How to find college scholarships

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How to find scholarships for college
College is an ever-more expensive proposition these days. Paying for college can be a headache to figure out. We all hear about scholarships, but while there’s $3.4 billion available in college scholarships, there are thousands that under-applied for…meaning the competition isn’t too tough.

Part of the reason why many scholarships aren’t very competitive is that a lot of students go for the big-name scholarships for big-time money, while they neglect to take the time to apply to smaller scholarships.

Think about it, you can get five $1,000 scholarships with a little time and effort or take a stab at one big $5,000 scholarship. Everyone is looking to save time and energy, but at a time when people are debt-wary and U.S. student loan debt is soaring above $850 billion, scholarships are a long-standing way to help fund your education.

Thankfully, researching scholarships is easier today than it’s ever been before. There are a few great sites for helping you with your scholarship search. We’ll share some links for sites that can help you find scholarships below.

Before you start your scholarship search, here are a few pointers to help improve your chances of actually landing the scholarships you apply for:

  1. Apply early! Different scholarships have different deadlines, so beyond checking on individual deadlines, a general rule is to get your applications in early. For example, if you’re a high school senior, now is the time to apply for scholarship money for next fall.
  2. Broaden your search. Think scholarships are just for students with a 4.0 GPA or football prospects? Think again. There are scholarships based on merit and sports, sure, but also for extracurricular activities, community service, volunteering, special interests and even based on your planned subject of study.
  3. Search for local scholarships. From local businesses and organizations to state-funded scholarships, there’s a lot higher likelihood of landing a scholarship in your own backyard. Again, this is an instance of looking for more realistic scholarships, and local by definition is more limited than national, meaning your odds are much better.
  4. Be accurate and professional. Make sure you’re including everything the scholarship application calls for. Any errors can get your application disqualified from the start. Also, don’t be afraid to print your application on higher-grade paper. If you want to take it one step further, ship your application first class or FedEx to make an impression right off the bat.
  5. Meet with your school counselor or advisor. College students typically don’t take advantage of their career services office. Or, they didn’t until this recession hit the U.S. economy. Now students are flooding CSOs. Whether you’re in high school or college, check with a counselor or advisor to help you find scholarships. They can be an invaluable resource in letting you know which scholarships might be easier to get.

Now that you have some tips on how to have a more fruitful scholarship search and application process, here are some great sites for helping you find the right scholarship for you:

Calculate the cost of college

Written by michael. Filed under Financial Planning. Tagged , , , , , . 1 Comment.

If you’re looking for more help and advice to help plan for college, get an internship and get your career moving after graduation, check out‘s Student Resources section!

How to calculate the cost of college and set your college budget

Are preparing to college and trying to figure out how much it will cost? There are so many factors that go into planning for the financial burden that goes with higher education…it makes is difficult to both find and give advice.

From loans, to work studies, to a whether or not you get a job while you’re in school…there are a ton of factors you have to manage when balancing your college budget.

If you still have time to plan before you settle on a college, or if you’re already at school and are trying to set a budget, it’s important to calculate all the expenses that go with college life.

Let’s take a look at where you can get started:

Tuition and Fees
This might seem straightforward, but tuition is usually the highest cost of attending college and can look vastly different depending on whether you go to a public or private school and whether you’re an in-state or out-of-state student.

CNN Money has a quick and easy to use college cost calculator that will spit out what you can expect to pay for tuition, fees, and room and board.

A couple quick searches show annual tuition at a local private school, the University of Denver and a local public college, Metropolitan State College of Denver.

University of Denver

  • Tuition: $35,604
  • Fees: $897
  • Room and Board: $10,224
  • Total: $46,725

Metropolitan State College of Denver

  • Tuition: $2,850 in-state; $12,343 out-of-state
  • Fees: $789
  • Total: $3,639 in-state; $13,132

Room and board; rent
Room and board can be a hefty chunk of your college expenses. Many colleges require students to live on-campus for at least a year. With that in mind, paying for room and board to stay on campus could be worth it if your school is in an expensive city like New York City, Chicago or San Francisco.

A great way to estimate your rental costs if you plan to move off-campus is to do a quick survey of Craigslist rentals in your prospective college town. See what a one or two bedroom apartment costs (hint: the expensive apartments are probably going to be in the town’s social hotspots). Use this to help project your off-campus living costs. Don’t forget utilities — assume it’s not included in rent for the sake of your budgeting.

Continuing with our Denver example, here’s a quick search to see what housing looks like near the University of Denver and the Auraria Campus near downtown, where Metro State is located.

Rentals / Housing

  • Monthly rent: $400-$1,200 per month for a 1 or 2 bedroom apartment
  • Total cost (9 months) for a $600/month apartment: $5,400

Books, supplies
Books and supplies can be a real budget-breaker as these costs are often an afterthought, but can be significant. As any student who’s spent $600 on books for a semester can tell you, it’s an expense that would be great to reign in. Buying used books isn’t always possible and usually asking your professor if you need the latest edition is a good idea. If you can buy a used book without missing out on info from a new edition, it’s an easy way to save hundreds of dollars. is your friend when it comes to finding used college textbooks. Also check the Facebook Marketplace for people at your school that may have just finished a class and are looking to offload their textbooks. Buying used is a huge money-saver.


  • Annual average cost for U.S. college students: $700-$1,100 (Source: Washington Post)

College is expensive, so create a budget!
Going to college is expensive. Beyond tuition, we’ve taken a look here at the additional costs that can tack on $6,000 to $8,000 each year. That’s not even counting a computer, money for entertainment, extracurriculars, spring break and more.

The takeaway point is that it’s best to figure out your college expenses, set a budget, and stick to it. There are a few free financial planning websites that are great for planning your personal finances. One of which, offers great tools and access to all of your student loans, bank accounts, investments and more — all for free.

A college education counts for a lot. It also costs a lot, and the best way to prepare is by doing your research and setting a budget you can stick to.

What does student loan reform mean for you?

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How does student loan reform affect you?

In the spring of 2010 when President Obama’s Administration was passing health care reform, included in the final bill were some important changes to how federal student loans are administered.

What does student loan reform mean to the average college student? Well, first and foremost it eliminated private banks from collecting government subsidies for administering federal loans to students. To put it simply, the reform cut the middleman out of the federal student loan process.

$60 billion in savings goes toward Pell grants

Obama says the student loan reforms will save $60 billion over the next decade. That money that would have gone to private banks for handling government loans, will now fund more Pell grants — welcome news to students looking to minimize their loan debt.

Read more at What does student loan reform mean for you?

5 Ways to Pay for College

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Paying for college is an increasingly expensive proposition, with tuition costs rising an average of 8% every year. College these days costs an average of about $7,000 each year for a 4-year public school and about $26,000 each year at a 4-year private school. Most students heading off to college don’t have the luxury of a college or trust fund to pay for their education. That leaves a handful of alternative methods to pay for college…

Here’s 5 ways to pay for a college education:

1. Scholarships
The first place to start is by applying for scholarships. You don’t have to be a student with a 4.0 GPA to get a scholarship. There are 1.5 million scholarships worth more than $3.4 billion, according to is a great place to search for scholarships. You could qualify for any number of scholarships based on your grades, community service, ethnic background, extracurricular activities, or even what you plan to study in college.

2. Grants
Grants are different from scholarships and student loans because it’s money for your education that you don’t have to pay back. Scholarships are traditionally awarded on merit, while grants are awarded by need.

Try or CollegeBoard to search for grants (and scholarships) you may be eligible for. CollegeBoard in particular is a good place to search as the results are based on 1,200 organizations CollegeBoard surveys to gather financial aid data.

It might seem like a no-brainer, but boatloads of students either miss the deadline for submitting their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), or just don’t bother.

You can submit your FAFSA here. The earlier you submit your FAFSA, the more likely you are to receive a Pell grant (which you don’t have to pay back!) or other need-based financial aid. Basically, the federal government has a set amount of aid to award, so it’s first come, first serve.

Read more at 5 Ways to Pay for College

How much does college cost?

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How much does college cost?
Going to college is a huge financial commitment. According to the College Board, the average price for a four-year public college in America costs $7,020. The average price for a four-year private college is $26,273.

That puts the average four-year cost of a college education at $28,080 for a public college and $105,092 for private colleges. Financial aid, location, loans and a huge variety of factors mean that nailing down a concrete cost to go to college is extremely difficult.

However, working with these averages, it’s still readily apparent that paying for college is a huge burden and proper planning is crucial — particularly in a rough economy.

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SwearJarr: Protect yourself from foul language on Twitter

Written by michael. Filed under Professional Advice. Tagged , , , . No comments.

Check your language before an employer does

Much has been made of what information is public vs. private online in the wake of Facebook’s privacy updates. As far as Twitter goes, you can protect your Tweets, but that doesn’t always mean they’re protected from search engines.

The fact remains that when you publish personal information online, you have to assume it’s going to be publicly available. When it comes to interviewing for a job or internship, that can make for sticky situations.

For anyone that has had to tweak their Facebook profile upon entering the job market (as opposed to the reckless abandon of college, oh how I miss thee) knows, sifting through and removing less-than-flattering info can be arduous.

Enter SwearJarr for Twitter. You can scan all of your Tweets (or someone else’s) to see a history of foul language. The site then recommends you donate money for each transgression, with the money going to a rotating cast of charities.

If you have some Twitter cleanup to do, check out SwearJarr while contributing to a good cause!