Raise.me: Introducing Microscholarships

A startup website called Raise.me allows students to earn scholarship credits in exchange for taking certain courses and realizing other achievements, The New York Times reports. “The start-up’s approach is a mash-up of two popular economic concepts. One is ‘nudging,’ that is designing systems to influence the choices people make, ideally for their own good. The other is microfinance — incremental loans for entrepreneurs who would not otherwise have access to funding.”

“Raise.me charges participating institutions annual fees of $4,000 to $20,000 based on a college’s size and scholarship program. Each college sets its own criteria. Penn State has made its Raise.me program available to students at five high schools in Philadelphia, as well as six rural Pennsylvania high schools. Those students may earn scholarships of up to $4,000 a year for four years. Among other awards, the university offers them $120 for each A grade in a core course, $400 for each advanced placement course, $100 for each year of perfect attendance, $100 for a leadership role in a sport or extracurricular activity and $5 for each hour of community service, up to $500.

“The potential risk is that introducing monetary rewards could curb students’ intrinsic motivation to succeed in school, or their innate enjoyment of activities like reading, in favor of striving for scholarship dollars.” However, Raise.me co-founder Preston Silverman “said that the scholarship program did not displace students’ inner enthusiasm, but rather enhanced their motivation by showing them additional ways they could prepare for college.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

Everybody Is Eligible For Financial Aid

Christian Science Monitor: “If you’re not sure whether you’re eligible for financial aid to help pay for college, there’s an easy answer: Yes. You are. ‘Everybody is eligible, regardless of income,’ says Brad Yeckley, assistant manager of the Student Financial Education Center at Penn State University. What varies is the type of aid you’ll get and whether you’ll have to pay it back.”

Some highlights:

“To get federal, state and school financial aid — and even some private scholarships — you must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA … Some forms of financial aid are first-come, first-served, and schools and states often have their own deadlines. Apply for financial aid as soon as possible once the FAFSA opens on Jan. 1 of each year.”

“Schools start by granting you need-based aid (if you qualify), meaning funds that are earmarked for students with financial need. Those can include need-based grants — from the government or the school — and need-based federal loans such as Perkins and direct subsidized loans. Direct loans, also known as Stafford loans, are the most common types of federal student loans. Subsidized loans are more favorable than their unsubsidized counterparts because they don’t accrue interest while you’re in school or for the six months following graduation.”

“If you don’t receive enough need-based aid to cover your cost of attendance, or didn’t qualify for any at all, the school will then offer you federal direct unsubsidized loans or PLUS loans (available to parents and graduate students).These loans are less desirable than direct subsidized or Perkins loans because they accrue interest while you’re in school and during your grace period after you graduate. PLUS loans in particular carry high interest rates, and those made to parents are eligible for fewer repayment plans.”

“A net price calculator will show you how much grant aid you’re likely to receive to attend a particular school. That amount could include federal Pell Grants as well as state and school grant funding. But net price calculators don’t always show you exactly how much of each you’ll receive. That’s why it’s helpful to get an estimate of your potential Pell Grant from the FAFSA4Caster. Most colleges include net price calculators on their websites, but the tools aren’t always easy to find. Search for a calculator using the U.S. Department of Education’s Net Price Calculator Center.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

University of Netflix: Cutting the Cord on College Costs

The Washington Post: “College has a lot in common with your cable TV package, according to Michael Horn, a principal consultant at innovation agency Entangled Solutions. As schools plow money into new dorms, administrative costs and sports stadiums, some students find themselves paying for ‘channels’ they have no use for. Horn is co-chairing a new group to make ‘cutting the cord’ a viable option for students who find college painfully expensive and poorly suited to their needs.”

“The task force is creating a nonprofit to develop modern standards for ensuring the quality of a higher education at a decent price. Horn says the existing accreditation system is broken and hampers innovative programs that could address the affordability issue. He says a fresh take on certification will open the door for the Airbnbs and Ubers of higher education.”

“You really want just the accounting degree and you also get the football team alongside it,” Horn said. “You’re paying for things that you will never ever use. It’s not tailored to actual needs.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

Will Harvard Become Tuition-Free?

The New York Times: A “slate of candidates running for the Board of Overseers at Harvard” thinks the university “should stop charging tuition to undergraduates.” They see a tuition-free Harvard as an alternative to affirmative action, arguing “that if Harvard were free, more highly qualified students from all backgrounds would apply, and the university would no longer have trouble balancing its class for racial or ethnic diversity.”

Asian-Americans, in particular, are thought to be “short-changed” in the admissions process. In fact, a pending federal lawsuit accuses “the university of discriminating against Asian-Americans in admissions. Harvard has denied the allegations.” Both the lawsuit and the slate of candidates are seeking “disclosure of data showing how the university’s freshman class is selected each year.”

Harvard spokesman Jeff Neal says a tuition-free Harvard is not going to happen, however. “There is a common misconception that endowments, including Harvard’s, can be accessed like bank accounts, used for anything at any time as long as funds are available … In reality, Harvard’s flexibility in spending from the endowment is limited by the fact that it must be maintained in perpetuity and that it is largely restricted by the explicit wishes of those who contributed the endowed funds.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail