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April College Cash®

Chidiogo Nkume, whose student loan debt totals $25,977.76 hopes to be awarded a scholarship from Central Scholarship's College Cash program

April College Cash®

Posted: 04.04.16

How much student loan debt do you owe?  You are not alone. Instead of hiding from student loans, create a plan of attack. Join us for a free College Cash® seminar on how to repay student loans. Learn about loan forgiveness programs, how to prioritize payments, how to save money, and more.

Thursday, April 14, 2016 (click to register)
The University of Baltimore, Learning Commons
1415 Maryland Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21201

5:30 pm: Registration
6:00 – 8:00 pm: Seminar

Attendees will be exclusively eligible for up to $5,000 in 2016 College Cash® scholarships. The seminar is free of charge but registration is required. This free event is made possible through the generosity of our sponsors, the Hotel at Arundel Preserve and the University of Baltimore.

Congrats, Laura & Simone

Posted: 05.28.15

College Cash Scholarship WInner Laura Bartolomei-Hill
Congratulations to Laura Bartolomei-Hill and Simone Abe, our first 2015 College Cash® winners. In order to be eligible for a College Cash® Scholarship, students attend a community seminar and submit an essay to Central Scholarship about their takeaways from the session. Three College Cash® winners remain.  Stay tuned to find out who the next winners are as they are announced in June, July, and August.  Laura Bartolomei-Hill is a graduate student pursuing her Master’s in Social Work at the University of Maryland. She attended the Loan Repayment College Cash® seminar at the University of Baltimore in April, and learned that new graduates in Maryland owe an average of $26,000. She writes, “learning that my expected debt was average was comforting.” An excerpt from Laura’s winning essay is below.
College Cash Scholarship winner Simone Abe
Simone Abe attended the Student Loan Repayment Seminar at the Hotel at Arundel Preserve and wrote about how the session made her feel less alone in the student loan struggle.  She learned about the 40 million Americans with student debt who stand beside her. She is pursuing a Master’s degrees in Management of Aging Services at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. An excerpt from Simone’s winning essay is featured below.

“Before the session, I was tracking my loans on an Excel spreadsheet, haphazardly attempting to calculate the interest owed. I can now accurately track my loans, including interest as it accrues, at the Federal Student Aid website. With the National Student Loan Data System, I know exactly what I owe. I was also excited to learn about programs like the Janet L. Hoffman Loan Assistance Repayment Program that offer assistance specifically to social workers. Following the session, I am more familiar with resources that will directly help me manage my loans.  As a result of the Central Scholarship event, I have created an ambitious but realistic budget and plan for the remainder of my time in school. I have talked with my classmates, friends, and neighbors about how they are managing their debt. I have researched additional scholarship and repayment opportunities for social workers. I have shared the resources I learned about with clients and colleagues.”
Laura Bartolomei-Hill

“There are direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans, direct PLUS loans, direct consolidation loans, Perkins, and direct consolidation. I have heard of some of these loans but I never really took to the time to understand what they do for each student. This seminar taught me that when looking at subsidized loans and unsubsidized loans, subsidized loans are the best route because the government pays the interest while the student is in school, during the six month grace period, and during deferment; whereas with unsubsidized loans, the borrower pays the interest regardless of school status. Unsubsidized loans are a pretty scary concept for me because my graduate program does not offer subsidized loans, only unsubsidized—which means I am being charged interest while still in school. From the College Cash® seminar, I learned that in order to keep my bill as low as possible, it would be good to start paying my bill while I am in school. This is something that I have been working hard at accomplishing, but it has been really hard finding a job due to my strange class schedule, which is why I was very tempted to use my college refund check but I learned from the College Cash® seminar that this is not appropriate. You should never use your financial aid refund check because when you pay that loan money back, you will be paying that money back plus the interest!” Simone Abe

Spring College Cash Recap

Posted: 05.05.15

Students in attendance at College Cash Seminar
Central Scholarship’s College Cash series covers a range of topics including Finding Money for College, Managing Student Loans, and What Parents Need to Know. Our April seminars cover Managing Student Loans and are free and open to the public. Central Scholarship Vice President, Michele Waxman-Johnson, presented to a crowd of two hundred guests between the two evenings in April. Spring sessions on Managing Student Loans were held April 23rd at the University of Baltimore, and April 27th at The Hotel at Arundel Preserve.

To see April College Cash photos on our facebook page, take a look here. Students who attended are eligible for one of several College Cash scholarships. Winners will be announced on social media in the spring and summer. To read about previous College Cash recipients, check out 2014 winners, Brett, Jyna, and Glen.

Within the student loan seminar, topics covered included You Are Not Alone, The Tangled Maze, Know Your Loans, Where to Find Relief, and Repayment Tips. Attendees included high school students, undergraduates, graduate and professional students, and parents. Thank you to our generous sponsors: BB&T, the University of Baltimore, and The Hotel at Arundel Preserve.

Free April Seminars: Managing Student Loans

Posted: 03.17.15

College Cash - Find It, Get It, Manage It logo
Join us on April 23rd in Baltimore or April 27th in Hanover for COLLEGE CASH: Managing Student Loans, a free seminar for college students and graduates. In April, we will help students understand their loan repayments and share resources about loan forgiveness programs. Registration begins at 5:30 pm and the program is from 6 pm to 8 pm. Refreshments and snacks are provided.  Thank you to our generous sponsors, BB&T, University of Baltimore, and The Hotel at Arundel Preserve, for making our April events possible.  To download a flyer for the event, click here.

All attendees will be eligible for exclusive College Cash scholarships of up to $5,000. Did you know that your chances of receiving a scholarship through our general application is one in 2,500? Your chances of receiving a College Cash scholarship by attending our seminar is ONE IN 25.

Seminar includes:
1. You Are Not Alone
2. Understand What You Owe
3. Relief and LARP Programs

Thursday, April 23, 2015
University of Baltimore, Learning Commons, 1415 Maryland Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21201
6 – 8 pm (registration begins at 5:30 pm)
Register here for the April 23rd session

Monday, April 27, 2015
The Hotel at Arundel Preserve, 7795 Arundel Mills Blvd, Hanover, MD 21076
6 – 8 pm (registration begins at 5:30 pm)
Register here for the April 27th session

This event is open to the public and FREE. You may bring guests but must register their names. Space is limited. College Cash seminars seek to educate the community free of charge about financial literacy topics in relation to higher education.

Brett, College Cash Winner

Posted: 07.31.14

College Cash Scholarship recipient Brett Libowitz
Congratulations to Brett Libowitz, our 2014 College Cash Grand Prize Winner and July’s Scholar of the Month!  Brett graduated from high school this past spring and he will begin studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Virginia this month.  Read his essay below:

The single most important thing I learned at the College Cash 101 event was to advocate for myself. Prior to the seminar, I thought the financial aid and scholarship process was out of my control. I planned to apply for scholarships and aid, submit my paperwork, and let the process take its course. However, the information I received encouraged me to exhort time and effort in order to oversee and manage the process and ultimately make my financial goals a reality.

I discovered that there is scholarship money available that is not advertised, but can be tapped into by reaching out. Since the “Cash 101” seminar, I have contacted the four senators and delegates of the eleventh district to receive scholarship applications and I have begun to apply. In the past, I searched college’s websites for scholarship opportunities, but I learned that there may be more opportunities available if I ask the offices of admissions or contact specific departments.

The meeting highlighted essays as a place to promote myself and explained how to do so. This meeting began to teach me the value of showing rather than telling in personal essays. For example, I was able to replace a statement about my dedication in training for the Baltimore Marathon with recollections of twenty-one mile training runs early on Saturday mornings. In this example, I was able to make a stronger statement about myself by showing my experience rather than merely stating it. This seminar charged me to portray myself in the best light possible in order to achieve my goals in the college application process.

Prior to the session, I believed that the financial package I was dealt was incontestable, but learned that I can go to the financial aid office and request an improved package I feel I deserve. As a result of the information provided, I will potentially take two actions I would not have otherwise. If I truly desire to go to a university but cannot justify the cost as is, I will communicate with the financial aid office seeking money available for prospective students in my situation. Secondly, if I lose need-based aid because I receive private scholarships I will argue to redeem these need based federal funds. I learned that it is worthwhile to make an attempt at requesting changes to my financial aid and grant money.

Central Scholarship’s College Cash 101 event empowered me with the information necessary to put my best foot forward in my ventures to receive financial assistance for my higher education.

Although I found the program to be extremely informative, I would have liked more information on when a more expensive college is worth the cost of attendance. I would have appreciated more coverage on the factors to consider in making a decision like this. I feel a section next year based on when it may be worthwhile to spend more on college would be beneficial, but either way I am grateful for the commitment Central Scholarship makes to those seeking an affordable college experience!

Please join us for upcoming College Cash events throughout the year for opportunities to win scholarships and learn about the financial aid process.

Our Second 2014 College Cash Winner Is…

Posted: 06.20.14

College Cash Scholarship recipient Jyna Maeng
Jyna Maeng!  Jyna attended our Howard County College Cash session in the winter.  College Cash is a free educational program that Central Scholarship offers to students all over Maryland.  We are currently planning a fall session in October all about Student Loan Repayment.  Stay tuned and check this page for details.  Jyna is a junior at the University of Maryland, College Park, where she studies Computer Science.  Congratulations, Jyna!  Read her winning essay below:

“Welcome to College Cash 101, we are so excited that you have decided to join us today. I have a question for you all, how many of you are undergraduates?” Do I raise my hand? I do not know. The seminar moved on, but I did not. My hand laid limp on my thigh, and I wondered when I should have raised it.

I have come to struggle with these types of questions of what category I fall under. You see, I am a post-baccalaureate student, in other words, a second bachelor’s student. Seven months ago, I was on my merry way down the only path I ever knew, accepted and ready to enter a Communications Master’s program at Georgetown University, when I spotted a robot. This robot’s name was Gilbert and Gilbert was visiting my city with an annual Science Conference open to the public. There, I met people with job titles I have never heard of before, telling me how they programmed Gilbert to find his way out of a maze, which was absolutely remarkable! You see, humans can walk through a maze and when they run into a dead end, they intuitively know to turn around and try a different direction, and not return to the dead end. Robots (and computers) don’t intuitively know anything, so the amazing thing about Gilbert was it could take in new information like finding a dead end, and learn not to go there again, without someone manually moving it.

Gilbert was not born with a deductive mind, it was made for him. These people were playing God, creating life (robotic life), giving inanimate objects the ability to learn from their environment and adapt, like living things. It was eye opening and eventually; life changing. I asked what field they were working in, they replied, ‘Computer Science.’ When I was a new college student I never even heard, let alone, considered Computer Science as something I could have pursued. I had only taken one math course in my entire college career. I believed that I was not a “math person” and that it would have been too hard for me to pursue anything related to it, but truthfully, I was scared. Scared that I might fail and I was not that intelligent. So, I chose a safe major, where I was guaranteed to graduate.

Then, I found myself face to screen with Gilbert and a realization just echoed in my ribs; this is where I should be. I knew I had to get a degree in Computer Science, but everyone I happened to ask about the major either said it was ‘extremely difficult’ or actually dropped out of the major and the fear clawed its way in again. I began to wonder, ‘What if I just was not one of those naturally gifted “computer people”?’ So, what? If I am turn out to be untalented, can I not learn? Can I still not pursue it through hard work rather than through an inherit gift? At the core, I wanted to learn Computer Science and my desire puffed itself up against the looming fear.

After weeks of deliberation, I decided to forgo my Master’s program and become a post-baccalaureate student. Some of my colleagues questioned why I would make such a drastic change. They thought that becoming an undergraduate was a step backward and I would have to pay for college on my own this time.

I understand the rarity of a second bachelor student with such a drastic change in career choice, but I chose this uphill battle because I asked, ‘why bother chasing a dream that isn’t yours?’ I wanted to run after my own. And so, I sprinted. Having little math background, I taught myself Pre-calculus to test out of the college class and pushed through Calculus I and II in half a year while teaching myself Java (programming language) to get ahead of my classes and career. And while I was running, gasping for air, I realized how far I could go if I willed my legs to just keep stepping.

And when I stepped into the College Cash 101 seminar, I thought the most valuable knowledge it would give me would be a list of available scholarships in my county, but it was not knowledge at all that affected me the most, it was advice. When Angela and Jen, went over scholarship essay tips, they said to be human in our essays. Be human and advocate for yourself. I have been trying to hide that I am a second bachelor’s student in every essay, every conversation, because I felt it would somehow hurt my chances of being chosen for scholarships and grants, but now I feel I can write essays truer to my situation and dreams rather than what I think I have to become for some of these scholarship essays. I will learn how to better advocate for myself, and use my unique perspective in my essays to better my chances at future scholarships.

I will also look for scholarships particular to students pursuing a second bachelor’s or something geared towards my major. As Jen and Angela said, we should be more specific and local in our scholarship searches to increase our chances of being selected.

Jen told us that when writing an essay, you should tell a story, rather than list your accomplishments. This is my story, and this seminar helped me begin to write my future chapters the right way.

Announcing the First College Cash Scholarship Winner

Posted: 05.19.14

College Cash Scholarship recipient Glen Smith

Congratulations, Glen Smith!  Glen is our featured scholar of the month and a sophomore at Johns Hopkins University studying Computer Science.  He is the first 2014 College Cash scholarship winner.  Glen attended our College Cash seminar back in January and wrote an essay about his experience.  We asked attendees to write about what they learned in the seminar and what could be improved upon in future College Cash sessions.  Here is Glen’s winning essay:

The “hunt” for college aid becomes harder and ever more frustrating as one rises in grade level, particularly a student already attending a college or university as an undergraduate. However, with a bit of help and guidance, the road to “college cash” can become much clearer. That said, I can rightfully say that the College CASH 101 event has successfully been a pioneering force for me regarding my search for college funds.

How, might one ask, did this event steer me in the right direction? I can only thank the organizers and presenters that provided a plethora of information regarding the college aid-finding process(and hardships). One particular bit of advice that I received was actually a preventive strategy, a way of securing my future even before I begin studying any major. The topic was of student loans. Both presenters began by sharing their stories of beginning college, but one had a rather interesting one. She explained that she followed her heart rather than her head (as she did not have anyone to give her advice on the subject) and took out many student loans to accommodate her educational needs. This caused her to end school in debt which is why she shared the story. What I was able to get out of this aside was the ability to make informed choices. Although I am already in a university, I can still apply this message when choosing things such as room and board plans. This idea greatly increases my chances of leaving school less in-debt than I would be otherwise. Related to this topic was the idea of finding the right loans, if I were to need any. I learned and understood the importance and difference of the sub/unsubsidized loans as well as the Perkins and Parent Plus loans. This will also allow me to make an informed choice when borrowing money, and remind me to watch out for scams and fraud.

But one more important idea that was addressed was how to find college aid and where to look for it. An example was given of a student who applied for multiple scholarships to increase his chances of receiving one, however, he applied for the WRONG ones. I did this my senior year as well. I applied for many scholarships, but only received a couple because I created many mediocre applications for scholarships that did not apply very much to me, instead of creating strong applications for more realistic ones. I now know that the correct strategy would be to find scholarships that pertain more to me, especially ones that really narrow down the applicant field (the more general the scholarship eligibility requirements, the less of a chance I will be selected). I will also look for smaller scholarships as well, because those are the ones that many overlook as being “worthless” but they really do add up in the end.

The only topic I would like to be included (or more expounded upon) is college aid for students already attending college/university. It really does get harder to find funds as you rise up, so just more information or advice for those students would be greatly appreciated.

5th Annual College Cash

Posted: 02.11.14

Attendees at a College Cash seminar

January’s annual financial literacy College Cash seminars were our most successful to date!  Thanks to all of the students, parents, and education professionals who showed up at our two sessions in Baltimore City on January 28th and in Columbia, MD on January 30th.  This year’s College Cash was sponsored by SECU, BB&T and Howard County General Hospital.  Three lucky students who attended the seminars will win College Cash scholarships.  The first two winner announcements will be made in May and June.  The grand prize winner announcement will be made in July at the awards ceremony.

Attendees at a College Cash seminarSenior Program Manager, Angela Harrison, and Program Manager, Jennifer Bauer, disbursed information about student loans, scholarships, and making the right college choice to over 300 attendees.  One student said, “the breakdown and simplicity of the information was very realistic and made me feel good about the steps I’ve already taken.  It was also a very welcoming environment.”  Look out for our College Cash event all about student loan repayment later in the year that will be geared toward older students.

Register for January’s Free College Cash Seminars

Posted: 01.09.14

College Cash 101 logo

Register today and join us in January as we host our fourth annual free seminar as part of our College Cash series.  January’s seminar will teach students, parents, and education professionals how to find and apply for scholarships, how to compare financial aid letters, how to reduce tuition cost, how to maximize federal, state, and private aid, and how to effectively tell your story in your application essay.  Our program staff will be on board to share their tips and tricks for those who want to save money on college.College Cash Scholarship Winners, Kadeem Khan (left) and Ijeoma Uzohu (right) at the 2013 Student Awards Ceremony

Those who attend will be eligible to apply for a College Cash scholarship of up to $2,500 sponsored by Howard County General Hospital.  On January 28th, the evening seminar will take place at the Enoch Pratt Library Central location in the Wheeler Auditorium.  On January 30th, we will offer the same evening seminar in Columbia at the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center.  Space is limited so register today.

Congressman Elijah E. Cummings Enlists CS

Posted: 12.18.13

Congressman Elijah Cummings‘ annual How to Pay for College Seminar

Central Scholarship Program Manager Jennifer Bauer offered free scholarship advice to students and parents last week at Congressman Cummings‘ 17th annual How to Pay for College SeminarThe event brought together college-bound high school seniors, parents, and current college students with financial aid and higher education experts to provide information about opportunities and financial assistance programs that give current and perspective students the ability to attain a college education.  In addition to Jennifer, others on the education expert panel included Dr. James Copeland (U.S. Department of Education), Benee Edwards (MHEC), April Bell (College Board), Troy Quinn (Morgan State University) and Julie Knox-Brown (Howard Community College).

We are gearing up to offer another free student event in January – our annual College Cash seminar.  Mark your calendar for this free event taking place in two locations this year.  On January 28, 2013, join us at the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore City to hear about how to find a scholarship and tips for applying.  On January 30, 2013, Central Scholarship will be offering the same free seminar at the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center.  Our scholarship and financial aid experts will present and be on hand to answer questions for students and parents.  Stay tuned for event registration information next week.