Category Archives: Scholarships and Grants

Best Grants for Young Entrepreneurs

Best Grants for Young Entrepreneurs

If working your way up the corporate ladder… hoping to make a difference down the road doesn’t sound like your cup tea, perhaps you are an entrepreneur, but don’t know it yet. If you recently graduated from college or university and have found that the only options available to you are starting at the bottom and working your way up over the years, but you are filled with great ideas and aspirations to doing something big now, consider starting your own business.

Australia boasts about having capital available for entrepreneurs wanting to make a difference now, but who lack funding. Check out all that is available by region and business type at SmallBusinessLoanAustralia.com. Some of the best ideas come from those people who are willing to take risks and build businesses out of products or services that have yet to be invented or need improvement. If hearing NO doesn’t faze you, you might be cut out for the job, the job of boss… your own boss. There are services out there to help guide new entrepreneurs in the right direction, there are event local FaceBook groups filled with other entrepreneurs willing to share their knowledge and help others not make the same business mistakes they made. In the sport of entrepreneurship, everyone can be a winner, even if they are competitors!

Getting Started

Great! You have an idea! Now how can you take that idea and turn it in to a product or service that people want? Check out and maybe become a member of SME Association of Australia. This organization will help guide new entrepreneurs in the right direction when developing a business plan and more. Building a business plan starts with research, a lot of research. Does this product or service exist anywhere else? It may seem silly, but finding a similar business or product is actually not a bad thing! If someone else has already done half of the legwork to develop a product or service similar to yours you can gain a vast amount of knowledge by checking out his or her product or service. Review their webpage, their customer base etc. This can shave a ton of research time off of your plate. If you cannot find a comparable product or service to your idea, which has already launched, this means you are leading the pack and you have a lot of work to do and little time to do it before someone else may launch their model of your idea. It’s a race and you better get ready!

Funding

Typical means for business start up capital can come from a myriad of sources. Some people are able to take from available funds they already have, but this is not the norm. You may be able to sell something in order to get enough money to get your idea started and off the ground. If you can find anyway to start your business without creating debt owed to friends, family, financial partners, banks, or other interested parties do it! It can create a lot of strain on a new business owner trying to launch their product/service and business while trying to keep stakeholders happy as well.

Grant Options

Australia offers numerous grant options that can help get you from an idea to a launched business with products and services. Regions fund many of the grants available.

Talent + Grant has available funds up to $40,000 AUD to help support an artistic outreach and business plan. Funds Available in ACT, NSW, NT, QLD, SA, TAS, VIC, and WA.

Jobs Action Plan NSW Grant has available funds up to $6,000 to help a business who has grown and needs to bring on employees cover costs of the new employees payroll taxes.

Regional Economic Development Fund NT has funding for up to 50% of projected costs if the project helps develop the Northern Territory.

Innovation Connections Grant has funding for territories: ACT, NSW, NT, QLD for small to medium sized companies to work on collaborative projects in the technology industry.

Championship Grants TAS has funding up to $7,000 AUD for organizations to bring sporting championships to Tasmania.

Regional Events Funding WA has funding for up to $50,000 AUD when a business or organization brings awareness to local culture in their communities by hosting events that showcase these cultures.

National Radioactive Waste Management Facility Community Benefit Program has funding available from $5,000 to $1 million AUD for projects in Barndioota and Kimbal in South Australia if they are helping strengthen the ecosystems.

Trade Support Scheme NT can help cover up to 50% of costs associated with international marketing

New Market Expansion Program TAS has funding for businesses located in Tasmania to create new markets domestically and internationally.

Future Industries Sector Grown Program has available funds up to $1 million AUD when then project will create jobs and help grow the economy in Victoria.

While this is merely a handful of the grants available to Australians each grant has it’s own restrictions and guidelines for the application process and policies surrounding the usage of the funds made available to the grant winners. With all of these different funds available it is no wonder that Australia has experienced year over year economic growth recently. While entrepreneurs are out to change the world, they need to work efficiently and not create more financial burdens that they need to. Grants are a great source to help provide aspiring individuals the tools and know how to get their idea off the ground and running.

“The question isn’t who is going to let me, it is who is going to stop me.”

– Ayn Rand

How to Negotiate Your Financial Aid Package

money for college project

This is the time of year when the rubber meet the roads for college admissions. At this point in the year, most college freshman have already committed to their college of choice. You have paid the admission deposit, you have signed up for Orientation, you are registering for classes, and you are making plans to move into the dorms in August. The final piece of this on-boarding process is your financial aid and your student bill.

Most colleges send out their incoming freshman financial aid award letters well ahead of their returning students. This is done for a number of reasons, but mainly for recruiting purposes. Incoming freshman need to know what financial aid they have been offered in order to accurately assess the best college for them.

SO what do you do when you receive your financial aid award letter? It is negotiable? Can you contact the financial aid office and request/demand that they give you more funds? Are there awards that you can swap out or adjust?

The answer is yes to all of the above.

Demand More Scholarships and Grants

This process will vary from one school to the next but if you have received competitive academic scholarships, you will likely have room to negotiate these amounts. The trick is that you will need to determine who awards the scholarships and who sets their levels. Often, the financial aid counselor you will speak with when calling the financial aid office, cannot adjust anything for you. They will tell you that your awards were ran though the “packager” which looks at a large list of criteria, and you were awarded everything you qualified for. This is true, but there are ways around it.

If you received scholarships from a department, from a program (such as the Honors College, or Graphic COmmunications…) you can contact that department or program directly to request an increase. As these programs manage their funds independently, they are often more flexible in increasing awards than the financial aid office is.

This process also depends on the type of school you choose to attend. A large public institution will be much less likely to be able to adjust your awards than a small private school would be.

The key here is whether or not your school is an enrollment drive school. This means that your school does not receive any state funding and relies solely on the tuition paid by their students for their operating budget. Enrollment drive private schools have a quota of students they must reach each semester, and they will go to great lengths  to keep you on their campus. You have a much more powerful negotiating position at a school of this type, than a large public institution.

Loans are Always Adjustable

If you have gone through the negotiation process and requested all of the free grant and scholarship money that you can, you can always adjust your student loans. Decreasing the amount of your student loans is as simple as putting this request in writing or an email to your financial aid office. Increasing this loan may be a bit trickier.

If you receive Direct Stafford Loans, and you have not reached your yearly maximum, you can contact your financial aid office and request an increase. As long as you have not met your cost of attendance for that semester, they will be able to increase your loan.

If you receive private student loans, or a Parent PLUS loan, and they have not certified the entire amount that you or your parent were approved for, then they can go back to increase this amount up to the maximum that was initially approved by the lender. This can be as simple as putting a request in an email and sending it to your financial aid office.

The Bottom Line

Negotiating your financial aid package is all based on your negotiating position. If you are a highly recruited students, or if you attend a small private school then you will have a much greater negotiating position.

However, every student has the right to negotiate their financial aid package. As with job offers, it is much easier to get the free money before you begin your college career than it is to ask for raises once you have already started.

It never hurts to ask!

How to Dominate Scholarship Applications and Pay for College

money for college

The scholarship search can be intimidating. The most popular online scholarships searches, like FastWeb, force you to wade through thousands of worthless scholarships. They are not worthless because they are scams, rather they are worthless because they are not personalized. In fact, in my five years working in Higher Ed I have never met ANYONE who has won a scholarship through FastWeb. Obviously people do win these scholarships, but the chance of you winning a scholarship found through FastWeb is very low.

I highly recommend searching locally for your scholarships. I have written in length about the benefits of this in the past.  Your chances of winning increase drastically when the applicant pool drops from thousands of students to less than 50 for most local scholarships.

Once you have gathered a list of scholarships that you wish to apply for, you have to start the actual application process. This process can also be intimidating, but it does not have to do.

How to Dominate Scholarship Applications

I have compiled a list of the top 8 ways to dominate your scholarship applications and ensure that you maximize your chances of winning as many scholarships as you apply for.

  • Start early!! Almost every scholarship has a deadline and many scholarships give priority to applications submitted early.
  • Compile a list of accomplishments, awards, professional experience, education credentials, and volunteer organizations. Having this list handy will save you many hours during the application process since nearly every application will ask for this information.
  • Be aggressive! Scholarships are designed to reward deserving and persistent students who are willing to “do what it takes” to further their education. A scholarship committee is not impressed by a “less than your best” effort.
  • Identify and contact at least three people who would be willing to write an impressive recommendation letter on your behalf.
  • Apply for every scholarship for which you are eligible.
  • Follow up! Don’t let your scholarship application slip through the cracks. Scholarship committees will also appreciate the dedication you show in your future endeavors.
  • Be organized! This is great time to improve your organizational skills. Make sure to keep track of all deadlines, signatures, recommendation letters, and any necessary follow-up questions from a scholarship organization.
  • Don’t underestimate the importance of applying for scholarships. After all, a successful scholarship search could land you with a free ride and money to spare!

The Bottom Line

Searching and applying for scholarships is not easy. If it were, everyone would have a full-ride to college.

FastWeb likes to say that there are millions of dollars in unused scholarships each year. I don’t believe this, but I do know that there are many scholarships which do not receive many quality applications and are forced to award their money to a less than stellar student. This is where you have an opportunity to swoop in, submit an impressive application, and win a scholarship over your classmates.

Following the above 8 tips will give you your best chance of conducting a scholarship search that is sue to land you some funds to help pay for college.

How to Find Legit Scholarship Opportunities

local scholarships

Searching for scholarships can lead to a frustrating mess of results.

More often than not, you are sorting through scholarships that are outdated and ones that you don’t even qualify for. When you are trying to find legitimate scholarship opportunities to apply, this can be incredibly frustrating. I often compare this to searching for a job in a difficult economy. You are trying to find a means to support yourself financially, and you are getting a little desperate because time is running by quickly and your hopes and dreams are on the line.

The good news is that there are ways to make the scholarship search a bit more efficient and effective

Start Local

The best scholarship search tip that I have is to start searching for scholarship locally. Every high school guidance counselor has a book full of scholarships notices that have been sent to their school. Many of these guidance offices post these notices on their website. Even if you do not attend that high school, these guidance counselors are often more than willing to share information with you about scholarships in the community.

Local scholarships are much more attainable because of the number of applicants, and the relevance of the student to the scholarship organization. For example, if a student lives in the same town where he applies for a scholarship from a local organization, it is very likely that the scholarship committee who reviews his application will be able to relate to the student. Members of the committee may know of organizations that the student has volunteered at, they may know the school the applicant attended, they will most likely know of the college that the student has applied to, and who knows, they might even know the student’s family.

Also, most local scholarships are only intended for a local applicant pool. This limits the number of applicants and guarantees a local student will win the scholarship. Simple math will tell you that if there are only 30 applicants for one scholarship you have a much higher percentage chance of winning than if you apply for a nationally competitive scholarship with thousands of applicants.

Local scholarship awards are also nothing to scoff at. We are not talking about piddly $250 awards. Most local organizations give a minimum of $1000, and often this is a recurring award. For example, when I was applying for scholarships I won an award from a local non-profit that only provided scholarships to students from my high school. The award was $3000 for 4 years. This was a huge boost towards paying for my college and one of the largest single scholarships I received. All from local resources!

Many local scholarships also have additional benefits like banquet dinners in your honor, achievement awards, articles in the local paper, and billboards with your face on them. Even if you don’t enjoy that…your parents and family sure will!

 The Bottom Line

There is no one right way to search for scholarships. My advice would be to start local, then expand your search once you have exhausted your local scholarships. My hunch is that you will find much more success by staying at home rather than going abroad.

Cash in on Your Economic Woes

free money for college

Most media outlets would agree that we have officially risen out of the “Great Recession” and we are now on the road to recovery. However, with unemployments rates still sky high and jobs still difficult to come by, many of us are still feeling the effects of the stagnant economy of the last few years.

One glimmer of hope for the rising costs of tuition, is that the struggling economy has caused a few colleges and universities to broaden their financial aid programs. Tope tier universities such as Cornell and Harvard have instituted new Financial Aid initiatives aimed at further assisting families in the low-middle income section.

Cornell University

Cornell Financial Aid officers describe this new initiative which has eliminated the parental contribution (which is used to calculate your expected family contribution) if your parents make between $60,000 and $100,000. This means that your EFC number would only be based on the student’s income which will greatly increase a student’s financial need.

This adjustment is only applicable to campus based scholarships and grants however. Try as they might, Cornell (or no other college) can alter the Federal Financial Aid formula. So this new calculation by Cornell would not apply towards Federal Pell Grants, Subsidized Direct Stafford Loans, or Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants.

Harvard University

Harvard University has drastically lowered the cost of tuition for all families making less than $180,000. All told, more than 90% of american families will qualify for financial aid at Harvard University. Harvard has the largest endowment of any college or university in the United States at over $30 BILLION. They have almost double the endowment of the second college on the list; Yale University with $19 Billion.

I don’t anticipate that Harvard will feel the impact of this change too much, however it is a great sign that colleges and universities are making moves to help their education be more accessible and affordable.

The Bottom Line

So you can see how many of the top universities across the country are allowing more and more students to access their educational services. With the economy continuing to struggle in recovery, I would predict that even more universities will implement sweeping financial aid reforms in order to continue to attract top talent.

As I wrote yesterday, Georgia Tech just started an online master of computer science degree and is offering the entire advanced degree for $7000. Programs like this one, and the changes in financial aid policies are all encouraging signs that the future of education is still bright, and will continue to make college affordable and accessible for all students.

Win a $500 College Scholarship

Vista Health Solutions is giving away a $500 scholarship to one student who will be attending a public or private university in the Fall of 2013. To apply, applicants must complete the form below and submit an essay on the topic of:

“How I will stay in control of my health during my college years”

Applicant Requirements: To be eligible, all applicants must be planning to attend college in the Fall of 2013 as an undergraduate student. High school and undergraduate students are welcome to apply. Please include at the top of your essay your name, current school attended, current grade level and GPA.

Essay Requirements: Your college years are both joyful and stressful at the same time. With your new found independence comes responsibility. Too often college students put their healthy lifestyle on the back burner. How will you promote a healthy body and mind during your college years? Write an essay of 1,000 to 1,500 words explaining how you will take charge of your health.

Deadline: All essays must be submitted by August 1, 2013. The winning essay will be selected and announced on the Vista Health Solutions website on August 15th, 2013.

 

 

 

 

[button link=”http://www.nyhealthinsurer.com/scholarship-application/#wpcf7-f7722-p7720-o1″ color=”orange” newwindow=”yes”] Apply[/button]

How to Create Your Own Scholarships

One of the most exciting times of high school is your senior year when you get to apply for scholarships. Forget prom, pep rallies, and Friday night lights; this is where the real fun is!

You are asking individuals, businesses, and non-profit organizations to take a stake in your future. You are asking them to support you financially as you pursue your educational goals. This is one of the few times in your life where it is perfectly acceptable to ask for a hand-out from people who are happy to give them! While this process may be intimidating and frustrating at times, it can also be exhilarating.

One of the most common questions that I get here through the blog is “Where can I find more scholarships?”

I have answered that questions through other posts here and here.

Today however, I want to look at this question through a different lens.

Create Your Own Scholarships

Some of the most successful business owners are the ones who bootstrapped their own business, and built their entire empire from the ground up. They did not wait for anyone else to hand them a job, they created their own.

This same mindset can be applied to creating scholarships. Rather than applying to hundreds of scholarships that already exist, and often have applicant pools in the hundreds (or even thousands), why not drastically increase your chances of winning a scholarship and go directly to the source.

Many businesses spend millions of dollars each year on research, development and marketing. This is an untapped resource for college scholarships that nobody is utilizing.

You should start by identifying businesses that operate in a field you are interested in. For example, if you wish to go into pharmacy, then you could consider pharmaceutical manufacturing companies. If you want to go into English, then you could target publishing and printing companies. If you are a construction science major, then you could target construction companies. Architecture students should target architecture and design firms. You get the idea…

I would suggest that you identify a list of at least 30 businesses.

You should then identify someone in the Human Resources office for each of these companies. These are often the folks who either manage any existing scholarship programs, or could get you in touch with the people who do manage these programs. Your goal is to set up an in-person meeting with someone from that company.

I would recommend that you do this in writing, followed up by a phone call. Much as you would do for an official interview. Again, your main goal is to get face time with this individual.

The Scholarship Proposal

Asking for money is not a simple task. Remember, your goal is to convince the executive that you meet with that you are worth their time, energy, and money. You will need to convince this person that your future is so valuable, and that you will work so hard, that they would be crazy not to invest in you.

You should treat this as an investment. You will need a scholarship proposal and a “business plan”.

What you will propose will depend on your field but should go something like this:

Hello Mr. Executive at fancy company I admire,

My name is DJ, and I am going to be a freshman in your industry in the upcoming Fall semester. I am really excited, but am still in need of additional finances to secure my college funding.

I have created a scholarship proposal for you, which I have brought with me today. I will harness the power of my entire sizable social media influence to thank you for what you are about to do for me. I will sing your praises to every person that I know. I will be an advocate for you on our campus. I will recommend interns in your industry come to work for you, I will invite representatives from your business to my college to present and to lecture. I will incorporate your company’s research and design into my college projects. I will come to work for you in the summer after my freshman and sophomore years. I will spend my spring break working on dedicated projects for your company. In return for this, I ask for your financial support to pursue my educational goals. For my time and effort, I feel that a scholarship of $5000 per academic year would be a sufficient agreement.

Follow-Through

Once your proposal has been submitted, you will likely have to negotiate. I can guarantee that you will get turned down at least once, but do not get discouraged! Could you imagine the possibilities if more than one business agreed to your proposal!

Obviously you would need to modify your efforts for each business (you cannot work during spring break in more than one place) but the principle is the same.

Once you get a business to agree to this proposal, you have to follow through on your promises.

The best thing about this agreement, is that a relationship of this nature could easily land you a job in the future. Imagine going through all of this effort for a company without even being a full-time employee.

If a company sees your worth and value prior to you graduating, they may try to snatch you into a full-time position once you are done with school.

The possibilities are endless.

The Washington Monthly: A New College Ranking System

college rankings system

The college rankng system of the U.S. News and World Report has been the industry standard for many years. Conventional wisdom says that if you want to know what the best colleges in the U.S. are, you should look no further than the top of their list.

However, with many students disgruntled at the methodology behind the U.S. News and World Report ranking system, a new ranking system has emerged to challenge this paradigm.

Enter The Washington Monthly College Guide and Rankings. Their mission as stated in their methodology:

[box type=”info”] Unlike U.S. News and World Report and similar guides, this one asks not what colleges can do for you, but what colleges are doing for the country. Are they educating low-income students, or just catering to the affluent? Are they improving the quality of their teaching, or ducking accountability for it? Are they trying to become more productive—and if so, why is average tuition rising faster than health care costs? Every year we lavish billions of tax dollars and other public benefits on institutions of higher learning. This guide asks: Are we getting the most for our money?[/box]

So rather than selfishly asking what a college can do for you, this guide looks at what a college does to positive impact the nation it supports.

Antithesis of US News and World Report

The US News and World Report college ranking system has become the industry standard. In recent years however, their methodology has come under fire as being to much of a “good ‘ol boy” system. For example, within the methodology of determining their ranking system, they give a full 25% to peer rankings. So for example, if you me and 3 other of our buddies were all college presidents, we could all get together and be sure to vote each other’s colleges very high. This rating would then be used as 25% of the overall score for the college. Does that seem fair to you?

Methodology aside, the US News and World Report does not address the ability of a college to get their students employed. It does not measure the effectiveness of teaching. Like Bill Gates previously said: “The control metric shouldn’t be that kids aren’t so qualified. It should be whether colleges are doing their job to teach them. I bet there are community colleges and other colleges that do a good job in that area, but US News & World Report rankings pushes you away from that.”

What is Your Criteria?

If you are currently evaluating college admissions letters what are your top criteria for choosing which college to go to?

Be sure to think about how good of a job your college does at giving back to the community.

How well will they prepare you for the work force (that is after all, the main purpose of getting a college education right?)

Do they excel at teaching?

What is the average student loan debt of graduates?

Sequester Cuts Military Tuition Assistance Program – Then Brings it Back

military tuition assistance

When the dreaded “Sequester” deadline was passed on March 1st, we all thought the financial world might implode. Many politicians painted a dreary picture for the future state of our economy, and government frustration was at an all time high. Then the fallout of the sequester began to take shape.

One of the worst impacts of the sequester was the elimination of the Tuition Assistant (TA) Program for the United States Military. Separate from the G.I. Bill, the TA program provided up to $4,500 per year for active duty soldiers to take classes. Over 870,000 courses were taken last year by soldiers in this very popular program.

Needless to say the outcry was quick, and powerful.

The military was in a fury over this, and the general public was also rightly outraged. How are we showing support to our military if we cut the funding necessary for them to further their education?

Where Do We Go From Here?

Not even 3 full weeks later, and Sen. Kay Hagan from North Carolina passed a continuing resolution through the Senate that reinstated the Tuition Assistant program for active duty military under the Department of Defense.

So the program is back on, and soldiers can continue taking their courses.

What can we learn from all of this?

  • It’s best to have a back up plan! 
  • Diversification is key
  • Financial Aid can be fickle

What You Need to Know Before Studying Abroad

American Students Studying Abroad

 

Studying abroad is not something we have talked much about here at the Money for College Project. This may be partly because of, in my opinion, the demand to pay for your regular tuition first, before looking towards paying for a study abroad program.

However, study abroad programs are incredibly valuable, and I believe even essential for helping us build a world view outside of the little shell most of us have grown up in. Studying abroad is an excellent way to see the world, immerse yourself in a culture different than your own, and internalize that there are people in this world who are different than you. In fact, the majority of people in this world are much different than you. The lessons learned on a study abroad trip can be the jumping off point to a career, or it could be the catalyst used to signal change. You might find an entirely new career field while on a study abroad trip, or you may realize that your current course of action is not at all what you really want. You may also cement the fact that you are not really ready to settle down into a corporate 9 – 5 and you still need to experience some adventure in your life. These are all perfectly acceptable outcomes of a study abroad trip.

The infographic above is very interesting because it goes into detail about the most popular study abroad locations, and also the most popular programs and colleges which participate. It is interesting to me that the largest percentage of students studying abroad will do so in Great Britain. Italy however is a close second, that rings true from all of my experiences. Who would not want to spend a semester nestled in the hills of Tuscany sipping excellent vino and eating biscotti while studying architecture….count me in!

If you are considering a study abroad trip I hope you will find the above infographic helpful. These trips can be expensive but there are also specific scholarships that are dedicated to helping your find money for your study abroad trips.