Archive for the ‘Scholarships & Financial Aid’ Category

Understanding Your Financial Aid Award Letter

financial-aid-101

As a former college and career adviser, I’ve witnessed countless students anxiously awaiting the arrival of their financial aid award letters.

For many of you, receiving your award letters from your colleges or universities is the most important part of your entire college decision process. Your award letter is the document that will outline your financial aid package from each school: the total cost of attendance, expected family contribution, scholarships, grants, loans, and what has to be paid out-of-pocket. If only reading and understanding these award letters was an easy task.

No worries, we are here to help!

If you are having a hard time reading and comprehending your award letters, you are not alone. Many award letters/award packages from colleges are often difficult to understand, especially if you are the first person in your family to attend college.

The first step to understanding your award letters is to decipher the amount you’re being given, the amount you’re borrowing, the amount you must pay out-of-pocket, and if all of these amounts cover the total cost.

The Basics

Cost of Attendance (COA): How much the college predicts it will cost for you to attend their school (usually for one year). This will be the largest number on your award letter. Typically it includes the price of tuition, room and board, books and supplies, transportation, fees, and miscellaneous expenses. The items included in the COA can vary from school to school. It is important to note that you cannot take out a student loan that is more than the amount of your total cost of attendance.

Direct Costs: This is what HAS to be paid in order to be an enrolled student at a college. Usually this balance must be paid off before a college will allow you to enroll in classes the following semester. Examples include tuition, fees, and room and board (if you live on campus).

Indirect Costs: An estimated amount the college predicts you may need to pay as an enrolled student on their campus. Because a student can never take out a student loan beyond the amount of the COA, the indirect costs are figured in to assist any student that cannot pay for these expenses out-of-pocket (and thus need to take out a loan to cover the cost). Examples include books, supplies, transportation, personal expenses, and miscellaneous expenses. A student can still enroll in classes for the following term without these items being “paid for.” They are just suggested amounts in order to help the families better prepare.

Private Scholarships: Money you’re being given because you applied and received a scholarship through a program or organization. This is money you will not have to pay back.

Institutional Scholarships/Grants: This is also money you do not have to pay back. It is money that has been awarded to you by the college, and it can be based off of a number of requirements, such as GPA, intended major, athletics, etc.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC): This is the amount your school believes your family is able to contribute toward your college education. Usually this amount is based off of information from your FAFSA.

Loans: Money that is borrowed to pay for college that you must pay back (plus interest) once you have graduated or if you ever drop below part-time status.

Grants: Money that’s being given to you that you do not have to pay back. This funding can come from the college, the state, or a federal program.

Work-Study: The amount of money you’ll receive toward your college costs in return for working on campus. This money must be earned in order to receive it.

Total Award: The total amount of money you’re receiving in financial aid through loans, grants, scholarships, and work study.

Financial Need: This is your “gap” in financial aid. In other words, this is your COA minus all other financial aid, otherwise known as the money you and your family will have to pay out-of-pocket to cover the remainder of your expenses.

Questions to Consider before Accepting Your Financial Aid

- For the EFC, do my parents/guardians really have this amount to put toward my education? If not, then you’ll have to add this amount to your out-of-pocket expenses.

- Can I expect these grants/scholarships every year? Pay close attention to whether your “free-money” is renewable (received every year), or it is a one-time award. If you are being offered one-time awards, will you able to pay for this school in subsequent years?

- Will I be able to maintain the requirements needed to keep this scholarship?

- Am I able and willing to work on campus through a work-study program in addition to going to school?

If upon reviewing your award letter, you discover you still don’t have enough money to pay for college, there are a few options you can take. You can apply for private student loans through a bank, look into tuition payment plans, or apply for more scholarships on Cappex.

If you still have any additional or specific questions regarding your award letters, be sure to reach out to the financial aid offices of your colleges and universities.

Image credit: fortscott.edu

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63 Scholarships with May 2014 Deadlines

dollar_flower_iStock_000005779382XSmallWinter is finally over and spring is here! Celebrate by applying for one of these great scholarships before they expire in May.

1. American Academy of Chefs College Scholarships

Deadline: May 1      Award: varies
For culinary or pastry arts majors

2. Engineering Technology Scholarship

Deadline: May 1      Award: $3,000 – $5,000
For engineering technology majors preparing for a career in the HVACR profession

3. Congressional Black Caucus Spouses Heineken USA Performing Arts Scholarship

Deadline: May 1      Award: $3,000
For students pursuing a career in the performing arts

4. Congressional Black Caucus Spouses Visual Arts Scholarship

Deadline: May 1      Award: $3,000
For students pursuing a career in the visual arts

5. Scholarship for Students who are Hard of Hearing or Deaf

Deadline: May 1      Award: $1,000
For students who are deaf or hard of hearing

6. MG James Ursano Dependent Children of Soldiers Scholarship Program

Deadline: May 1      Award: $1,000
For children of soldiers

7. Ecolab Scholarship

Deadline: May 1      Award: $1,000 – $2,000
For hospitality majors

8. Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Foundation Scholarship

Deadline: May 1      Award: $1,000 – $3,000
For Hispanic students majoring in science, technology, engineering, math, or a related field

9. Friends of Scott Foundation Scott Delgadillo College Scholarship

Deadline: May 1      Award: $1,000
For cancer survivors or current cancer patients

10. IAPMO Scholarship Essay Contest

Deadline: May 1      Award: $1,000
Must write an essay on a given topic related to energy and the plumbing/mechanical industry

11. MedPro Rx, Inc. “Education is Power” Scholarship

Deadline: May 1      Award: $500 – $2,500
For students with hemophilia or von Wildebrand disease

12. Swim with Mike Physically Challenged Athletes Scholarship

Deadline: May 1      Award: varies
For student athletes who have sustained a life-changing accident or illness

13. DutchCrafters Amish Furniture Heritage Scholarship

Deadline: May 1      Award: $500
Must write an essay on a given topic related to your cultural heritage

14. Levitt Comninos Carlotti Foundation Scholarship

Deadline: May 1      Award: $500 – $4,000
For students with a terminally ill or deceased parent

15. Math-O-Vision Contest

Deadline: May 1      Award: $1,000 – $4,000
Must create a video inspired by mathematics

16. Yes! Grace Rocks, Inc. Scholarship

Deadline: May 1      Award: $250
For students majoring in speech, physical, occupational, or music therapy, special education, or nursing

17. Bill Dickey Scholarship

Deadline: May 2      Award: $1,000 – $3,500
For students who participate in golf

18. East Villagers Service Scholar Contest

Deadline: May 2      Award: $150 – $500
Must submit an essay or piece of artwork related to community service and volunteerism

19. CVS Pharmacy, Inc Business Scholarships

Deadline: May 2      Award: $5,000
For business majors

20. MassMutual Scholars

Deadline: May 2      Award: $2,500 – $5,000
For students pursuing an undergraduate degree

21. UCB Family Epilepsy Scholarship Program

Deadline: May 5      Award: $5,000
For students living with or caring for someone with epilepsy

22. Los Hermanos de Stanford Scholarship

Deadline: May 5      Award: $1,000
For Latino/a students

23. James J. Davis Memorial Scholarship for Students Studying Abroad

Deadline: May 5      Award: $1,000
For students studying abroad

24. Ayn Rand “We the Living” Essay Contest

Deadline: May 6      Award: $25 – $3,000
Must write an essay on the book “We the Living” by Ayn Rand

25. Candice’s Sickle Cell Scholarship Fund

Deadline: May 6      Award: $1,500
For students with sickle cell disease

26. University Language Services Scholarship

Deadline: May 7      Award: $100 – $500
For students who plan to study abroad or have studied abroad in the past

27. Marketing EDGE Student Marketing Scholarships

Deadline: May 9      Award: $1,000 – $5,000
For students pursuing a career in marketing

28. Google Science Fair

Deadline: May 12      Award: $25,000 – $50,000
Must create a science project in one of the specified categories

29. Brower Youth Awards for Environmental Leadership

Deadline: May 12      Award: $3,000
For students who have demonstrated outstanding activism and achievements on a project or campaign with positive environmental and social impact

30. Educate It Forward ELL Hispanic Heritage Scholarship

Deadline: May 14      Award: $1,000
For ELL students of Hispanic descent

31. National Collegiate Cancer Foundation Scholarship

Deadline: May 15      Award: $1,000
For cancer survivors or current cancer patients

32. James Beard Foundation Scholarship Program

Deadline: May 15      Award: $2,000 – $20,000
For students enrolled in culinary school

33. ESA Foundation Scholarship Program

Deadline: May 15      Award: $3,000
For women and/or minority students pursuing a career in computer and video game arts

34. ThanksUSA Scholarship

Deadline: May 15      Award: $3,000
For dependents and spouses of military service personnel

35. Heinlein Society Scholarship

Deadline: May 15      Award: $750
For students majoring in engineering, math, physical science, or science fiction as literature

36. Jane Austen Society of North America Essay Contest

Deadline: May 15      Award: $250 – $1,000
Must write an essay in response to a given question related to “Mansfield Park” by Jane Austen

37. Society of Women Engineers Scholarships

Deadline: May 15      Award: $1,000 – $10,000
For women majoring in engineering, engineering technology, or computer science

38. Conestoga Bank “Future of Banking” Scholarship

Deadline: May 15      Award: $1,000
Must write an essay on a topic related to the future of banking

39. Alphonso Deal Scholarship

Deadline: May 16      Award: $500
For students studying law enforcement or criminal justice

40. KODAK Student Scholarship Award

Deadline: May 16      Award: $3,000 – $4,000
For students pursuing a degree in film, film production, or cinematography

41. Ray Greenly Scholarship

Deadline: May 16      Award: $10,000 – $25,000
For students majoring in an area relevant to digital retail

42. Go Overseas Study Abroad Scholarship

Deadline: May 19      Award: $500
For students who are applying to a study abroad program

43. NURSE Corps Scholarship Program

Deadline: May 22      Award: varies
For students enrolled in a professional nursing degree program

44. I’m First Scholarship

Deadline: May 23      Award: $1,000
For first-generation college students

45. Leroy F. Aarons Scholarship Award

Deadline: May 23      Award: $3,000
For students pursuing a career in journalism and who demonstrate awareness of the issues facing the LGBT community and the importance of fair and accurate news coverage

46. A Voice for Animals Contest

Deadline: May 25      Award: $150 – $750
For students who have actively participated in projects that promote the humane treatment of animals

47. Jack & Jill of America Foundation Scholarship

Deadline: May 25      Award: $1,500 – $2,500
For African-American students

48. National Sculpture Society Scholarship

Deadline: May 30      Award: $2,000
For students studying sculpture

49. FMAA Scholarship Program

Deadline: May 30      Award: $1,000
Must submit a video explaining what the American flag means to you

50. “Launch Your Dreams” Scholarship Competition

Deadline: May 30      Award: $2,500
For US veterans and children and spouses of US veterans

51. Abercrombie & Fitch Future Leaders Scholarship

Deadline: May 30      Award: $1,000
For students pursuing a degree in business

52. Fraser Institute Essay Contest

Deadline: May 30      Award: $500 – $1,000
Must write an essay in response to a given topic about capitalism

53. PBA/NCA Minerva Beauty Scholarship

Deadline: May 30      Award: $1,000
For students enrolled in a cosmetology program

54. Kerope Zildjian Scholarship Competition

Deadline: May 30      Award: $5,000
For student percussionists enrolled in a music program

55. Margarian Scholarship

Deadline: May 30      Award: $1,000
For high school juniors and seniors, college/university students, and graduate students

56. American Dream Essay Contest

Deadline: May 30      Award: $1,000
Must write an essay about the American Dream

57. Chely Wright LIKE ME Scholarship

Deadline: May 31      Award: $1,250
For students who have actively advocated for LGBT issues

58. Odebrecht Award for Sustainable Development

Deadline: May 31      Award: $5,000 – $20,000
For students pursuing a degree in engineering, architecture, building and construction management, or chemistry

59. “Out of the Easy” College Scholarship Essay Contest

Deadline: May 31      Award: $5,000
Must write an essay in response to a quote from “David Copperfield” by Charles Dickens

60. Inheritance of Hope Legacy Scholarship

Deadline: May 31      Award: $1,000
For students living with a terminally ill parent

61. Krylon Clear Choice Art Scholarship

Deadline: May 31      Award: $1,000
For students majoring in the visual arts

62. Catina Rose Memorial Scholarship

Deadline: May 31      Award: varies
For students who have been victims of crime or are victim survivors of crime

63. Triple-Impact Competitor Scholarship Program

Deadline: May 31      Award: $1,000 – $2,000
For students who play for a sports team or participate in club sports

Find these and thousands more scholarships on Cappex today!

Photo credit: ttvnol.com

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The Scholarship Marathon: Final Checklist

We’re nearly there – only one more day until the Scholarship Marathon! We’re excited for the event and hope to see you tomorrow for a full day of scholarships, webinars, raffles, and giveaways. Remember, the event runs all day tomorrow from 9am-9pm CST.

Scholarship-Marathon-Logo

If you haven’t registered yet, get started online at this link.

We’ve provided a few tips for last minute preparations to help you get off to a strong start and apply for as many scholarships as you can Saturday.

  • Make sure your Cappex profile is up to date after registering and browse through your list of scholarship matches. Use Competition and Effort ratings to prioritize your matches.
  •  If you have essays to start or complete, now’s the time to do so. Have a trusted mentor, friend, or family member review or proofread your scholarship application materials and provide feedback.
  • If your scholarship applications require supplemental materials such as transcripts and test scores, print and compile these details before the big day.
  • Lastly, but perhaps most importantly make sure your computer and internet connection are working. Whether you’re accessing the event online at home, the library, or any other location, find a space where you’ll be able to focus and take great notes.  If you share a computer with family members, make sure everyone knows you will need it during the marathon Saturday.

Throughout the day, you can upload proof of your completed scholarship applications on our site. Each application will be considered for hourly raffles of Amazon gift cards ranging from $25 to $100. Entries will also be considered for the $1,000 Scholarship Marathon Scholarship!

We’ll have plenty of chatrooms for you to visit where our team and scholarship experts will provide you advice about the scholarship process from how to pay for college to how to write more persuasive essays. You can also look forward to three awesome webinars hosted by different experts in the college and scholarship world:

11am CST: The Science Behind the Ultimate Scholarship Essay with Diane Melville of Transfer Bootcamp

1pm CST: Class of 2015 - How to Prepare for Your Future with Erin Howell of Cappex

3pm CST: Winning Big Money Scholarships with Klondy Canales of Scholarship Junkies

We hope you’ll join us for the Marathon tomorrow!