October 19, 2012

Search for Scholarships with New Search Engine

Posted in Grants, Scholarships, The Financial Aid Process, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , at 1:11 PM by Joe From Boston

StudentScholarshipSearch.com has recently been redesigned and relaunched.  The goal of the new design is to provide better resources and tools for students in their search for scholarships and financial aid.  The new site offers a “Scholarship Matcher” tool allowing students to answer a few simple questions to get a short list of relevant scholarships.  Unlike other scholarship search sites wich require students to complete 3-5 pages of questions, StudentScholarshipSearch.com offers an open tool with no registration requirements.

Users are encouraged to search through custom lists of scholarships created by students, for students.  I especially like their “Tips and Advice” section.

March 19, 2012

Scholarship Search Advice

Posted in Grants, Saving for College, Scholarships, The Financial Aid Process tagged , , , , at 9:49 AM by plusloans

What are the best resources for students and parents when searching for scholarships?  To start, you need a plan.  Think about how much time you can spend on the process, how early you can start, who can help, etc.  Some advice – you can never start too early or get enough help.

I can provide a few links to resources but would love to get your thoughts and suggestions.

For searching, try the Student Scholarship Search website which offers a free open directory of thousands of awards, grants and scholarships.  Their new design offers tools for saving scholarships that are relevant and tips for improving your chances of qualifying.  They recently published Scholarship Search Mistakes which  lists the top 5 mistakes students make when searching for scholarships.

Another great site is http://www.scholarshippoints.com which gives out scholarships every month with a chance to win $10,000 every 3 months!

What are you favorite resources?  Do you have any advice for the rest of us??

January 27, 2011

Five websites to help pay for college

Posted in Parent PLUS Loans, Private Loans, Stafford Loans, Student Loan News, The Financial Aid Process, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , at 9:35 AM by plusloans

Here is a list of 5 useful websites from Edvisors that will help you pay for college:

1) http://www.StudentScholarshipSearch.com – Offers a free open directory of scholarships for college.

2) http://www.ScholarshipSearch.com – A college student membership rewards program; join, earn points, win free scholarships!

3) http://www.StudentLoanNetwork.com – Everything you need to know about student loans and a great overview of financial aid in general.

4) http://www.FinancialAidNews.com – Daily news updates on financial aid, scholarships and paying for college.

5) http://www.FinancialAidForum.com – A financial aid discussion board discussing all things relating to paying for college.

January 12, 2011

5 Financial Aid Tips for 2011

Posted in FAFSA, Parent PLUS Loans, Private Loans, Scholarships, Stafford Loans, Student Loan News, The Financial Aid Process tagged , , , , , , , at 1:19 PM by plusloans

Here is another list – this time about financial aid:

  1. Complete the FAFSA application to qualify for federal and institutional financial aid.  Applying early will increase your eligibility for aid.  Those who wait may loose out.
  2. Once you complete the FAFSA, apply for scholarships.  There are thousands of private and free scholarship programs.  Again, apply early to get the best chance of securing money for 2011.
  3. Research and apply for federal student loans.  These loans are great options.  The Stafford loan has a low rate and interest as well as payments are deferred until after graduation for the “subsidized” Stafford loan.
  4. Review private student loans and student loans from banks.  These loans offer some different options and may be at lower (variable) rates compared to the fixed plus loan rate.
  5. Dig deep into your savings – you’ll need it…

Good luck with funding the next year of school.  The costs continue to rise.

September 17, 2007

Scholarship Soap Box – Part 1

Posted in Grants, Scholarships, The Financial Aid Process tagged , , , , at 1:31 PM by Joe From Boston

Scholarships are all in the mind.

No, really, it’s true.

I hear from people alot that scholarships are hard to find and for such small denominations that they’re not worth it. My immediate response is “ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?”

People, lets look at this logically:

  • Scholarships
  • Student Loans
    • You MUST pay them back, plus interest
    • You often pay more than double the original loan amount.
    • Federal loans often don’t cover all your costs, forcing you to look at private lenders which have even higher interest rates

So you have to fill out an application and maybe write an essay. So what?

You spend 20 minutes writing an essay and another 10 minutes filling out the application, for a scholarship worth $500. If you win that scholarship, you’ve essentially been “working” for a “salary” of $1000 per hour. Man, I wish I could make that.

Yeah, $500 doesn’t sound like months when you’re chipping away at $30,000, but if you win 6 $500 scholarships you’ve just covered 10% of your college costs. That is definitely worth it.

If you’re avoiding scholarships, you’re just plain lazy and I would even say you don’t deserve the money.

Come back tomorrow for Part 2 of this rant.

November 22, 2006

Scholarship Scammers – avoid them!

Posted in Grants, Scholarships, Student Loan News, The Financial Aid Process tagged , , , at 2:29 PM by Joe From Boston

The St. Paul Pionner Press has a great article on scholarship scams that you all should read. I’m copying it below.  I’d recommend visiting StudentScholarshipSearch.com for some great scholarships – and it’s completely free!   Also, you can download the third edition of their eBook free in PDF format, Student Scholarship Secrets.  It’s jam-packed with lots of tools and hints for how to track down scholarships.

Scammers line path to college cash. Why pay for scholarship info — it’s plentiful and free
With tuition costs rising, the scholarship hunt has become as ingrained in the college experience as midnight studies over a hearty bowl of Ramen noodles. But as students and parents search for scholarship money, they can end up getting scammed out of their own cash.

That’s why St. Thomas University biology sophomore Michael Blissenbach thought twice about the letter he got in September from a company called USA Scholarship Services. It said he’d been selected to apply for up to $7,500 worth of scholarships “designed specifically for students majoring in biology.”

For $25, the company seems to offer customized scholarships, with a hint that the information can’t be found elsewhere.

So he sent in the money and agreed to let the Watchdog know what happened. In the meantime, she investigated further.

The company had no Web site, and it was difficult to get a real person on the phone. A Google search turned up a warning on the admissions office Web site for Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, cautioning students about USA Scholarship Services and advising them to call the Better Business Bureau.

The Better Business Bureau in Washington, D.C., where the company is located, listed USA Scholarship Services as having an unsatisfactory record. The bureau still has unresolved complaints on file regarding the company, said Edward Johnson, the bureau’s president and CEO. He noted the bureau has received 983 inquiries about the company in the past 12 months.

“We have concerns over their business practices,” Johnson said. “Primarily the advertising.”

College students or their parents typically receive an unsolicited letter indicating the company has specialized scholarship information for certain fields of study. But what arrives in the mail is nothing more than information the student could have found free on the Internet or from a school guidance counselor.

“There are a lot of red flags going up here,” said Barb Grieman, vice president of the local Better Business Bureau. That the company required payment for scholarship information, lacked a Web site and rarely had some available to speak to were warning signs that the company could be a scam, she said.

For Blissenbach, those warning signs proved true. A few weeks after he sent in his application and money, he received an envelope with 24 incomplete, photocopied scholarship offers, many with out-of-date information. Sixteen of them had nothing to do with biology.

Ike Onwo, the company’s owner, said it was Blissenbach’s fault for not reading the letter carefully.

“If you don’t like the services we offer, don’t fill out the application,” he said. “Whoever sent you this letter is just ignorant.” He insisted the original letter that goes out to students urges them to call for their money back if they’re unsatisfied with what they receive.

But the letter states only that you may get your money back if you “fail to qualify” for at least $1,000 in scholarships, and you have to send in proof that you applied for the scholarships and were denied.

Onwo also maintained this scholarship information couldn’t be found anywhere else.

Blissenbach disagrees.

“It was just a stack of photocopied information that looked like it was old — like it was written on a typewriter,” Blissenbach said. He added that he could have gotten better information through his school or from online databases at no charge.

Experts say that’s exactly what you should do.

Financial aid advisers can’t stress it enough — you shouldn’t have to pay for information on scholarships.

“Remember, the whole idea for a scholarship is that you don’t have the money, and you need to find it,” said Carrie Dieveney, who helps Century College students find financial aid.

Advisers at big universities and small community colleges alike said most of the scholarship information students need is available through their college or on the Internet. Any financial aid office could have found more accurate and complete information for Blissenbach, said Dianne Danov, associate director of the University of Minnesota’s Office of Student Finance, when she was shown what he got from USA Scholarship.

As for the company’s promise to find scholarships specific to his major, she said that’s something colleges can do, too.

Talk with an adviser or go to the school’s financial aid Web site, she says.

“Financial aid advisers are here to help students find a way to pay for college,” Danov said. “It’s our job.” “