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Congrats, Laura & Simone

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Central Scholarship presents 4th annual College Cash

Posted: 01.08.13


The evening event, sponsored by Howard County General Hospital, is

aimed helping high school and college students find money for school. College Cash 101 logo

Baltimore, MD – January 7, 2013 – Central Scholarship presents its fourth annual College Cash event sponsored by BB&T, Howard County General Hospital, and SECU. The financial literacy event is intended to help high school and college students figure out the complex world of paying for college.  Central Scholarship elected to host these events after years of working with students who were struggling to navigate the complex world of paying for higher education.

Central Scholarship will be hosting two sessions, one in Baltimore City and one in Howard County. The sessions will be specifically focused on helping students find ways to pay for college featuring guest speaker Joseph Lorrick, author of DEBT (Did Everything But Think).

Attendees will have the opportunity to win scholarships valued up to $1,250. Scholarship funding provided by Howard County General Hospital. 

The event will be open to the public, but registration is required and space is limited. Attendees can register for the Baltimore event here and for the Howard County event here.

 Session #1

When: January 15, 2012, 5:30pm-8:00pm

Where: University of Baltimore School of Law, Moot Court Room
1415 Maryland Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21201

Session #2

When: January 31st, 2012, 5:30pm- 8:00pm

Where: Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center
10710 Charter Drive #100
Columbia, MD 21044

This will be a great event for students and parents who are wondering how they can afford college. The session will be interactive and informative and attendees will walk away with a better understanding where they can find money for school. For more information please call 410-415-5558.

 About Central Scholarship:

Central Scholarship enables students to pursue education or training after high school through scholarship opportunities and interest-free loans that fund the gap after all other financial aid has been awarded. Established in 1924 and with more than $1 million in scholarships awarded annually, Central Scholarship screens student applications against dozens of scholarship opportunities according to criteria established by its donors. With a deep connection to its students and the local community, Central Scholarship’s uniqueness is in its approach: investing in the future of students, their families and the neighborhoods in which they live.


Founded in Baltimore in 1951, SECU is the largest state-chartered financial cooperative in Maryland, with over 225,000 members. SECU is ranked among the top 47 credit unions for total assets in the U.S. As of October, 2012, assets were $2.6 billion. Headquartered in Linthicum, MD, SECU has 21 branches and 104 ATMs throughout Maryland. SECU also provides access to over 68,000 surcharge-free ATMs through the CO-OP and Allpoint networks. For more information about SECU, visit

# # #


Jessica Schmidt-Bonifant

Development Director

Office: 410-415-5558

Cell: 443-812-1655

[email protected]

Join us this month for COLLEGE CASH 101

Posted: 01.07.13

College Cash 101 Invitation

Join us for this year’s COLLEGE CASH 101 sponsored by BB&T, Howard County General Hospital, and SECU– a free seminar we offer to undergraduate students and high school seniors.  Why attend COLLEGE CASH 101?

1. Opportunity to win $2,500 in scholarship awards available only to those who attend

2. Network with Central Scholarship decision-making staff

BB&T logo3. Learn how making smart choices can help you avoid debt and set you up for success

To accommodate students living in different parts of Maryland, we have two sessions at different locations available this year.  Please choose which session you will attend below.  The same material will be covered at each location.

Tuesday, January 15th

Howard County General Hospital logoUniversity of Baltimore School of Law, Moot Court Room, 1415 Maryland Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21201

5:30-8 pm *snow date for this event is January 22nd

Register here for the January 15th session. 

Directions to the UB School of Law.  Parking will be validated at the Fitzgerald garage and the Maryland avenue garage.

SECU logoThursday, January 31st

Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center, 10710 Charter Drive #100, Columbia, MD 21044

5:30-8 pm

Register here for the January 31st session.

Directions to the HCGH Wellness Center.

Refreshments and snacks will be served at 5:30 pm and the program will commence at 6:00 pm.

This event is open to the public.  You may bring guests.

Grant Prize MONEY Magazine Scholarship Winner

Posted: 07.25.12

Joshua Parker and Jan Wagner present Money Magazine Scholarship check to Kimberly Ozuno

Congratulations to Kimberly Ozuna who was surprised with the news that she won a $5,000 MONEY Magazine Scholarship at Central Scholarship’s Student Award Ceremony this month.  Her name was announced on July 12th and with both parents in the audience, Kimberly excitedly received the check from Central Scholarship Chair, Michael Ward, and Central Scholarship Executive Director, Jan Wagner.  The MONEY Magazine Scholarship competition asked students to write essays about their experience at COLLEGE CASH 101 — a financial literacy event held in March.  Kimberly is a student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.  The first three winners — Michael Greene, Ashley Banks, and Makruma Islam, were announced in previous months.  Kimberly’s winning essay is below.

Money Magazine Scholarship winner Kimberly Ozuno (center) with her family

I would like to begin by showing my appreciation for the College Cash event.  It challenged me academically and emotionally to push further to reach my highest potential.  I really enjoyed the wonderful speakers who were able to speak to us about their different experiences in college and where they are today. It helped me get a new perspective on the importance of college and how to manage the financial burden that comes along with it.  One of the speakers, Myra Halloway, a Human Resources Client Consultant, said, “If you do what you love, then you don’t have to work another day in your life.”  This quote stuck with me because doing what you love is something everyone wants to achieve and accomplish in their life, but many times they do not have the right tools or are unsure of how to attain this desirable career path.  I was able to go to the Breakout session called “Finding Money for College.”   I decided to go to this session because I knew it would benefit my parents, who are currently struggling with paying for college.  My brother and I are both attending college at the same time and I know it is hard on my father who has to support us and my other four siblings. 

During my senior year in college, I was accepted to nine schools, so I had a variety of options to pick from and many financial aid letters to look at.  The smartest thing to do, especially in our financial situation, is to go to school in-state.  However, as a young high school student ready to get away from her parents and get the college experience everyone was talking about, I chose to go to an out-of-state school in Virginia.  After the first semester, I decided the school was not for me and to help my parents with the tuition fee, I transferred back to Maryland.  Now I attend University of Maryland, Baltimore County and if I could go back in time I would have attended this school instead of the one in Virginia for the reason that I received more financial aid.  At the session, Angela Harrison and Jennifer Bauer shared important information about the types of college cash, need-based, and merit-based aid.  College students are sometimes unaware of these different forms of way to pay for school.  As a result, they graduate from college with large amount of debt and loans.  Since the discussion, I have become more aware of these types of aid and will try to avoid college debt. 

This event has also taught me how to build wealth after college by setting goals, creating a budget, and creating a personal financial statement.  Another quote that remains with me, said by Joe Kontoff is, “People’s success is due to ability, timing, and practice.”  I also learned the importance of maintaining a relationship with the people you meet as a key component in creating a network with them, because you never know when those people will benefit you in the future.  For instance, my high school counselor has always helped me throughout the school year, telling me about scholarship opportunities.  In my junior year, he nominated me for a program called Collegiate Directions Inc.  This program is a non-profit organization dedicated to help students whose families are financially struggling and need more assistance for students going to college.  During the application process for college, they helped me find resources to help pay for the SAT test fee and the college application fee.  This was really helpful, especially when I had applied to nine schools.  This bond with CDI last from high school through college, communicating through emails.  My relationship with Mr. Thompson also is intact till this day.  I remember when I was in school in Virginia and he would call me to see how I am doing and talk to me about my other options if I wanted to transfer.  It was nice to know that if I needed any counsel, I could count on him.  Now in school I make sure to get along with everyone and network as much as possible.
Next year, it would be nice to talk about other options if college is not affordable for some students.  Also, find ways to help those students who struggle financially and help them find programs such as CDI, to help families with low income.  This is very important because as our economy is getting worse it becomes harder for students to even think about going to college, since they have to help their families with their basic needs.  So as a result, many students do not have the time or motivation to go to school because they cannot afford it, and instead they get jobs to support their families.  However, I know if more people are educated in ways to help these students then it will have a ripple effect and circulate to other people, forming a network that strives to make sure these students are not burdened by financial reasons and are given the chance to get an education like everyone else.

Bonnie Lyon, Art Educator and Scholar of the Month

Posted: 06.26.12

BHD Endowed Scholarship Program for Graduate Teacher Education recipient Bonnie Lyon

Bonnie Lyon is an aspiring art educator.  She received the BHD Endowed Scholarship Program for Graduate Teacher Education at Central Scholarship.

As a product of the Harford County Public School System, Bonnie came to appreciate the diverse student body and the challenges students face.  She writes, “I believe allowing students to channel their inner frustrations in a therapeutic non-threatening way is the most significant challenge in the school systems today.  It is imperative for a child to be able to have a creative outlet and share their inner voice.”

Bonnie earned her undergraduate degree at Towson University.  During her time at Towson, Bonnie was an assistant teacher, played the piano for a children’s choir, and conducted tours of the Baltimore Museum of Art.  During the summer before her first year of graduate school, Bonnie incurred  a terrible fall which resulted in significant injuries.  “I was completely disarrayed as to why I would have sustained such significant injuries in my life at a time in which I was ready to start my life as a young educated lady,” writes Bonnie.  Medical bills from the accident placed a financial burden on Bonnie and her family.  The BHD Scholarship helped Bonnie pay for school and graduate this year.

Central Scholarship has helped many students become teachers.  At this year’s Student Awards Ceremony, Joshua Parker — Maryland State Teacher of the Year — will speak to our guests.  For more information on this year’s Student Awards Ceremony, click here.