January 26, 2010
Humans give off carbon dioxide for plants to use and plants give off oxygen for humans to survive. Water is constantly converted into a gas through heat where it then rises and cools to fall as rain, snow, etc. These processes have occurred for thousands of years and they are also some of the most efficient processes known to man. Why are these natural processes so efficient? It is because they use a process known as recycling. Recycling is a process observed in many natural systems, and it may be the most important concept for you to understand when completing the scholarship process. You have written your personal statements (essays), gotten your recommendations, created your resume, and made a scholarship list. However, if you do not learn how to recycle these items, you will soon find that it is difficult and vey time-consuming to apply for the 15 or more scholarships on your list. If you learn how to take a paragraph from your college application essay and insert it there, take a paragraph from your past scholarship essay on adversity and insert it here, you will soon have an entirely new essay that you can use for a different scholarship.
Recycling application sections sounds like a fairly simple idea, right? Not necessarily. Recycling when doing scholarship applications is a great idea, but it’s not exactly simple. It can be an effective tool if used properly. If used incorrectly, however, it can have disastrous effects and can be a quick way to lose potential financial aid. “So, how do I recycle effectively?” you may ask. The answer is that you have to ensure that while recycling application sections such as a personal statement (essay) or recommendation that you tailor the personal statement or recommendation to each specific application. If you are applying to a scholarship that awards money based on academic achievement, it is not the best idea to recycle and use a recommendation previously written by a community service organizer because they cannot speak first hand about your abilities in the classroom the way a teacher can. You also may want to go through your essays and ask your recommenders to make the small or large changes in order to tailor your applications. If your essay states that “I feel I deserve the Dell Scholarship because…” yet you are applying to the Wal-Mart scholarship, you probably just lost that scholarship. An application package is somewhat like a suit, it needs to tailored in order to look its best; although it may look okay without tailoring, it will look great with it.
Here are some quick rules for recycling sections of your scholarship application:
Using and sticking to these rules will be an easy way to save time, reduce stress, and finish scholarship applications well before the deadline. Remember, if used properly, recycling is not only good for the environment; it’s good for the scholarship application process as well.<,/p>
Derrius L Quarles is a 19-year-old freshman at Morehouse College. He hopes to go to medical school after he graduates with a degree in psychology and biology and a minor in public health, and to one day work on the public health policies of his hometown, Chicago, and beyond. To help him achieve those academic and career ambitions, Derrius has won more than $1.1 million in scholarships, including a full scholarship to attend Morehouse, since graduating from Chicago’s Kenwood Academy High School with a 4.2 GPA. Derrius was awarded a Gates Millennium scholarship and won a number of other highly competitive awards, many of which he found while searching for scholarships at Scholarships.com. He is the first in his family to attend college, and spent his childhood in the foster care system before becoming the “Million Dollar Scholar.” This is the fifth in a series of posts Derrius is writing for Scholarships.com on how he was able to fund his education, along with advice about the scholarship application process.
October 7, 2008
October 17, 2008
While the U.S. Presidential debates have wrapped up for 2008, voters interested in hearing more about each candidate's plans for education policy have an opportunity to watch a debate between the candidates' educational advisors on Tuesday. The debate will take place at Teachers College at Columbia University in New York City and will be webcast live by Education Week.
Due to the worsening economic situation in the United States, more and more families are having trouble finding money for college. Lenders leaving the Federal Family Education Loan Program and discontinuing private student loans have required some families to look elsewhere for financial aid, while lost income and tougher credit requirements have made it harder for other families to come up with the funds required to pay for school. While industrious students certainly can find college scholarships and grants, many voters would like to see schools and the federal government find ways to increase these sources of funding. Simplifying the financial aid application process and curbing the rising cost of tuition are other issues many would like to see the next administration tackle.
The quality of public education at the K-12 level also remains a concern for many voters. With more and more families viewing a college education as essential, adequate college preparation has become increasingly important. Yet many students require remedial education upon entering college, minorities are still are less likely to go to or finish college, and many voters are disenchanted with standardized testing and No Child Left Behind.
This debate will likely provide voters with more complete information on each campaign's education plans. If education policy is a major issue for you this election, consider tuning in to the webcast at 7 PM on Tuesday, October 21.
October 23, 2008
The Project on Student Debt just published information on the average student loan debt load for students graduating college in 2007. The report shows that average student debt increased 6 percent from 2006 to 2007, while the average annual salary of college graduates increased by only 3 percent. The percentage of students borrowing remained the same at 59 percent nationally, though some individual states experienced double-digit increases, including North Dakota, which surged ahead 14 percent to capture the #2 spot for percentage of student borrowers, with 75 percent of its students taking out loans, following South Dakota's 81 percent.
While more North and South Dakotans borrow than residents of any other state, Iowans have the highest average debt load of $26,208, followed closely by New Hampshire's $25,211. States that fared well were Utah and Hawaii with the lowest average debt ($13,266 and $14,911 respectively) and Nevada and Utah with the lowest percentage of borrowers (40 and 42 percent). The report also contains information for individual private colleges and state universities for 2007, as well as a list of the schools with the highest and lowest levels of student debt.
So if you're still in the midst of your college search, you may want to check out the full report from the Project on Student Debt, complete with a state-by-state interactive map. If you're planning on attending college in a high-debt state, don't panic. Just devote a bit more time to finding money for college, such as doing a thorough scholarship search.
October 28, 2008
Fewer students may have to worry about finding a new lender for their Stafford Loans next year, as more colleges are turning to federal Direct Loans for student loans. A web-based poll of college financial aid administrators at schools participating in the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) revealed that six percent of those surveyed are planning to make the switch to direct lending next year, with an additional 29 percent seriously considering it as an option. This means that Direct Loans could very likely become the leading supplier of student loans in 2009. Since direct loans are taken out from the government, rather than from a bank, the stability they provide is proving popular among student borrowers. Already, the amount of money in the direct borrowing system has grown by 50 percent this year, whereas the amount in FFELP is up only 7 percent. While most students have been able to find different lenders and continue borrowing what they need in student loans, attending college at a school that participates in direct lending can save students a bit of hassle in getting financial aid.
While a move towards direct lending means that students at participating schools won't be able to cash in on incentives banks might offer during student loan repayment in the future, these options have become scarce in the last year due to the federal subsidy cuts and credit troubles banks have faced. The disappearance of the FFELP's advantages coupled with the uncertainty and instability caused by the credit crisis will likely continue encouraging schools to turn to Direct Loans to service their Federal Stafford Loans.
October 30, 2008
Curious how colleges are weathering the recession? Wondering just how different things are now than when your parents (or even your older siblings) went to college? Reuters recently published a roundup of educational figures related to enrollment, endowments, student loans, and college costs. Many of these statistics have already shown up elsewhere in the Scholarships.com blog.
Tuition, fees, room, and board totaled $31,019 at private colleges, $16,758 for in-state students at state universities, and $24,955 for out-of-state public university students. Two-thirds of students at four-year schools received some form of grants, averaging $3,600 at public schools and $9,300 at private schools. Federal student loans have become increasingly popular since the mid-1990s, with students borrowing a total of $77 billion to pay for school in 2007. The class of 2007 carried 6 percent more debt than the class of 2006 upon graduation.
Tuition and borrowing are likely to continue to increase, as endowments have taken a hit in the stock market and state support for higher education also continues to fall. State funding covered 2/3 of public university budgets in 1998, but only covered half their budgets in 2007. Tuition also accounts for a larger percentage of college budgets. More students may also put their educational plans on hold due to increased difficulty finding money for college.
November 12, 2008
Colleges are continuing to face financial hardships due to the current global economic crisis. Endowments have shrunken by an average of 30 percent this year, primarily in the last two months. Numerous colleges and universities, both public and private, are cutting or freezing spending, and several institutions have been forced to implement hiring freezes, offer early retirement to employees, or lay off employees. Even Harvard University has announced a more conservative approach to future spending. An article appearing in the New York Times earlier this week shows some schools considering a move away from entirely need-blind admissions policies (which ignore students' ability to pay when determining who to admit) in order to ensure they receive enough tuition revenue to maintain their financial aid programs.
Meanwhile, families are in similarly rough shape. Investments are in trouble, unemployment is up, and families are having trouble getting home equity loans or other lines of credit that they may have previously used to cover tuition. 529 plans have taken a hit, as well, and student loans have also tightened credit requirements. All this means that students might face greater difficulty getting into and paying for school.
So that's the bad news. Now for some good news:
December 31, 2008
Though it's a day off from school and work, New Year's Day is often seen as 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 consider doing. The Department of Education starts accepting the 2009-2010 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (more commonly known as "FAFSA") on January 1. State application deadlines start happening soon after, beginning with Connecticut's February 15 priority deadline. So while you might not be starting school until August or September, you want to be applying for financial aid right now.
What You Need
In order to complete a FAFSA, you will need the following documents:
If you do not have your tax information yet, and most likely you don't, you can use your 2007 tax information to estimate 2008. That way, you have a FAFSA on file and once you've done your taxes for the new year, you'll be able to submit a correction online. While that might seem like more work, it's the best recipe for maximizing your state and campus-based aid packages. If things changed drastically for your family in 2008, apply for student financial aid with the information you have, then talk to your school's financial aid office to adjust your information accordingly.
Why You Should Apply
Completing a FAFSA is an important step in funding your education if you don't plan on paying for everything out-of-pocket. The FAFSA is used by the Department of Education to determine eligibility for federal student financial aid for college. This aid includes federal grant programs (such as the Pell Grant), federal work-study, and federal student loans. It is also used by states to determine eligibility for their financial aid programs, such as state grants. Colleges also use the FAFSA to determine eligibility for the need-based aid programs they administer. Finally, many scholarship opportunities request FAFSA information as part of their application process. Even if you think that you won't qualify for free money in the form of need-based college scholarships and grants, you should still apply. At the minimum, the vast majority of students qualify for Stafford Loans, low-interest federal student loans that represent one of the best deals in borrowing for school.
Where To Get More Information
Start on the FAFSA homepage and go through the links under "Before Beginning a FAFSA" to get started, especially if this is your first time filing. You'll find information about application deadlines, required documents, applying for a PIN, and other things you need to know about to begin. If you don't want to wait until tomorrow, 2009-2010 worksheets are already available on fafsa.ed.gov. The ambitious among us can even fill out a worksheet now, then copy the information into their FAFSA on the Web beginning tomorrow.We also offer a wealth of resources on financial aid at Scholarships.com. Check out the financial aid section on our Resources page for further reading.
January 14, 2009
During his confirmation hearing Tuesday, Arne Duncan, Obama's appointee for Education Secretary, disclosed broad ideas but few specific plans for education in America. Much of the hearing before the U.S. Senate focused on elementary and secondary education, though questions related to paying for college did surface. Duncan's primary focuses appear to be on college access and college affordability, moving away from the emphasis on accountability the nation has seen under Margaret Spellings, the current Secretary of Education.
According to coverage by The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed, Duncan's primary goal related to college aid is to guarantee access to student loans for everyone attending college. Taking up one aspect of Spellings' policy, he also expressed an interest in simplifying the FAFSA to make applying for federal student financial aid more enticing for college students. Additionally, Duncan pledged to work towards the goals of increasing Federal Pell Grants and instituting the $4,000 education tax credit that made up a major part of Obama's campaign platform.
Congress may already be taking steps towards some of these goals in drafting the next economic stimulus package. Reports have abounded this week that plans are in the works to increase the maximum available Pell Grant by $500 and to consolidate two existing federal higher education tax options into one $3,000 tax credit for higher education expenses.
February 26, 2009
An omnibus appropriations bill for the current fiscal year passed the House yesterday and is on its way to the Senate. This piece of legislation will raise the maximum award for Federal Pell Grants to $5350 for 2009-2010. The bill was put on hold last year due to threats of a veto from President Bush.
While Pell Grants received a funding boost, SEOG grants will remain at 2008 funding levels, as will work-study. Perkins Loan cancellation programs will receive a boost in funding to cover shortfalls. Additionally, TRIO and Gear Up programs, aimed at helping low-income students get into college, also received more funding.
The first draft of the budget for the 2010 fiscal year is also heading to Congress soon after being unveiled by President Obama this morning. While details are still emerging, based on an address the president delivered Tuesday, it's likely that further funding for financial aid programs and higher education in general will be included.
While budgets are being hashed out and college aid is generally on its way up, more trouble may be brewing for student loans. A PLUS loan auction program slated to go into effect this summer could reduce the availability of these loans that parents take out on behalf of their students, at least at schools participating in the FFEL program. Financial aid officers have petitioned Congress to delay the scheduled cut in PLUS loan subsidies so as not to jeopardize students' ability to pay for school in the midst of a recession that has already driven dozens of banks away from one form of student lending or another.
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