Jan 29, 2016

16 scholarships totaling over $6.2 million

As much as we preach that scholarship search should not wait until second semester senior year, the reality is that most college-bound students don’t focus attention on how the bills will be paid until they begin to see how much those bills will be.  Then suddenly the various scholarship competitions—essay, video, or project oriented—come onto the radar. 

Keep in mind that scholarship competitions aren’t just about the money—although that’s good.  They can be used to show self-motivation and drive, even if the financial part isn’t particularly noteworthy.  And personal recognition can be enormously good for the soul as well as for the college application.

On the outside chance that snow days might be put to good use, here are a few scholarship competitions amounting to millions of dollars that are currently accepting applications:

Atlantic and College Board Writing Prize: One winner will be selected and will receive $5000 based on an essay responding to a specific prompt. The winning essay will be published in the September 2016 issue of The Atlantic.  A sponsoring teacher must submit the essay online on or before February 28, 2016.

AFA Teens for Alzheimer’s Awareness Scholarship: This scholarship awards up to $5000 to teens able to articulate the impact Alzheimer’s disease has had on their lives and others in their family and community. The competition requires an autobiography along with a 1200- to 1500-word essay submitted no later than February 15, 2016.

Anne Frank Outstanding Scholarship Award: Applicants must be graduating high school seniors who are community leaders and have been accepted to a four-year college. The winner receives a $10,000 scholarship. A personal essay, letters of recommendation, and allowable supporting materials must be submitted by February 19, 2016.

AXA Achievement Community Award:  Applicants must demonstrate ambition and self-drive as evidenced by outstanding achievement in school, community or work-related activities.  The application deadline is February 1, 2016, but only the first 10,000 applications will be accepted.

BMI Student Composer Awards Program:  Young composers are invited to submit original “classical” compositions for a top prize of $5000. Applications must be submitted online no later than February 15, 2016.

Buick Achievers:  The Buick Achievers Scholarship Program is offering up to $25,000 per year for 50 first-time freshmen or existing college students, renewable for up to four years and one additional year for those entering a qualified five-year engineering program.  These awards are targeted to students who plan to major in a course of study that focuses on engineering technology, design or other majors related to the automotive industry.  Applications must be submitted by no later than 5 p.m. EST on February 29, 2016.

Bulkofficesupply.com Scholarship:  High school students as well as college freshmen and sophomores interested in teaching, art, or owning a business are eligible to compete for this $1000 scholarship. Submit an application together with an essay of up to 600 words by February 1, 2016.
Courageous Persuaders:  Create a 30-second commercial to warn middle school students about the dangers of underage drinking or the dangers of texting while driving. The entry deadline is February 11, 2016.

Davidson Fellows Award:  The Davidson Fellows Scholarship awards up to $50,000 to “extraordinary young people, 18 and under, who have completed a significant piece of work” in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, literature, music, philosophy and “outside the box.”  An application, three essays and a video must be submitted no later than February 10, 2016.

Maureen L. and Howard N. Blitman Scholarship: This $2500 scholarship is targeted to a high school senior from an ethnic minority who has been accepted to an ABET-accredited engineering program at a four-year college or university.  Applications are due by March 1, 2016.

Richard G. Zimmerman Journalism Scholarship:  High school seniors are eligible to compete for a non-renewable award of $5000. Applicants must submit 3 work samples (print or multimedia), 3 letters of recommendation, a transcript, a completed FAFSA, and a letter of acceptance from a college or university.  The application package must be postmarked by March 1, 2016.

Rover College Scholarship: Take a survey and write a 400-500 word essay for a chance to win $1000. Entries must be submitted by May 31, 2016.

Scholars Helping Collars Scholarship: Students are invited to apply for a $1000 scholarship based on a 500- to 1000-word essay describing volunteer efforts helping animals. The essay plus three photos must be submitted by February 15, 2016.

SEG Scholarships:  To qualify, students must be intending to pursue a college curriculum directed toward a career in applied geophysics or a closely related field, such as geosciences, physics, geology, or earth and environmental sciences. Scholarships range from $500 to $14,000.  High school seniors are eligible and must submit online applications by March 1, 2016.
Vegetarian Resource Group Scholarship: Applicants will be judged on having shown compassion, courage, and a strong commitment to promoting a vegetarian diet and lifestyle.  Application, essay, recommendations, and transcript are due by February 20, 2016.

We The Students Scholarship Contests: Students between the ages of 14 and 19 are invited to compete for up to $5000. Special awards are available to Scouts and Scout Troops. Essays must be submitted by no later than February 7, 2016.

Jan 28, 2016

Here come the JETs—Jesuit Excellence Tours

Wheeling Jesuit University

Coping with a variety of weather-related issues, admissions representatives from the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) have finally arrived and will be hosting a Jesuit Excellence Tour (JET) College Night tonight, January 28, from 7:00 to 8:30 pm, in the Hanley Athletic Complex at Georgetown Prep.

Perennially popular undergraduate destinations, 28 Jesuit colleges and universities form the institutional membership of the AJCU. Although each college is separately chartered and totally autonomous, the schools are bound by a common heritage, purpose, and vision.

And they work hard to attract students from all walks of life, in every corner of the country.

Toward this end, the Jesuit Excellence Tour is a “series” of recruitment events taking place in 20 metropolitan areas across the country. They typically feature any combination of the 28 member colleges and universities.

And although daytime activities mainly target parochial high schools, JET College Nights are open to the public.

According to Brian Klein, an undergraduate admission counselor at Loyola Maryland University, “This year’s participating representatives look forward to meeting with students who are in search of an education that inspires them to, in the words of Jesuit founder Ignatius of Loyola, ‘go forth and set the world on fire!’”

For students just beginning to consider colleges or seniors making final enrollment decisions, JET College Nights offer opportunities to connect directly with college admissions representatives and to learn what each school has to offer.
This year, the Washington DC Jesuit Excellence Tour College Night will feature representatives from the following Jesuit Colleges and Universities:

Canisius College, NY
College of the Holy Cross, MA
Creighton University, NE
Fairfield University, CT
Fordham University, NY
Georgetown University, DC
John Carroll University, OH
Le Moyne College, NY
Loyola Marymount University, CA
Loyola University Chicago, IL
Loyola University Maryland, MD
Loyola University New Orleans, LA
Marquette University, WI
Regis University, CO
Saint Joseph’s University, PA
Saint Louis University, MO
Saint Peter’s University, NJ
Spring Hill College, AL
University of Detroit Mercy, MI
University of San Francisco, CA
University of Scranton, PA
Wheeling Jesuit University, WV
Xavier University, OH

Note that JET College Nights are held in other parts of the country.  For example, the Buffalo/Rochester/Syracuse JET takes place during the week of February 29 through March 3, and tours in Cleveland, New York, Boston, Las Vegas and the Pacific Northwest are scheduled all the way through the end of May.

For more information, feel free to check directly with any of the 28
AJCU member colleges or visit the JET Facebook page for a schedule of events for the rest of the year.

And by the way, if you are considering attending any one of the National Catholic College Admission Association (CCAA) member colleges, including most Jesuit colleges and universities, consider applying for one of eight one-time
CCAA scholarships.  The application will be available in early February.

Jan 26, 2016

UVa increases early admission offers to 5192 for the Class of 2020

University of Virginia

Early applicants to the University of Virginia’s Class of 2020 received decisions late last week—well ahead of the January 31st published release date.  With a huge snow storm poised to hit the east coast, the admissions office decided to give over 5000 prospective ‘Hoos some good news to consider for what was to become an extended vacation from school for many.

“We received the largest number of early-action applicants in our history and we are proud to offer admission to students who we believe have the ability to shape this University for years to come,” said Dean of Admission Gregory W. Roberts. “We are excited to welcome this incredible group to UVa and we hope they join us on Grounds next fall.”

Just looking at the numbers, UVa’s continued increase in early action (EA) applicants provides impressive proof that admission to the Commonwealth’s flagship university remains a highly sought-after prize among high school students—both from within the state and across the country.

And even with plans to increase undergraduate enrollment, the competition for admission under UVa’s five-year old EA program continues to be intense, as the overall number of applications grew to 16,768—about a 4 percent increase over numbers reported the same time last year.

Predictably, most of the early applicants, 12,308 (or 73 percent) came from out of state. The balance—4,460 applicants—came from within Virginia.

Out of this year's EA pool, 5,192 students were admitted—about seven percent more than for the Class of 2019, which experienced a six percent jump in EA admits from the year before. Of those admitted, 2237 were from Virginia (50 percent offer rate—up three percentage points), and 2955 were from out of state.

Among the offers, 3,945 were for the College of Arts & Sciences, 1,025 were for the School of Engineering and Applied Science, 96 were for the School of Architecture, 65 were for the School of Nursing, and 62 were for the Curry School of Education.

Typically, more offers are made to nonresidents because the “yield” among students faced with out-of-state tuition is significantly lower. But it’s worth noting that offers made to out-of-state students increased by over five percent from last year. 

According to assistant admissions dean Jeannine Lalonde (Dean J), those offered early admission bids were very well qualified. The middle range of SAT scores of this year's admitted students fell between 2020 and 2270 (ACT between 31 and 34). And 95 percent of the offers went to students in the top ten percent of their high school classes (this number only reflects those who attend schools that report rank).

Although over 7500 students were denied admission during the first round of consideration, another 4065 were thrown a lifeline by being deferred to the regular decision pool, which stands at just over 15,730 applicants. The entire group will receive decisions before April 1, while deferred applicants are specifically encouraged to send new test scores and midyear grades as soon as possible.

All students will have until May 1 to make up their minds. And those who were lucky enough to be admitted to UVa’s Class of 2020 can expect to receive significant encouragement to commit as soon as possible.

Jan 25, 2016

2016 FAFSA deadlines are right around the corner

Georgetown's priority FAFSA deadline is February 1

If you applied early and were hoping for priority financial aid consideration at Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, or Yale, you needed to submit the CSS PROFILE (and accompanying documentation) by November 1. Penn (November 2), Brown (November 3) and Columbia (November 15) were also looking for PROFILEs shortly after early applications were due.

And with logic that only a financial aid officer could explain, the Ivies follow-up with an additional series of FAFSA deadlines for all applicants—early and regular—ranging from February 15 (Cornell) to April 15 (Penn and Princeton). Note that not all of the FAFSA deadlines coincide with or seem to bear much relationship to PROFILE deadlines for regular decision applicants. These range from February 1 (Dartmouth and Penn) to May 10 (Yale).  Clearly, the system is sending a confusing set of mixed messages.

The good news is that most every college and university in the U.S. has a clearly posted priority financial aid deadline by which the FAFSA should be filed for students to have the best possible chance of receiving both institutional and federal aid.

Because most (not all) of these deadlines are either on or before March 1st, students and their parents must act early in the New Year—often before tax returns are filed with the federal government—to ensure priority consideration for financial aid.
And it's important to try to meet these deadlines.  For example, the Howard University website specifically states, “If you apply for Financial Aid by the priority deadline, you may qualify for a greater amount of gift assistance.”  Other schools use timely filing of financial aid documents as a sign of “demonstrated interest.”

To underscore the importance of submitting the FAFSA sooner rather than later, even if it means estimating income and taxes to be paid, the following is a list of local priority financial aid deadlines:
You can research individual deadlines by going to a college or university website and entering “FAFSA” or “FAFSA deadline” in the search function. Only the most poorly constructed websites will fail to pop up a link to either an admissions or a financial aid web page clearly stating the priority deadline by which you should file your FAFSA and or CSS PROFILE. Some will even give you a few good reasons why this is so important.

And just to prove the point about how varied and early FAFSA deadlines can be, here are a few more:

Many states also have FAFSA deadlines that are entirely separate from but usually after institutional dates. A handy tool for researching individual state deadlines is provided on the FAFSA website. Locally, the State of Maryland has posted March 1st as its deadline, and the District of Columbia uses April 1. Virginia is noncommittal and refers applicants to individual financial aid administrators (Hint: you may notice a pattern of March 1st as a deadline for the Virginia public colleges and universities listed above).

Filing the FAFSA by the priority deadlines and promptly responding to any requests for additional documentation helps ensure you’ll receive your financial aid letters at about the same time you receive admissions decisions.   

And if a student is selected for verification, the process can be significantly delayed.  Catholic University advises that, “Students selected for verification, either by the Department of Education (DOE) or by Catholic University (CUA) will not be packaged until we receive all requested required documentation and have completed the verification review process. Based on the time of year, the verification review process can take up to 20 business days from the time the Office of Student Financial Assistance receives all requested required documents.”

Note that it takes the FAFSA processor 1 to 2 weeks to get information to individual colleges and universities—if the FAFSA is filed electronically. If you use the paper application, the turnaround can take from 3 to 4 weeks. And delays could be longer if your application is randomly selected for a more in depth review.

Remember you do NOT have to be admitted to a college or university before submitting your FAFSA. You CAN file using last year’s tax return to estimate income and taxes—provided you remember to amend. If you have any questions or need additional assistance, contact the FAFSA on the Web Consumer Service either online or by calling 1-800-433-3243 (1-800-4-FED-AID).