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by Scholarships.com Staff

February is a short month, but it's jam-packed with celebrations.  I'm not just talking about Valentine's Day and Mardi Gras.  February is Black History Month, a reminder that long before President Obama took office, African Americans were doing some pretty amazing things.  Black History Month is a great opportunity to learn about and commemorate important people and events that often go overlooked in American history.  It's also a great time to seek out new scholarship opportunities.

Several local scholarships have Black History Month themes, and we've featured a small sampling of them on our Black History Month Scholarships resource page.

If you're an African American student looking to make your own contribution to Black history, and history in general, a great place to start is with our list of African American scholarships.  After all, there's nothing like a college education to help you achieve your goals and change the world.

In addition to raising awareness of the important roles African Americans have played throughout American history, two of the major goals of Black History Month are combating injustice and promoting equality--after all, its original dates were chosen to celebrate two key players in the early civil rights movement, Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.  Students who have taken part in efforts with similar goals may want to take some time this month to commemorate their own achievements by applying for community service scholarships.

To apply for the scholarship awards mentioned above or to learn about other sources of money for college, conduct a free college scholarship search.


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by Scholarships.com Staff

A career in technology can be exciting and rewarding, not to mention financially lucrative.  However, the path to this career typically includes a college education, which isn't exactly cheap.  Technical fields have demanding coursework and in some cases, astronomical course fees.  These and other factors can make paying for school even more challenging for technology students.  To ensure that these challenges do not become roadblocks, Scholarships.com offers a $1,000 college scholarship for students who plan to pursue a career in technology.  And since all you need to apply is a short essay explaining your interest in this area of study, this week's Scholarship of the Week could be one of the easiest steps in your education.

Prize:

$1,000

Eligibility:

Applicants for the Scholarships.com College Technology Scholarship must be U.S. citizens and either undergraduate students or high school seniors who plan to enroll in an accredited college or university in the coming fall.

Applicants must have indicated an interest in one of the following majors: 

     
  • Aerospace Technologies
  •  
  • Air Conditioning
  •  
  • Automotive Technologies
  •  
  • Aviation
  •  
  • Aviation/Aircraft Technology
  •  
  • Communications
  •  
  • Computer Science
  •  
  • Computer Technology
  •  
  • Drafting/Computer Aided Design
  •  
  • Electronics
  •  
  • Information Technology
  •  
  • Information Systems Engineering
  •  
  • Lighting Technologies
  •  
  • Mechanical/ Electrical Technologies
  •  
  • New Media
  •  
  • Natural Resources Technologies
  •  
  • Packaging Technologies
  •  
  • Polymer Technology
  •  
  • Television
  •  
  • Transportation Technologies
  •  
  • Telecommunications
  •  
 

Deadline:

March 31, 2009

Required Material:

A completed Scholarships.com profile and a 250 to 350-word scholarship essay written in response to the question, "What has influenced your decision to pursue a career in technology?"

Further details about the application process can be found by conducting a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com. Once the search is completed, students eligible for this scholarship award will find it in their search results.


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A. Patrick Charnon Scholarship

February 16, 2009

by Emily

Students who are committed to serving and improving their communities have a chance to win up to $6,000 in scholarship money over the course of four years with this week's Scholarship of the Week.  The A. Patrick Charnon Scholarship was established in memory of Pat Charnon, who was known for the generous help and support he provided to young people in Beloit, Wisconsin and the sense of community he fostered.  Recipients of the Charnon Scholarship should show a similar dedication to building communities, as well as a committment to values of tolerance, compassion, and respect for all people in their communities.  This community service scholarship is open to undergraduate students.

Prize:

$1,500 per year for up to 4 years

Eligibility: 

Current undergraduate students or students who will be enrolled full-time in an undergraduate program of study at an accredited four-year college or university in the United States.  Recipients must maintain good academic standing and be making satisfactory progress towards a degree.

Deadline:

March 31, 2009

Required Material:

A completed scholarship application, an academic transcript, three letters of recommendation, and a scholarship essay of 2-4 pages describing how community service experiences have shaped your life and how you will use your education to build communities consistent with values of tolerance, compassion, generosity, and respect.

Further details about the application process can be found by conducting a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com. Once the search is completed, students eligible for this scholarship award will find it in their search results.


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Radio Scholarships.com

February 18, 2009

by Emily

Yesterday Kim Stezala, better known as The Scholarship Lady, interviewed our own Kevin Ladd on BlogTalkRadio.com.  The topic of the interview was our upcoming 2009 Resolve to Evolve Scholarship competition, which we'll be announcing soon on our site.  Resolve to Evolve is one of the fourteen college scholarships we offer at Scholarships.com.  This year, Resove to Evolve awards will make up $5,000 of the $18,000 in scholarship money we provide to deserving Scholarships.com users through our scholarship essay contests.

In addition to talking about the scholarships we offer, Kevin also dispenses some valuable advice on scholarship applications in general.  You can listen to the complete interview here. And, of course, you can conduct your own free scholarship search on Scholarships.com to find out more about the scholarship opportunities mentioned in the interview, as well as the over 2.7 million college scholarships and grants worth over $19 billion listed in our database.


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by Emily

Painting, sculpture, music, photography, theater and film all come to mind when the word "art" is mentioned, a fact reflected in the criteria for many art scholarships.  In today’s world, students who major in commercial arts, graphic design and photojournalism are all considered artists in their respective fields. To recognize and support artists working in diverse media, Scholarships.com has created this week's Scholarship of the Week.

Students who apply for the Scholarships.com College Art Scholarship will have the chance to earn $1,000 towards their college education—and it couldn’t be easier. Just respond to the following question in a 250 to 350 word essay (entries that fall outside of this word range will be disqualified): "What has influenced your decision to pursue a career in art?"

Prize: $1,000

Eligibility: Applicants must be U.S citizens and registered users of Scholarships.com.  To apply, users must be undergraduate students or high school students planning to major in one of the following areas of study at an accredited two-year or four-year college or university in the fall of 2009:

  • Art
  • Art History
  • Commercial Arts
  • Cosmetology
  • Dance
  • Design
  • Fashion
  • Film Studies
  • Fine Arts
  • Graphic Design
  • Interior Design
  • Music
  • New Media
  • Photographic Studies
  • Theatre
  • TV News
  • Photojournalism
  • Voice
  • Web Design

Deadline: April 30, 2009

Required Material: A completed Scholarships.com profile and a 250 to 350-word scholarship essay written in response to the question, “What has influenced your decision to pursue a career in art?”

Further details about the application process can be found by conducting a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com. Once the search is completed, students eligible for this scholarship award will find it in their search results.


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by Emily

Students currently enrolled in grades 9-12 are eligible for this week's Scholarship of the Week, The Humanist Essay Contest.  The Humanist, a magazine published by the American Humanist Association, sponsors this annual scholarship essay contest for high school students.  Applicants are asked to submit an essay of 1,500 to 2,500 words dealing with humanist themes in any subject or field of inquiry.

Essay judging will be guided by the definition of humanism found in each issue of The Humanist magazine. Other criteria include originality of thought, sense of emotional engagement, clarity and quality of presentation, amount of research evidenced, and future potential shown by the author.

Prize: $1,000, a three-year membership to the American Humanist Association, and an invitation to present the winning essay at the annual AHA conference

Eligibility: Students residing in the United States or Canada who are currently enrolled in grades 9-12

Deadline: April 3, 2009

Required Material: A completed scholarship essay of 1,500 to 2,500 words submitted to The Humanist via email

Further details about the application process can be found by conducting a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com. Once the search is completed, students eligible for this scholarship award will find it in their search results.


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by Emily

More students are completing the FAFSA early for 2009-2010 according to data collected by the Department of Education.  By the end of February, more than 3 million students had filed their FAFSA for the next academic year, an increase of over 20 percent from the first two months of 2008.  As application deadlines approach, this flood of applications could slow, but right now it looks like there will be more demand for financial aid in the coming school year.

Federal student financial aid is becoming an increasingly attractive means of paying for college.  For starters, federal aid is up for 2009-2010--in the case of Federal Pell Grants, way up.  A combination of factors has boosted maximum grants to $5,350 in 2009-2010, while simultaneously raising the minimum award to $976 and the maximum qualifying Expected Family Contribution to $4,671.  Low interest rates and expanded federal loan cancellation and consolidation options are also making federal student loans more appealing.

Meanwhile, several other payment options aren't doing so well.  Private loans became harder to obtain in 2008, and also saw fairly substantial interest rate increases.  College savings plans, such as 529 plans, took big hits in the stock market, and even some prepaid tuition plans are struggling to guarantee payouts for upcoming years.  College endowments have also been affected by financial troubles, and some endowed scholarships may be reduced or unavailable for the coming academic year.

However, this doesn't mean the FAFSA is the only option for student financial aid.  Most states are maintaining funding for their scholarship programs, many colleges are increasing aid where possible, and scholarship opportunities are still out there--though many deadlines are approaching--for students who are willing and able to take the time to do a scholarship search and complete some scholarship applications.


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by Administrator

It seems Sallie Mae wants nothing to do with PLUS Loans and it's possible many other lenders will be reticent to bid on the graduate student and parent targeted loans at the upcoming "auction". Supposedly, the government is not allowing lenders to make enough money on these loans for it to be sufficiently profitable so they are opting to invest their capital elsewhere.

Some are claiming this is a ploy to get a larger cut than what the government currently allows. This certainly isn't out of the question, and it seems likely that Sallie Mae would participate if the "price were right", but this is likely beside the point to those seeking financial aid for college. They just want to know how they are going to pay for school if nobody wants to underwrite their PLUS Loan.

There is no question it's difficult to get a loan for education these days and getting more so by the day. Naturally, it would be ideal if every student attending college next year could find sufficient scholarships, grants and other "free" money to pay for their entire education but we are all well aware that is fairly unlikely for most. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try. It is rare that those who do, somehow, find a way to get through college without taking out loans are not quite surprised themselves. The key is to search for scholarships and to do so with the belief you can win. Because you can. You probably won't win them all, but you might win some of them, right? Improve your odds by applying to as many as you can from now until every deadline has passed! You may not get all of your tuition paid for (some of you will, though!) but that's no reason not to try, right? Some of you will be able to pay about half, or even more than half and that's huge. Even if you were able to get $3,000 a year? Or even $2,000? Maybe go to state school instead of that pricey private college you were going to attend. Now that $3,000 is much more substantial, isn't it? Consider all of these things and conduct a free scholarship search today and see what's available out there before you start looking at loans.

Back to PLUS Loans and Sallie Mae's absence from the upcoming auction. The idea is that lenders actually have to "bid" on the loans by stating their lowest acceptable federal subsidy rate they are willing to accept to make the loan. They have to give their absolute best offer in competition with other lenders, which should, in theory, benefit those taking out the loans. This "auction" format began just a couple of years ago and may already be on its way out, as President Obama has called for the elimination of the entire guaranteed-loan program. Naturally, this puts further strain on those still trying to move forward with the auction, which will now be without Sallie Mae, who makes 40% of PLUS Loans in the guaranteed-loan program. It is difficult to know how big an impact this will have on the event, but you can rest assured it does not bode well for students counting on PLUS Loans to fund their education.


Comments

by Emily

Community service projects benefit those around you, provide valuable learning experiences, and add an impressive dimension to your resume.  They also provide numerous opportunities for community service scholarships, such as this week's Scholarship of the Week.  The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes seeks to award young people who initiate significant service projects as elementary or high school students.

The Barron Prize is awarded to young people who have created a service project that has positively affected other people, animals, or the planet. The project should go beyond fulfilling a school requirement or overcoming a personal challenge and should touch the lives of others and be capable of inspiring others to also make a difference.  Students interested in applying will have to write a scholarship essay describing their project, and will also need three letters of recommendation and a letter from an adult nominator who is familiar with their work.

Prize: $2,500 to be applied towards the winner's higher education or continuing their service project>/p>

Eligibility: Applicants must be between the ages of 8 and 18 by April 30, 2009 and must be legal residents of the United States or Canada.  Students must be nominated by an adult who is familiar with their project and must be nominated as individuals, not as groups.

Deadline: April 30, 2009

Required Material: The student nominee and the adult nominator must each complete an essay of no more than 1,500 words describing the nominee's service project.  Applicants must also provide three letters of recommendation. Additional reference materials are also welcome.

Further details about the application process can be found by conducting a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com. Once the search is completed, students eligible for this scholarship award will find it in their search results.


Comments

by Emily

While April may be the cruelest month, March can be especially rough for students bound for college or graduate school.  Late March and early April are when admissions decisions and financial aid letters roll out for those not immediately accepted or rejected by their dream schools, and around now, things are getting pretty agonizing.  While a large part of March is consumed by waiting, even those who have already received good news may be consumed by the crushing dread of all the work to be done before September.  After all, if you get into a college or graduate school, you still have to figure out how to pay for it, what classes to take, what forms to complete, what to do with your life between now and then, and for many students, how to graduate on time, as well.  So, while you may still be waiting for a decision, there are things you can do in March to make April through August easier.

First, budget your time.  Figure out the things you'll need to do, and make a plan to get them done.  While you can't yet pick your classes or contact an unassigned roommate to figure out who is bringing the fridge or the TV, you can take care of other things.

If you haven't done so yet, complete the FAFSA.  If you did a FAFSA with your 2007 tax information, do your 2008 taxes and submit a correction.  Check your student aid report to see if you were chosen for verification, a process roughly equivalent to an audit of your FAFSA that is conducted by your college.  Colleges receive a glut of verification forms towards the start of the school year, and a delay in completing it can result in a delay in financial aid.  If you're not sure you've done everything you need to receive aid on time, contact the college to make sure.  It's better to find out now than to find out on the first day of classes when you need to buy books and find that you can't.

Keep searching for scholarships and submitting scholarship applications.  Deadlines are approaching rapidly, and available scholarships for the 2009-2010 academic year will only get more sparse as you approach the start of the fall semester.  This doesn't just go for high schoolers--if you're a soon-to-be graduate student with an acceptance letter in hand, but no assistantship or fellowship, don't count on funding emerging later. This can and does happen, but many schools make these awards with their admission decisions.

If you've received your financial aid award letter at your college of choice and it's come up drastically short, look into options for appealing it, especially if your financial circumstances have changed or if you've gotten a better offer from a different school.  You may also want to start shopping around for student loans. You might not be able to apply until summer (and you might not want to if you're currently applying for scholarships), but knowing what's out there now can help later.

If you take these steps now, then it will be easier to direct your spring and summer towards enjoying (or enduring) school, preparing to graduate, and figuring out your summer plans.  You'll also be less rushed and less likely to forget to do important things, like signing up to register for classes or mailing in a deposit on time.


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