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Two More College Cash Scholarship Winners

Two More College Cash Scholarship Winners

Posted: 07.02.13

Meet two more College Cash Scholarship winners, John Himes and Atara Pear. At our College Cash seminar on June 5th, students gathered at Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center to hear Deanne Loonin speak to the audience about student loan repayment.  Deanne is a national expert on the topic and attendees received copies of her book, Guide to Surviving Debt.  Students who attended were eligible to apply for a College Cash scholarship by writing about the seminar.  The final two grand College Cash scholarship winners will be announced at Central Scholarship’s Annual Student Awards Ceremony on July 18th.

Atara’s winning essay:College Cash Scholarship winner Atara Pear

I always find it amazing that a single, simple event can change a person’s entire state of mind. It was an ordinary day when I received my acceptance letter to Loyola University’s speech language pathology graduate program this winter; I was in a pretty neutral state of mind. Then my father showed me the letter. “Open it,” my family urged. I felt a rush of anticipation mixed unnervingly with fear as tore open the envelope, extracted the letter folded inside, and peaked nervously at the top line.

“I’m in! I’m in!” I shouted, drunk with the excitement and relief that accompanied my acceptance into the highly competitive program. We danced around the kitchen together, laughing and celebrating the good news. Then I sat down and read the rest of the letter. It described some of the details about the program and outlined my next steps. That was all fine; the heady feeling was still there. Then I got to the part about tuition, and that was the point that I went from a state of giddy joy to one of stomach-churning worry. Fifty thousand dollars? How on earth was I going to afford that?!

I knew that I would have to take out student loans, and the prospect of accruing that amount of debt by the time I was twenty-two years old was supremely unsettling to me. “Consider it an investment in your future,” my parents consoled me, “we took out loans for our schooling and we did just fine.” Still, a thousand doubts nagged at me. What if I could not pay it off? How would I know which type of loan to apply for; there seemed to be so many options! How much extra would I need to pay in interest alone? Over time, I became more comfortable with the idea of taking out loans, but there were still many questions that I had about loan options and repayment. Therefore, I was extremely relieved and excited when Central Scholarship Bureau sent me the information about a College Cash seminar that would deal with this topic specifically.

The seminar proved to be extremely informative and helpful; the keynote speaker, Ms. Deanne Loonin, was clearly an expert in the field of student loan debt. Her presentation addressed many of my questions as she spoke about the different types of student loans, various options of payment plans, and factors to take into consideration when deciding what type of loan provider to borrow from. One of the points that made the strongest impression on me was the seriousness of taking federal student loans; as Ms. Loonin said, “government student loans are easy to take but really difficult to get out of.” She spoke about the importance of staying on top of student loan repayment, as becoming delinquent or default on a student loan can lead to serious and lasting consequences, and the government can pursue loan borrowers for their entire lives. One example that Ms. Loonin gave was of an elderly client that she worked with that was in default for his student loans that he had taken more than thirty years before, and was not receiving the same amount of social security benefits that he would have been eligible to had the government not deducted his loan amounts from it.

I was amazed at the degree of power the government has in collecting loan repayments, and the message that I took for myself was that in the future, once I finish school, I will make it one of my top priorities to repay my loans in a timely manner. I want to make sure that I do not fall into the 30% of student loan borrowers who are delinquent on their loans! I plan on making responsible financial decisions and working as hard as I need to in order to repay my loans.

The College Cash seminar helped clarify many key points about student loan repayment, and I felt reassured and more confident about taking out a loan as I exited the session. However, some topics that I would like to have heard more about included the actual process of taking out loans and choosing an appropriate payment plan. These topics were touched upon, but it would have been helpful to me if they had been elaborated upon more thoroughly. Still, all of the information that was offered was useful and important.

Thank you, Central Scholarship Bureau, for arranging this excellent seminar. I plan on utilizing the tools that I gained from it by becoming a responsible loan borrower. Thank you for addressing this topic, as it has allowed me to become more confident about my plan of taking loans to go to graduate school so that I can pursue my goal of becoming a speech language pathologist.

John’s winning essay:John Himes

From the two speakers at the Central Scholarship event, I was raised to a greater level of awareness about the dangers of debt, especially student loans. While I understand that I will need to borrow money in order to finance my education, and I am willing to accept the responsibility that goes along with it, my goal is to be just that: responsible. One of the most impactful messages from the seminar was the degree to which the federal government can pursue borrowers. Whether it be by damaging my credit score, administrative wage garnishment, or a tax refund offset, I want to be sure in my future that I never go into default on a loan. However, by borrowing responsibly, working and saving money for college, and applying for scholarships, my goal is to graduate with a very manageable amount of debt.

Once I do start repaying my loans six months after graduation, I will be sure to employ another piece of advice I picked up at the Central Scholarship meeting: don’t ignore the envelope! Even if I’m not wealthy in my future, I understand that with the PAYE system, my monthly repayment schedule will be adjusted to my income, and thus there is absolutely no reason to go into default. Furthermore, even if a situation arises in which I’m unable to meet a payment deadlines, I am now aware of the various options available to me, such as deferments. Whether I re-enroll in school, am unemployed, or am simply facing economic hardship, by using the tools available to me I may be able to avoid a circumstance that would be economically crippling. Obviously, I aspire to never need to fall back on deferment, or other options like consolidation and rehabilitation, yet knowing that these options are available, just in case, gives me peace of mind.

Lastly, I am now aware of the vast wealth of online resources that are available to me, such as the SLBA site. It is comforting to know that if I get confused and need to go to the experts, there will be people who are willing to help me. I understand the necessity of financial stability in the my future and that a college education is the means by which I will reach it. With that in mind, I am determined not to let my decision to enroll in college backfire; I know that I have before me all the resources necessary to prevent default. I’m about to enter an entirely unknown and mysterious part of my life, and I don’t know what to expect; I’ve never been in serious debt before in my life. Regardless, now that I have been educated by the Central Scholarship Bureau and the NCLC speaker, I have a greater amount of confidence that I will be able to manage my student loans and remain financially stable.

College Cash Scholarship Announcement

Posted: 06.13.13

College Cash scholarship winner Shira Krawatsky
Congratulations to our first two College Cash scholarship winners, Shira Krawatsky (pictured left) and Maysa Elsheikh (pictured below).  Both ladies attended our College Cash seminar in January and wrote essays about what they got out of the free financial literacy seminars.  The scholarship announcements for students who attended the June College Cash seminars will be announced in the first week of July.  There are three College Cash scholarship winners from our January seminars and three additional College Cash scholarship winners from our June event in Howard County.  The next award recipients will be announced in the first week of July (from the Howard County events).  The two top grand prize recipients from both January and June events will be announced live at the Student Awards Ceremony on July 18th.  These scholarships were made possible through the generosity of Howard County General Hospital.  We are also grateful to SECU and BB&T for sponsoring our January and June events this year.

We enjoyed reading through all of the College Cash essays from our January events, but Shira’s and Maysa’s winning essays really shined.  Shira Krawatsky wrote,

“College Cash 101 was an eye opener for me in many ways! So many vital points were discussed. It was clear that a lot of effort and planning went into such an informative and invigorating evening! I want to break up my thoughts into 2 parts. First, I would like to discuss what I gained from Mr. Joseph Lorick, the passionate and energetic keynote speaker. Next, I will address my thoughts on Angela and Jen’s enlightening presentation.

Mr. Lorick emphasized words that are essential to my life. I am blessed with a husband and four beautiful children. In our home, I take care of the budget and bill paying. Mr. Lorick’s advice of “protecting your net worth” was vital for me to hear. I am faced with many financial decisions each and every day, ranging from which credit card to pay off first to which child needs a new pair shoes. I am a college student stretching my husband’s teacher salary for a family of 6. It seems “easy” to simply take out student loans so that we can comfortably get through my college years. However, since this lecture I have decided that I will not D.E.B.T. (do everything but think) and will try my best to obtain scholarships, minimize my student loan amount and lessen any superfluous expenses.

Angela and Jen brought a new dimension to the evening. Yes, there were many practical and informative tips that I learned. I now understand the different types of student loans and scholarships. I now know that it is important to reapply each year for scholarships. I left the evening with a wealth of resources and practical information about where to start and how to divide my energy.

Most of all, I felt that I gained from them something that I could not have read somewhere online. The thing that struck me most from Angela and Jen’s presentation was that scholarship companies are looking for a real person. I know who I am – my strengths, my weaknesses, my dreams, my challenges – but you do not! It is my job to help you understand who I am and where I am coming from. Scholarship providers are looking for a star! I was taught how to improve my essays and how to make myself stand out. Getting a great letter of recommendation, making your essay come alive and presenting yourself as a potential winner were all very important suggestions that I took home with me.

The one thing that I think would be worthwhile discussing in the future would be how to figure out your net worth. Perhaps there is some sort of formula or strategy to figure out how much in student loans would be appropriate for the career you are pursuing. Current expenses and debt would be an important thing to consider as well. I am sure this is not an easy thing to describe to a crowd of varying situations, but some sort of guidelines to come up with a general number would be helpful.

Thank you for coordinating this event and for all the noble work that you do day in and day out. I thought twice about coming since the timing was prime “happy hour” in my house – dinner/bath time/bedtime! It was a College Cash scholarship winner Maysa Elsheikhgreat evening! I am really glad that I was able to come. I gained more than I expected to and I look forward to working hard at earning scholarships.

Maysa Elsheikh wrote,

“Attending College Cash 101 was a catalyst for my scholarship application process this year. While a lot of what was covered was information I had heard before it was a really great reminder for me of the process I went through last year that I need to work at again now. In particular, I found the information about the Senatorial scholarships at MHEC helpful because last year I did not pay attention to that until it was too late. After listening in on College Cash 101 I now plan to apply to the Guaranteed Access Grant and possibly more institution grants this year. The emphasis on scholarships that I will be looking for and applying to be will be locality and organizations that have the closest relation to me. This way there are better chances of getting financial aid because the application pool will be smaller. That quick financial aid crash session gave me my to-do list for now and the rest of my undergraduate education.

In addition, advice on naming a price on the future you are willing to pay for and knowing your net worth was really insightful to me. I like the idea of looking at long-term goals so as not to lose sight during the short-term when stress can make a person act irrationally or irresponsibly. Reiterating that college is an investment helped me focus on what is important in college and what I want to get out of it. I absolutely loved that Mr. Joseph Lorick spoke about actually reaching your dream and enjoying it because I feel like it is easy in a fast-paced society in America to live to work rather than work to live. I also appreciated that he said that if we can figure how to manage our budget and finances in college it will be a skill that benefits us for the rest of our lives whether it comes to buying a house or a car, etc. His speech set the stage for my financial blueprint for at least the next few years.

Furthermore, I found the instruction on writing about thoughts and feelings to tell a story through essays very helpful to hear especially from someone who has first-hand experience with reading applications and deciding on them. The refresher on the importance of excellent recommendations brought to light my goal for this semester of building relationships with my professors. From here on I am committed to being a student my professors will remember because it will enhance my learning as well as open up doors of opportunities with that means more college cash or work field experience.

One aspect that I thought could have been improved upon was discussing more of the opportunities for graduate school funding. It makes me really nervous that there are not as many opportunities for graduate school to be funded as there are in undergrad even though furthering education is essential to the workforce nowadays. It would give me a little more hope just to know about some rare programs that would pay for a significant amount of graduate school, specifically law school in my case, so that we can actually live our dreams as Mr. Lorick mentioned.”

Student Loan Repayment Free Seminar Tomorrow

Posted: 06.04.13

College Cash 101 logo
Central Scholarship and Howard County General Hospital are hosting the next in our College Cash series sponsored by SECU and BB&T tomorrow evening.  Please join us on Wednesday, June 5th at 5:30 pm at Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center for a free seminar all about Student Loan Repayment.

Attendees of College Cash will be EXCLUSIVELY eligible for $2,500 in scholarships provided by Howard County General Hospital.  National Student Loan Repayment Expert, Deanne Loonin, will present along with Jim Harris of the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Maryland and Delaware.  The first 100 registered guests to arrive will receive a free copy of Deanne’s book, A Guide to Surviving Debt.

Have you ever asked yourself…

“How do I repay my student loans?” “Which repayment program is right for me?” “What is a subsidized loan?” “Should I consolidate?” “What can I do if I can’t pay one month?”  Attend the free session tomorrow evening and find answers to all of your questions.  Register today.

Check in begins at 5:30 pm and the program begins at 6:00 pm.  Refreshments and snacks provided.