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CS Opens 2016 Loan & Scholarship Application Process

CS Opens 2016 Loan & Scholarship Application Process

Posted: 01.24.16

Student with Files in a hallway
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (Jan. 18, 2016) – Following in its 91-year tradition of helping Marylanders afford higher education, Central Scholarship is now accepting applications for 2016 scholarships and loans.

Maryland students (who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents) with a GPA above 2.0 and plan to attend an accredited U.S. college, university, community college or career school in the upcoming academic year can apply for Central Scholarship awards if they meet the following criteria:

– A family income below $90,000 a year for students pursuing a college degree

or

– A family income below $66,000 a year for students pursuing career and technology training

Those who have not been a Maryland resident for at least one year, but live within 200 miles of Baltimore City can apply are eligible for interest-free loans only.

Applications will be accepted through Apr. 1, 2016. To download the application, visit www.central-scholarship.org. For more information, call 410-415-5558.

All students will be evaluated based on grades and application essays. Degree-seeking student semi-finalists will be contacted by email on a rolling basis in May, June and July. Winners will be announced by Aug. 15.

Community college and career training program applications are reviewed on a rolling basis each month and finalists are contacted by email to interview and notified one month later if the application is approved.

In recent years, the demand for Central Scholarship’s services has grown exponentially. In 2015, the non-profit funded 11 percent of the students who completed their applications. One third of the scholarship recipients were the first in their families to pursue college.

About Central Scholarship
Central Scholarship, founded in 1924, awards over $1 million annually in scholarships and interest free loans for career training and undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees. Central Scholarship also offers College Cash® education sessions to help students and their families become more informed consumers of higher education and reduce their loan burden. For more information, visit www.central-scholarship.org.

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January College Cash®

Posted: 12.30.15

College Cash - Find It, Get It, Manage It logoCentral Scholarship launches its 2016 College Cash® Financial Literacy Series with the following Finding Money for College seminars:

January 13th at the University of Baltimore School of Law (1401 North Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21201)

January 14th at the Hotel at Arundel Preserve (7795 Arundel Mills Blvd., Hanover, MD 21076).

Event time is from 5:30 pm until 8 pm. Attendees may register from 5:30 to 6 pm. The seminar begins at 6 pm. To register for these sessions, click on the session date you are interested in attending: January 13th at the University of Baltimore or January 14th at the Hotel at Arundel Preserve. These free workshops aim to educate students and their parents on how to manage college costs and increase the impact of federal, state and private aid.

Activities include a review of sample financial aid award letters so attendees may understand actual college costs and gaps, and an evaluation of winning scholarship essays. Presenters will highlight sources of private aid, strategies for applying and tips for submitting competitive scholarship applications.

Additionally, all students who attend are eligible to apply for an extra $5,000 in scholarships that is available only to seminar attendees.

College Cash ® debuted in 2010 to help college-goers make wise financial choices when pursuing higher education and reduce their loan burden. In 2015, the series reached nearly 600 Maryland residents. Sessions have occurred in Baltimore City, and Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Howard counties, and Central Scholarship plans to bring them statewide.

Peggy Ellen Pumpian Memorial Fund recipient Dr. Chaim Golfeiz

Chaim, Academic Physician

Posted: 11.30.15

Dr. Chaim Golfeiz graduated with his Medical Degree from the Temple University School of Medicine thanks to funding from The Peggy Ellen Pumpian Memorial Fund. Prior to medical school, Dr. Golfeiz earned his magna cum laude bachelor’s degree from Yeshiva University. During his fellowship, Dr. Golfeiz spearheaded a project investigating the long-term complications of inadvertent dural punctures following epidural for labor analgesia and presented a poster titled “Long-term Complications of Postdural Punctures at a Tertiary Care Obstetrical Medical Center” in 2013. He also published a review article titled “Anesthetic Considerations for the Morbid Obese Parturient.”

During his fellowship, Dr. Golfeiz also gained valuable clinical experience in obstetric anesthesiology and obtained Advanced Cardiac Life Support and Neonatal Resuscitation Program certification. The clinical research experience reinforced Chaim’s desire to pursue a career in academic anesthesiology and he matched into the anesthesiology residency program at New York University. Dr. Golfeiz writes, “Your gift is instrumental in giving me this opportunity to pursue my aspirations of becoming a physician and helping others.”

Peggy Ellen Pumpian Memorial Fund Interest-Free Loan recipient Lily Mendelson

Lily, Aspiring Nurse

Posted: 10.08.15

As a Peace Corps volunteer, Lily Mendelson spent two years in the Dominican Republic working as a Youth Development Promoter. She trained youth groups in areas concerning sexual health and taught teens about the prevention of adolescent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. She supervised 81 youth groups and 32 regional coordinators during her time in Latin America.

Today, Lily is in the accelerated program at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. She writes that nursing combines everything she wants from a career, “direct service work, health promotion and education, a patient-centered approach, reliance on evidence based knowledge, and a dynamic working environment.” Lily hopes to help families maintain healthy lifestyles and she envisions continuing her education to become a Nurse Practitioner.

Upon news of receiving The Peggy Ellen Pumpian Memorial Fund Interest-Free Loan at Central Scholarship, Lily was ecstatic. She sent a particularly touching thank you letter in which she writes, “Because of this interest-free loan, I am able to afford the best nursing program available to me. While I will still graduate from Hopkins with some debt, I am grateful to all those who have helped me reduce that debt as much as possible. This will allow me to search for and secure a nursing job that includes serving young families and children in need, without limiting my options due to concerns about paying off my debt. Thank you for your investment in my future. I only hope that my service as a nurse will pay it forward to society.”

College Cash Scholarship winner Nkem Nwogbo

Congrats, Nkem

Posted: 09.22.15

Congratulations, Nkem Nwogbo, on winning the grand prize College Cash® scholarship. The surprise scholarship announcement was made at the Student Awards Ceremony in August. Nkem is an undergraduate student at the University of Maryland, College Park, studying Accounting. She attended the loan repayment College Cash® session held in the fall of 2014. Although she had been to previous College Cash® sessions about Finding Money for College, Nkem notes that the Loan Repayment session was her favorite. “The topic of student loan debt is something I’m currently experiencing, so I knew going to the seminar would be a great resource for me,” she writes. Nkem writes about not knowing about the vast differences between federal and private loans prior to the session, and how learning about the interest rate differences made her feel lucky for choosing federal loans in the past. Read Nkem’s winning College Cash® essay below.

This year’s Central Scholarship College Cash evening event was definitely my favorite. The topic of student loan debt is something I am currently experiencing, so I knew going to the seminar would be a great ressource for me. Every year I take out student loans. It wasn’t until this school year, after taking some finance courses that I realized what this meant for me financially. The big scary picture that I envisioned was me living the next fifteen years pay check to pay check trying to repay my loans and debt. Well, I am happy to say I am not so scared anymore.

The information session highlighted many key facts that made me realize that I can take my debt into my own hands. Primarily, I was not aware of the differences between private and federal loans. Many times I have received emails and paper mail offering great loans with what I thought were amazing interest rates. Despite this I always took the federal loans offered through my university and for this I am lucky. The presentation explained that private loans tend to have higher fees and stricter policies regarding forgiveness or cancellations. Federal loans have lower interest rates and several great payment policies and procedures that can be taken to reduce the amount you have to pay back in total or your monthly payments.

In addition, the presentation relayed several resources that assist graduates with loan repayments. For example, there are forgiveness programs, ways to consolidate your loan, educational programs that will front your costs if you meet their requirements, and many more refinancing options. I plan to do more research into programs and opportunities that match my career goals and can help decrease my loan debt. I was also pleased to meet several people, supportive and open to discussing their financial issues with paying for college as well. An older woman I had met at the seminar helped me understand the payment of interest/principal and how it affects my monthly payments. 

The last resource I really enjoyed was the bankrate.com website where you can calculate how much debt you will owe or how much your payments should be to pay perhaps in 5 years instead of 10. I recall a quick story we watched during the session about a young man who repaid his entire student loans in a timely manner. He explains how at first he was not fully aware of his loan debt situation until he had gone to a seminar. He soon began to start making lifestyle adjustments to guarantee he would repay his loans in a timely fashion. Even after he graduated, all of his friends took a luxury trip to London, but he did not go, recognizing he had to save and repay his debt first. Sacrifices like that are the ones that I know I do not want to make in the future. That being said, I want to start decreasing my debt now. The weekend after the session, I went online, pulled up my loan summary, called my loan officer, and developed a plan. I knew that my interest was accumulating at about $50 a month. I knew that I was going to start saving more often, so I decided that I will pay $100 towards my loan every month. My main goal is to pay more than my interest each month so that I can start paying into my principal amount and systematically decrease my interest payments.

Overall, this session helped me in several ways. I have taken my finances into my hands and recognize ways to be responsible borrower. I have a plan for myself and will encourage my friends to do the same. This plan will help me build my credit as an adult as well. Details and logistics learned from this session will guide me in the future when I may need to take out a loan for a mortgage. I think this topic was extremely enlightening and I hope the message can reach more undergraduate students to better prepare them for the future.

We Just Paid Raymond’s $30,000 Student Loan Debt

Posted: 08.06.15


On Wednesday evening, UMBC grad Raymond Major walked into Central Scholarship’s annual awards ceremony owing $32,000 in student loans. He walked out owing $2,000. Congrats for winning the $30,000 Student Loan Pay-Down award, Raymond! Scroll to the 5 minute mark in the video to view Raymond’s reaction.

Interviewed last week by Jamie Costello of ABC 2 News, Raymond said, “We invest in education but I come out now making how much I owe. So I make about $30,000 a year, but I owe $32,000, so it’s kind of hard to pay off.” Raymond was ecstatic to hear his ticket number called knowing the grand prize wipes out nearly all of his student loans. He yelled in disbelief, jumped out of his seat and ran toward the stage to accept the award. Raymond spoke to the audience recalling the moment he moved on campus at UMBC. “I wasn’t supposed to be there,” he explained, and spoke about growing up in a single-mother household. “You just changed my life,” Raymond said to Ira Wagner, the man behind the award.

Raymond graduated from UMBC with a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems last year, and currently works at the Johns Hopkins I.T. help desk. He received the first ever Student Loan Pay Down award, but not the last. With the generosity of Central Scholarship board chair, Ira Wagner, and his wife, Marcia, we hope to make this award available to one student every year. Student loan debt is skyrocketing. Nearly 40 million students in the United States have borrowed $1.3 trillion dollars, and 7 in 10 graduating college seniors graduate with an average $30,000 in student loan debt. After Wednesday evening, there is one less student in Maryland battling student loan debt.

July’s College Cash scholarship recipient Caitlyn McCaulley

Congrats, Caitlyn

Posted: 07.27.15

Congratulations, Caitlyn McCaulley, on winning July’s College Cash® scholarship. As a UMBC student studying biology, Caitlyn wrote about the helpful advice she received at a College Cash® seminar. She attended the“Finding Money for College” session in the winter and learned about streamlining applications to maximize her chances of winning instead of “applying for everything”. Caitlyn realized that being specific in scholarship essays gives students a leg up. “I won’t blatantly state, ‘I like volunteering,’” she writes, “Instead I will elaborate on how I completed my Girl Scout Gold award, and the experience and joy that it brought me.” Caitlyn’s full essay is featured below.

Going to college has been one of the best decisions of my life. I mean, going to college was never a question for me because I have consistently through the years yearned to learn more and aspired to refine my talents. Even at less than a year in, I feel so much more versatile and independent. However, I was so excited about getting into college last year that I didn’t spend nearly enough time researching and applying for scholarships, thinking that it would all work out. After attending the College Cash® seminar, I decided that I will be changing the way I search and apply for scholarships and aid so I can have the best chance at getting the aid I need.

Before the College Cash® event, I never had any solid advice for applying for scholarships besides “apply for everything.” While rooted in some truth, this alone was terrible advice and left me with more questions than answers. “Where do I start?” “Which scholarships give me the best chance?” I ended up applying to some national scholarships like Questbridge and Nordstrom. Due to the overwhelming number of applicants to these programs, I am not surprised now that I was not able to get any of the scholarships I applied for. This time, I am applying local. Many local scholarships are not taken advantage of simply because no one applied. By shrinking the metaphorical “pool” of applicants, I have a significantly better chance at beating the other fish. Also, I learned that senators and delegates often have their own scholarship funds. I will be applying to all of my delegates and senators.

As it is necessary to choose the scholarship programs wisely, it is equally important to impress the scholarship committee with your essay. Planning is essential. Before you set eyes upon this crisp rendering of my essay, it was just a word document full of incomplete sentences and ideas. I would have never dared to turn that rough document in to any scholarship application, but it gave me a starting point on which to build my full sentences and cohesive ideas. Also, as I wrote my essay, I thought about how I could show who I am through words. For example, in my essay, I won’t blatantly state, “I like volunteering”. Instead I will elaborate on how I completed my Girl Scout Gold award, and the experience and joy that it brought me. By releasing information about yourself, the reader can more easily relate to you as an individual, and a human being.

Each scholarship committee has a different goal, but generally they want to find a unique, talented, and reliable person to award. I will need to stand out, but how can I stand out if I don’t apply myself? Sure I could always say that I was student of the month twice in high school or that my GPA is great, but that wouldn’t get me far. In order for me to stand out, I need to be constantly looking for opportunities to learn and grow. For instance, this summer I will be volunteering regularly at my local hospital. While I cannot tell a story about how much I’ve learned about medicine of health care professions now, I will be able to in the future. I am setting myself up so I can “stand out,” even as time progresses.

Just because I was not able to receive the aid I needed in the past, does not mean that I am doomed to take out high-interest loans for all of college. After attending the College Cash® seminar, I feel way more prepared to choose appropriate and reasonable scholarships, write a well-structured essay, and to distinguish myself through words.

February College Cash Scholarship winner Demetrius Marcoulides

Congrats, Demetrius

Posted: 06.29.15

One essay that stood out from the rest of the College Cash® applicant pool belonged to Demetrius Marcoulides. Relating the financial aid process to his background in the restaurant industry, he intertwined the cooking process with the financial aid process. He writes, Before restaurant dinner service starts, each cook must finish their mis en place, French for ‘everything in its place.’ Before Central Scholarship’s College Cash® event, I thought my College Cash® mis en place was finished. I was wrong. Jen and Angela taught me three impactful messages which I have directly applied to my College Cash® mis en place.

Demetrius attended our February 2015 College Cash® seminar at the University of Baltimore. This particular College Cash® session is titled “Finding Money for College” and offered in a number of locations every winter. Demetrius is in his first year at Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. In the past two years, he has worked as an HIV/AIDS educator and tester, and he hopes to work in HIV/AIDS primary care once he completes his Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. An excerpt from Demetrius’ winning essay can be found below.

The first message is to be strategic about which scholarships you pursue. Jen emphasized targeting scholarships that you have a good chance of obtaining. With this advice in hand, I am now focusing on three scholarships geared towards men in nursing and one for nursing students who plan to work in HIV/AIDS primary care. For the past 16 months, I have been an HIV/AIDS educator and tester in Washington, DC and Baltimore. Additionally, as a Maryland resident, I am eligible for the state senator and delegate scholarships. I have spoken to each of my representative’s offices to acquire the scholarship applications and will submit them prior to their deadlines.

The second message came when Angela said, “Scholarship essays don’t need to be sob stories.” It dawned on me that I am a sob story junkie! For my nursing program application essays I wrote about two heart wrenching experiences. Those experiences certainly pushed me to become a nurse but are simply two ingredients in the recipe that is my life. Writing about cooking to open this essay felt easy because of how much I love it. Using Angela’s advice, my upcoming scholarship essays will center around cooking.

The third message came early in the presentation as Jen shared the statistics regarding how people pay for college education. I learned that the majority of educational funding comes from governmental and institutional sources rather than private loans or private scholarships. This reassured me that my College Cash® mis en place was lining up. My estimated financial aid offer from Johns Hopkins University and my plan to pay for part of my education matched with the statistics. Knowing that I am on the right track motivates me to reach for that 4%, the caviar, of college cash, in the form of private scholarships.

At the end of dinner service, I used to ask myself, “How can my ‘mis en place’ be better for tomorrow?” For my College Cash® “mis en place”, I will strategically focus on select scholarships, avoid writing sob stories, and use the breakdown of college education funding as a tool to understand my situation. For the salmon, maybe I will switch the kalamata olive vinaigrette for a lemon vinaigrette for tomorrow.

Get To Know Your Loans

Posted: 06.25.15

Sign Here Sticker
The first step in paying back student loans is to understand them. At Central Scholarship, we ask students to document their student loans and keep track while they are in school. Know your interest rate, servicer, repayment period, and how much you owe. Start by logging into the National Student Loan Data System for Federal loans, and to AnnualCreditReport.com for private loans. Create a spreadsheet with details for each loan, such as loan program name and servicer, servicer phone number and web site, amount received, repayment start date, and monthly payment amount. And always document any contact with your servicer.

Next, develop your plan and stay the course. Research your repayment options and decide which option is best for you. Pay attention to detail. Create a budget. Repayment plans for federal loans include Standard, Graduated, Extended, Income-Based, Income-Contingent, Pay-As-You-Earn, and Income-Sensitive. You can also consolidate your Federal loans, but only once. The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a great tool to help you understand your options and find your best option.

Finally, always pay on time, start repaying before your grace period ends, never miss a payment, and sign up for auto debit (which often comes with a discounted interest rate). For more tips on student loan repayment, attend our annual College Cash seminars. In 2015, we offered free sessions on topics covering paying for college, repaying student loans, and advice for parents. In August, Central Scholarship will pay down the student loan debt of one or a handful of students at the Student Awards Ceremony. To learn more, read about our Student Loan Pay-Down.

Figure carries building blocks spelling out the word DEBT

Student Loan Debt Numbers

Posted: 06.15.15

In honor of this summer’s big announcement that Central Scholarship will be paying off student loan debt, we want to illustrate the student loan debt situation in the United States.  In order to understand the scale of the student loan debt problem in the US, let’s look at numbers. Nationwide, student loan debt is nearly $1.3 trillion dollars. It exceeds credit card debt. A growing number of students – 40 million Americans – have student loan debt. Out of the types of loans that students take out, 80% are Federal loans and 20% are private loans.  Students who take Federal loans often have lower interest and more options to repay and enter into forgiveness programs than students who take out private loans.

Nationwide, 69% of new graduates have student loan debt averaging $28,400. In Maryland, our numbers are lower than the national average, but not by much. In our state, 59% of new graduates have student loan debt averaging $26,300. Young students face a lifetime of loan repayments if they are not savvy.  One third of those in loan repayment are in their twenties, another third are in their thirties, and 29% are in their forties and fifties.  Only 5% are older than sixty. For more information, visit The Institute for College Access & Success and their Project on Student Debt.