Feb 28, 2013

Where to find Scholarships for Hispanic Students

About 52 million people in the United States identify themselves as Hispanic, making Latinos the largest minority group in the country.

Yet despite improved graduation rates and increased numbers of Hispanic students heading off to college, a significant financial barrier still exists for many Latino families looking for ways to make postsecondary education accessible for their children.

Fortunately, there are several organizations and programs geared toward Hispanic students that offer generous scholarships and specific support services.  Here are some of the most visible:

The Hispanic Scholarship Fund
The Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization supporting Hispanic postsecondary education.  HSF awards multiple scholarships through various programs, including the Gates Millennium Scholars, the HSF/Discover Scholarship, and the HSF Walmart Foundation Scholarship.  To be eligible for scholarships offered through HSF, students must have a minimum 3.0 GPA, be US citizens or legal permanent residents, fill out the FAFSA, and plan to enroll as full time students at accredited US postsecondary institutions. In addition, the Hispanic College Fund maintains a scholarship search tool, Latino College Dollars, specifically designed to support Hispanic students.

An organization worth exploring is the ¡Adelante! U.S. Education Leadership Fund.  Since its inception in 1993, ¡Adelante!’s Scholarship Program has awarded over $1.6 million to qualified Hispanic students.  Scholarships range from a general national scholarship and various leadership scholarships to one geared specifically to future engineers. High school students may submit an acceptance letter as a proof of enrollment. Scholarships for the 2013-14 academic year are currently posted and applications are due May 31, 2013, so check the website for more information.

Hispanic College Fund
Founded in 1993, the Hispanic College Fund (HCF) is a Washington-based national nonprofit organization with a mission to develop the next generation of Hispanic professionals by providing educational, scholarship, and mentoring programs to students throughout the US and Puerto Rico. Among the more visible HCF programs is the Hispanic Youth Institute, which takes place each summer in communities across the country. 

A civil rights organization, MALDEF has developed a Scholarship Resource Guide to support high school, college, and graduate students in their attainment of a higher education—regardless of immigration status.  This is a free, informative resource guide for students, parents, and educators.

Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) Foundation
Students interested in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields should look into scholarships offered through the SHPE Foundation.  Merit and need-based scholarships ranging from $1000 to $5000 are awarded each year to graduating seniors, undergrads, and some graduate students. The application period for the 2013-14 academic year will close on May 1, 2013.

League of United Latin American Citizens
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) offers a variety of scholarships through the LULAC National Scholarship Fund.  Applicants are eligible for National Scholastic Achievement Awards, Honors Awards, and General Awards.  Applications are currently available on line and must be submitted by March 31, 2013.

National Association of Hispanic Journalists
Since 1986, the NAHJ has awarded more than $1.6 million in scholarships to 610 students who intend to pursue a career in journalism.  Scholarships range from $1,000 to $5,000 with a variety of options from incoming freshmen to those in graduate school.  All applicants must be student members of NAHJ ($35) and submit applications by no later than April 5, 2013.

In addition to these organizations, be sure to check out scholarships made available by individual colleges as well as those listed on more general scholarship search websites such as FastWeb or Cappex.

Feb 26, 2013

College Board explores Plans for a New SAT®

The last time the College Board tinkered with the SAT® was in 2005.  While no tears were shed over the elimination of “analogies” and "quantitative comparisons," many openly questioned the value of adding a “writing” section that claimed little interest in the quality of an answer and helped lengthen the test-taking experience by 45 minutes.

Since his appointment last fall, the new College Board president has been strongly hinting that changes were once again in store for the SAT.  Published comments suggested his dissatisfaction with the obvious disconnect between the SAT and Common Core standards and specifically targeted the required essay as nothing short of a waste of time.

And for the first time last year, the ACT overtook the SAT as the most popular college entrance exam.  Not only that, but as the anti-test lobby has gained momentum, an increasing number of colleges have totally given up on the value of standardized testing and gone “test-optional.”

In an email circulated to College Board members on Monday, David Coleman announced that the organization would undertake an effort to “redesign the SAT® so that it better meets the needs of students, schools, and colleges at all levels.”

Without giving too much away, Coleman suggested that an improved SAT would focus on core knowledge and skills supporting student success in college and careers, clearly taking a page from ACT promotional materials that have successfully moved the test into first place among test-takers across the nation.

While hinting that the test may have broader applications in the highly profitable state-wide assessment market, Coleman underscores the origins of the SAT as a test “created to democratize access to higher education for all students” and provides reassurance that the redesigned SAT will meet the “evolving needs of admissions officers” to remain “a valid and reliable predictor of college success.”  

The College Board intends to engage consumers in the redesign process. It's doubtful anyone will vote for a return of analogies, antonyms or quantitative comparisons—the short list of College Board failures.

And you can bet that the final product will look more like the ACT than the current test.

Feb 25, 2013

Which of Virginia's Public Colleges enroll the Most Out-of-State Students

The College of William and Mary

This is a trick question. Or at least the answer may not be intuitive.

Ask most northern Virginia parents which of the Commonwealth’s public institutions enrolled the highest percentage of out-of-state students in the fall of 2012, and the answer will usually be the University of Virginia.

But according to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), UVa was not guilty of enrolling the highest percentage of students from outside the Commonwealth. The Virginia Military Institute (VMI) once again holds that distinction, posting 41.6% percent out-of-state students. The College of William & Mary remained in second place at 33.9 percent, and the University of Virginia came in third at 33.5 percent.

Looking at numbers instead of percentages, Virginia Tech enrolled the most nonresidents in the fall of 2012 with 6232 students coming from other states. UVa came in second with 5304 out-of-state students—up from 5150 in 2011, and James Madison University came in third with 5028 (up from 4896) students from outside of Virginia.

In total, Virginia public institutions enrolled 166,722 students (up one percent from last year), with 30,584 (18%) coming from other states, no doubt to take advantage of Virginia’s reputation for excellence in postsecondary education.

In fact, four Virginia public institutions (UVa, College of William & Mary, University of Mary Washington, and James Madison University) are among the top 25 public colleges and universities with the best four-year graduation rates in the country based on data generated using a search tool provided on the IPEDS website.

While the state legislature engages in a perennial battle with UVa and William & Mary over enrollment caps for nonresidents, it’s interesting to look at which of Virginia’s public institutions are actually most friendly to out-of state students:

Feb 23, 2013

Community Service pays Big Dividends—In Scholarships

The University of Richmond participates in the Bonner program.

Although service to others should be its own reward, there’s no question that many colleges, organizations, foundations, and businesses are willing to acknowledge outstanding community service by awarding some very generous college scholarships.
These scholarships are targeted to those who have a true passion for service. While many local high schools and school districts require service as part of the regular curriculum, to qualify for a community service scholarship, you’ll need to go above and beyond basic hour requirements.

Scholarship committees will want to see proof of service, hear from references, and have an idea that you are committed to continuing service into the future. Typically winners of these awards began early in their high school careers and dedicate hours weekly throughout the year. We’re not talking about a one-time mission trip to the Caribbean. The kind of volunteerism that wins awards is sustained and heartfelt.

Here are 11 of the bigger national scholarships available to high school students who are deeply involved in community service:
  • Lowe’s Scholarship Program. Lowe’s typically awards 140 $2,500 scholarships to high school seniors who demonstrate a history of commitment to their community through leadership activities, community service and/or work experience. Applications for the 2012-12 program will be accepted until February 28, 2013.. For more information and an online application form, visit the Lowe’s website.
  • Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program is the largest US recognition program based exclusively on volunteer community service. Over the past 17 years, more than 345,000 students have participated in the program and  more than 100,000 of them have been officially recognized for their volunteer work. In the US, each program year begins in September and online applications must be completed in early November. Note that programs are also conducted in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Ireland, and India, where Prudential has significant business operations.
  • Do Something Awards. Since 1996, DoSomething.org has honored the nation’s best young adult “world changers.” This year, up to five finalists, each of whom will receive a minimum of $10,000 in community grants and scholarships, will be flown to New York and appear on Vh1. One will be selected as the Grand Prize winner and will receive $100,000 in community grants. Applications are due April 15, 2013.
  • Gloria Barron Prize. The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes honors outstanding young leaders who have made “a significant positive difference to people and our planet.” Nominees, who may range in age from 8 to 18 years old, must have been the prime mover of a service activity to qualify for a $2,500 award. Nominations and completed nomination packet must be received by April 30, 2013.  For the first time this year, nominations may be submitted online.
  • Kohl’s Cares Scholarship Program. This program recognizes and rewards young volunteers (ages 6-18) who help make their communities a better place to live. This year, more than 2,300 kids will be recognized with over $425,000 in scholarships and prizes. National winners will each be awarded $10,000 and Kohl’s will donate $1,000 to a nonprofit organization on each winner’s behalf. Nominations will be accepted until March 15, 2013.
  • Coca-Cola Scholars Program. Each year, the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation awards over $3 million in achievement-based four-year college scholarships to 250 outstanding high school seniors. Applicants are evaluated on the basis of “demonstrated leadership in academics, school, community and civic activities, as well as personal character and the motivation to serve and succeed. Applications are typically accepted from August to October 31 of the senior year in high school.
  • AXA Achievement Scholarship. Fifty-two winners (one from each state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico) are selected to receive one-time scholarship awards of $10,000 each. From this pool, ten national winners are selected to receive an additional one-time scholarship of $15,000. Some of the remarkable accomplishments of AXA Achievers include setting up a food bank, designing a curriculum to get kids interested in science, and founding a nonprofit for young people encouraging community service and civic involvement. To register for information, visit the AXA Achievement website. Information about the 2014 program will be available in September 2013. 
  • Buick Achievers Scholarship. This program rewards students who have succeeded both inside and outside the classroom—a leader in school, a volunteer, or a “community-minded individual.” Up to $25,000 per year for 100 first-time freshman or existing college students will be awarded to students entering qualified five-year engineering programs. One thousand additional students will receive $2,000 scholarships. Priority will be given to minority or first-generation students who show some financial need. Applications are due by February 28, 2013.
  • Comcast Leaders and Achievers Program. Each year, Comcast asks high school principals and guidance counselors to identify students who demonstrate a strong commitment to community service and display leadership abilities in school activities or through work experience. Since 2001, the program has recognized more than 17,000 students and given more than $17.2 million in scholarships. Nominations are generally accepted through the first week in December.  Check with the Comcast website for more details.

  • McDonald’s Educates.  This scholarship honors outstanding high school seniors residing in the greater Washington DC area who demonstrate leadership, character, scholarship, and volunteerism.  This year, 60 recipients will be eligible to receive one scholarship in the amount of $5000 or $1500.  Applications are due by March 22, 2013.

  • Jesse Brown Memorial Youth Scholarship Program.  This scholarship is designed to encourage young volunteers to play active roles in the Department of Veterans Affairs Voluntary Service (VAVS) programs. Scholarships can be awarded to any volunteer who is 21 or younger and has volunteered for a minimum of 100 hours at a VA medical center during the previous year.  Students must either be nominated or submit a self-nomination form which includes an essay discussing “What volunteering at a VA medical center means to you.”  Materials must be received no later than March 1, 2013.
Finally, be sure to check the websites of specific colleges to which you are applying as many offer scholarships for volunteerism.  Also check to see if your college participates in the Bonner Scholars Program, which provides opportunities for students with financial need to participate in community service as work-study.