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Obama Extends an "Opportunity" to College Students

The American Opportunity Tax Credit, That Is

October 13, 2010

Obama Extends an "Opportunity" to College Students

by Suada Kolovic

The financial aid process can be a daunting one but if you’re planning on attending college any time soon, you should know that there are tons of federal student aid options out there – from Pell Grants to Perkins Loans to FAFSA – but your eligibility to receive aid depends on your level of need and, subsequently, how much aid you are eligible to receive. So, to the folks right in the middle: How does a tax credit sound? The American Opportunity Tax Credit, created in the 2009 economic stimulus bill, expires in 2010, but President Obama has proposed making it permanent, with a price tag of $58 billion over 10 years.

Now what does this mean to you? Because the Opportunity Tax Credit is more generous than its predecessor, the Hope Tax Credit, it provides a credit of up to $2,500 rather than $1,800 and it phases out at a higher income level – $160,000 for married couples filing jointly instead of $100,000. According to a report by the Department of Treasury, it’s also partially refundable so students and families with little or no tax liability can receive up to $1,000 of it as a tax refund. The report comes as lawmakers are debating a bill to extend several expiring tax credits. Recent versions would not extend the American Opportunity Tax Credit, but President Obama hopes lawmakers will reconsider.

"The president obviously feels strongly that this is an important relief for middle-class families," said Gene Sperling, counselor to the Treasury Secretary.

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House Passes Controversial Dream Act

Dream Act to Create Path to Citizenship for Undocumented Students

December 9, 2010

House Passes Controversial Dream Act

by Suada Kolovic

The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation Wednesday to give undocumented students who’ve graduated from high school, completed two years of college or military service and have no criminal record a shot at citizenship. The bill, known as the Dream Act, passed by a 216-198 vote after heated debates stemming from the fact that said students would also be eligible for federal financial aid.

The legislation is backed by President Obama who, according to the Huffington Post, called it “an important step” toward comprehensive immigration reform. In a statement, Obama said, "This vote is not only the right thing to do for a group of talented young people who seek to serve a country they know as their own by continuing their education or serving in the military, but it is the right thing for the United States of America.” Republicans, on the other hand, have slammed the bill and repeatedly referred to the Dream Act as a “nightmare act.” Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) described the bill as nothing more than “mass amnesty that will undoubtedly encourage millions more to illegally immigrate into our country.”

Today, the Senate is scheduled to vote on whether to begin debate on a slightly different version of the bill...though it’s unlikely Democrats can muster the 60 votes needed in the 100-memeber chamber to advance it.

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Scholarship of the Week: Playwright Discovery Award

April 4, 2011

Scholarship of the Week: Playwright Discovery Award

by Suada Kolovic

The VSA arts Playwright Discovery Award invites middle and high school students to take a closer look at the world around them, examine how disability affects their lives and the lives of others, and express their views through the art of playwriting. Playwrights may write from their own experience or about an experience in the life of another person or fictional character. Scripts can be comedies, dramas, or even musicals — be creative! Young playwrights with and without disabilities are encouraged to submit a script. Entries may be the work of an individual student or a collaboration by a group or class of students.

The winning play will be professionally produced or staged at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The winning playwright receives $2,000 and a trip to Washington, D.C., to view his or her work on stage. All submissions must be received by April 15th for consideration.

For more information on this scholarship and other scholarship opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search today!

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Wealthier Students More Likely to Gain Admissions

Universities Take Wealth into Consideration When Selecting Students

February 23, 2011

Wealthier Students More Likely to Gain Admissions

by Suada Kolovic

Is your dad a congressman or your mom a prominent surgeon? Do you have an uncle or aunt in the Senate? Well then, you’re in luck because the world is your oyster. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, more colleges, including Middlebury, Wake Forest, Williams and Tufts, are either taking applicants’ financial statuses into account or have been offering admission to wealthier students who can afford to pay tuition in full, while some public state universities are admitting more out-of-state students who pay higher tuition rates.

Now this isn’t the shock of the century by any means – how do you think George W. Bush ended up at Yale? – but the truth of the matter is that universities, like the economy, are struggling financially. And how do they combat the financial strain? By granting admission to applicants who don’t need financial aid. What does this mean to you, future high school graduates? The more likely you’re willing to pay for your education in full, the more likely you’ll get in. Colleges stress that they're not lowering their admissions criteria and instead begin their admissions process as “need blind” – admitting students regardless of their ability to pay and suggest they only consider an applicant’s financial status later in the admissions process.

Let us know what you think. Is it fair for students to practically buy their way into college? Should schools be permitted to resort to such tactics when considering a student’s admission? Would you forgo applying for financial aid in hopes of boosting your chances of getting in?

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And the Least Indebted Graduates Are...

U.S. News Lists Schools with Lowest Average Debt for 2010 Grads

December 28, 2011

And the Least Indebted Graduates Are...

by Alexis Mattera

If you are a recent college graduate, those student loans you haven’t thought about in four or more years are about to come calling...and collecting. While some students’ debt tallies are quite large, the amounts owed by others are much more manageable.

U.S. News & World Report has reported that the average amount of student loan debt (defined as money loaned to students from colleges, financial institutions and the government, not including parent loans) for a 2010 college graduate was about $25,000 but this number truly varies depending on what school a student calls his or her alma mater: For example, 2010 graduates of Alice Lloyd College have an average total indebtedness of only $3,108 and those from Princeton owe just $4,385, due in large part to more grants, scholarships and work study that do not require repayment. Here are all of the schools that made the top 10 and the average amount of student loan debt 2010 graduates incurred:

Does this information have you reevaluating your college plans or financial aid choices?

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Harvard Alum Donates $150 Million for Student Aid

March 6, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

With the economy still in a slump, debt-ridden college students aren't alone in their financial struggles. Colleges and universities nationwide – who've had a fair share in creating insurmountable amounts of debt for the majority of students – have struggled to attract potential donors as concerns about unstable markets remain. Harvard University, however, may be the exception: An alumnus who started trading stock options from his dorm room almost 25 years ago recently donated $150 million to his alma mater for financial aid.

Hedge fund manager and Citadel Investment Group founder Kenneth Griffin’s donation (Harvard’s largest-ever gift specifically devoted to financial aid) is expected to help as many as 800 undergraduates annually. With tuition, room and board at Harvard University hovering at about $56,000, you'd assume that only students from affluent families could afford the outstanding price tag. The reality: Sixty percent of undergraduates receive financial aid from the school and pay on average just $12,000 a year. Families making up to $65,000 a year pay nothing, while those with incomes up to $150,000 pay between zero and 10 percent of their income. Griffin said he hopes to donate more to Harvard in the coming years and called for his peers to consider doing the same. "At Harvard, we've had not decades of commitment for our alumni, but centuries. It's time for my generation to step up," he said.

What do you think of Griffin's donation to Harvard – a school that already has an endowment of $32.3 billion – and not those in need directly? Is this a step in the right direction or not?

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Win $1,000 in the Scholarship of the Week!

Zinch’s Weekly Three Sentence Essay Due June 4th

May 29, 2012

Win $1,000 in the Scholarship of the Week!

by Suada Kolovic

What better way is there to kick off summer break than an additional $1,000 to put towards your college education? Zinch’s Weekly Essay Contest will help you do just that and all you have to do is write a two to three sentence essay on the following prompt: If you could time travel to report on the front lines of any war in world history, which would you choose and what would you investigate?

All high school and college students (including international students) are eligible to participate. For more information on this scholarship and other scholarship opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search today!

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$1,000 for Three Sentences? Scholarship of the Week!

Zinch’s Weekly Three Sentence Essay Due Today

January 28, 2013

$1,000 for Three Sentences? Scholarship of the Week!

by Suada Kolovic

What better way is there to kick off spring semester than an additional $1,000 to put towards your college education? Zinch’s Weekly Essay Contest will help you do just that and all you have to do is write a two to three sentence essay on the following prompt: Chance meetings can make for very interesting experiences. Describe a time when you bumped into someone, and it led to a memorable conversation or event.

All high school and college students (including international students) are eligible to participate so go ahead and check out the prompt, think about it some and submit a concise yet thoughtful answer worthy of $1,000 by midnight tonight. For more information on this scholarship and other scholarship opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search today!

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Win $10K in this Scholarship of the Week!

This SOTW is Accepting Entries Through May 27th

May 5, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

Looking for a scholarship that doesn’t require an essay? Well, look no further than ScholarshipPoints for your chance to win a $10,000 scholarship. ScholarshipPoints is free to join, fun to participate in, and provides you with the opportunity to win thousands of dollars in scholarships every month. Members earn scholarship points for doing what they already do online: shopping, reading blogs, playing games, searching the web, taking surveys and more! The more you do – the more points you earn – the more chances you have at winning a scholarship.

For more information on this scholarship and other scholarship opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search today!

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SOTW: Beware the Jabberwock

This SOTW is Accepting Entries Through May 22nd

May 12, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

A Jabberwock, a Jubjub bird and a Bandersnatch...complete nonsense, right? Right. They are characters from "Jabberwocky" by Lewis Carroll. Made-up creatures, sure, but there is a story here. "Jabberwocky" is a tale of terrifying monsters, a daring hero, a ferocious battle, and a triumphant homecoming. To summarize: A boy is warned that there is a monster called a Jabberwock in the woods. He grabs his sword and searches for the dangerous beast. When the boy finally finds the Jabberwock, he slays him and returns home to tell his father of his accomplishment. His father is overjoyed.

Your challenge is to bring this drama to vivid life in a video, no longer than 2 minutes.

Your video must:

  • Depict the story using strong visuals. How you tell the story is up to you. You can act it out, stage it with sets and costumes, use animation, tell it using sign language, whatever you’d like.
  • Provide a clear recitation of the poem in full as included below (you do not need to show the reciter on screen).

For more information on this scholarship and other scholarship opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search today!

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