Posts Tagged ‘grants’

Breaking Down Confusing Financial Aid Awards

Sure, writing college essays, asking for teacher recommendations, getting the grades, and everything else that goes into your college applications is a pain. But at least it’s a pain point you can precisely target and attack by submitting your applications before the deadlines.

Financial aid, on the other hand, is a much more challenging beast to tame. Getting and understanding your financial aid award is so gosh darn confusing. And it’s not even your fault! It’s the way colleges have traditionally illustrated a student’s financial aid award that’s the problem (one of them at least).

The College Solution‘s Lynn O’Shaughnessy explains that award letters are misleading. They often make parents think that their student received a big scholarship to help pay for college when in fact, the award letter is padded with loans. When it comes time to figure out how much out of pocket a family will have to pay for college by subtracting the awarded aid, students’ families don’t realize that some of that aid includes loans that will accrue interest and push up costs in the longer run.

Yes. This is a bummer. But if you’re in the know, you can make a better decision on where you should enroll if cost is a big factor in your choice. Read in between the lines. Compare your college financial aid awards and make sure you know which includes loans and not just all scholarships and grants.

Don’t not fret (too much). This issue has not gone unnoticed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Department of Education, which announced a plan to simplify the aid letters so that families can assess a school’s true cost and make comparisons more easily and knowledgeably. In fact, they want YOUR feedback on the draft of the form.

You can give your feedback here:

Here is the draft of the proposed financial aid letter. Notice that it provides the total cost of attendance, which is often an evasive subject, the loans are separate from the scholarships and grants, and monthly loan payments following graduation are included.

















Would knowing what kind of monthly payments graduation help you make a more informed choice on which college you should enroll in? Leave a comment below on what you think about this issue!

7 Scholarship Applications for Students to Complete Before 2012

There are so many scholarship opportunities out there, and as a blogger for Cappex, I feel it is my pseudo-superhuman duty to bestow some of them upon you for you to click on.

Students get so severely stressed out about finding scholarships even though there are thousands upon thousands upon thousands of scholarships out there to be had. A little work just has to go into it. Maybe some organization, some time to actually apply, some more time to review your work, and maybe a little more time to make it extra super appealing to whoever will be reading your application.

Just because you apply for a scholarship doesn’t mean you’ve done a good job at showing the scholarship providers that you deserve it. But you probably do deserve a nice hunk of free money; so take the time these scholarship applications probably deserve instead of just crossing your fingers that some Wizard of Oz type person will just pick your name out of a hat. Give youself a step up!

Start now. See if you’re a match for these scholarships, all due before 2012.

1. Dr Pepper Million Dollar Tuition Giveaway
Deadline: December 31
Award range: $2,500-$100,000
Quick fact: Open to high school juniors through college juniors, Dr Pepper will be awarding 50 different students with big, like really big, scholarships.

2. Scholarship
Deadline: December 14
Award range: $500-$10,000
Quick fact: This scholarship’s application process shouldn’t take more than an hour or so.

3. Most Valuable Student Award
December 2
Award range: $1,000-$15,000
Quick fact: Open to all high school students, this scholarship is renewable, which means it actually can add up to $60,000 total!

4. Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum Student Essay Contest
November 11
Award range: $50-$100
Quick fact: Available for all high school students.

5. STOP hunger Scholarships
December 5
Award range: $5,000
Quick fact: All grades, high school and up, with volunteer or community service are eligible to apply for this renewable scholarship–remember, renewable.

6. Imagine America Scholarship Program
December 31
Average award: $1,000
Quick fact: High school seniors and college freshman must be attending or plan to attend a participating US career college.

7. Ecologist Initiative Scholarship
December 31
Average award: $850
Quick fact: This scholarship is meant to engage young people from around the world in environmental clean-up and conservation projects. If that’s passion of yours, apply!

Will you apply to any of these? How much time do you spend on scholarships applications?

The Best Colleges for Financial Aid

graduate piggyU.S. News & World Report recently published a report that only 63 colleges are actualy able to meet students’ full financial needs.  Financial need is the difference between tuition cost and a student’s expected family contribution as calculated by FAFSA or the institution itself.  That discrepancy is then made up by schools that claim to meet full need through grants and loans.

Students also spend hours searching for college scholarships to fill that gap to pay for college.

Here is was U.S. News & World Report said about the Best Colleges for Financial Aid:

During the recent recession, numerous schools striving to meet the full financial needs of students were unable to do so because of shrinking endowments, dwindling donations, and sharp decreases in state funding. Though the economic recovery is far from over, some schools are now able to offer more than they have in the past…

…[Sixty-three] schools out of more than 1,700 surveyed by U.S. News that claim to meet their students’ full financial need. All schools listed report that they meet 100 percent of need for all students. Several schools including Vanderbilt University and Johns Hopkins University were a few percentage points shy of meeting full need, but were not included in the table:

Amherst College
Barnard College
Bates College
Boston College

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