Friday, February 27, 2009

Understanding Cal Grant A, B, & C

Cal Grants
To qualify for Cal Grants, a student must be a California resident, be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, obtain a social security number and be attending (or plan to attend) an eligible institution in California.

A student may receive only one Cal Grant, either Cal Grant A, B or C. The three grants are targeted to assist three distinct groups of applicants and are mutually exclusive. In short, Cal Grant A provides tuition assistance for a student attending a four-year institution, Cal Grant B is subsistence assistance for entering community college students and Cal Grant C is awarded to community college students majoring in vocational programs.

The enrollment status of the student i.e. full time, three-quarter time or half-time will proportionately affect the amount of money received by eligible students.

REMEMBER!! Be sure to submit your FAFSA application in order to meet the MARCH 2nd deadline for the Cal Grant. FAFSA is the vehicle for the Pell Grant, Cal Grant, FSEOG, Work Study and Student Loans.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

1st of the 2nd Ten Commandments

" Thou shall not worry, for worry is the most unproductive of all human activities. You can't saw sawdust. A day of worry is more exhausting than a day of work. People get so busy worrying about yesterday or tomorrow, they forget about today. And today is what you have to work with."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My Class

The Scholarship Class will meet today in the Career/Tranfer Center.

What is a Cal Grant?

A Cal Grant is money for college you don't have to pay back. To qulaify, you must meet the eligibility and financial requirements as well as any minimum GPA requirements. Cal Grants can be used at any University of California, California State University or Community College, as well as qualifying independent and career/vocational colleges or technical schools located in California.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Cal Grant Deadline

March 2nd is a week away. Have you submitted your 2009--2010 FAFSA application?

Cal Grants are a free way to get money to help you pay for college! As a college student, you have the opportunity to benefit if you meet the qualifications. Make completing the applic ation a priority.

Friday, February 20, 2009

FAFSA 2008/2009

If you didn't apply for FAFSA for the 2008/09 year, it is not too late. Do it. It may mean money in your pocket.

Remember, March 2nd is the deadline for the CAL Grant and that FAFSA is the vehicle for applying. Now is the time to submit your FAFSA application for the 2009/2010. If you have not filed your 2008 tax returns, you can estimate. By the end of January, all employers should have mailed out the W-2 forms.

FAFSA is very important in helping you stay in college. FILE even if you don't think you qualify.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Letters of Recommendation and Perserverance

If you don't have your three letters of recommendation, you need to start sending gentle reminders. Counselors and professors are very busy--a call or an email might do the trick.

"Life isn't just about winning. Much of life is about losing. It's something we all do, over and over again. That's where the virtue of perserverance comes in. We fail and we fail and we fail until, finally, we succeed. There are always going to be discouraging times when we want to walk away from a task. But perseverance is that voice inside your head that says, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." Listening to that voice is an important part of growing up.
The Book of Virtues edited by William J. Bennett

As you apply for scholarships, you'll find that it may take a while to be awarded a grant or scholarship. Just keep perfecting your personal statement and updating your letters of recommendation. Once you receive that first scholarship, you will open the door for more.

Believe that you are deserving, but make your application packet really shine. You want to stand out--keep striving.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Organization & Your Scholarship Portfolio

"You know it's time to get rid of clutter if you just purchased your third book on how to get organized and you can't find it."
--Elaine St. James

How is your portfolio coming along? Remember it is ONLY for scholarship information and NOT for materials from other classes. If you keep it up as you go along, you won't have a frantic rush at the end of the semester.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Spending Money

""You know it's time to simplify your life when you're spending more money each month than you make."
--Elaine St. James

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Your Scholarship Portfolio

Think of your scholarship portfolio like a garden. The more care you put into it, the more prepared you will be to submit winning applications. At first it takes a bit of effort to write your personal statement, gather your documents, request letters of recommendation and research for scholarships. But, it will pay off later. Once you have your portfolio organized, applying will be easier.

I found this poem by Edgar Guest that gets to the point that I am making.

"Efforts bring roses, laziness nothing."
The man who wants a garden fair,
Or small or very big,
With flowers growing here and there,
Must bend his back and dig.
The things are mighty few on earth
That wishes can attain,
Whate'er we want of any worth
We've got to work to gain.
It matters not what goal you seek
Its secret here reposes:
You've got to dig, from week to week
To get results or Roses.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Personal Statements--Project the Real You

On occasion, students, in an attempt to appear scholarly, have used vocabulary that comes off as phony. Many times the words used weren't even appropriate to the content of the personal statement. This error is easily spotted and does not lend credibility to your paper.

Although it is important to start to build up your vocabulary, you must understand the meaning and be comfortable using "important" words. I can't stress enough the importance of projecting the real you. Be sincere--speak from the heart with honesty.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Choose to be Happy

"If there is something in your life you're not happy about, change it."

--Elaine St. James

Monday, February 9, 2009

Keep Life Simple

"You know it's time to simplify your life when you can't make it to the end of the month without a credit card."

--Elaine St. James

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Attendance & Being on Time

The first step toward being a successful student is to go to class. Of course, being on time is part of the package. It is important for you not to miss anything that is being presented, but there is also the consideration of your classmates and the professor.

Walking into a classroom late is a great distraction. You are cheating yourself of important instructions, but it shows total disregard for others. Of course, unavoidable "stuff" happens occasionally--that's life.

When being late becomes a habit, you lose credibility and in many classrooms it will affect your grade. Don't lose your integrity as a student. Do the right thing no matter what.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


"The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to his committment to excellence, regardless of his chosen field of endeavor."
Vince Lombardi, Football Coach

The same is true when completing your scholarship application. Think "excellence" on everything you write. Perfect your spelling and grammar. The first contact the reader will have with you is the appearance of your application packet. Follow directions to a tee. Believe that you are a winner.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Character and Your Personal Statement

Prior to writing your personal statement, give some consideration to the values that make up a desirable character. Give some thought to the meaning of integrity, honesty, sincerity, ethics, values, and morals. Are you projecting these qualities in the way you live your life? Are you projecting a positive image when you write about yourself?

Periodically, I ask a class of young students for the definition of integrity. The response is usually a sea of blank faces. The education of character is no longer taught in our schools and it is sad that so few of our leaders possess the strong character traits that we want them to have.

The only way that we can change that is to strive hard to develop strong character traits within ourselves. Become strong role models for your children and future generations. As you prepare to write your scholarship essays (also, college entrance statements), start writing a paragraph or two on your interpretation of these values. What do these mean to you? How can you develop these traits?

You might try adding a couple of authors to your reading list. Dr. William Bennett has a number of books on character and honor. Perhaps, one of the most popular is Book of Virtues.

Another author that I love is Dr. Will Keim. He and a partner have started a character institute. The first book of his that I bought and actually used as a textbook one semester was The Education of Character.

There are thousands of scholarships out there waiting for your applications. Make your personal statement shine. Show the scholarhip review committees that you are the one who deserves the award. They are looking for future leaders. Project your committment to education--write to win.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

First Impressions

Whether you like it or not, people do judge you by the way you look. The same is true for the scholarship application that you submit. It is really important that it looks as though you have put a great deal of thought and preparation into completing it.

As I mentioned yesterday, it is critical to follow directions. Have everything in order and follow the checklist if it is included in the directions. You want your documents to look neat, organized and easy to read. White space makes your papers look clean and visually pleasing.

You want to make your application stand out. The first contact that the scholarship donor has with you is your application, personal statement and letters of recommendation. You want to project professionalism--you want credibility.

You want to stand out. You want to have a competitive edge. You want to demonstrate that you are a good investment. You want to have your application read. The first impression may make a big difference in the selction process.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Following Directions

An important component of completing a scholarship application is following directions. Be sure to have a highlighter and/or colored pens when you are reading the eligibility requirements and directions. Highlight the deadline, contact information, and specific instructions. Many applications have a checklist and I suggest that you place the documents in the order listed. You want to make it easy for the application reader to review your documents.

If you don't meet the requirements, you might want to pass the application on to a friend, but I had a male student who applied for a scholarship for women only who won it. It was unusual, but in that case no one else applied. In general, you do need to qualify.

Speaking of following directions, please read your class syllabus and assignment sheet frequently. I'm happy to answer questions, but you will save both of us time if you get in the habit of reading directions. I'm just as guilty as everyone else about following my own advice. It takes practice, but you will benefit in the end.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Scholarship Class

The classroom has been changed to LA 12. See you there at 3:50.

Please have your portfolios with you.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Writing Your Personal Statement

Your personal statement is just that. It is personal. It is not about someone who inspired you-- although you might want to mention who or what influenced you to go into your major/career. It is important to let the scholarship donors know who you are. It is the most critical part of your scholarship application.

I know that it is difficult to open up and really talk about yourself, but you need to show who you are. An organization who is giving money wants to be sure that they are making a good investment. You need to convince them that you are the one who deserves the scholarship.

Try not to write what you think they want to hear, but rather speak from your heart. Be sincere and be yourself. Talk about feelings. Share how you have overcome a challenge. Everyone has faced "bumps" along the way. You don't want to write a "pity me" statement, but show committment to your goals in spite of the sorrows you have experienced.

Remember that the first paragraph needs to be powerful. You want to "hook" the reader and pique their interest enough to finish reading the statement. You can write a good essay, but it cannot be done last minute. It is important to start now and expect to rewrite it many times.