Posted On: 2005-10-31
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Well hello everyone and welcome to the Halloween addition of the Financial Aid Podcast, today is October 31, 2005, it's Monday and my name is Chris and I will be hosting the Financial Aid Podcast today. We have some fun stuff to get to today, a few things from the mailbag a few things here and there but predominantly a fun show, a light hearted day, because it is Halloween it is the traditional day of costumes and candy and pumpkins and all sorts of things. Here is a quickie about Halloween, if you don't already know, if you don't use it already, definitely check out Wikipedia which is the online encyclopedia which is a great resource for researching stuff. It's a free resource and it's got tons of really good stuff and today's Halloween information comes from there. In terms of the origin of Halloween, according to what can be reconstructed of the beliefs of the ancient Celtic Druids, the calendar in Western Europe under the Druid influence began on November 1 and there is a belief that October 31 was not only the last day of the year but it was also the day of the year when the barrier between the world of the living and the world of the dead was thinnest and things could cross over between both worlds. During this time period the Druidic Priests, the Druids I guess were trying to foresee or foretell the future and in doing so they would use this day when the barrier between the two worlds was thinnest to try and commune with the super natural to see what kind of year they were going to have. Because they were an Agrarian culture and community, they relied heavily on the prophecies that their leaders could come up with to determine what kind of year they were going to have, what kind of harvest they were going to have and things like that. Over time of course it evolved a bunch of other things got tacked on to it in terms of superstitions and traditions and ideas and eventually resulted in what we call Halloween today which is a contraction of All Hallows Eve. The original Druidic name for Halloween as they celebrated was Samhain, a little bit of Halloween news.
Let's get to the regular news now. Topping the news last week a Bill by the Senate passed in the Senate which would then go on for Reconciliation to the Full House of Congress, made some changes to student aid. The Federal Student Aid, among other things the Pell Grant funding continues at the same level that it's been at so the increases that talked about in the Higher Education Act did not appear in this particular bill. There is funding at 2005 levels for several education programs including the Carlty Perkins Vocational Technical Education program, the Gerit Program and the Trio Program, these are programs that help disadvantaged student attend and succeed in college. The President had cut these back to pretty much nothing. The bill also increases spending on the Federal Supplementary Education Opportunity Grants, which are supplements to the Pell Grant; the appropriation went from-basically added $26 million to it for a total of $805 million in funding. The legislation also eliminates new funds for the Perkins Loan program. If you are looking at trying to finance your education using Perkins Loans or having that as part of the picture, it seems that pretty much everyone in Congress is gunning for the Perkins Loan program in one way or the other. In the past couple of years, people have kind of looked at the Perkins loan program simply because it has a fixed 5% interest rate it's also administered through the schools but the primary feature for students is 5% interest rate. In the last couple of years that's kind of looked at a little on the high side with Stafford Loans being at record lows. This year of course, the repayment rate for the Stafford loan is 5.3% so the Perkins loan now looks competitive and if you've tuned in last week, or you check out our consolidation website at www.studentloanconsolidator.com you know that the projections for the T-Bill rates in the coming year look for another up to 2% boost. Certainly the Perkins loan is starting to look like a real bargain compared to what projected student loan interest rates for Stafford loans will be in the coming year. Why is this important? If you have a fixed rate program and in some years it's not going to be deal and in some years it is going to be a deal, but obviously it is an important component to Higher Education financing strategy. If you would like to see the Perkins loan continue and continue to remain a predictable element of education finance now would be a good time to talk to your Congress representatives, your Senators and your House of Representatives, elected officials and let them know that the Perkins Loan program is probably something that should stay on the table.
I should point out in the interest of full disclosure that Perkins Loans are operated entirely through the schools, so companies like the Student Loan Network have no vested interest in keeping the Perkins Loan program around because logically if the Perkins Loan program is eliminated then other programs that we do get a benefit out of would get a boost, but really it's funny-when you talk about disclosure and interest stuff like that, everybody and their cousin knows that college is not, will not, never has gotten cheaper ever, at least not to my knowledge. If anyone has any information out there that indicates a year when colleges as a rule got cheaper, then let me know please, but in general colleges don't get cheaper, which means that the need for student loans isn't ever going to decrease unless something radical happens to the programs. For a third party company like the Student Loan Network kind of frown upon a loan program that in the grand scheme of things really won't affect business would really be kind of silly. I know that there are other student loan companies that are out there that are adamant in eliminating all forms of finance other than what they offer. I won't name them for fear of slander and law suits but they have vaguely androgynous names so you can figure that out. All right let's move onto some Podsafe music to kick off our Halloween.
"No Need to Apologize," by Nicki Quick viaPodsafe Music Network. All right let's do a quick scholarship update. I can't talk this morning, I really can't. Update to the Scholarship Search Secret Guide, by the way if you haven't already have the guide, I am flogging it like crazy, it's in the RSS feed, so if you are listening to this and you are not actually subscribed to the Financial Aid Podcast using Ipod or iTunes or whatever, get subscribed because it's a really great 10 page guide and one of these days I'm actually going to go through and take all of the updates that we've done in the Financial Aid Podcast and put it in. Maybe we'll call it Scholarship Search Secret Update--Scholarship Search Secret Guide version 2.0 or something like that, that will have all the updates.
Today's update one I am very excited about because it was sort of a flash of inspiration. One thing that is really hard to figure out is where to get scholarships and who is getting them and things like that and hear about people's experiences in getting scholarships. Take any of the search terms we have talked about the Financial Aid Podcast , tuitions, scholarship, full scholarship you name it, I won't go through the whole litany of the list because I'll say I don't have the list in front of me right now. Any time you come across a new venue of information, a new form, where people are posting information or people are interacting with each other, you have the opportunity to use those same search key phrases and tools to explore the new form. One of the things that has really come out lately is the search ability of blogs, the search abilities of people online journals, this is exciting for a couple of reasons one, there is a tremendous amount of data and two, it's usually very fresh data. Especially compared to more main stream web pages which may not be updated as often; people who are avid bloggers are posting updates to their blogs fairly often, daily, sometimes even hourly or half hourly if they don't' really have a lot to do during the day. What we want to do is try and exploit this freshness in information and this volume of information with our scholarship search tools.
So today's search secret update is the Google Blog search. I don't work for Google, I really don't, I work for the Student Loan Network, but Google provides such an array of useful tools that is very hard to not talk about them when ever you are talking about trying to find something. Go to www.blogsearch.google.com and here you have-there is the same Google interface, let's pick one of our broad terms, let's look up tuition scholarship, which if you remember from a few podcasts ago was a key phrase used to find tuition scholarships that were full free rides. Plug in "tuition scholarship" and suddenly you have a whole bunch of blog entries, 13,444 about people who basically either have got, or are already starting to look towards to getting a full tuition scholarship. What's important about this? A couple of things stand out, number one, you can read about people's experiences for finding scholarships particularly scholarships that are relevant to someone who has a similar background as you. Which is important you can see what the procedure has been, how long it's taken, whether they were successful or not, lessons learned and so forth. Number two, I think it's more important is that you can find more scholarships than just a regular web search might reveal. That is important because there are a lot of scholarships out there, there are a ton of scholarships out there and frankly not all of them have web pages, not all of the are indexed. There are plenty of little civic organizations scholarships and things that the people who administer these organizations don't even have computers, but the scholarships are still there and the money is still very real. By looking for other people's experiences using the Google Blog searcher, really any blog search capability you will tap into additional information about scholarships and grants and things, possibly local to you possibly not. You will tap into those resources and stand a greater chance of finding more money for college. The Google Blog search and the associated tools that go with it are today's scholarship update. Let's move on to another piece of Podsafe music.
"Fly Away," by Paula Toledo via the Podsafe Music Network, new music new great selection there. All right, there was a general absence of mail in the mailbag other than a quick e-mail from James Summers talking about how the Motorola Scholarship was on NPR Technology, so thank you James for pointing that out. We actually covered that scholarship probably last month, I can't remember the promoter for the scholarship actually went around and sent out information to a lot of different podcaster about the scholarship it's still out there, check the show notes if you are interested in-yes it was September-check out the September show notes for the Motorola Forward Scholarship, we talked a bit about it. It is a $10,000 scholarship plus the opportunity for a free car, supposedly wired up to use all of Motorola's fancy consumer products. In the absence of a full mail bag, we are actually going to cover something interesting, the top 10 questions that the City University of New York financial aid advisers get and the answers to those questions.
No.1 Grants, loans, scholarships what's the difference? We actually covered that not too long ago, grants and scholarships you don't have to pay back, loans you do. With grants and scholarships grants tend to be more need focus, scholarships more merit focused.
No.2 Do I have to file the FAFSA every year? Yes.
No.3 If the FAFSA the only financial aid application that I need to file? No it's not. Generally speaking schools have their own individual ones or require other forms, but the FAFSA by far is the most important of them to file. If for some strange reason you wanted to skimp on the opportunity to get as much as you wanted, and you wanted to fill out one form the FAFSA would be it.
No.4 I'm in my 30's I want to go to college is there any age on the financial aid? No.
No.5 What scholarships can I get? That is a pretty broad question. Stay tuned and download the scholarships guide.
No.6 I want to go back to school but I defaulted on my student loans, can I get financial aid? The answer that the admissions advisor said is no. No provisional keeping in mind that of course private student loans and scholarships and things are still available with the private student loans, as long as you have a credit worthy co-signer, you can check ACT Education loans for that. If you have Federal student loans that are in default you should get those fixed up because they do impact your credit, that's important.
No.7 I'm a foreign student on a visa can I get financial aid for college? The government won't give you money, but colleges have individual study abroad programs and there is also financial aid and private student loans with a U.S. citizen co-signer if you are looking to study in the U.S. Again, check www.acteducationloans.com for more on that.
No.8 I'm an immigrant with a bachelor's degree from my home country and I want to get a bachelors degree here, can I get financial aid? Depends if you are an immigrant with a permanent residency a green card basically or you're in the process of getting your citizenship, then yes because you will be considered basically-U.S. citizen or permanent resident is generally considered for Federal Financial Aid, if you are not and you are on a different visa then again the previous answer applies.
No.9 I am an undocumented alien, what aid can I get? You can't and you stand a very good chance of get deported. Get documented, get legal and then you will be qualified for aid. Bare in mind because of the way homeland security is set up, if you are undocumented alien when you apply for any kind of financial service whether it's a student loan, financial aid, you name it, financial institutions are required to use what is called the "OFAC" control list, the Office of Foreign Asset Control. It's basically a black list of people who have run a foul with homeland and security and that includes undocumented aliens so your name and information will be submitted for verification and if it shows up that you are an undocumented alien in the country, you stand a very good chance of having some men in dark suits show up at your doors. Get documented, get legal, and then apply for aid.
No.10 I'm a student and want to be independent from my parents, won't I get more financial aid that way? No, if your parents support you in any way or have any part in your life it's to your advantage to file financial aid applications with them. The reason for that your parents income and things like that, any assets that you may have personally can be shifted towards them and be worked in the formula to come out to your advantage. If you can apply with your parents, it is to your advantage to do so.
I will put a link to these questions in our show notes, it's an interesting story. It's from New York Daily News by the answers that I have talked about here of course to find out information about financial aid. For the FAFSA, www.fafsaonline.com, for Federal Stafford Loans, www.staffordloan.com, for scholarships we are actually going to be rolling out a scholarship site of our own, don't know when but hopefully before the first of the year. I can't say for sure, it's nothing firm, but just so you know it's exclusive to people who listen to the podcast, it's going to be coming soon. Other wise check out www.gotscholarships.com for our premium search service, subscribe to the podcast for the free service information. ACT Education loans at www.acteducationloans.com, I think that is the range of financial aid information. That was the in-lieu-of mail bag stuff let's finish out with one more piece of Podsafe music on a sunny Halloween.
Yes that was "Jingle Bells," by Natalie Brown new from the Podsafe Music Network and you maybe saying Chris why are you playing Christmas music on Halloween? Well there is a very good reason, I was listening to M-Show which is run by a fellow New England podcaster John Wall, and he was talking about why you are seeing such an explosion of Christmas merchandise so early in the season. The reason is, or at least one of the reasons that he mentioned was that retailer are looking to try and get people purchasing Christmas stuff as early as possible this year before the first heating bills arrive. Because they figure once that heating bill or gas bill or oil bill arrives, consumer spending is going to drop like a rock. They are trying to get people out there to try and do their shopping now while they still got a little bit of cash before the energy companies take it all. If you are wondering why you see all this Christmas stuff and it's not even Halloween yet, well that is why, or at least that is one possible reason, it seems extremely plausible, if you don't tune into the M-show by the way, I would definitely recommend that you do, it's a fun 10 minute show from a fellow New England podcaster. It's all good stuff, show notes at www.financialaidpodcast.com, subscription information at www.financialaidpodcast.com, if you are not subscribed get subscribed, like I said, one of these days, I do promise I will roll out Scholarship Search Secret 2.0 which will be basically the original one plus a lot of the updates that we've done over the past three months since we put it out. You won't want to miss it, stay tuned to it, stay tune to the podcast, hope you have a Happy Halloween if you are going to some parties or going trick-or-treating, whatever, be safe out there because it's a very little world we live in. Other wise, stay tuned, stay subscribed, we'll see you tomorrow for November 1, Happy Halloween everyone.