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Archive | December, 2010

Year End Round-Up: Education Loans

Year End Round-Up: Education Loans

As we continue our year end round-up series I thought that education loans would be a good topic to highlight. Education loans (federal and private) are an important tool that many families and students utilize to gain access to a college education when all other resources have been exhausted. The following is a list reflecting a few of my favorite education loan articles posted on CheapScholar.org this last year. Enjoy!

EDUCATION LOANS

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Year End Round-Up: Saving For College

Year End Round-Up: Saving For College

As we continue our year end round-up series, I thought it would be a great idea to share with you some of my favorite articles from the last year related to Saving For College. Hope you find these posts informative! If you know of anyone else that can benefit from this information, please feel free to utilize the “share tab” below to pass it on.

SAVING FOR COLLEGE

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Year End Round-Up: Financial Aid & Scholarships

Year End Round-Up: Financial Aid & Scholarships

Hope everyone is having a great holiday season with their loved ones. I know I am. In order to round out the year in good CheapScholar.org fashion, I will be posting a few articles this week reflecting some of my personal favorites from the past year.

The following are some great articles related to financial aid and scholarships. Feel free to check them out and enjoy!

SCHOLARSHIPS & FINANCIAL AID

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Save Money! Complete A Bachelors Degree In 2 Years!

Save Money! Complete A Bachelors Degree In 2 Years!

Getting a Bachelors degree in under 5 or 6 years seems to be the goal of most college students these days. Four years is the normal time frame but many are starting to find ways to shave semesters off of their education programs and complete their degree requirements in as little as three years. If you think this is amazing, you are really going to like what the University of the District of Columbia is rolling out.

UDC is implementing a 2 year Bachelors degree program in affiliation with a couple of local area high schools. It is hard to imagine that anyone can complete a Bachelors degree in two years but UDC has come up with a plan to maximize post-secondary participation in these high schools so that essentially students would be graduating from high school with enough college credits to start out as juniors at UDC. The 2 + 4 program is still in the planning stages and requires a little tweaking before the final roll out is scheduled but it is on target to be presented to freshman entering high school next year.

So, if you are living in the D.C. area and have a student that is thinking about a streamlined approach to getting a Bachelors degree, you probably ought to keep the University of District of Columbia in your sights. The potential savings that you could experience on college tuition could be astounding.

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College Grads and Salaries (video)

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The Best Online College Savings Planner.. EVER

The Best Online College Savings Planner.. EVER

Establishing a college savings plan for your children could possibly be one of the most important things you can do to ensure their future success in going to college. The two most popular questions I get from families is “How much should I save?” and “When should I start?”. The answers for these questions can get pretty complicated depending on each family’s particular situation (income, assets, number and age of kids, etc…). However, my quick and easy response is to save often and save early.

You should contribute to a college savings plan as consistently as feasible and as much as you are financially able. A good number of families start by just having a portion of each paycheck automatically deposited into a separate savings account. Then at the end of each year they withdraw the accumulated funds and deposit them into a 529 college savings plan. It is a fairly simple approach but it gets the job done and over the years you will be surprised out how your investment will grow.

Online College Savings Planner

The following tool provided by Archimedes Systems is probably one of the best college savings calculators I have come across. It allows you to input a number of variables to help you come up with the recommended amount that you should plan on saving for college. It even has the ability to factor in up to five children of varying age. Once you are complete with filling out the form and feel you can’t tweak it anymore, you can view and print out a final college savings plan report to hang up on your fridge. If you would like to get started with your own personal approach to college savings, just click on the picture below and you will be swept away to financial bliss as you feel resolved in knowing that you have a plan in place to start your college savings.

Posted in Paying For College0 Comments

CU Provides Extra Cash For Students To Finish Degree

CU Provides Extra Cash For Students To Finish Degree

In our Spotlight Series we like to bring attention to colleges, universities, and organizations that are making a difference in the lives of students and families that are navigating the financial aspect of higher education. Today’s Spotlight is shining upon the University of Colorado.

In an effort to help boost degree completion for students that once attended CU but for some reason or the other did not finish their degree requirements, Colorado University is offering scholarship assistance to get them back on track.

The University is sending out letters to over 500 students that pre-qualify for this scholarship program and is offering $500 and $1000 scholarships for anyone that takes them up on returning to CU. Students that take between one and eight credit hours are eligible for $500 and any accepted student taking over 9 credit hours gets $1000. The University has set aside $50,000 for this scholarship program.

Eligibility for the scholarship program is reserved for students that have at least a 2.0 GPA and the greatest consideration is given to students over the age of 25 who have already completed 60 or more credit hours.

If you are interested in learning more about the Colorado University Complete program, you can find additional information here.

CheapScholar.org would like to acknowledge Colorado University for their efforts (and scholarship dollars) to help students complete their educational experience and obtain a bachelors degree. Hopefully their initiative can serve as a good example for other colleges.

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Blind Friendly Scholarships And Colleges

Blind Friendly Scholarships And Colleges

Going to college can be challenging but having a physical disability and going to college can be an entirely different experience all together. Fortunately, I have had the opportunity to witness a number of college campuses across the nation equip themselves to be “disability friendly” over the years in hopes of increasing the accessibility of their programs to ALL students. The following is a scholarship program for the legally blind and the results of a recent study utilized to rank college websites and their ability to meet the needs of blind students. Hope you find this information helpful.

Scholarship Opportunity For The Blind

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) is starting to accept applications for the 2011 scholarship season. The value of this scholarship could be from $3,000 to $12,000. In addition to the scholarship, each recipient will receive assistance to attend the annual NFB convention held in July.

Here are the Eligibility Requirements:

  1. must be legally blind (PDF document) in both eyes (the government defines blindness as having a central visual acuity of 20/200 or less after using corrective lenses or having a visual field with 20 degees of vision or less, counting both eyes together.), and
  2. must be residing in the United States, the District of Columbia, or Puerto Rico, and
  3. must be pursuing or planning to pursue a full-time, postsecondary course of study in a degree program at a United States institution in the 2011 scholastic year, except that one scholarship may be given to a person employed full-time while attending school part-time, and
  4. must participate in the entire NFB national convention and in all scheduled scholarship program activities.

Applicants have until March 31st to submit all necessary applications and documentation. The following links provide narratives from past scholarship winners that could be helpful in securing your spot as a scholarship recipient this year:

If you would like more information about this scholarship opportunity, you can contact Chairperson Patti Chang via email at scholarships@nfb.org or call (410) 659-9314 ext. 2415. You can also find answers to frequently asked questions here.

Blind Friendly Colleges (from a website perspective)

The federal government has already mandated (ADA 1990) that every college in the nation receiving Title IV funding (Federal Financial Aid) make deliberate attempts at being as accommodating as possible when it comes to legally blind students. Most colleges have met or exceeded expectations in this area but my guess is that there is still probably room for improvement on some campuses.

Jon Gunderson is employed as a coordinator of assisted communication and technology at the University of Illinois and he recently completed a research project to identify the best and worst college websites for blind students. His study examined over 183 institutions (and their accompanying websites) and utilized the following criteria to provide an overall ranking score.

1. The Web site must have text where a browser’s text reader will pick it up. The same must be true for all Web pages on the site.
2. All additional headings on a page must contain text, and font sizes need to be ordered largest to smallest, consecutively.
3. All elements of online applications need to be properly labeled so that text readers will find them. Such elements include: password boxes, radio buttons, file buttons, check boxes, “select” buttons, “submit” buttons, and “reset” buttons.
4. If you use a table to display information, include proper tags in the cells: “th” tags to indicate categories and “td” tags to indicate data.
5. If there is a picture included anywhere on the Web site, there should be text, coded for text readers, describing the picture.
6. Tables should be used only for organizing data in rows and columns. If you are designing a Web site, use a cascading style sheet instead of a table.

Based upon this research, the following is a ranking of the top ten schools and their “Blind Friendly Score”. My hunch would be that the schools at the top of this website ranking would also be a great match for a legally blind student. However, an excellent online environment doesn’t necessarily dictate a blind friendly campus environment – so take these ranking with a grain of salt.

School – Rank – BF Score

Missouri State U. 1- 91.8
California State U. at Northridge 2- 87.2
Calif. Polytechnic State U. at San Luis Obispo 3- 82.6
U. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 4- 82.2
Indiana U. at Bloomington 5- 81.2
California State U.-Channel Islands 6- 80.7
Oregon Institute of Technology 7- 79.3
Nevada State College 8- 78.1
U. of Evansville 9- 77.6
California State U. at Chico 10- 77.3
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