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Want Free College? San Francisco Has Just What You Need!

Want Free College? San Francisco Has Just What You Need!

One of the downsides of getting the college experience is that you usually have to pay for it. Depending on which school you go to, some may pay more than others. But what if the financial factor was removed from the educational equation and all you needed to do was show up and be passionate about learning (or teaching).

A new initiative is coming out of the heart of San Francisco (actually out of the basement of a local store) and it is being referred to as the Free University of San Francisco. Alan Kaufman is the brain-child of this new educational experience. He came up with the idea in December of 2010 and by February 5th the Free University opened its doors and started providing free lectures for all those in attendance.

For a number of years, colleges have shared their databases providing lectures, class notes, tests and assignments to self taught learners via the internet. What the Free University of San Francisco brings to the table that makes them a little different is the human element. Their classes are not taught via YouTube, they don’t have online chat rooms for discussion, and they don’t require a WIFI connection to participate. All you have to do is stop by the basement classroom of Viracocha and apparently you had better come early because space is limited and seats go fast to hear the lecture series provided by volunteer instructors.

Free University of San Francisco does have a commonality with most free colleges in that they are not accredited. So you won’t be getting a transcript for your completed coursework or an officially recognized diploma for the wall in your study. Fortunately though, you also won’t be accumulating a mountain load of education debt (unless you count the knickknacks you purchase from the store on your way down the stairs to class).

If you would like to learn more about the Free University of San Francisco, feel free to stop by their website. The next round of courses start in March and they are all held at 998 Valencia Street. The storefront might say Viracocha, but likened to a speakeasy, the basement serves a purpose far greater…

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Saving For College In Kindergarten

Saving For College In Kindergarten

I don’t know this guy but I like his philosophy on saving for education. Gavin Newsom is the mayor of San Francisco and he has high hopes of every student going to college regardless of their economic status. His convictions on this topic are so strong that he is committed to starting a college savings account for every kindergarten student attending a public school in San Francisco.

The savings account will be opened with $50 ($100 for lower income students) and will be directly funded by the city.This savings program is going to roll out to 25% of the incoming kindergartners this coming fall, 50% the following year, and continue gradually until all incoming kindergartners are receiving a college savings account upon enrollment. In addition, families who contribute $100 to the savings program during the first year will receive a matching donation from a local foundation called EARN

“I believe that every single child should be born not necessarily into wealth, but into opportunity,” Newsom said. “Once a mind is stretched, it can never go back.”

“It’s all about building aspirations – knowing they have a shot at being successful,” said city Treasurer Jose Cisneros, who developed the program with Newsom

I know that Gavin’s idea is probably going to come under fire and draw some scrutiny as his community is experiencing the same budget constraints that many states and cities are facing in our nation. However, I applaud him for his efforts and I hope his program is successful in changing the outcome for some of these students and providing them with the option of obtaining a college education.

On a side note, I was recently at the hospital (birth of our third child) and I was astonished by all the free things (product samples) and educational pamphlets that they provided us before we were discharged and headed home. I am wondering if a college savings informational brochure should be part of that mix? I am a firm believer that it is never too early to start a college savings account for your children.

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30% Tuition Fee Increase… Are You Serious?

30% Tuition Fee Increase… Are You Serious?

tuitionincreaseSometimes I come across information that I know for sure just has to be someone trying to pull my leg. When I read about a thirty percent increase in tuition last week, I knew that it could not be true and that it had to be a ploy to capture my attention.

Unfortunately though, the information is very true and downright scary. Those students and families going to school and living in California know that their state is making some serious decisions to try and bring the budget back under control. One of the largest expenditures (next to the prison system) is that of the state higher education system. Even though Governor Schwarzenegger pledged earlier this year to spare the education system from future budget cuts, it appears that the option is back on the table.

“California’s $20 billion deficit will make it hard for the [state’s] legislature to provide funding to the schools,” said Patrick Lenz, UC Berkeley’s budget administrator.

Given the cuts that are planned to happen, the University of California stated that a thirty percent increase in tuition for 2010-2011 is inevitable. They say that is the only way they are going to be able to provide the services and education that students are accustomed to. Unfortunately, this sizable tuition increase is still not going to solve all of their financial woes. It is estimated that they will still have a hole in the budget of approximately $237 million dollars.

At first glance you may think a thirty percent increase in tuition costs is extreme and hard to stomach. That type of pricing increase doesn’t sit well with anyone. However, the annual tuition rate at public colleges and universities in the California state system is around $7,000. This is relatively low in comparison to other state higher education systems and it is extremely low if you compare it to a private education price tag.

Does this make the thirty percent increase more palpable? I don’t know.. but it does sound like students graduating from the California college scene have been getting a great deal on their educational expenses. The unfortunate part is that it appears this great pricing structure is about to make a shift that is more in line with the rest of the country.

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Cal Grant Application Deadline Set for March 2nd

Cal Grant Application Deadline Set for March 2nd

calgrantThe California Student Aid Commission is officially starting to accept applications for the Cal Grant program. Students who qualify for this program can receive up to $9,700 per year to attend any public California college and most private and independent colleges. The Cal Grants can cover tuition, books, living expenses, and other necessary classroom supplies.

To be eligible for a Cal Grant students must:

  • Submit the FAFSA and your verified Cal Grant GPA by the deadline
  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen (your parents don’t need to be citizens or eligible non-citizens)
  • Be a California resident when you graduated from high school
  • Have a Social Security number
  • Attend a qualifying California college
  • Not have a bachelor’s or professional degree (except for Cal Grant A and B extended awards for a teaching credential program)
  • Have financial need based on your college costs
  • Have family income and assets below the established ceilings
  • Meet any minimum GPA requirements
  • Be in a program leading to an undergraduate degree or certificate
  • Be enrolled at least half time
  • Have registered with U.S. Selective Service (most males)
  • Not owe a refund on a state or federal grant, or be in default on a student loan

You can apply for a Cal Grant Entitlement Award in one of four ways:

  1. Within one year after you graduate. So, even if you have to go straight to work before going to college, you don’t have to miss out on a Cal Grant.
  2. As a community college transfer student, as long as you are under the age of 28.
  3. As a high school senior.
  4. Within one year of getting your GED.

Instructions to apply for this FREE education money can be found here. If you know of anyone that may qualify for this program, please use the share tab below to forward this information onto them.

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Stanford Puts $200k Price Tag on Education

Stanford Puts $200k Price Tag on Education

stanforduThe Board of Trustees at Stanford University recently increased tuition by 3.5% and room/board costs by 3.6%. The total cost for students attending the university for 2010-2011 will be $50,576.

Assuming a student attends all 4 years of undergrad at Stanford, they will easily be surpassing the $200,000 mark before graduation. Add in some tuition increases that are sure to pass in the coming years and they may be close to having a quarter of a million dollars invested in their education.

The numbers are quite beguiling and it sure is giving Stanford some headline coverage now that they have passed 50k. However, what you need to remember is that this is only the sticker price and not necessarily what you would have to pay to attend their university. At the same time Stanford’s Board of Trustees announced the tuition increase, they also stated that they would be providing enough financial aid to allow any admitted student to attend. Basically, they will fund your education up to whatever the FAFSA states you can afford. In addition, they are maintaining a new financial aid program that provides free tuition for families making less than $100k a year and free tuition, room, and board for those making less than $60k. The only catch is that you have to get admitted and maintain satisfactory progress (academically).

The lesson today is that you always take a look at the sticker price of your college or university of choice but don’t let that number scare you away. Nine times out of ten, you are going to end up having to pay much less.

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