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2009 FAFSA Means it’s Financial Aid Season

For many students, or their parents, this is the time to start filing taxes and getting refunds from the government. For many seniors in high school and other college students, tax season also means financial aid season.

On January 1, FAFSA released their form for this year to be completed in order to be considered for governmental aid for college. Much like the CSS Profile, the FAFSA uses information based off of your parents’ and even your taxes. Although unlike the Profile, FAFSA uses last year’s tax information while the Profile used 2007, but this is probably because it was due so much earlier for many schools. Also, on the FAFSA, your family’s EFC is calculated. The EFC is the Expected Family Contribution and, as it says in the name, this amount of money is what your family is expected to pay towards your education. This is based on income, number of people in your household, whether or not your parents’ marital status, and many different aspects that could affect you and your family being able to afford college. Even if you believe your EFC will be high, or you think your parents make too much to award any aid, I highly advise filling out the FAFSA because you never know what could turn up!

As the time creeps closer to taxes being due, keep in mind financial aid is due for your colleges! Your application process isn’t complete until all necessary information is turned into your colleges, including financial information.

Arne Duncan Confirmed as Secretary of Education

Yesterday, Arne Duncan assumed his official position as part of President Obama’s cabinet as Congress approved him for Secretary of Education. “Mr. Duncan, there is no question that schools across America can benefit from the same kind of fresh thinking that you have brought to the Chicago public schools,” said Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, as he instroduced Duncan to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

During the confirmation hearing Duncan announced “We must do better.”

We’ve yet to see an official plan for his tenure, but he has made it clear that priorities include merit-based pay for teachers and more robust pre-k programs. He also shared three goals with the Committee: (more…)

10 Tips for Writing Better College Papers

college paperWhen I was a professor, one of the things that frustrated me the most was the quality of papers that some students turned into me.  After a while, I started to see some of the same mistakes being made repeatedly.  Based on my experience with student paper problems, here are some tips on how to write better college papers.

  1. Read the directions, and make sure you understand the assignment completely!  If you don’t, ask the professor for clarification.
  2. Obey the rules when it comes to page limits.  If the teacher says 5-7 pages, turn in 5-7 pages.  Do not turn in 4 pages and a short paragraph, as this annoys professors and does not count.  And don’t monkey around with the margins or use a big font.
  3. Staple your paper, or otherwise attach it professionally and effectively.  Papers with crinkled up corners send a message to the grader that you don’t care about your work. (more…)

English Professors Invite Anyone to Contribute to Presidential-Inauguration Blog

Got thoughts about, praise for, or criticisms of the festivities celebrating Barack Obama’s inauguration? Are you in Washington and eager to offer a quick report or photograph from the scene? Submit any of the above to a new blog created by two English professors at Miami University of Ohio, who say they will not turn away any on-topic submission. In fact all submitted items are automatically posted to the blog.

The professors call the project ‘a radically inclusive inaugural anthology,’ but it’s basically a straightforward experiment in participatory journalism. They call it Post_Moot.

Dozens of people from around the world, many of them professors, have contributed since the blog fired up this weekend. The creators, William R. Howe, a visiting professor of English, and Chris Cheek, an associate professor of English, sent word about the project to several academic e-mail lists to seek submissions.

(Via The Chronicle: Wired Campus Blog.)

New York Students Gather to Watch Inauguration

Students gather at the Harlem Armory to watch Obama's inauguration.

Students gather at Harlem Armory. (New York Times)

The Harlem Armory filled with nearly 6,000 children from 35-40 schools this morning. The room was filled with red, white and blue decorated tables, and a 20-student choir sang while attention was focused on a TV tuned to the Today Show.

“I haven’t seen this many people in this armory for years, and I’ve been coming here since I was 14. I’m excited. How many kids do you know who are actually interested in politics? This shows they’re not into drugs and stuff. They’re actually interested in their future,” said Michael Tucker, a 24-year-old volunteer cadet of the Harlem Youth Marine Corps.

As President Obama was sworn in, the entire room rose to its feet, the children waved flags, and some even chanted “Barack Obama Rocks!”.

Inauguration watch party at Obama's alma mater, Columbia University. (New York Times)

Inauguration watch party at Obama's alma mater, Columbia University. (New York Times)

Meanwhile, Columbia University Low Memorial Library steps became a gathering point for university students and faculty, area school children and other community members. The university’s president, Lee C. Bollinger, welcomed the crowd, saying “Of all the people in the world who have the best of reasons to celebrate the inauguration of President Obama, none has more than Columbia University.“ The president of Obama’s alma mater said they would be “unembarrassed about our high hopes for the future.”

Read the rest of this story, and lean about other inaugural watch events in New York.

Ludacris Invites Indiana Students to Inauguration

Rapper Ludacris extends an inaugural invitation.

Rapper Ludacris extends an inaugural invitation.

Indiana students got a surprise guest last fall. Rapper Ludacris spoke before the school and announced that any 9th grader with a 3.0 GPA, and who has completed 20 hours of community service, would have the opportunity to attend the inauguration in person. The inauguration is peaking interest in the political process in ways these teachers say they haven’t seen since the 1960s.

Students Watching Inauguration in Classrooms

Barack H. Obama swears in as the 44th President of the United States.

Barack H. Obama swears in as the 44th President of the United States.

In the one place where most American students get their history education, they’ll be able to watch it being made today. Schools are showing the live inauguration of Barack Obama in classrooms, and assembling students in auditoriums to watch the historical event together.

Find the Best Deals for Textbook Tuesday

textbooksMore than 4,000 colleges and universities resume classes tomorrow, creating a retail holiday that has come to be known as Textbook Tuesday. The return of students to campus mean book sellers on campus and online are gearing up for their second highest traffic day of the year (the first being fall semester).

It might be more convenient to hit the campus bookstore on your way to class, but you’re likely to spend a lot more money that is necessary. If you’ve got a few days to spare, check out online book sellers like or You’ll save even more money at the end of the semester by placing your books back on these sites and selling them to other students.

Another option is renting textbooks from They say you’ll save up to 85 percent on your book purchases. Just keep the books in good/like new condition throughout the semester, then use the free return shipping label after finals.

Read more tips for saving money on textbooks.

School Tries E-Book Readers With Mixed Results

Several students at Northwest Missouri State University recently traded their printed textbooks for Sony’s e-book reading devices, which came loaded with assigned texts. But the students quickly discovered that the gadgets have limitations.

In a pilot program during the fall semester, about 240 students were loaned Sony Readers, and university officials contracted with McGraw Hill to provide electronic textbooks for four courses.

Students were initially fascinated with their readers, said Dean L. Hubbard, the university’s president, but they soon became frustrated with the devices’ limited interactivity capabilities — which made it impossible to highlight passages, cut and paste text, or participate in interactive quizzes.

(Via The Chronicle: Wired Campus Blog.)

Surviving the Wait for College Admissions Letters


Hey, high school students, are you a little stressed out as you wait to hear from all those colleges you applied to?  It’s a nerve-wracking process, no doubt!  Here are some tips to help get you through this anxious time.

  1. Keep things in perspective. Yes, you may not get into all the schools on your list, or you might not get enough money to attend.  But disappointing as this is, it’s not a catastrophe that’s going to wreck your life.  Trust me!  There are plenty of great schools out there, and the important thing is that you get yourself a good education at one of them.  In the grand scheme of things, there’s not as much riding on that envelope as you think.


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