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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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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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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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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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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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by Suada Kolovic

Being a celebrity certainly seems have its perks: countless adoring fans, a lavish lifestyle, hefty paychecks and, for some, the opportunity to support worthy causes. And while we've seen celebrities fight for starving children, encourage environmental causes and even join the UN, promoting education is a soft spot for quite a number of them as well. Check out the five celebrities below who have opened schools in recent years. (For the complete list, head over to The Huffington Post):

  • Shakira: Using funds from her nonprofit organization, she has opened eight schools in her native country of Colombia. She has also lobbied Latin American leaders to support early childhood education.
  • Oprah Winfrey: Oprah Winfrey opened the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa in 2007. While the school has suffered from its share of controversy, it is still up and running. The media mogul has also donated heavily to American charter schools, giving $6 million in 2010.
  • Angelina Jolie: The actress and notorious humanitarian opened an all-girls school in Afghanistan in 2013. The school was funded by proceeds from Jolie's jewelry collection, Style of Jolie; she reportedly hopes to use further proceeds to build more schools in impoverished areas, according to Forbes.
  • Magic Johnson: Former NBA star and sports analyst Magic Johnson has opened several alternative high schools for students who have dropped out or are at risk of dropping out of school. Currently, there are four Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academies in Georgia, two in Illinois, one in New Jersey, one in North Carolina and eight in Ohio. According to the Bridgescape Academy website, the alternative schools' "student-focused program provides an opportunity to earn a high school diploma at a pace suitable to their schedule, lifestyle and learning needs."
  • Madonna: In 2013, Madonna opened several community schools in Malawi. According to the Associated Press, her work there provided classrooms for thousands of students who were previously learning outdoors.

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by Suada Kolovic

The decision to pursue a law degree is not one that should not be taken lightly. Analyzing your hopes and needs prior to applying will help you decide whether it’s worth your time, effort and money. It’s also crucial to examine the possible downsides: crippling student debt, high unemployment rates and declining starting salaries. At this point, if you’re still interested in studying law, you might want to consider a law school that’s offering the country’s first “risk-free” juris doctor program.

Following a recent trend among law schools to attract prospective students, the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University announced that beginning this spring, a student who decides to not continue law school after successfully completing their first year of studies can graduate with a Master of Legal Studies (M.L.S.) degree without taking any additional courses. And although students with this degree will not be permitted to sit for the bar exam, this approach will provide students with a foundation in law without preparing them to practice. “The new opportunity removes at least some of the financial and personal risk inherent in a large educational undertaking and comes at a time when people appreciate more guarantees,” said Craig M. Boise, Cleveland-Marshall’s dean. He added, “For these students, the first year of law school might have seemed like a waste and a hard-to-explain item on their resumes. Now they can leave with a master’s degree that we believe will be attractive to employers.” (For more on this story, click here.)

Law school hopefuls, does the “risk-free” J.D. program at CSU’s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law help quell your anxieties given the weak legal job market? Do you think this program (which is essentially one-third the cost and time of a traditional law program) would be viable or not? Let us know in the comments section.


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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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