Getting ready for the new G.I. Bill

December 5th, 2008 by AbbeyR

Most of us are familiar with advertisements created by the United States armed forces. A major selling point in a lot of these ads is the military’s promise to help servicemen and women pay for their college education.

To me, this idea seems pretty fair. Our country owes a lot to the men and women who defend the United States through military service at home and abroad. Offering our veterans a quality education when they return home is probably the least we can do to repay them.

Since the end of World War II – and the first version of the G.I. Bill – veterans’ circumstances have changed. Due to inflation, today’s Iraq and Afghanistan veterans’ benefits just don’t go as far as they used to.

This coming August, the new G.I. Bill will take effect. This version of the bill offers benefits to those who have served at least 90 continuous days of active military duty since September 11, 2001, or those who served at least 30 days and were discharged with a service-connected disability.

What does this mean for veterans and civilians?

Most likely, it means more veterans around college and university campuses. The new bill has been updated to accommodate rising education costs, so more veterans can pursue a higher-quality education.

The college experience can be daunting for some veterans who have grown used to a military-style daily routine. Civilian students should be welcoming and respectful to veterans they meet. Some veterans don’t mind answering questions about military life, but some would prefer more privacy.

If you want to get involved, many colleges have student veteran organizations. These groups can help veterans join a community, and can allow civilian students to reach out to veterans who have sacrificed so much for the rest of us.

 Sounds like a good thing to me!

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Make Money for College by Blogging

October 23rd, 2008 by admin

What would be easier than winning a scholarship for school? Blogging to earn money for school. We’ve discovered a great way to earn money for school and doing something almost anyone can start up: a blog.

With the forefront of technology, blogging has become trend that everyone has jumped on. No longer the case that you need an English or Journalism degree to write and have it published with the Wide World Web, getting your thoughts out there is easy.

CollegeScholarships.org is about rewarding those who share their thoughts, opinions and perspectives. Every year since 2006, Collegescholarships.org has held a blogging contest for people to win money for college.

The criteria isn’t too difficult, you just have to be enrolled in post-secondary education, have a blog that you are passionate about (no spam), be a United States citizen or permanent resident, and have your name and blog published on the website if you win. The scholarship awards a first prize of $10,000, and 2 runner-ups with $1,000 each. 

So, what are you waiting for? Explore your hidden talents of writing and put them to the test for a chance to win money for college. The deadline hasn’t passed if you already have a blog up and running. The submission date is October 15-30.  

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Want Federal Funds For College?

October 23rd, 2008 by LaciW

Need money to fund your education? Join the club. This year, the United States Federal Government will provide more than $83 billion for students just like you. And they make this cash available through a few Federal Student Aid Programs.

You’ll probably want to start looking at the programs that DON’T require repayment when you’re researching financial aid. This blog will talk a bit about the Federal Student Aid Programs that don’t come along with a payment plan

Federal Pell Grant
This is a monetary grant given to qualified undergraduate students. Eligibility based on financial need and you can qualify for more than $4,000.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
This is a monetary grant awarded to undergraduate students. Eligibility based on financial need and priority is given to applicants who qualify for Federal Pell Grants.

You can receive up to $4,000 a year or more – if you’re enrolled in a study abroad program

Federal Work-Study (FWS)
This program allows students to work part-time to earn money for college expenses. The school coordinates the job. You’ll earn at least minimum wage as an employee.

I’d also suggest that you research as many scholarships as possible. Even if you weren’t a straight-A student in high school with tons of community service – there’s tons of cash for people from every walk of life – you just have to be willing to do the leg work.

Free money for college is good, but most of us have to take out some loans. Because the Federal loans can be a bit trickier, and because you have to repay them, I’ll provide a bit more in-depth info on them in future blog posts. So, check back soon!

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Roadmap to College: Made by Students for Students

October 2nd, 2008 by ErinS

Are you questioning whether or not college is for you? Do you have concerns or doubts?  When I made the decision to attend college, finance was my number one concern. Other fears included wondering if I could handle the the college workload, if I was choosing the right program or the right school, if my family would support my decision and and many more. 

This kind of fear and self-doubt can prohibit many people from going to a college which can vastly improve their lives.  A new website, www.college.gov identifies these common concerns and shows ways to overcome them. There are testimonials from students across the country that have triumphed over challenges such as peer pressure, lack of family support, and financial barriers. Against the odds, these students made college a reality.

More features of the website:

  • Create your own roadmap.  No matter what year you are in high school, www.college.gov can create a personalized road map that will layout detailed steps necessary for getting to college.  You can keep the roadmap on your computer, or print it out and put it on your wall or in you locker.  Either way, this roadmap can put you on the path towards college!
  • Find the school for you.  Universities, community colleges, or vocational schools, whatever you are looking for, this website can help you find a school to fit your lifestyle.
  • Why go? What to do? How to pay?  www.college.gov  helps you realize reasons for going to school such as, increasing your income, finding your passion, proving your potential, growing with help and support, and lifting your family.  It also shows you the step for getting into college and payment options.
  • Information for everyone. The website is geared towards high school students but also gives information to parents, families, teachers and counselors.

What sets this website apart from other education sites is that it was made by students for students.  The creators of this website have pinpointed real concerns that high school students have about going to college.  Through their college roadmap, they give us the tools to overcome those obstacles. 

Anyone can make their dream of attending college a reality.  www.college.gov is one tool that can help.

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Tired of Carrying Around all Those Books?

September 18th, 2008 by admin

The campus bookstore is a familiar sight every semester. Students stand packed in line, their arms crowded with almost more books than they can hold.

But the future is changing.

Electronic book readers are really starting to pick up steam.  Instead of waiting in line and hauling a dozen books around, with ebook readers, students will be able to download the books instantly, and carry their entire semester’s worth of books on a single, lightweight device.

It’s already starting to happen.  This year, Penn State Universities Libraries and the English Department are beginning a project using the Sony Reader Digital Book, testing how useful having electronic book readers can be in a higher education setting.  And Plastic Logic has announced a new, larger electronic reading device that might just be perfect for academic textbooks!  Even library books are now becoming available electronically.

So this semester, go ahead and buy that backpack.  But who knows?  By next year, it might be out of style!

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CNN Money Says Education Can Break Minimum Wage Rut

July 25th, 2008 by admin

CNN Money has just released an article on how to get out of the minimum wage trap – where it feels like every penny you earn goes for expenses that keep increasing and even getting to work starts to look doubtful because of rising gas prices.

And it’s no surprise that the first two things on their list is education!  That by choosing an accredited school with a solid program – either at a local campus or online – you can increase opportunities.

Remember, even though programs can seem expensive at first, many schools offer plans to help make it more affordable. Financial aid may even be available for those who qualify.

So if you’re stuck in a dead-end job and trying to find your way out, you know what to do.  Look for the education.

Source:  http://money.cnn.com/2008/07/24/pf/saving/toptips/?postversion=2008072416

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Financial Aid Bootcamp: Understanding Financial Aid Terms

January 20th, 2008 by admin

The start of January is the unofficial start of the college financial aid craze. Although February is officially known as Financial Aid month, students can start preparing their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) after January 1. Understanding the financial aid process is the best way to secure money to pay for your education.

The financial aid office staff speaks a different language than most of us. You must learn that language to enjoy an effective and successful college aid search. Once you know the financial aid language, you can begin your search to fund your college education!

Important financial aid terms:
Expected Family Contribution (EFC) – This term refers to the amount of money your family has available to contribute to your college education. Schools base their aid awards on this number.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) – This application determines your eligibility for all federally funded financial aid programs and institutional aid for some schools.

Merit-Based Aid – Not all aid is created equal. Merit-based aid is the competitive financial aid that evaluates your abilities in academics, athletics, artistic abilities or some other talent or skill. Anyone can receive these aid awards regardless of need.

Need-Based Aid – All need-based aid is determined by your family’s resources.

Federal Pell Grant – The Pell Grant is the largest grant program and is designed to help the neediest students gain access to higher education. The maximum award of a Federal Pell Grant is $2,500.

Work-study – Most students find it necessary to work at least part-time while they are in school. Work-study is a need-based program that provides work opportunities for qualified students. The Federal Government covers a portion of the wages for this program.

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Scholarship Secrets

November 20th, 2007 by admin

I remember the spring semester of my senior year of high school. The scholarship awards banquets never seemed to end. I also remember my friend Andy saying to me after the last banquet, “Geez. They should have just called these all ‘The Cara Awards.’”

Yes, it’s true I was a good student, but that’s not what got my name called so many times. It was my determination.

I spent a lot of hours after school meeting with my counselor to find all of the scholarship opportunities offered by local businesses. I spent many hours in the evenings applying for these local opportunities. I fit it in between studying and filling out college applications. And not many other kids did. That made my competition a lot smaller, which in turn made my combined rewards a lot larger.

I didn’t win every local scholarship I applied for … but I did get about 80-90% of them. And all that extra work cut my potential college loans by half (if not more than half). My time invested into the local scholarship market was well worth it.

See, most high schoolers aim for the stars when it comes to scholarships. (Which isn’t an entirely bad thing.) You want the biggest scholarship out there, and so you pour all of your time and energy into applying for those.

Yes – it’s a great investment of your time. If you get the scholarship. But you know what? Investing time into small scholarships is well worth it, too! Even if they only sustain for 1 or 2 years, all of those added up can take a large chunk out of what you require for loans and make college much less expensive in the long run.

I actually ended up getting a pretty good academic scholarship to my first-choice school. But it was the smaller, local scholarships that made the biggest difference. By the time I was 5 years out of school, I already had my college loans paid off.

So, as you start applying for scholarship opportunities, leave no stone unturned. College is a huge and expensive investment. Every little bit of money you can get will help.

Learn more about scholarship opportunities.

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Finding the Funding – Special scholarships available to minority students

September 25th, 2007 by Alex Bachhuber Staff Writer

Almost every prospective college student wonders where the money is going to come from to go to college. Getting the most out of financial aid and scholarships can be a confusing and sometimes stressful process, so starting early and being educated about your options is the best way to keep the pressure off.

State and Federal Aid
To apply for state and federal aid, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) must be filled out. By completing this form, you are eligible for need-based grants, scholarships, work-study programs and loans from the state and federal government. To apply online or find more information, go to www.fafsa.ed.gov.

Private Scholarships
There are millions of dollars out there in a variety of scholarships. Private scholarships typically take some time to find and to apply for. A financial aid expert at Nelnet Enrollment Solutions, Craig Cornell, said, “Scholarships may be ‘free’ money, but you’ll find that the ‘price’ of finding ‘free’ money is the effort and perseverance you will need to uncover all of the opportunities out there.”

Cornell recommends looking at a variety of organizations. Check with your counselor for local scholarship information and then continue your search of community clubs, ethnic organizations, religious groups, education associations, veterans’ organizations and even local colleges.

The following web sites are great resources to find more information about scholarships and financial aid information. Use them, your high school counselor and financial aid professionals at your prospective schools as resources in your search for money to pay for college.

Nelnet
www.nelnet.com
Search a database of more than $8 million in scholarships, allowing you to narrow your search based on who you are, where you live and what you are interested in.

The Sallie Mae Fund
www.thesalliemaefund.org
Last year the Sallie Mae Fund gave out $2.5 million in college scholarships to low-income and minority students.

Hispanic College Fund
www.hispanicfund.org
Information about several scholarships for Hispanic students can be found here. Make sure to look under the resource section to find links to scholarships with a variety of qualifications and interests.

Ronald McDonald National Scholarship Program
www.mcdonalds.com/rmhc/index.html
The Ronald McDonald House Charity offers four scholarships to high school seniors through their chapters nationwide. You can find all the information about scholarships and how to reach the local chapters that offer them on the site.

Other informative sites and scholarships to look at:
The United Negro College Fund
www.uncf.org

The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation
www.cbcfinc.org

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute
www.chci.org

Hispanic Scholarship Fund
www.hsf.net

Coca-Cola Scholars
www.coca-colascholars.org

The Gates Millennium Scholars
www.gmsp.org

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Understanding financial aid, student loans and borrowing money for college

April 16th, 2007 by admin

The cost of a college education will continue to rise, so for most students, paying for school outright is just not possible. However, financial aid and student loans can be daunting and confusing. Consider this advice from Citibank to keep your education loan habits responsible.

“Even with savings, gifts from family, and scholarships and grants, you may find that you need additional funding to pay for your higher education. Student loans can make up the difference between what you have and what you need to make your college dream a reality. Unlike scholarships and grants, however, borrowed money must be repaid, most often with interest, regardless of whether you complete your education or not.

Borrow Only What You Need
While you may qualify for more, borrow only the amount you need. Loans are your responsibility and you are expected to repay them. When you repay your loan on time, you create and build an excellent credit history. This will help you in your future when making purchases such as a car or a home.

Here are some helpful points to consider:

  • Estimate the amount of debt you can afford – don’t get in over your head.
  • Understand your borrowing agreement fully – including all interest calculations.
  • Stay on schedule – remember your excellent credit history is at stake.
  • Read the rest of this entry »

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