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Transferring Colleges Could Open Up Scholarship Possibilities

Picking a college isn't often easy. From public university to private institution to something nearby or far away, there are a multitude of options to consider. 

Do you pick a school because it's strong in the major you think you want to pursue? What if you decide you don't like that major or realize you just don't like the school you initially fell in love with? 

Transferring to a new school is an option. More than 37 percent of the students who began postsecondary education in fall 2008 transferred at least once during the next six years, according to a 2015 National Student Clearinghouse Research Center study. Nearly half of those who left one school transferred multiple times during the period.

Of course, some students begin postsecondary education at a community college with the intent to transfer to a four-year school. It's one way to cut the soaring costs of a college education. 

Another way to reduce the cost of a degree is through scholarships. And, yes, transfer students can win scholarships, though many are tied to the college you attend. Here are several scholarships available for transfer students.

The National Society of Accountants offers multiple scholarships to students transferring from community colleges to four-year schools and students who are already enrolled at four-year institutions. The scholarships are open to U.S. and Canadian citizens who are majoring in accounting and maintain at least a 3.0 GPA.

Awards range from $500 to $2,200. The next application period begins in January 2018; completed applications are due in early April. 

The American Association of Geographers presents two $1,500 Darrel Hess Community College Geography Scholarships for students currently enrolled at community, junior, city or other two-year colleges who are transfering to four-year colleges to pursue geography majors. Applications must submit an application and two recommendation letters. 

They are evaluated on grades, academic promise and financial need and must have already completed at least two geography courses. The deadline to apply is Dec. 31.

Teachers of Accounting at Two Year Colleges offers a number of $1,000 scholarships to graduates of two-year schools who will start earning their bachelor's in accounting from a four-year school in the upcoming academic year.

Applicants must have completed at least 20 credit hours, six in accounting, and have at least a 3.0 GPA. Applications include an essay and recommendation letter from an accounting faculty member. Check the site for information on when the next application cycle will open.

Many four-year colleges offer scholarships to students transferring from other four-year colleges. For example, Johnson & Wales University offers a transfer scholarship of up to $10,000 to students who have completed at least 45 quarter-credit hours at another college. 

Transfer students who are accepted to the university and meet the criteria are automatically considered for the scholarship. Candidates are evaluated based on their transcripts, and the award is renewable for up to four years. 

Other schools that offer scholarships for transfer students include The University of Arkansas, The University of Kentucky, The University of Maryland—College Park, Temple University and The University of Michigan—Ann Arbor's College of Literature, Science and the Arts. These scholarship opportunities are just a few of the ones available to transfer students. 

Transfer Scholarship Do's and Don'ts

Transferring is never easy – many students lose credits when they change schools. And getting financial help in conjunction with a move can be difficult. 

Here are some do's and don'ts for applying for aid as a transfer student.

• Don't wait: As soon as you decide on schools you're interested in transferring to, contact their financial aid offices to determine whether they provide scholarship help for transfers.

• Do pay attention to the rules: Scholarship requirements rarely are flexible. If you're not eligible, move on and don't waste your time or the award committee's time.

• Don't depend on a generic response: Yes, scholarship applications often request the same information and even have similar prompts for essays. But don't just copy and paste your scholarship essays. Personalize them for each scholarship you seek.

• Do get your documents together: You're going to need transcripts from your old school and possibly letters of recommendation. Make sure you have them when you need them.

• Don't count on flexible deadlines: For most scholarship organizations, the deadline is just that – the deadline. Respect it.

Remember, regardless of your reason for transferring, you're not alone. Many students opt for a fresh start at a new college or university. Luckily, you have some financial options to help remove transferring as a financial obstacle to earning a degree.


How the rise in student loan rates will affect borrowers

If you’re planning to take out a federal student loan to pay for college in the coming school year, you’ll see higher interest rates than in the previous year. The new rates will determine the amount you owe monthly in interest once you start repaying the loan.

The student loan interest rates kick in July 1 and are fixed, which means if you get a new federal loan for the 2017-18 school year your interest rate will stay the same through repayment. Each year Congress sets interest rates on student loans to align with the 10-year Treasury note. The new rates are tied to a Treasury note increase announced Wednesday. You can apply for a federal loan each school year by submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA.

The new rates are an increase from 2016-17 rates of 3.76% for subsidized and unsubsidized direct loans for undergraduates; 5.31% for unsubsidized direct loans for graduate students; and 6.31% for PLUS loans. The last federal student loan increase was in 2014, when rates for undergraduate students rose from 3.86% for the 2013-14 school year to 4.66% for the 2014-15 school year. Rates were 6.8% for undergraduates between 2006 and 2008, the highest in recent memory. Those borrowers may now benefit from student loan refinancing to get a lower rate. Keep in mind though that borrowers who refinance federal loans lose federal perks including access to income-driven repayment plans and forgiveness programs.


You can use the new rates — or the rates you previously borrowed at — to calculate what your monthly student loan payments will be after graduation. Use a student loan calculator to find the amount based on the loan size, interest rate and term length. If you’re getting a federal loan, the standard repayment term is 10 years. If you have difficulty repaying your loan after graduation, you can enroll in an income-driven repayment plan to lower your monthly payment and extend your repayment term.

If you take out a standard 10-year loan for $25,000 with a 4.45% interest rate (the new 2017-18 rate for undergraduates), you will pay $258.49 per month and $6,019.27 in total interest over the life of the loan. That’s less than an undergraduate who borrowed the same amount in 2007 paid at the then-federal interest rate of 6.8%: $287.70 per month and a total of $9,524 in interest over 10 years.


Federal student loan interest rates tend to be lower than the rates you’ll get with private lenders. Generally, you should use grants and scholarships as well as savings first, then max out your federal loans before turning to private loans. Private loans don’t offer certain protections or loan forgiveness opportunities that federal loans do. However, if you or your co-signer have excellent credit, your interest rate could be lower on a private loan. Private loans with variable rates are subject to increase in the event of a rate hike by the London Interbank Offered Rate, which private loan rates are usually based on. If you do decide to get a private loan, compare offers from several lenders before deciding.



5 tips for crushing it at your first post-college job

This spring, college students will don medieval vestments, march into auditoriums across the U.S., and sit for one final lesson. I’ve heard some great commencement speeches since my first year as an academic dean, in 1979. Maya Angelou stirred our hearts when she began her remarks by singing “When the Saints Go Marching In.” John Lasseter had us in tears when he pulled out an original Woody doll, tattered and frayed.

The messages of these addresses are lofty — grand occasion calls for grand lessons: Believe in yourself. Work hard. Be kind. Today, though, I’d like to offer a few lessons that are a little more earthbound that this spring’s graduates can use the moment they enter their first day in the real, actual, no-nonsense adult workplace.

Related: 6 life skills you better pick up if you want to succeed at work


A few weeks ago, I received an email from a friend who said her son, a recent graduate, had been offered a job with a large company, but he was thinking of starting his own business, and what did I think? So many of today’s graduates feel like they have to choose between “selling out” for corporate America or striking out on their own. My advice? Do both. Fashion oracle Pierre Cardin first honed his tailoring skills at the House of Dior before launching his eponymous label, and Alabama’s bridal sweetheart Heidi Elnora mastered her craft at children’s apparel titan Carter’s before founding her own atelier. New employees learn by osmosis and observation and can apply those lessons to their own future companies — and the name of a recognizable brand looks mighty good on a new graduate’s résumé.


One of the most important assets you, as a newly hired amateur, bring to your job is something that can often be in short supply: enthusiasm. Most employers are looking for passionate new colleagues. The word amateur has its roots in the Latin word for love, amo. That passion is key. Show up a little early. Stay a little late. Ask more experienced colleagues to lunch. Come to meetings with ideas. Prepare. Make a handout, if it suits you. This extra effort will get noticed. Zeal is the holy grail of the modern workplace.


The recipe for professional achievement is complex, but one habit of workplace success is simple: Over-deliver on assignments. Do what is asked of you and then some, even if you haven’t yet gotten the job. For example, prepare for networking meetings as though you’re interviewing for an actual job, because good employers are always hiring. Always. When aspiring art director and recent graduate Jessica Walsh approached a renowned designer for professional advice, she treated the encounter like an audition, and despite her youth — she was just 23 at the time — her assertiveness and well-curated portfolio convinced the firm to offer her a job on the spot. Two years later, her name was on the masthead.


New graduates can feel besieged by the working world: the competitiveness, the need for results, the demand that you come to work even on days with beautiful weather. You will be asked to complete tasks that test your limits — and the stakes are far higher now because of a strange phenomenon known as “rent.” In these moments, remember that your own past successes bolster you through present challenges. Remember that your boss and everyone in HR want you to flourish. Why? Because they hired you, and they don’t like being wrong. My colleague, a former head of casting at CBS, recently reminded me of this truth. Casting directors want every actor to be right for the role, she explained. Who wants to audition 100 more actors? Thus it is with bosses. Aside from the occasional carnivorous colleague, your new team wants you to flourish. Remember that in tough times.


Soon after graduation, you’ll start receiving email invitations to alumni receptions. Go. Contrary to popular belief, these are usually not fundraising events. Forge a strong network in your new city. Older alumni have a soft spot for you, trust me. They want to help. Let them.

This spring, as you parade across stages, remember that there’s a reason they call it Commencement. This occasion marks a time of beginning. You already possess the strengths to flourish in the workplace. So iron your pants, tuck in your shirt and jump in with both feet. All of us are rooting for you.


Community college may be the secret sauce in affordable education

Getting into college may be the end game for high school seniors, but a far bigger challenge awaits: Getting out of college with a degree and a manageable amount of debt.

"Families are so busy focusing on the first day of college, they don't think about what life after college is going to be like," says Jodi Okun, founder of College Financial Aid Advisors. "Loans can be great if you can pay them back responsibly. Otherwise, they will haunt you."

Alas, just six in 10 incoming freshmen, on average, manage to earn a degree within six years. And a record percentage of students now graduate with student loans; the average balance of $35,000 is nearly double what it was a decade ago.

Any recent graduate who needs to earmark more than 10 percent of gross monthly income to pay down a student loan in 10 years is saddled with excessive debt, explained Mark Kantrowitz, a college finance expert who lives deep in the weeds of student loan data.

"If you're borrowing more than $50,000 for a bachelor's degree, that's a sign you're headed for trouble."


"Too much debt will have a cascading effect that will last for decades," Kantrowitz said. "When more of your income needs to go toward repaying loans, you're not going to save as much and you'll be less willing and able to borrow for other goals such as a home."

That's an ever more common rough road for many graduates. According to Kantrowitz's number crunching, more than 14 percent of recent bachelor's degree recipients, on average, end up with excessive debt, more than double the percentage from a generation ago. Moreover, if you're borrowing north of $30,000, your odds of having an excessive debt load are much higher.

"If you're borrowing more than $50,000 for a bachelor's degree, that's a sign you're headed for trouble," Kantrowitz said. His rule of thumb: If a student leaves school with a total debt balance that is no more than his or her estimated starting salary, they should be able to handle the payback within 10 years.

Developing a sense of community (college)

One way to avoid taking on crushing debt is to spend the first two years picking up credits at a steep discount at a community college and then transfer to a four-year, in-state public university.

The $3,500 average annual tuition at a community college is about one-third the average tuition tab for a four-year public school and about one-tenth the tuition cost at a four-year private school.

However, Davis Jenkins, senior research associate at the Community College Research Center at Columbia University, said most community colleges and four-year schools are doing a subpar job helping students navigate the transfer process.

"Access is not the same as success. The message for today's students is that you need to do some legwork to make it work," he said.

Here's how:

  • Step 1: Declare yourself as soon as possible. Strive to figure out your major ASAP. You can always change it, but if you start on a specific major track, you can focus on the community-college courses that will give you the best shot at transferring in as a real junior.
  • Step 2: Ask your target four-year school for some help reverse engineering your coursework. Once you have a major set, Jenkins recommends contacting the department you want to transfer into at the four-year school you want to attend and ask what required courses you'll need to enter as a junior. Getting this info from the source is more reliable than asking the community college or the admissions office of the four-year school.

"There is a big difference between credits that are transferable and credits that are applicable to the degree you want," Jenkins said.

Many community-college transfers find they have credits that are not applicable and must pile on more courses before they can officially embark on their junior-year-level work.

"Excess credits is an epidemic, and that's wasted time and money," Jenkins added.

  • Step 3: Sit down with the transfer office at the community college ASAP. Once you know the specific courses required to transfer in as a junior, map out a game plan. The earlier you do this, the greater the odds you will be able to get the work done within two years. "Know the order you need to take classes. The worst thing is to miss one required class and have to wait another semester," Kantrowitz said.




Need money to help poor kids prepare for college? Sorry, you used the wrong font size..

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Dozens of universities and organizations that applied for federal grants to help young people from poor families prepare for college were turned down by the U.S. Education Department because of mistakes that consisted mostly of incorrect margins, the wrong size type or lack of double-spacing.

The rejections have triggered an outcry from members of both parties on Capitol Hill and thrown into jeopardy programs that help thousands of high school students a year.

Amid the uproar, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos issued a memo late last month saying requests for grants from the federally funded Upward Bound program will no longer be rejected over "formatting" errors in the 65-page application. But congressional aides told The Associated Press that DeVos' staff informed them last week that the applications turned down in March will not be revisited.

The department did not respond to a request from the AP for confirmation.

"This is the kind of bureaucracy that President Trump ran against," said Ron Hammond, an aide to Republican Rep. Warren Davidson of Ohio, whose district includes Wittenberg University, one of the schools affected.

The next round of applications won't be held for another five years, and some of the affected schools and groups say their Upward Bound programs may have to shut down.

More than 62,000 high school students around the country receive services from Upward Bound, which seeks to inspire low-income, first-generation and rural students to attend college.

The program puts students on an academic track for college, includes summer programs that give them a taste of campus life, and arranges visits to schools. Students can receive tutoring along with career advice and help in applying to colleges and obtaining scholarships and other financial aid.

The Education Department says 86 percent of Upward Bound students who graduated from high school in the spring of 2014 enrolled in college that fall.

The department issued $263 million in Upward Bound grants in fiscal year 2015. Many of the schools whose applications were rejected were seeking a few hundred thousand dollars per year.

The department this time received 1,592 grant applications for the five-year grants and accepted 1,222 for review. Seventy-seven of those were rejected for violating what the agency said were formatting guidelines established under the Obama administration.

The denials caught college administrators off guard.

"Most of them involved people who had put 1½ spaces instead of double-spacing between the lines," said Kimberly Jones, a spokeswoman for the Council for Opportunity in Education, which provides guidance in administering the grants. "It was such a high volume of folks who contacted us, we realized something a little out of the ordinary was going on."

Jones said the number rejected this time for formatting errors was many times higher than in previous years.

The spending bill that Congress passed and the president signed last week included language encouraging the department to reconsider. A quarter of all senators signed a letter to DeVos calling on her to reverse the rejections, as did about 30 members of the House.

The grant denials are "a clear example of the harm that results from inflexible, bureaucratic procedures," and allowing applicants to submit corrected applications "could prevent this absurd result," the senators wrote.

The University of Montana said it has canceled its six-week campus summer program for 55 students this year. The program has been in existence for 50 years, and among the students it serves are those from the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.

Other applicants that were rejected included Michigan State University, the University of Maine at Presque Isle, the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and the University of Chicago, Davidson's office said.

In Montana, Uriah Birchmier is finishing up his last weeks of high school and preparing to enroll at Montana State University to study chemical engineering. Raised by a single mother who didn't go to college, he said he doubts he or his two older siblings, who attend the University of Montana, would have considered college without the federal program.

"I don't think it was ever really something that we thought about," said Birchmier, a senior at Helena High School. "And then with Upward Bound coming and talking to my brother initially, that's what really opened our eyes to 'This is something we can do and this is something that we should strive for.'"


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