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July 1, 2006 - Michigan drops out-of-state merit scholarships

Governor Jennifer Granholm signed Senate Bill 861 into law on Friday, June 30. 2006 Michigan high school graduates who will be attending out-of-state colleges and meet all requirements will still be eligble to receive the $1,000 Michigan merit award scholarship. But those graduating in 2007 or later will not have this scholarship available.

Students going to approved in-state schools will be eligible for the $2,500 Michigan merit award scholarship. Students who have already received the $1,000 award previously, will be eligible for an additional $1,500 scholarship if they enroll in an approved Michigan school.


The US Department of Education is reporting that $790 million in new grants are available starting July 1. Qualified Pell Grant-eligible students can also begin applying for the new Academic Competitiveness Grants and the National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) Grants. An estimated 500,000 students will qualify for the new grants.

Academic Competitiveness Grants require that college freshmen and sophomores must be Pell Grant-eligible and have completed a program of state-defined rigorous high school course work recognized by Secretary Spellings (more details at www.federalstudentaid.ed.gov). In addition to the Pell Grants, the Academic Competitiveness Grants provide up to $750 for first-year college students and up to an additional $1,300 for second-year students who have completed rigorous high school course work, are enrolled full-time and maintaining a 3.0 GPA in college.

For SMART Grants, third- and fourth-year Pell Grant-eligible students who meet the requirements, will automatically receive up to an additional $4,000 during the 2006-07 school year. A complete list of eligible majors is available at www.federalstudentaid.ed.gov. A listing of the requirements can be found at http://studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/english/NewPrograms.jsp.


June 1, 2006 - Sallie Mae to purchase UPromise

In a press release, UPromise announced that Sallie Mae, America’s leading education finance company, will be purchasing Needham Massachusetts based UPromise. Upromise’s popular rewards service – one of the largest rewards marketing coalitions in the U.S. – has more than 7 million members who have joined Upromise to save for college when they and their families buy gas or groceries, dine out, or purchase other goods and services from more than 450 participating companies.

Upromise is also the largest administrator of direct-to-consumer 529 college savings plans, administering nearly 1 million college savings accounts and over $10 billion in assets with tax advantaged 529 investment options through partnerships with seven states. Upromise offers its rewards service members the opportunity to link their Upromise account to a participating 529 plan so that their savings can be transferred automatically into their plan on a periodic basis.

Together, Sallie Mae and Upromise will offer parents and students a comprehensive financial package to access college – including a broad range of investment options, financial aid information, college savings and student loan solutions.

See the rest of the press release at: http://news.upromise.com/news/pressRelease.aspx?news_item_id=152


May 16, 2006 - Helios Education Foundation (Helios) announces $10 Million Grant to the Arizona College Scholarship Foundation

In addition to opening it's new corporate headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona, Helios also is donating $10 million to create the Helios-ACSF Scholars Fund, which will provide scholarships and mentoring to 80 high potential students with financial need per year to attend Arizona colleges and universities

For more information, please visit http://www.helios.org/press.htm


May 12, 2006 - California Proposed Budget to Boost Cal Grants

Governor Schwarzenegger's proposed 2006-07 budget includes several education items of note.

  • Fall funding increases at the University of California and California State University were eliminated.
  • One time funding for a three year pilot program which would provide up to 40 nurse education recruitment grants for students in an accelerated nursing degree program who would commit to a four year state employment requirement.
  • The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that there will also be an increase in Cal Grants from $8,322 to 9,708. However, I wasn't able to find that in the press release from the Governor's office.


    April 27, 2006 - Missouri Senate Passes Scholarship Bill

    The Missouri Senate has passed it's own version of the Higher Education Bill (HB1865) which would, among other things, create a new state scholarship:

    The Access Missouri Scholarship Program is established to provide assistance to college freshmen who are not eligible for the A+ Program or have chosen institutions not covered by the A+ Program. The maximum award will be $1,000. The new program, as well as the Gallagher, Guarantee, and Bright Flight programs, has a 2.5 grade point average requirement for renewal. The 2.5 initial qualifying grade point average and extracurricular activity for the Guarantee Program are eliminated. Obsolete language is deleted, and the Gallagher Program's criminal background disqualifications are changed to be the same as those in the Guarantee Program.

    With an appropriation of about $10 million, as many as 10,000 students should be able to take advantage of the scholarship.

    A tuition and student fee increase limitation based on the federal Consumer Price Index for state four-year institutions is also imposed by this bill.

    A conference committee will meet to iron out the differences between the House and Senate versions and if all goes well, the program should be ready to go for the 2007 school year.


    April 20, 2006 - Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency Announces Increases to State Grant Funding

    The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) announced they are committing $72.5 million in additional grant funding from its business earnings to the Pennsylvania State Grant program. As part of this increase, the maximum grant will increase from $3,500 to $4,500 and the average award will increase from $2,800 to $3,345 in 2006-07. Read more about the increase at http://www.pheaa.org/media/2006/April_20_06.shtml.


    April 20, 2006

    Speaking at Tuskegee University on Wednesday, President Bush touched on two new grants recently passed into law. The Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG) will provide for additional grants for eligible first and second year students. The first year award will be $750 and the second year's $1300.

    Eligible students may also receive SMART grants of $4000 in their third and fourth years of study. In addition to the other requirements, SMART Grant recipients must be majoring in physical, life or computer science, engineering, mathematics, technology or a critical foreign language.

    More information about the Academic Competitiveness Grants and the SMART Grants may be found at http://www.ifap.ed.gov/dpcletters/attachments/gen0604a.pdf .


    April 7, 2006 - Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation raises Total Scholarship Awards from $1.8 Million to $3 Million

    In a press release, the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation announced that it is marking the 20th anniversary of its founding by increasing its total annual scholarship awards from $1.8 million to $3 million. The foundation was formed in 1986 by the Coca-Cola Bottlers and the Coca-Cola Company as a remembrance of the 100th anniversary of Coca-Cola.

    From 250 finalists, each year 50 students are chosen to become National Coca-Cola Scholars and they receive scholarship awards of $20,000. The other 200 receive $4,000 awards as Coca-Cola Regional Scholars. Starting with the 2006, the awards for the 200 Regional Scholars are being increased to $10,000.

    You can receive more information by calling 1-800.306.COKE or visiting the Foundation's website at www.coca-colascholars.org.


    April, 2006 - "Ventura Promise" Debuts!

    The Ventura College Foundation of Ventura, California has launched a scholarship program that will pay a full year of tuition and fees at its campus for high school graduates and GED holders from families with a household income up to $50,000. There is no minimum qualifying grade point average or SAT score. Students must be from the Ventura College service area (Ventura, Santa Paula, Fillmore, Ojai, Piru, and Camarillo).

    For more information, please check http://www.vcccd.net/newsandevents.nsf/cb3a8dfe0a3dfb4588256cb700839f7e/
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    April 2, 2006 - Harvard Expands Financial Aid Program

    Harvard University announced that qualified students coming from families earning less than $60,000 per year will be able to attend Harvard free. In 2004 Harvard began the program using $40,000 as the cutoff for waived fees. Families with incomes between $60,000 and $80,000 will also enjoy reduced fees.

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