African American Students, Diversity, Federal Loans

Student Loan Debts at Historically Black Colleges and Universities

No Comments 20 January 2017

People who attend historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) typically have larger amounts of student loan debt than those at traditional universities. Debt loads at HBCU’s tend to be larger because many students are low-income and/or first-generation.

According to the United Negro College Fund’s report, FEWER RESOURCES, MORE DEBT: Loan Debt Burdens Students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, HBCU students typically graduate with higher debt loads because they borrow at a higher rate than their non-HBCU peers. According to a 2013 study, HBCU students borrow an average of $26,266 in federal loans. Non-HBCU students borrow an average of $14,881.

HBCU students also have lower loan repayment rates than their non-HBCU counterparts. According to the report: “Seven years after leaving college, the average cohort repayment rate for HBCU students is considerably lower than that for students at non-HBCUs (59 percent vs. 85 percent).” This rate, however, does not include factors that impact repayment rates such as student economic status, labor market conditions and choice of educational program.

Another issue facing HBCU students is that more come from families with lower incomes than their non-HBCU peers. In 2005, the median family income of students at HBCUs was $28,400. That is about half the median family income ($51,400) for students who attend non-HBCUs. The discrepancy in income limits the ability of an HBCU student to pay for college. Thus, HBCU students have large amounts of unmet need that require them to take out student loans.

HBCU institutions have limited resources, which hinders their ability to provide grants to students. In 2015, the top 10 HBCU endowments to provide grants to students ranged from $34 million to $660 million. The endowments for non-HBCU institutions that year ranged from $10 billion to $36 billion.

Suggestions to reduce the HBCU student debt loan

  • Policymakers should reduce the complicated nature of the federal student aid eligibility process and provide more aid to those in need
  • Grant aid and work-study opportunities should be increased
  • Federal loans should be less costly for students and their families
  • The federal student loan servicing system repayment process should be more manageable, effective and efficient

Money, Scholarships

Scholarships for Undocumented Students

No Comments 18 January 2017

As most scholarships for U.S. colleges require proof of citizenship, undocumented students often have a challenging time finding scholarships. There are, however, organizations that are committed to providing financial assistance for undocumented students. The list below includes scholarships open to undocumented, international and immigrant students.


Microsoft Scholarship: This scholarship is for students pursuing a degree in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. Applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA and demonstrate financial need. Applications are due January 27.

Point Foundation Scholarship: This award is for students who are involved with the LGBTQ community and are open about their identity. Applicants must demonstrate a desire to make a difference in the world. Applications are due January 30.


The Dream.Us Opportunity Scholarship: This scholarship is for students who do not currently have the financial resources to enroll in college full time. Students must have reached the U.S. before age 16. Applications are due February 1.

Ascend Educational Fund: Immigrant students who will graduate from a New York City high school are eligible for this scholarship. Applications are due February 2.

Elie Wiesel Prize in Ethics Essay Contest: This scholarship is for students registered as full-time undergraduate juniors and seniors. Applications are due February 10.

CORE’s Que Llueva Café Scholarship: College-bound undocumented students of Latino descent are eligible for this scholarship. Applications are due February 25.

Jaime Lucero Mexican Studies Institute Scholarship: This award is for CUNY undergraduate and graduate students who demonstrate academic achievement, financial need and a commitment to service in the Mexican community. Applications are due February 28.


The Dream.Us Scholarships National Scholarship: This scholarship is for students enrolled at one of TheDream.US partner colleges who do not have financial resources to enroll in college full time. Applications are due March 8.

Association of Raza Educators Scholarship – Los Angeles: This scholarship is for undocumented, AB 540 and DACA seniors who are graduating from a Los Angeles high school. Applicants are due March 17.

National Peace Essay Contest for High School Students: This scholarship is for students of any citizenship attending a U.S. high school. Applications are due March 15.

Ayn Rand Anthem Essay Contest: In order to apply for this scholarship, applicants must submit an essay for the book “Anthem” by Ayn Rand. There are no citizenship requirements for this scholarship. Applications are due March 29.

Foster Care to Success Scholarships: These scholarships are for students who have been in foster care or who are orphans. Applications are due March 31.


Davis-Putter Scholarship: The scholarship is for students active in social/economic justice movements.  People who are not U.S. citizens are eligible. Applications are due April 1.

A Voice for Animals Contest: Students who have worked to promote the humane treatment of animals are eligible for this scholarship. Applications are due April 10.

Ayn Rand The Fountainhead Essay Contest: Applicants must submit essays about “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand to be considered for this scholarship. There are no citizenship requirements. Applications are due April 26.

Ayn Rand “Atlas Shrugged” Essay Contest: In order to be considered for this scholarship, applicants must submit essays about “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand. There are no citizenship requirements. Applications are due April 28.

Platt Family Scholarship Prize Essay Contest: This scholarship is for applicants attending American colleges or universities, regardless of their citizenship. Applications are due July 31.


FAFSA, Money

Introducing the Streamlined FAFSA

No Comments 16 January 2017

Multiple organizations understand that the FAFSA application process is complicated and may present barriers to college access for many students. For this reason, the National College Access Network (NCAN) has created the Streamlined FAFSA. The FAFSA is a free a universal form for students to fill out in order to apply for financial aid from the U.S. Department of Education. NCAN’s model eliminates unnecessary and redundant questions in order to maintain FAFSA’s original purpose, which is to serve as the premier and free form to apply for financial aid.

Applying for the FAFSA is a complicated process, with only about 44 percent of students completing the form. This means about $24 billion goes unclaimed in federal aid, which includes $2.7 billion in Pell Grants. NCAN recognizes that there are several barriers for students completing the FAFSA. Chief among them is a lack of understanding the application process, overly complex questions and the length of the FAFSA. These issues cause barriers for many applicants, especially first-generation students.

The Streamlined FAFSA eliminates these issues by providing a shortened series of eligibility and demographic questions for applicants. An updated Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID) and expanded access to the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) allows many identifying and financial questions to be automatically filled in, which saves the applicant time and reduces errors.

The Streamlined FAFSA reduces the number of questions by guiding students down one of three paths. Pathway one has as few as 20 questions for applicants from families who receive benefits from eligible federal means-tested programs. This means that these individuals automatically can skip all financial questions and receive the maximum Pell Grant award.

Pathway two has no more than 23 questions for applicants who do not participate in means-tested benefit programs and do not file a schedule with their taxes. Pathway three includes 25 questions for students who file tax schedules with their taxes.

NCAN’s Streamlined FAFSA is outperforming the current FAFSA. Independent testing of the NCAN model shows a 56 percent lower error rate, a 39 percent improvement in completion times and 50 percent fewer questions to answer.

Transparency has been increased and uncertainty is reduced in the FAFSA filing process because of the streamlined FAFSA. This model could increase Pell Grant expenditures by nearly 5.1 percent and increase FAFSA completion by 7.4 percent.

With 85 percent of four-year college students receiving financial aid, a simplified FAFSA application process is vital. The streamlined FAFSA could ensure that needy students have the access to financial aid.

Money, Scholarships

Step-by-Step Guide to Winning Scholarships

No Comments 12 January 2017

Winning scholarships is an important part of your plan for paying for college. About one in eight students wins some scholarship money with the average amount being about $4,000.

This five-step plan will help you get started on your path to winning college scholarships.

Step 1: Start Immediately

Start searching for scholarships sooner, rather than later. The sooner you begin searching, the fewer deadlines you will miss.

There also are many scholarships available to students in younger grades, such as the Jack Kent Cooke Young Scholars Program and the Davidson Fellows Scholarship. Some scholarship applications are restricted to students who already are enrolled in college.

Step 2: Search for Scholarships Everywhere

Be thorough in looking for scholarships. Some of the best sources of scholarships include:

  • Free online scholarship matching services, like These services compare your background profile with a large database of scholarships, providing a personalized list of all the scholarships for which you are eligible.
  • Bulletin boards outside the school counselor’s office and near the jobs and careers section of the public library.
  • Ask friends and family for ideas. Ask your parents’ employers and fraternal organizations if they sponsor a scholarship. Ask local businesses.

Step 3: Beware of Scholarship Scams

Never invest more than a postage stamp to apply for a scholarship, even if the fee sounds reasonable. If you have to pay money to get money, it is probably a scam.

Step 4: Choose Scholarships You Can Win

Apply for every scholarship for which you are eligible. By applying to more scholarships, you increase your chances of winning one.

Applying for scholarships takes less time than you might expect. After your first half-dozen applications, you find that you can reuse previous essays for different applications.

If you have more scholarship matches than you can handle, prioritize them first by deadline. That way, you won’t disqualify yourself by missing the deadlines.

Concentrate on scholarships where you have the greatest odds of winning, such as scholarships with a strong match to your background, local scholarships and less popular scholarships. The most generous and prestigious scholarships get the most applications, which makes them harder to win. Scholarships involving smaller dollar amounts and writing essays tend to get fewer applications.

Step 5: Increase Your Odds of Winning a Scholarship

A few simple tricks can increase your chances of winning a scholarship:

  • You can’t win if you don’t apply. Apply to more scholarships to increase your odds of winning.
  • Create a professional online presence. Delete inappropriate Tweets and Facebook posts. Use a professional email address.
  • Read the sponsor’s web site before starting the application. This will let you tailor your application to the sponsor’s goals in sponsoring the scholarship.
  • Read the directions and follow them carefully.
  • Proofread the application and essays before sending the application. Spelling and grammar errors can give a bad impression.

Money, Scholarships

Scholarships Expiring in January

No Comments 10 January 2017

We all set goals for the new year. Make applying for as many scholarships as possible one of your 2017 goals! Take a look at the scholarships below and see what interests you! Awards are listed by application due date.

Hamilton AwardThis scholarship is for college-bound high school juniors who have a strong record of community service, show a strong commitment to their academic studies, and demonstrate financial and/or personal need. Applications are due January 13 and the award amount is $500.

Young Filmmakers Contest Applicants must submit a film between 3-8 minutes on one of the following topics: water, waste, food, transportation, energy, or open space and ecosystem. The scholarship award amount ranges between $250- $500. Applications are due January 15.

Prompt $20,000 ScholarshipApplicants must submit any college essay to be considered for this award. Applications are due January 15. The scholarship award amount ranges between $10,000- $20,000.

Wells Fargo Scholarship Program for People with DisabilitiesThis scholarship is for students with an identified disability. Applicants must submit their materials by January 17. The award amount for this scholarship ranges between $1,250- $2,500.

Girls Impact the World Film Festival ScholarshipApplicants must submit a 3-5 minute film that raises awareness about current issues affecting women and girls and/or proposes solutions to current challenges faced by women. Scholarship award amount ranges between $1,000- $5,000. Applications are due January 18.

Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education ProgramThis scholarship is for residents of Georgia and Alabama, who have active amateur radio licenses. Preference will be given to students who study electronics, communications, or related fields. Applications are due January 27. The scholarship award amount is $7,500.

Mioy Huynh Scholarship by CengageBrainThis scholarship is for students who are planning to pursue/already pursuing a degree in one of the STEM fields. Applications are due on January 31, with the award amount set at $2,500.

 Dr. Lauren Looker Scholarship by QuestiaTo qualify for this scholarship, applicants must be pursuing a degree in social sciences and have a minimum 3.5 GPA. The award amount for this scholarship is $2,500. Scholarship applications are due January 31.

 I Have a Dream ScholarshipTo qualify for this scholarships, applicants must submit a written response about what the dream about and their hopes for the future. Applications are due January 31. The scholarship award amount is $1,500.

Fifty for the Future AwardThis scholarship is for Illinois students pursuing a career in the technology field. The award is open to high school juniors, high school seniors, undergraduate college students, and graduate students. Applications are due January 31 and the scholarship award amount is $1,000.

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