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New Bloomberg Effort to Help Low-Income Students Through College

November 4, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

In an effort to help talented low-income high school students get into and succeed in college, Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced a new initiative to do just that.

According to The New York Times, the effort will involve hiring 130 full-time college counselors and enlisting 4,000 college students as part-time advisers. Using video chat, email, telephone and text, they will mimic the support network — composed of guidance counselors, teachers, parents and friends — that more affluent high school students take for granted. "Many of America's brightest students don’t apply to college simply because they lack access to the right information and guidance, particularly students from low- and middle-income families who want to go to competitive colleges but don’t think they can afford it. That limits their opportunities and contradicts what we stand for as a society – and it holds us back as a nation because it prevents so many smart young people from contributing to the best of their abilities,” said Michael R. Bloomberg. This new initiative aims to directly help as many as 65,000 students a year! (For more on this story, click here.)

Share your thoughts on Bloomberg Philanthropies new initiative in the comments section. And don't forget to try and fund your college education with as much free money as possible; a great place to start is by creating a free profile on Scholarships.com, as our scholarship search allows you to search more than 2.7 million college scholarships and grants worth more than $1.9 billion!

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Dartmouth to Ban Hard Alcohol and Pledging Process on Campus

February 20, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

Long gone are the days when pledging to a fraternity was about a bond and brotherhood that lasts a lifetime. More recently they have become synonymous with hard-partying, high-risk drinking and despicable hazing rituals. Well, Dartmouth's president is taking a stand: Last month, Philip J. Hanlon announced sweeping changes aimed at curbing dangerous behavior on campus, saying the school will ban hard liquor, forbid pledging at fraternities and sororities, and require all students to undergo a four-year sexual violence prevention program.

The major overhaul, called "Moving Dartmouth Forward," came from recommendations of a special committee of students, faculty, staff and alumni. The new alcohol restrictions, which will begin this spring semester, ban the possession or consumption of alcohol that is 30 proof or stronger and increase penalties for students caught with hard liquor. The changes will also tackle how fraternities induct new members: Moving forward, they will be prohibited from pledging. And in addition to the required assault-prevention training, the college will create an online "consent manual" that will include information designed to reduce ambiguity about what is acceptable and what is not when it comes to sexual behavior. "If in the next three to five years, the Greek system does not engage in meaningful, lasting reform, and we are unsuccessful in sharply curbing harmful behaviors, we will need to revisit its continuation on our campus," Hanlon said. (For more on this story, head over to the Chronicle.)

What are your thoughts on the changes Dartmouth is imposing on Greek Life? Do you think it will sway dangerous behavior? Share your thoughts in the comments section. And if you're interested in learning more about adjusting to campus life and the college lifestyle, check out our Resources section. While you're there, conduct a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com for a complete list of scholarships that are personalized to you!

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College President Bans School-Funded Travel to Indiana

March 31, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

In response to Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, San Francisco State University President Leslie E. Wong has banned all school-funded travel to the state.

The controversial legislation, which was signed into law by Republican Governor Mike Pence last week, is meant to protect religious liberty but many have expressed concern that the law will become a tool of discrimination and a way to allow businesses to turn away lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender customers. So far, seven institutions in the state – Ball State, Butler, DePauw, IU, Purdue, Valparaiso and Hanover – have issued statements promising to honor their nondiscrimination policies. On Monday, Wong weighed in by blocking employees and students from using SFUS funds to travel to Indiana, effective immediately. "I am dismayed, if not extremely disappointed, in the recent legislation signed into law in Indiana. It is unconscionable for this great university to spend its resources in a state that attempts to legislate discrimination of any kind," he said in a written statement. (For more on this story, head over to The Huffington Post.)

In the midst of this national debate, Governor Pence has said he would support new legislation to "clarify the intent of the law"...but is it too little, too late? What do you think of Indiana's new legislation? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

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College Official Accused of Offering Scholarships for Sex

February 24, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

Securing the funds needed to attend college can be challenging. Luckily for the majority of students, they can rely on financial aid experts for guidance. Regrettably, not all students are so fortunate: An Idaho community college administrator stands accused of offering scholarships to students in exchange for sex.

Idaho police arrested Joseph Bekken, 36, the head of financial aid for North Idaho College, on suspicion of procurement of prostitution and other charges in connection with ads he posted on Craigslist offering "grant money" in exchanges for sexual favors from students who attended the two-year college in Coeur d'Alene, according to authorities. Bekken told police no federal funds were involved in his propositions and that he had not been involved with any other students. In a statement Wednesday, NIC President Joe Dunlap said the college "has worked alongside law enforcement from the very beginning of the investigation. I am grateful for the knowledge and training of our staff, which resulted in a swift and decisive response to this incident." Bekken also faces charges of bribery and using a computer in a scheme to defraud. (For the full story, head over to Reuters.)

What do you think Bekken’s penalty should be for using his position to solicit students for sex? Share your thoughts in the comments section. And don’t forget to conduct a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com, where you’ll be matched with scholarships, grants and other financial aid opportunities that are unique to you!

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Surprise Gift from UNC’s Beloved Coach Dean Smith

March 27, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

In a touching posthumous act of gratitude, beloved University of North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith's trust has mailed out $200 checks to each of the nearly 200 lettermen he coached with the message, "Enjoy dinner out compliments of Coach Dean Smith."

The letter sent read, in part: Each player was important and special to Coach Smith and when he prepared his estate plan, Coach wanted to reach out to each of his lettermen. Accordingly, Coach directed that following his passing each letterman be sent a two hundred dollar check with the message 'enjoy a dinner out compliments of Coach Dean Smith.'

According to Sports Illustrated, Smith mentored 184 players while at UNC from 1961 to 1997, most notably, Michael Jordan. Over his tenure as a coach, his team had a record of 879-254. He retired with more victories than any other coach in Division I men's basketball history, led the Tar Heels to two championships in 1982 and 1993, to 13 ACC Tournament titles, 11 Final Fours, an NIT championship and directed the United States Olympic Team to a gold medal at the 1976 Summer Games. (For more on this story, check out The Huffington Post.)

If playing college basketball is in your future, check out our Sports Scholarship section. For even more financial aid opportunities, conduct a free college scholarship search today!

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What Do You Mean I Can’t Live Off Ramen Noodles and Netflix?

Maintaining Your Physical and Mental Health in College

October 3, 2013

What Do You Mean I Can’t Live Off Ramen Noodles and Netflix?

by Abby Egan

College is a time of stimulating classes, new friendships and terrible eating habits. Many students gain weight when they enter college but what no one tells you is that if you don’t change your eating and exercising habits, that weight gain doesn’t end freshman year – it’s up to you to make sure you’re remaining healthy, physically and mentally. Here are some tips on how:

  • In the cafeteria: You may be sick of the cafeteria food but I promise there are ways to mix it up and remain healthy. As a rule of thumb, make sure your plate has an array of colors and try something new at every meal if you can. Fill up one plate with everything you want instead of using multiple plates – your eyes will see more food in one place and your stomach will feel full on less – and drink plenty of water with your meals because cafeteria food contains lots of sodium.
  • In the gym: Access to campus fitness facilities is often included in your fees so take advantage of the gym. Start out slow by doing some simple walking on the treadmill or track and work yourself up to more difficult workouts. Sweating can help you avoid germs, relieve stress and boost your energy. Most schools have clubs that involve exercising as well such as yoga, Zumba or swimming. Sometimes they even offered exercise classes for credits!
  • In your head: Getting enough sleep can improve your mood, your attention span and the quality of your work so listen to your body and always take time for yourself. Hang out with friends, create long lasting memories and make sure you’re having fun but don’t be afraid to close your door, put in your headphones and enjoy some alone time every once in a while. Make to-do lists and feel accomplished when you cross everything off...or just take a nap. Go somewhere new. Challenge yourself. And always, remember to ask for help when you need it.

What are your tips for maintaining physical and mental health in college?

Abby Egan is currently a junior at MCLA in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, where she is an English Communications major with a concentration in writing and a minor in philosophy. Abby hopes to find work at a publishing company after college and someday publish some of her own work. In her spare time, Abby likes to drink copious amounts of coffee, spend all her money on adorable shoes and blog into the wee hours of the night.

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Former UNC Professor to Plead Not Guilty to Academic Felony Fraud

Football Coach and Chancellor Depart Amidst Scandal

December 4, 2013

Former UNC Professor to Plead Not Guilty to Academic Felony Fraud

by Suada Kolovic

The life of the average college student is riddled with deadlines and due dates so when the pressure is on come midterms and finals, there are no sweeter words for those short on time than “class is canceled.” But what if I told you that on the rarest of occasions, you could sign up for a lecture course where attendance wasn't required? Well, that was the reality for a group of student athletes at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; we should mention, however, that the professor of said course has been indicted for doing just that and could face 10 months in prison for his actions if convicted.

Julius Nyang’oro, a former chairman of UNC’s Department of African and Afro-American Studies, is accused of receiving $12,000 for a lecture course while holding no classes. Orange County District Attorney James Woodall said Nyang’oro’s 2011 summer course was supposed to have regular lectures but required students to write papers in lieu of coming to class. A defense attorney says the former professor will plead not guilty to the felony fraud charge and that the university recouped the $12,000 but the scandal has contributed to the departure of football coach Butch Davis (who had 19 of his players enrolled in the class) and the resignation of chancellor Holden Thorp. (For more on this story, click here.)

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LGBT Students Can Face Serious Roadblocks to Financial Aid

October 31, 2013

LGBT Students Can Face Serious Roadblocks to Financial Aid

by Suada Kolovic

Unless you plan on paying for your college education out-of-pocket, completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (more commonly known as the FAFSA) is essential in your quest for financial aid. For the uninitiated, the FAFSA is used by the Department of Education to determine your eligibility for federal student financial aid for college, including the Pell Grant, federal work-student programs and federal student loans. And while most students struggle with the complicated application process, LGBT students potentially face more serious roadblocks: According to U.S. News & World Report, name changes, gender identification and strained family relationships can present unique FAFSA challenges.

In 2012, sexual orientation and gender identity were the number one reason for youth homelessness in the U.S., notes Thomas Krever, chief executive officer of the Hetrick-Martin Institute. Almost 40 percent of homeless youth identified as LGBT and of those teens, 46 percent ran away because their family rejected their sexual orientation or gender identity. What does this have to do with the FAFSA? Students under the age of 24 need tax returns and bank statements from their parents in order to file for financial aid and those without family support are left in limbo. Other LGBT students struggle with the fact that the FAFSA doesn’t necessarily reflect their identity. Questions about name and gender can be enough to keep transgender teens from even applying, says Eli Erlick, founder of Trans Student Equality Resources. "One thing about funding, specifically FAFSA, is that transgender students may not be able to change their name due to parents not being supportive or not having the money to do so," says Erlick. "This can lead to transgender students being nervous to apply, or not even applying at all, because they're scared for their own safety, because using these forms with their legal names may out them." (For more on this story, click here.)

What do you think about the challenges LGBT students face when seeking financial aid? Can you think of something the government can do to ease this pressure?

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GWU Admits Considering Financial Need in Admissions

October 22, 2013

GWU Admits Considering Financial Need in Admissions

by Suada Kolovic

With so much riding on whether or not you get in, applying for college can cause even the most confident students some serious anxiety. And with so many factors to consider like high school rankings, SAT/ACT scores, GPAs and community service hours, it’s important to understand that more often than not, colleges are also factoring in a student’s ability to pay...even when they say they’re not. Insert outrage here.

Just last Friday, George Washington University’s website claimed to evaluate applicants without considering their financial need (also known as a need-blind admissions approach) but now they’re clarifying that policy: It now reads that while applications are first reviewed without consideration of need, “at the point of finalizing admissions decisions, we must balance a student’s financial resources with the university’s aid budget. This practice of being need-aware allows us to meet as much need of as many students as possible.” Why the sudden transparency, GWU? Turns out that the school’s new senior associate provost for enrollment management’s recent interview with The GW Hatchet revealed that she characterized the university’s policy as need-aware as opposed to need-blind. The problem? By being need-aware for years and suggesting otherwise, the university appears to not only have violated the Statement of Principles of Good Practice of the National Association for College Admission Counseling but encouraged low-income students to apply (and pay a hefty application fee!) on the false pretense that the university was need-blind. (For more on this story, click here.)

The ability to pay for college has long been a major factor when it comes to gaining admission but to blatantly advertise otherwise is undeniably uncool. What do you think of GWU’s current predicament? Should the university face serious repercussions? Let us know in the comments section.

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Making Time for Reading Assignments

October 22, 2013

Making Time for Reading Assignments

by Veronica Gonzalez

Stuck on a textbook or novel on your syllabus? Want to make your reading assignments much easier? Here’s an idea: JUST READ! This may sound too obvious or pointless but it just might be crazy enough to work – all you have to do is prioritize, don’t think of it as a chore and go for it.

  • Prioritizing: It’s imperative that you make time during your studying and school time to read what’s being assigned to you by your professors. If you have free time in your class schedule, dedicate it as reading time.
  • Don’t Think of Reading as a Chore: Most college students cringe at reading long chapters in a textbook, with most turning to SparkNotes or other related websites to get an understanding of the chapters that they’re supposed to read for class. However, the websites only give you summaries, which may be missing important information that would be mentioned in class by your professors. Summaries are great if you are in a pinch but if you truly want to understand the assignment and be prepared for class discussion, actually reading the text is the way to go.
  • Go for It: Here are few tips on reading chapters from your textbooks. First, take a deep breath before you start to read. Next, read slowly to better understand the subject matter. And lastly, make sure to take notes on what you’ve read so far in the chapter so that you can refer back to what you learned and review any trouble spots.

What are your tips for tackling reading assignments?

Veronica Gonzalez is a junior at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. Her current major is English and she plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in this field. She served as the vice president of the UIW chapter of Alpha Lambda Delta from 2012 to 2013 and she returns as a junior delegate in the fall of 2013. Her dreams are to publish novels and possibly go into teaching in the field of English.

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