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College Grad Protests Sallie Mae Fees

student loansStudent loan borrowers are furious at Sallie Mae. The largest provider of student loans in the U.S. charges a $50 forbearance fee to unemployed borrowers. Those who can’t pay the $50 are put into default.

The unemployment fee has college grads and students fighting the system with a popular petition. With 50,000 supporters in all 50 states, the campaign at Change.org has the country listening.

Stef Gray, a student loan borrower through Sallie Mae and a recent grad from a public college, heads the campaign at Change.org.

“What Sallie Mae is doing is wrong,” Gray said. “My loan already grows by more than $1,000 in interest every three months when it’s in forbearance, and I pay almost 10% in interest because my parents weren’t alive to cosign my loans.”

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California Dream Act Makes It Possible for Illegal Immigrants To Receive Financial Aid

California Dream Act LogoAnahit Grigoryan is like many students in the USA. For a long time, she has wanted to study medicine and become a doctor. She graduated from high school in 2009 and enrolled in a community college with plans of transferring to a four-year school in the future.

However, Grigoryan cannot take the MCAT test, nor will she ever be able to take the Hippocratic Oath. Why is this? Because Grigoryan is an illegal immigrant in the USA, which makes it impossible for her to have a driver’s license, a legitimate job, or even a social security number.

“My whole life is a lie,” she said. “Every time someone asks me why I don’t drive I have to make up some sort of excuse. I feel embarrassed.”

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Paypal Co-founder Gives $100K to College Dropouts

If you’re looking for a reason to drop out of college, then you may want to look to Peter Thiel. The co-founder of Paypal, and Facebook investor, is convincing some bright, young adults not to go to college. He gave out a $100,000 grant to 24 college-age entrepreneurs to pursue their business ventures.

“It’s good for some people, maybe most people to stay in school, but it is not good for everybody,” Thiel said. “There are people who are inventors, who are entrepreneurs for whom staying in school is not the right thing. And a lot of these ideas there’s a certain right time and place for when they should be built. And if people have a passionate, great idea that is going to change the world, they should get started on it right away.”

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Is College a Waste of Money?

Several new studies found that an American college education may not be worth the money. The Pew Research Foundation polled 2,142 adults and  about what they think of higher education and its hefty price tag.

Pew found:

  • More than half (57 percent) of Americans polled said that a college education isn’t worth the money.
  • A large majority (75 percent) said that a college education is unaffordable.

On the other hand, the majority of Americans still believe that a higher education is important, as further research showed:

  • Ninety-four percent of parents said they want, and expect, their children to go to college.
  • Eighty-six percent of graduates said their degree was a good investment.

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Sallie Mae Reduces Rates on Student Loans

At a time when student loan debt is steadily on the rise, it’s nice to know that Sallie Mae is giving its borrowers a break, even if it is a small one.

Sallie Mae is decreasing its rates to 9.875 percent plus LIBOR, the rate of interest that banks can charge each other when competing for loans, in hopes of generating more business. After LIBOR, the change is merely a .5 percent rate reduction. Consumer analysts say it is unlikely that the new rate will bring in more borrowers.

Sallie Mae’s private loans, which carry higher interest rates than subsidized federal loans, are considered a last resort after scholarships, grants and government-backed loans. “This private student loan company is cutting interest rates to help bridge the gap when students and their families use up all other financial aid resources,” said Sallie Mae executive Charlie Rocha.

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Applying to College? Start with Financial Aid

The Finacial Aid Handbook book cover by Stack and VedvikA college’s financial aid policy isn’t usually the first thing students consider when looking for colleges. Students look at the programs offered, the location, the school’s reputation and campus culture. They usually think of the schools they apply to as either “reach” schools or “safety” schools.

Carol Stack and Ruth Vedvik, authors of The Financial Aid Handbook: Getting the Education You Want for the Price You Can Afford, recommend that students consider two more important categories: funded and unfunded. “Funded” colleges and universities are the ones that will give you a significant amount of scholarship money and “unfunded” colleges are the ones that won’t. Vedvik and Stack make a strong argument for not applying for unfunded programs, regardless of a school’s reputation.

Stack and Vedvik have written a book not only to help students find financial aid, but to also pick the colleges that will provide financial aid. As both tuition and student debt rise, this advice could not be more timely.

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Pay for Tuition With 2010’s Education Tax Breaks

With alarming spikes in tuition, college students and their parents are wondering if a higher education is obtainable only to the wealthy. However, there’s hope on the horizon. Uncle Sam is lending a hand with several tax breaks that could save families thousands.

Whether you’re a college student and claiming yourself this year, or you’re a parent who has a child in school, check out these tax breaks that are sure to pick up on some of the tuition tab:

Credits:

The American Opportunity Credit is similar to 2009’s Hope Credit, but even better. The credit was created to offset the increasing costs of tuition, and it provides up to $2,500 per college student. It allows taxpayers to claim tuition and certain fees for higher education, but these expenses can only be claimed for the first four years of college. Parents can receive a credit of up to $7,500 if they claim three qualifying college students.

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FAFSA Updates to Streamline User Experience

It’s FAFSA season again! Time to get those applications completed and submit them for review. Every student requesting Federal financial aid must fill out a new FAFSA (free application for federal student aid) for every school year, and the earlier the better. While the task may seem daunting, the FAFSA application has been streamlined for your convenience and is easier than ever to complete.

Changes have been made this year to both the online and paper applications. Here is an overview of some of the changes:

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GoDaddy Offers Ten $10,000 Scholarships

GoDaddy ScholarsInternet domain registrar and web-hosting giant GoDaddy is offering ten scholarships worth $10,000 each. To apply for the scholarship, students must submit an essay in 500 words or less about how they have used the Internet or Internet technologies to further their educations. The essays will be judged on creativity and quality.

GoDaddy scholars must also have a current GPA of 3.0 or higher, an ACT score or 18 and higher or an SAT score of 860 and higher, and be a legal resident of the United States. Applicants are also asked to provide two non-family letters of reference.

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How Americans Paid for College in 2010

College is getting more and more expensive every year. Considering the current economy, how are Americans continuing to pay for a product that is constantly increasing in price?

The authors of How America Pays for College 2010 tired of asking this same question over and over again, so they decided to conduct a survey to find out. They interviewed 801 students and 823 parents from across the nation and asked them various questions about how they finance a college education.

A vast majority, about 73 percent, said that they had to reduce their spending habits in other areas to pay for a college education. This shows a 17 percent increase from the 2008-2009 school year to the 2009-2010 year. Luckily though, 82 percent said that they strongly believe that a college education is an investment in the future and worth the sacrifice.

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