges in the South

by Scholarships.com Staff

Community colleges across the country have seen a steep decline in enrollments this year for a few reasons. A recovering economy steering students toward jobs and budget cuts that have led to fee increases have played key roles but changes to federal Pell grant eligibility are most notable. According to a new study, community colleges in the Deep South have been hit hardest by the changes that took effect last year.

The study, by Education Policy Center at the University of Alabama director Stephen Katsinas, argues that community college enrollments in Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi are highly sensitive to changes in the federal grant program. Enrollment in 47 of the 62 two-year colleges across the three states declined this past fall and more than 5,000 students lost Pell grants – a change that the report's authors say can be directly attributed to the changes in eligibility. Students are now limited to just six years of Pell grants, fewer students automatically qualify for the maximum grant because of a lower income cap for receiving an “automatic zero” expected family contribution and students without a high school diploma or GED are no longer eligible.

While many states have started to see their economies improve, that’s not the case for the three states included in the study. In fact, not only have their economies not recovered but state-supported student aid programs are much smaller, so colleges have fewer resources for low-income students who no longer qualify for Pell grants. Both Pell grants and community colleges are "vital to enhancing college degree completion in the Deep South, for it is the community colleges where economically disadvantaged students begin higher education," the study noted. The enrollment numbers were based on surveys of community college officials. All of the two-year colleges in the three-state region responded. However, the national enrollment data for 2012 hasn't been compiled yet, said David Thomas, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Education.


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Having Fun on a Budget

February 20, 2013

Having Fun on a Budget

by Chelsea Slaughter

Being on your own at school really makes you appreciate the little things in life. There are so many things we took for granted because we never had to pay for them and being in college teaches you how to prioritize your time and money. It’s good to remember that having fun doesn’t have to kill your pockets – be wise and learn how to have fun on a budget!

Have you checked your school activity calendar? Find the different events your school is holding, grab some friends and GO! The majority of on-campus events provide free food, music and a chance to get to know your fellow students. Don’t pass up the chance to interact with campus leaders; you could wind up planning the next event!

Constructive fun is sometimes the best fun to have. Have you considered volunteering? Why many may think there is no way to have fun while volunteering baffles me. Like to build? Find a local Habitat for Humanity project and help create a home for the less fortunate. Love working with children? Volunteer at your local YMCA and help out with after-school programs. There are many opportunities out there so turn your extra time in to amazing fun that can even build your resume.

Get active! While Netflix and Redbox movie nights with friends are always enjoyable, don’t be afraid to get out and move around a little. Create an intramural team with some friends for your favorite sport. Don’t feel athletic enough? Hit the park with some friends and a Frisbee, volleyball or tennis raquets. Pack a lunch and spend the day outside enjoying the weather!

While movies, malls and parties are the “norm” in terms of college fun, consider the cheaper alternatives. The more you save every weekend, the more funds you will have for important matters!

Chelsea Slaughter is currently a junior at Jacksonville State University majoring in communications (public relations concentration) and minoring in art. She serves as a resident assistant on campus, is the treasurer in the Public Relations Organization and is an active member in W.I.S.E., NAACP and Omicron Delta Kappa Honors Leadership Society. She aims to work in the entertainment industry post-graduation and is well on her way thanks to an internship with a digital marketer to several music artists. Chelsea strives to achieve all of her goals and motivate others along the way.


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Top 10 Highest Paying Internships

by Suada Kolovic

For a college student, an internship is viewed as a rite of passage, a box that must be checked, a prerequisite for future ambitions. And while obtaining an internship is a success in its own right, finding one where you’ll be compensated in something other than experience and a reference is a challenge…but not necessarily impossible. A new report from Glassdoor lists the highest-rated companies that not only pay their interns but pay them extremely well. Check out the top 10 companies that made the cut below (for the complete list, click here):


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Cornell Student Organization Gives Financial Solace to Undocumented Students

by Carly Gerber

Undocumented students are ineligible for federal aid or loans and as a result, many of these students have a difficult time paying their way through college. Accruing enough funds to turn a collegiate dream into reality isn’t easy but one appropriately-named student group at Cornell University is certainly doing its part to ease the financial burden.

The DREAM Team is attempting to make the American Dream a reality for Cornell’s undocumented students, thanks to a $5,000 reward from the Perkins Prize. Though the initial plan was to give out $2,500 in scholarships and put the remaining $2,500 to DREAM Team events and trips, the group decided it was more important to allot the entire amount to undocumented students in need. The scholarships will be on the smaller side – the DREAM Team receives a minimum of 10 applicants, meaning that awards will be $500 each – but the funds could help awardees purchase the basic necessities to succeed in college. Every little bit helps!

Cornell President David Skorton is proud of his students for being proactive and has said, “Many of us have lost sight of the important contributions immigrants have made – and are making – to our culture and our economy. Their continued contributions are critical to our country’s success.” Yet, along with encouragement comes negative feedback. Conservatives routinely discourage reform that will give undocumented residents a pathway to citizenship, arguing that allowing illegal immigrants to stay in America will burden taxpayers and increase illegal immigration.

Ultimately, the DREAM Team wants Cornell to expand the financial aid it can offer undocumented students and realize the American Dream for deserving students. Other private organizations are offering similar programs and interested students can find these awards via Scholarships.com. What do you think of the work these groups are doing?

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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Should Guns Be Allowed on College Campuses?

by Carly Gerber

Every time I learn about a school shooting, I feel less safe at my university – my paranoia has become so severe that I won’t study in the library because this location has been a target in several shootings – and I’ve often wondered what could be done to prevent incidents like this from occurring again. With the recent situation at UCF still fresh in our minds, let’s discuss: Would allowing guns on campus make a difference? Some may think so while others are very much opposed.

Some state legislatures feel that allowing students to carry concealed firearms on campus will ease the worry of students like me. They say it’s an extension of a person’s constitutional right to protect oneself, yet higher education institutions that are in states that want students to be allowed to have a handgun do not agree with their lawmakers. (Texas and Kansas, for example, are two states whose lawmakers want to allow firearms on campus, while the schools within their borders want quite the opposite.) According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are 20 states that ban concealed weapons on campus, five states that allow concealed weapons at higher education institutions, 24 states that allow schools to set their own policies and several other campuses are debating whether or not to allow concealed firearms.

At the end of the day, people kill people, so I don’t believe guns are the real issue. Let me know your views about guns on campus: Would you feel safer or less safe if your student body and faculty were allowed to carry handguns?

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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Light Up...and Send a Student to College?

by Carly Gerber

Imagine a place where every time you bought a pack of cigarettes, you would be funding a college student’s education. In the near future, that place could be California: The California Residents College Accessibility and Affordability Act of 2014 would increase tax by $1 for every pack of 20 cigarettes and the money would be deposited into a fund for financial aid.

The California Residents College Accessibility and Affordability Act of 2014 has a projected revenue of $800 million but there is an estimated loss of $70 million of proceeds that go to existing resources. The taxes on tobacco that already exist go to programs for tobacco education and prevention, tobacco-related disease research, breast cancer screenings for uninsured women and early childhood education. (The California Residents College Accessibility and Affordability Act of 2014 would still receive $730 million from its excise on tobacco.)

The tax on tobacco that the California Residents of College Accessibility and Affordability Act of 2014 wants to initiate has to be reviewed by the Board of Equalization. The Board’s job is to estimates the impact the tax would have on other programs that already use taxation on cigarettes. Cal State Northridge senior and sociology major Debra Hendricks said she would vote for the taxation because she has lost many people to cigarette smoking and she likes the idea that the money would be used to support students who want a college education. Junior biology major Jessica Fuentes, however, isn’t sure if another cigarette tax proposal would pass but she thinks the financial aid aspect of the proposal makes the excise appealing.

Personally, I think taxing cigarette smokers again is unfair because they are always the ones getting taxed for their activity. I don’t promote smoking but smokers shouldn’t be the ones to shoulder the burden of spending more because of a societal view on cigarettes. Maybe the California tax should be on alcohol instead – the state would make more revenue that way! What’s your view about this taxation proposal on cigarettes?

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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Report: 284,000 College Graduates Held Minimum-Wage Jobs in 2012

by Suada Kolovic

Looking for a competitive edge when applying for that minimum-wage barista position at your local coffee shop? Turns out your newly minted bachelor’s degree might just be the edge they’re looking for.

According to the U.S. Labor Department, there were about 284,000 college graduates working minimum-wage jobs in 2012, including 37,000 with advanced degrees. Surprisingly, that’s down from 2010’s peak of 327,000 but up 70 percent from a decade earlier. And with many college graduates saddled with crippling student loan debt, it’s no wonder they’re accepting positions that are low-paying and low-skilled.

Of the 41.7 million working 2010 college graduates, about 48 percent work jobs that require less than a bachelor’s degree and 38 percent of those polled didn’t even need a high school diploma. Why the surge of low-paying jobs? Three-fifths of the jobs lost during the recession that paid middle-income wages have been replaced with the low-wage variety, according to the National Employment Law Project. (For more on this report, click here.)

To our college student readers, does this report alter your perspective on getting a college education? Why or why not?


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