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The FAFSA: New Year Means New Application

by Alexis Mattera

Though it’s a day off from school and work, New Year’s Day is also a day to get down to business. While you’re starting in on your New Year’s resolutions, opening up a new calendar, and packing up the holiday decorations, there’s one more thing that college students and college-bound high school students should do each January. The Department of Education starts accepting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (more commonly known as "FAFSA") on January 1 each year. State application deadlines fall soon after—as early as February in some cases. So while you might not start classes until August or September, you want to start applying for financial aid as soon as the FAFSA is available each year.

In order to complete a FAFSA, you will need the following:

  • your social security number
  • a driver’s license if you have one
  • bank statements and records of investments (if you have any)
  • records of untaxed income (again, if you have any)
  • your most recent tax return and W2s (2012 for the 2013-2014 FAFSA)
  • all of the above for your parents if you are considered a dependent
  • a PIN to sign electronically (go to pin.ed.gov to get one)

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Top 10 Highest Paying College Majors

by Suada Kolovic

An important consideration when choosing a major is the possibility of gaining lucrative employment following graduation. In a perfect world, the best college major would simply be the one that interests you the most, period. Naturally, your level of interest in the field should be weighed more heavily than any other, as this is something of which you intend to make a career. If you’re really passionate about a certain field that won’t necessarily have you retiring early (social workers, for example, make an average of $39,400 per year), don’t let a potential salary sway you. Helping others or entering a career you love is priceless, and many of the careers below will require some study beyond undergraduate school for you to advance in those fields. But if you have a particular knack for math or science and aren't necessarily sure where those skills would translate best, consider the kinds of careers that could offer a generous return for your investment.

Listed below are the 10 highest-paying college majors as of 2013. The list comes courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), which conducts surveys of college graduates’ job offers.Data for the NACE survey are reported by employers, represent accepted starting salaries (not salary offers), and are produced through a compilation of data derived from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Census Bureau, and a master set of data developed by Job Search Intelligence.

  1. Petroleum Engineering ($93,500 average starting salary)
  2. Computer Engineering ($71,700 average starting salary)
  3. Chemical Engineering ($67,600 average starting salary
  4. Computer Science ($64,800 average starting salary)
  5. Aerospace/Aeronautical/Astronautical Engineering ($64,400 average starting salary)
  6. Mechanical Engineering ($64,000 average starting salary)
  7. Electrical/Electronics and Communications Engineering ($63,400 average starting salary)
  8. Management Information Systems/Business ($63,100 average starting salary)
  9. Engineering Technology ($62,200 average starting salary)
  10. Finance ($57,400 average starting salary)

While in the process of conducting your scholarship search at Scholarships.com, you might want to consider one or more of the following majors, just to keep your options open. Our free college search can also help you find colleges and universities that offer programs in any of the top 10 highest-paying college majors.


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Top Issues Millennials Want Discussed in State of the Union Address

by Suada Kolovic

For those of you that don’t closely follow politics, tonight President Barack Obama will deliver his fifth State of the Union address. If you aren’t familiar, the address not only reports on the condition of the nation but also allows the President to outline his legislative agenda and national priorities. And with potentially millions of young Americans watching, we wondered what issues mattered most to Millennials? Fortunately, Generation Progress asked them just that! Check out some of the top responses below: (For the full list, head over to Generation Progress.)

  • A solution to the student debt crisis. With 40 million Americans shouldering $1.2 trillion dollars in educational debt, Millennials want to see President Obama call for ways to address this crisis.
  • Create a fair economy that shrinks the income inequality gap by raising the minimum wage to $10, maintains federal government programs like unemployment benefits, expands the U.S. apprenticeship system, supports young entrepreneurs to create new business and reinvest in national service programs like AmeriCorps.
  • Every state needs to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), so young Americans can purchase affordable health care plans with subsidies Medicaid provides via the law.
  • Invest in green jobs while addressing the effects of climate change.
  • Enact common-sense gun legislation such as mandatory background checks.

What do you think of the top issues that Millennials want discussed? Any you would add? Let us know in the comments section.


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Colleges With the Highest Graduation Rates

by Suada Kolovic

Acceptance letters should be rolling in for the majority of high school seniors and the pressure of deciding where to go is definitely on. A lot goes into deciding what school is the right fit for you, but if you’re interested in what schools have the highest graduation rates...then boy do we have the list for you. And sure, these institutions do have quite impressive graduations rates but keep in mind that high graduation rates don’t necessarily translate into a surefire path to success. It’s also important to note that the majority of schools that made the cut are prestigious and students accepted to the likes of Harvard aren’t likely to dropout.

The study, conducted by College Results Online, a website which uses data from the National Center for Education Statistics and Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, ranked U.S. colleges in terms of 6-year graduation rates. Check out the top colleges and universities with the highest national graduation rates below and click here for the full list as well as profiles of each school.


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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):

  • Exxon Mobil: Average Monthly Base Pay - $6,506
  • VMware: Average Monthly Base Pay - $6,435
  • Facebook: Average Monthly Base Pay - $6,197
  • Google: Average Monthly Base Pay - $5,910
  • ConocoPhillips: Average Monthly Base Pay - $5,779
  • Microsoft: Average Monthly Base Pay - $5,703
  • Amazon: Average Monthly Base Pay - $5,387
  • IBM: Average Monthly Base Pay - $5,295
  • BlackRock: Average Monthly Base Pay - $5,138
  • Yahoo: Average Monthly Base Pay - $4,983

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by Suada Kolovic

Think you have what it takes to get into an Ivy League school? Let's be honest, few do but did you know that a some of your favorite celebrities studied at the most prestigious schools in the nation? It's true! Check out these 10 celebrities that attended an Ivy League institution below:

  1. John Krasinski – Brown University
  2. Conan O’Brien – Harvard University
  3. John Legend – University of Pennsylvania
  4. Rashida Jones – Harvard University
  5. Brooke Shields – Princeton University
  6. Rachel Dratch – Dartmouth College
  7. Julia Stiles – Columbia University
  8. Elizabeth Banks – University of Pennsylvania
  9. Emma Watson – Brown University
  10. Natalie Portman – Harvard University

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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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by Suada Kolovic

Applying to some of the top schools in the country is unquestionably unnerving but after months of stress, sleepiness nights and chronic stomach pains, it all seems worth it when you read those magical words, “Congratulations! You’ve been accepted.” Most would celebrate such an occasion with screams of triumph, followed by an immediate Facebook update or witty tweet sharing their enthusiasm...but what would the proper celebration be when you’ve been accepted to not one but all eight Ivy League schools? Ask Kwasi Enin.

Enin has hit the admissions jackpot, receiving acceptance letters from Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania and Yale. This outcome, however, wasn’t just luck, for Enin is quite the accomplished and well-rounded student: The William Floyd High School senior scored a 2250 on his SAT, is currently ranked 11th in his class, plays three instruments for the chamber orchestra, sings in an a cappella group, throws shot put and discus for the high school's track and field team, participates in student government and has had lead roles in school plays since the ninth grade. And although he’s yet to make a definitive decision as to where he will enroll this fall, there seems to be a frontrunner. "I think my preference is Yale," Enin said. "They seem to embody all the kinds of things I want in a college: the family, the wonderful education, the amazing diverse students, and financial aid as well. So I think Yale has all that for me right now. I still have to compare all these schools – these wonderful schools." (For more on this story, click here.)

Share your thoughts on Kwasi Enin’s story in the comments section and be sure to let us know where you’re headed this fall.


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CBS Announces Top 25 Colleges with the Best Professors

Money Watch Ranks the Collegiate Cream of the Crop

April 10, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

There are myriad reasons to attend a particular university - from prestige and academics to athletics and diversity. But if you're in search for the universities with the top rated professors, CBS Money Watch has created the ultimate list for you. To compile the list, CBS relied on data from the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, which referenced information from RateMyProfessor.com. If you're unfamiliar with the website – which I doubt you are – it allows students to anonymously rate their university professors as well as view the ratings college teachers have received. And with over one million professors and 10 million opinions, it's the most comprehensive online source of student feedback on instructors.

After perusing the list, it's clear there's a common denominator: For the most part, a majority of the schools are liberal arts colleges with student bodies under 4,000 students. That's not surprising considering smaller student bodies translate into smaller classes, greater hands-on learning opportunities and, most importantly, more individual attention. For additional information on any of these school - or thousands of others – check out our college search.

  1. Oklahoma Wesleyan University
  2. North Greenville University (SC)
  3. United States Military Academy (NY)
  4. Carleton College (MN)
  5. Northwestern College (Iowa)
  6. United States Air Force Academy (CO)
  7. Wellesley College (MA)
  8. Master’s College and Seminary (CA)
  9. Bryn Mawr College (PA)
  10. Whitman College (Wash.)
  11. Whitworth University (WA)
  12. Wisconsin Lutheran College
  13. Randolph College (VA)
  14. Doane College (NE)
  15. Marlboro College (VT)
  16. Centenary College of Louisiana
  17. Pacific University (OR)
  18. College of the Ozarks (MO)
  19. Sewanee - The University of the South (TN)
  20. Emory & Henry College (VA)
  21. Wabash College (IN)
  22. Sarah Lawrence College (NY)
  23. Hastings College
  24. Cornell College (IA)
  25. Hollins University (VA)

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by Scholarships.com Staff

As students begin the fall semester, news of the H1N1 swine flu virus spreading across college campuses is everywhere. But whether the flu has hit your college or not, getting sick at school is a real concern and can quickly derail your semester.

Living far away from home, many college students aren't well-equipped to take care of themselves and stay on top of their coursework while ill, especially if they contract something more serious than a cold. While the flu's getting all the attention now, other common illnesses can put students out of commission for days, or even weeks, causing them to miss class, miss work, and get behind on projects that are crucial to their success in school. Missed work due to illness can even jeopardize your financial aid. Part of taking care of yourself when you're sick at school is taking care to minimize the impact of illness on your semester.

Beyond attending to your immediate needs (seeing a doctor, getting rest, etc.), the most important thing to do if you get sick is to contact your professors, preferably before you miss a class or an assignment. If you're really ill and need to miss more than one class or an important assignment, quiz, or test, the earlier you establish communication, the better it will go. If you have a diagnosis, you can share it, but don't go into the minute details of what your body is doing and don't assume that because you're sick with something verifiable, your professors will instantly cater to your every whim. A doctor's excuse doesn't always go as far as demonstrated willingness to take responsibility for your missed work and to work with your professor to get caught up. Most instructors will be willing to provide you with information and course materials from missed classes, and depending on circumstances and how you approach the situation, they may allow you to make up work, as well.

If you're going to miss a lot of school or you have professors unwilling to budge, contacting your academic advisor is a good step, as well. A note from an advisor carries more weight than a call from a student, and if you lack the time or energy to address each professor personally and immediately, talking to your advisor can save you some time. They can also give you advice and information on what to do about missing class, and help you keep from falling behind.

Finally, once you're healthy, back in class and taking care of your missed work, there may still be other matters to attend to. Even if you have tried your hardest, you may wind up with too much work to catch up in a class. If talking to your professor and your advisor about incompletes and other options doesn't bear fruit, you may need to drop classes or you may see your GPA suffer.  If you have scholarship awards or other financial aid, lower grades or less than full-time enrollment can have an impact on your eligiblity for these awards. Be aware of the GPA and enrollment requirements for your scholarships and grants (even some student loans) and if you are in danger of not meeting them, talk to the scholarship provider or your financial aid counselor to find out your options. Your financial aid office is also a good place to stop if illness has generated medical bills or lost income for you--they may be able to adjust your aid package to help you deal with these expenses.


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