3 Tips for Filling Out Applications for College Financial Aid

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College students and parents are already looking ahead to the 2019—2020 school year with the FAFSA- the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The great news is that the Department of Education just launched “myStudentAid” app to make it easier for students and families to fill out the federal student aid application through their mobile phones.

According to the National College Access Network, only 61 percent of high school students file a FAFSA, leaving more than $24 billion in state, federal and institutional aid on the table. Completion of the FAFSA form is one of the best predictors of whether a high school senior will go on to college, as seniors who complete the FAFSA are 63 percent more likely to enroll in postsecondary education.

For the 2019-2010 school year, the FAFSA filing season opens on October 1st and the sooner students file, the better as some financial aid is awarded on a first come, first served basis or from programs with limited funds.

Furthermore, students should look beyond federal student aid as scholarships are a great way to pay for college, and unlike loans they don’t need to be repaid. But winning scholarships takes time, dedication, intensive research, and hard work, especially on the essays. It’s deadline time for college applications, so it’s important to start the application for free money now!

Tuition Funding Sources (TFS) offers access to 7 million scholarships and $41 billion in financial aid. Start by filling in the registration; then with a click, the site searches to find any scholarships for which you might qualify. The more information you provide about yourself, the more matches TFS can make.

Richard Sorensen suggests these tips when applying for financial aid and scholarships:

Tip No. 1: Apply through FAFSA mobile app

The FAFSA mobile app is very simple to use as it asks one question on each page and after answering the question the student goes to the next page and the next question. The student can leave and return to the app as often as they want so it can be completed in several different sittings over a period of time.

Some students don’t apply because they mistakenly think the FAFSA is only for students with financial aid. That’s not accurate, families should know that income is not the only factor used to determine the financial aid they can get. It also depends on the number of children in a family and how many are enrolled in college at the same time.

Tip No. 2: Follow the steps carefully

Even though the FAFSA mobile app is generally easy to use, pay attention to the signature process, because both parents and dependent students are required to sign before the application can be processed. Never tap to “Start Over” button when including a parent signature as this will erase all previous information. And if you need to add a school, click “New Search” not “Next” which moves students to the next question.

Tip No. 3: Submit scholarship applications early

Meet the deadlines and don’t wait until the due date. If the organization asks you to mail the application, don’t try to email it and if there is a maximum word count limit, don’t go over it. Most scholarship providers receive more qualified applications than available funds so reduce your chances of being disqualified because you didn’t follow their requirements.

At TFS undergraduate and graduates can search for scholarships that fit their interest. The majority of the scholarship opportunities featured on TFS Scholarships website come directly from colleges and universities, rather than solely from competitive national pools – thereby increasing the chances of finding scholarships that are the best match for undergraduate, graduate and professional students. Each month TFS adds more than 5,000 new scholarships to its database maximizing the number of opportunities students have to earn funding for their education.

TFS has been helping students for over 30 years and offers more than 7 million individual scholarships and more than $41 billion in aid. Visit tuitionfundingsources.com to learn more.

Wendy Okolo Is The First Black Woman To Earn A Doctorate In Aerospace Engineering

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Dr. Wendy Okolo is a Nigerian-born National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) aerospace engineer and the first Black woman to earn a doctorate in the field.

According to her profile on the organization’s website, Okolo works as a special emphasis programs manager at Ames Research Center and is a research engineer in the Discovery and Systems Health Technology (DaSH) Area. Her role includes researching control systems applications, systems health monitoring and creating solutions for issues related to the designing of aircraft and spacecraft.

She earned her B.S. and Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Arlington in 2010 and 2015. Okolo completed her dissertation research with a focus on aircraft fuel-saving methods. Her research was funded by several organizations including the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), American Institute for Aeronautics & Astronautics (AIAA) and Texas Space Grant Consortium (TSGC).

Per the Philadelphia Tribune, Okolo is the first Black woman to earn a doctorate in aerospace engineering at just 26 years old. Along with accomplishing the prestigious honor, she was the winner of the Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) Global Competitiveness Conference award for being the most promising engineer in the United States government.

For the complete article, continue on to Blavity.

LeBron James Opened a School That Was Considered an Experiment. It’s Showing Promise

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The students paraded through hugs and high-fives from staff, who danced as Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family” blared through the hallways. They were showered with compliments as they walked through a buffet of breakfast foods.

The scene might be expected on a special occasion at any other public school. At LeBron James’s I Promise School, it was just Monday.

Every day, they are celebrated for walking through the door. This time last year, the students at the school — Mr. James’s biggest foray into educational philanthropy — were identified as the worst performers in the Akron public schools and branded with behavioral problems. Some as young as 8 were considered at risk of not graduating.

The academic results are early, and at 240, the sample size of students is small, but the inaugural classes of third and fourth graders at I Promise posted extraordinary results in their first set of district assessments. Ninety percent met or exceeded individual growth goals in reading and math, outpacing their peers across the district.

“These kids are doing an unbelievable job, better than we all expected,” Mr. James said in a telephone interview hours before a game in Los Angeles for the Lakers. “When we first started, people knew I was opening a school for kids. Now people are going to really understand the lack of education they had before they came to our school. People are going to finally understand what goes on behind our doors.”

For the complete article, continue on to New York Times.

Reclaiming spaces: Camp ELSO inspires children of color to explore the outdoors, science careers

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I recall the high school science teacher who doubted my capacity to succeed in advanced biology, the pre-med advisers who pointed my friend Dr. Kellianne Richardson and me away from their program and discouraged us from considering a career in medicine – biased advice given under the guise of truth and tough love.

I remember only three classes with professors of color in my four years at college, only one of whom was a woman. We needed to see her, to hold faith that as women of color, we were good enough, we were smart enough to be there. We were simply enough, and we had so much to contribute to medicine, eager to learn, to improve and to struggle alongside our mostly White peers at our private liberal arts college.

These are the experiences that led Kellianne and me to see the need for more spaces set aside for future Black scientists, for multi-hued Brown future environmentalists.

The story of Camp ELSO (Experience Life Science Outdoors) started with our vision. We want Black and Brown children to access more and better experiences than we did, experiences that help them see their potential in science, that prepare them for the potentially steep learning curve that comes with declaring a science major. We want Black and Brown kids to feel comfortable in a lab room, navigating a science library, and advocating for themselves with faculty and advisers. We hope to inspire their academic pursuits by laying the foundation with curiosity and critical thinking.

For the complete article, continue on to Metro News.

6 ways college grads can find their first job faster

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Young student holding books and carrying a backpack, smiling to camera

Millennials and Gen Zers receive plenty of advice on how to ace a job interview. But before you can wow an interviewer, you have to actually land an interview.

Applying for jobs may feel like it’s mostly a waiting game, but there’s more to do than just submitting applications online, and taking those extra steps will get you better job search results. CNBC Make It spoke to Amanda Augustine, career expert for TopResume, who offers new grads these tips:

1. Prioritize your connections
Identify who in your already-established network currently works or previously worked in the field you are most interested in. Augustine also suggests keeping any highly-social friends in mind. “These natural connectors from your personal network can often introduce you to relevant people outside your social circle that could be valuable during your search,” says Augustine.

2. Don’t underestimate your alma mater

Alumnifire, an alumni networking platform, found that 90 percent of hiring managers would prefer to hire a fellow alumnus if possible. In order to find alums who work in your target field, attend alumni events in your area and use LinkedIn to sift through search results. If you find an alum connected to a particular company or industry you’re interested in, approach them with confidence. Briefly mentioning that you went to the same college is a great way to spark a conversation.

3. Join organizations
In college, social groups and clubs are often built into campus life, but to continue to make new friends and expand your network after graduation, Augustine suggests using websites such as Directory of Associations, VolunteerMatch and Meetup to find people with common interests. “The bigger your network, the easier it will become to find and connect with others who can help you achieve your job-search goals,” she says.

4. Invest in your professional development
Begin by taking advantage of informational interviews. These differ from traditional job interviews in that the goal is to gain insight into your desired field or a specific company, allowing you to take steps to become a more marketable candidate. You may also want to work on developing a new skill to better your chances of being hired for a position. Search for industry conferences or start a free or low-cost online course through platforms such as Courseera, edX, Skillshare or Lynda.

5. Consider taking side gigs
Whether it’s helping out at a non-profit or picking up some extra freelance work, there are plenty of experiences that might not be full-time but could be great resume-boosters. In addition, they can lead to new connections that can open doors to job opportunities. When looking for freelance listings, check out websites like UpWork, Freelancer, Guru and College Recruiter.

6. Take another look at your resume
“Think of your resume as a marketing document whose content has been carefully curated based on your job goals,” says Augustine, “rather than a record of your work history and education.” This will help get through the applicant tracking systems that some employers use. These systems sort through resumes and highlight top candidates by searching for keywords related to the position being applied for.

Continue on to CNBC News to read the complete article.

Mentorship Leads to Better STEM Outcomes for Disadvantaged Students

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The FIRST Gala 2018

Every student is different. Each comes into the classroom with different life experiences, learning abilities and personalities. In an evolving society where employers are rapidly demanding workers with STEM skills and schools are struggling to keep up, a tailored approach to STEM education – one that includes mentorship and accessibility – is required to ensure every student finds success.

Mentorship Makes a Positive Impact

For underserved, underrepresented, and vulnerable students, mentorship can make the difference in delivering positive STEM education outcomes. Many school-aged young adults face challenging circumstances, such as a lack of positive role models, insufficient access to education or other financial or societal barriers, but those who have a mentor are 55 percent more likely to be enrolled in college than those who do not, according to a study by Civic Enterprises. As more employers seek STEM-qualified workers, there are plenty of students who are poised to meet this need – with equitable support.

“Students who question if there’s a place for them in engineering or technology gain self-confidence working with team mentors – especially if they share similar interests or backgrounds,” said Don Bossi, president of FIRST®, a global nonprofit that fosters kids’ interest in STEM fields through robotics competitions. “Our organization relies heavily on professionals and educators who dedicate their time to mentorship, and students learn so much from them.”

Many students – especially young women and people of color – need encouragement and guidance to understand the opportunities that exist for them in STEM. Melissa Smith, a senior user experience researcher at Google and YouTube – and a FIRST alum – only joined her middle school robotics club because she mistook it for an aerobics club. However, Mr. Turner, her science teacher, encouraged her inquisitive nature, and Ms. Foy, her robotics coach, created a welcoming environment by taking the time to teach her how to use everything in the robotics lab, one-on-one. “I remember, very early on in robotics, I was this awkward kid,” said Smith. “Ms. Foy encouraged us to ask questions if we didn’t know something.” Smith says this judgement-free setting is extremely important for young students’ success, and she now calls joining the robotics club the luckiest mistake she’s ever made. Her interest in science blossomed from field trips to the Everglades and space camp, and Smith now works on human and computer interaction for one of the world’s biggest technology companies.

Connecting Disadvantaged Students with Mentors

Whether it’s family economic hardship, gender or racial barriers or a dearth of basic educational resources in communities, disadvantaged young people are systemically hampered by insufficient access to STEM education and relevant mentors. Organizations like FIRST provide students and classrooms with STEM resources, including grants and scholarships, and actively connect students with corporate partners to provide hands-on learning experiences and guidance from professionals. Data shows the approach works: Across all demographic groups (gender, race, economic status and geography), FIRST students show significant gains in STEM knowledge, STEM interest, STEM career interest, STEM identity and STEM activity compared to their peers who don’t participate.

“Companies, education systems and nonprofits must invest in their communities to deliver positive STEM education outcomes,” said Bossi. “There is tremendous untapped potential in underserved communities, and all stakeholders can play a role in connecting students with the resources they need to be successful. We have worked with corporate partners to provide resources and develop strategies that address inequalities in access to STEM education. We hope these resources enable more educators and community leaders to inspire students of all backgrounds to reach their full potential.” For example, FIRST and its equity, diversity and inclusion sponsors have awarded $1.2 million in grants to-date to more than 38 communities across the U.S. and Canada so they can develop strategies to bring STEM engagement opportunities to disadvantaged young people. FIRST also partnered with the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE) to develop free online training for mentors who commit to create diverse, inclusive and equitable teams.

Well into her professional career, Smith now pays it forward by mentoring and volunteering as much as she can, including attending information sessions where middle and high school students can interact with Google engineers, and volunteering as a head referee for FIRST competitions. She has seen firsthand how students gain confidence and come out of their shells when they get excited about learning, and how interacting with industry professionals gives students the opportunities to gain skills beyond robotics. Smith says the most rewarding part of mentorship comes when students learn to deal with adversity and learn from failure during the competition process. “The most exciting part for me is seeing how the kids learn to handle when something bad happens. The students are clearly upset, but they come up to you and thank you for helping them. It’s one of the mentoring moments I truly treasure in my current role, when the students are upset but remain able to have a mature conversation and understand that losing is sometimes part of the experience.”

Bossi echoes this sentiment and adds that mentorship doesn’t have to end when a student graduates. “Good mentorship doesn’t have an expiration date, and it’s gratifying to both the mentor and mentee to watch the latter grow and come into their own. Especially for disadvantaged populations, who may continue to face barriers as they advance in their careers, mentorship can create very valuable lifelong relationships.”

Meeting the Needs of All Students

Educators alone cannot be expected to meet the needs of a diverse student body: The responsibility must be put on all STEM community stakeholders, including the public and private sectors. According to Bossi, school administrators, parents, business leaders and nonprofits have a responsibility to ensure all students have equitable opportunities and pathways to STEM careers. “To truly meet the challenges of education today, we must ensure all students have role models who make them feel welcome, understand they have a voice and have the ability to get their fair shake at success.”

Morgan State University Awarded $1.6 Million Base 11 Grant to Launch Student Rocketry Program

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MSU-grant

The nonprofit Base 11 today announced that Morgan State University is the winner of a three-year, $1.6 million Aerospace Workforce and Leadership Development Grant, which will fund a state-of-the-art rocketry lab and launch a student rocketry team.

Former NASA astronaut Leland Melvin was on hand to formally present the check to and inspire university students who were in attendance, to pursue aerospace as the “Next Frontier.”

The commercial space industry is expected to become a $2.7 trillion economic sector in the next 30 years, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Yet the industry faces challenges in recruiting a diverse workforce. According to the National Science Foundation, African Americans make up just 5 percent of the science and engineering workforce.

“We want to ensure that the next generation of space innovators is just as diverse as America,” said Melvin, a veteran of two Space Shuttle missions. “I am excited to see this generation of students getting critical hands-on experience in rocket technology, and I encourage Morgan State’s students to seize this incredible opportunity to reach for the stars.”

The grant, which aims to improve diversity in the aerospace talent pipeline, was announced in June 2018, and drew proposals from eight Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Leland Melvin was joined by experts from Dassault Systèmes, Blue Origin, SpaceX, Sigma Pi Phi fraternity, and Base 11 in reviewing the applications.

“The proposals for the HBCU Aerospace Workforce and Leadership Development Grant were quite impressive,” said Base 11 Chairman and CEO Landon Taylor. “Morgan State is especially well positioned to leverage their existing resources, faculty expertise, and industry partners to launch a successful and sustainable rocketry program that brings hands-on, experiential learning to students.”

The grant will fund the build-out of a liquid-fuel rocketry lab at Morgan State, as well as the recruitment and hiring of an aerospace faculty leader to create a world-class liquid fuel rocketry program. Morgan State aims to bring together these elements to successfully build and launch a liquid fuel rocket that reaches 150,000 feet by 2022.

“We are honored that Morgan State University was selected for this competitive grant, and confident that it will further advance our efforts to increase diversity in the STEM talent pipeline, while also turning out workforce-ready talent in high-demand industries like aerospace,” said David Wilson, president of Morgan State University. “At Morgan we encourage our students to be bold and to aim for the stars, and with the launch of this program, we can provide them with the resources to take on that challenge literally.”

Morgan State will house the fledgling rocket program in its Center for Built Environment and Infrastructure Studies (CBEIS) building, the home of The School of Architecture and Planning and some of the University’s engineering programs. CBEIS is a gold certified LEED green building with solar water heating panels and a bioretention pond. Designed for the needs of the modern university student, CBEIS is also the home to the only earthquake simulator on the east coast and a supersonic wind tunnel. Students studying in this contemporary facility have access to printing labs that contain 2D and 3D printers and a fabrication lab where students can use technologically advanced cutting tools.

“With this very generous grant, we will bring together a cross-disciplinary team of faculty and external collaborators to develop and prepare our students for future opportunities in the commercial aerospace industry. This is an area loaded with opportunities for innovation and creativity, and in need of a more diverse workforce” said Dr. Willie E. May, vice president of research and economic development at Morgan State University.

Continue on to Morgan State University to read the complete article.

Computer Science Demand Is Soaring Due To Tech Bubble 2.0

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For the past several years, I’ve been warning that the tech startup boom (and the surge of interest in “coding”) is actually a dangerous bubble that is driven by the U.S. Federal Reserve’s ultra-loose monetary policies since the Great Recession. A recent New York Times piece called “The Hard Part of Computer Science? Getting Into Class” describes how young people are clamoring to study computer science:

Lured by the prospect of high-salary, high-status jobs, college students are rushing in record numbers to study computer science.

Now, if only they could get a seat in class.

On campuses across the country, from major state universities to small private colleges, the surge in student demand for computer science courses is far outstripping the supply of professors, as the tech industry snaps up talent. At some schools, the shortage is creating an undergraduate divide of computing haves and have-nots — potentially narrowing a path for some minority and female students to an industry that has struggled with diversity.

The number of undergraduates majoring in the subject more than doubled from 2013 to 2017, to over 106,000, while tenure-track faculty ranks rose about 17 percent, according to the Computing Research Association, a nonprofit that gathers data from about 200 universities.

Economics and the promise of upward mobility are driving the student stampede. While previous generations of entrepreneurial undergraduates might have aspired to become lawyers or doctors, many students now are leery of investing the time, and incurring six-figure debts, to join those professions.

The tech frenzy can be seen in the chart of the monthly count of global VC deals that raised $100 million or more since 2007. According to this chart, a new “unicorn” startup was born every four days in 2018.

To read the complete article, continue on to Forbes.

Conference Strengthens Pacific Island Pipeline Into STEM Careers

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The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo hosted a conference in January for educators from Hawaiʻi and 10 Pacific Island nations who are working towards encouraging students from underrepresented populations to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

At the conference, the Islands of Opportunity Alliance (IOA), led by the UH Hilo chancellor’s office, kicked off their 2019 STEM mentorship programs, which are funded by $600,000 of a continuing $4 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

Topics at the conference included inter-campus programs, curriculum enhancements, student learning communities, peer tutoring, enrichment through research experiences, the promotion of STEM graduate degrees and employment, institutional support and sustainability plans.

UH Hilo serves as the administrative hub for the IOA, including 10 other partner institutions in American Sāmoa, Guam, Hawaiʻi, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands.

“We share the common goal of increasing underrepresented professionals in STEM fields and I feel inspired by each member of our alliance,” said Marcia Sakai, interim chancellor at UH Hilo and principal investigator of the program.

The main goal of the alliance is to increase the number of underrepresented minority students, with a focus on Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander students who graduate with baccalaureate degrees in STEM disciplines, and go on to pursue graduate degrees or enter a STEM career in their local communities.

“The benefit is not just the STEM degree, but what the students are going to do with their STEM degree,” said Joseph Genz, UH Hilo associate professor and IOA project director. “In the vast majority of cases, that means going back home to their island communities and using their degrees to build up the capacities of their communities, fostering a system of self-empowerment.”

Continue onto Big Island Now to read the complete article.

Minority ph.D. students need institutional change to make larger impact in STEM fields

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Women and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields are more likely to advance professionally, publish more research and secure postdoctoral and faculty positions if their institutional culture is welcoming and sets clear expectations, according to a study of hundreds of Ph.D. students at four top-tier California research universities.

University of Washington Provost Mark Richards, the study’s senior author, and a team of researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, UCLA, Stanford and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) sought to understand how gender, race and ethnicity impact graduate students’ success in math, physical sciences, computer sciences and engineering, as measured by publication rates in academic journals.

The findings, published Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE, suggest that doctoral scholars in STEM fields are more likely to publish if enrolled in well-structured graduate programs that lay out clear, unbiased expectations for assessing students and supporting their careers.

“Our study strongly indicates that the onus should not fall on minority students to make changes to succeed in STEM settings,” said Aaron Fisher, an assistant professor of psychology at UC Berkeley and lead author of the study. “Institutional changes that make students feel welcome and provide clear guidelines and standards for performance are optimal ways to ensure the success of all students.”

To read the Complete Article, continue on to UW News.

The Institute for Educational Leadership Launches Rise Up for Equity Campaign to Eliminate Barriers to Equity in Education and Workforce Development

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education and workforce

The Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) announced the launch of Rise Up for Equity, a digital and grassroots campaign to prepare, support, and mobilize leaders to eliminate systemic barriers to equity in education and workforce development.
This so everyone – especially transition-age youth and families in communities with inequitable opportunities across the United States – has the opportunity to succeed and lead independent lives.

“IEL incentivizes communities to innovate and prepares and supports local and state leaders to improve opportunity and outcomes, and close gaps in access and achievement in education and workforce development in under-resourced communities,” said Johan Uvin, President of IEL. “To us, equity is about creating more opportunities for success in education and workforce development for children, youth, adults and families, particularly in communities where that opportunity is lacking due to systemic and structural reasons.”

IEL’s strategy intends to help alleviate poverty and its impact and to contribute to creating new gateways to prosperity. Today 15 million children, or 21 percent of all children live in families with incomes below the federal poverty threshold, and 51 percent of students across U.S. public schools are low income.[1] Childhood poverty is associated with negative outcomes in adulthood, such as lower academic achievement, employment rates, and poorer health.

For more information about how you can Rise Up for Equity to support leaders so all children, young adults, and communities can succeed, visit www.riseupforequity.com or join the conversation on social media using #RiseUpforEquity.

[1] According to the 2016 fact sheet of the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP)