David Leonhardt
  • Income inequity

  • David Leonhardt, Op Ed NYT  5/26/17

  • At college graduations around the country this month, there will be many paeans to diversity. But leading American colleges still aren’t nearly as diverse as they imagine themselves to be.

  • Yes, they are filled with students from every religion, race and region. And colleges can take pride in this diversity, given their long history of exclusion. Yet many campuses still practice one form of exclusion: They don’t enroll many talented students from the bottom half of the income distribution, despite the fact that thousands of such students are out there.

  • That’s why we at The Times created the College Access Index a few years ago. In the upcoming Sunday Review, I write about the third annual version of that index, and you can read the column online now. The index’s ranking is also available.

  • The index evaluates colleges (any with a five-year graduation rate of at least 75 percent) based on their commitment to economic diversity — how many low- and middle-income students graduate from the colleges and how much those students pay to attend.

  • The main findings:

  • • A modest endowment isn’t an excuse for a lack of diversity. Many colleges that lack the resources of the Ivy League are impressively diverse, including Knox (in Illinois), Davidson (in North Carolina), Westminster (in Pennsylvania) and Vassar (in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.).

  • • Alarmingly, top public colleges — like the University of California system, as well as flagship campuses in Florida, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Wisconsin and elsewhere — have become less diverse in recent years, largely because of state budget cuts.

  • • Still, the University of California remains the most diverse place in elite higher education. Of the roughly 170 colleges in the ranking, the top five spots are all U.C. campuses: Irvine, Santa Barbara, Davis, San Diego and Los Angeles.

  • • The top private colleges in the index include Amherst, Pomona, Harvard, Williams and the aforementioned Vassar.

  • • There are still far too many colleges with distressingly few lower-income students, including Elon, Oberlin, Colby, Kenyon, Bates, Wake Forest — and even some public universities, such as Miami of Ohio, William and Mary and Wisconsin-Madison. I hope more of them follow the path of Washington University in St. Louis, which decided a couple of years ago that it didn’t want to be homogenous anymore and has been making real progress.

Money for College
Steve Rosen Chi Tribune

This article has good information, but beware of on-line scam artists on this topic to fee for any kind of service.

      Many high school seniors are aware that there are scholarships galore that can ease the burden of paying for college. You just have to be willing to put in the time and effort to go after the money.

     

Gabrielle McCormick has turned the search for scholarships into an art form and business model, making for a success story that would be the envy of many college graduates swimming in student loan debt.

       McCormick, who lives in Greenville, Texas, near Dallas, earned her undergraduate degree and MBA, graduating early from a five-year program at Texas A&M University-Commerce, where she studied accounting. She’s now on track for her doctorate this year.

     But here’s the really impressive part: McCormick, 28, has zero college debt. She received more than $150,000 in scholarships to pay her college tab.

McCormick is also a budding entrepreneur, with a website called The Scholarship Informer. It’s filled with free resources to help students achieve their own debt-free college education. Her company’s motto says it all: “Own Your Degree.”

But McCormick’s story is about more than money and full rides. Her journey required lots of heart, smarts, a great work ethic and perseverance. Especially perseverance.

Go back 10 years to McCormick’s senior year of high school. A talented basketball player and star student, McCormick’s dreams of earning a college basketball scholarship on the Division 1 level ended when she tore her Achilles tendon.

McCormick needed a Plan B quickly.

“I knew I was in trouble,” McCormick said in a telephone interview. “My parents were divorced. My mother essentially said, ‘How can we pay for (college)?’ My dad said, ‘You may have to work, take out student loans and take on the bulk of the costs.’ ”

 

That’s when the underdog drive in her kicked in. McCormick began researching college funding opportunities, created a scholarship profile that listed her special interests and strengths and began entering essay contests. Rather than applying for the big-dollar national scholarships that are hard to come by, McCormick focused on small scholarships — many under $2,000. She thinks she applied for at least 50 scholarships.

She also discovered there are scholarships for just about everything; she wrote essays, for example, for a basketball sportsmanship award offered by a referees’ association and one offered by the company that ran her high school cafeteria.

McCormick fully understands the financial pressures and roadblocks many families face in trying to save for college and why borrowing can add up.  According to the College Board, in 2016, students attending public colleges borrowed an average of $27,000 over four years; student borrowers at four-year private schools tallied $32,000 in debt.

To avoid debt and find as much free money as possible, McCormick preaches a five-step approach. It’s her MONEY system, and this is how she spells it out:

M equals mindset. “You have to believe it can be done, knowing that it takes hard work,” she said. O equals organization. “Be prepared,” she said. Keep essays, resumes and everything else a school or organization needs to know about you online to avoid time-wasting emails and telephone calls with financial aid officers and scholarship judges.

N equals network. Use your own network of students and friends, but also your parents’ networks from work, church and any local organizations they belong to. “Ask yourself, Who can help me find pockets of money?” McCormick said.

 

E equals efficiency and effectiveness. Set a goal of filling out seven to 10 scholarship applications a week. Starting with high school, save journal entries, homework assignments and other writing that could be the inspiration for a scholarship essay.

 

Y equals you. As McCormick said, “You have to take action. … You have to work at it.”

Questions, comments, column ideas?

Send an email to sbrosen1030@gmail.com.

Impact Investing Nonprofits

  • Impact investing exemplifies the idea that one can “do well while doing good” with one’s investments. In other words, one can purposefully make investments that help achieve certain social and environmental benefits and also generate financial returns. It’s a broad term that refers to everything from investing in organizations with an explicit social mission aligned with one’s values to avoiding investing in companies with practices that one believes have a negative impact. It can also be more expansively defined to include recommending grants to organizations and projects that can blend these grant funds with investment capital in order to support larger or higher-risk projects that may not otherwise be financially viable.

  • There are a number of impact investing nonprofits that raise charitable dollars to support their investments in socially minded organizations and projects. Returns generated by the organizations they invest in are recycled by the nonprofit to enable new investments in the future. These nonprofits may focus on a particular region or social or environmental cause. Recommending grants to such a nonprofit can provide a donor with a straightforward and efficient way to support social enterprises and nonprofits working in an area or region they care about. Some examples of such nonprofits are provided below. Please note that this does not represent a full list of impact investing nonprofits. Fidelity Charitable does not endorse these organizations and provides this list for reference purposes only. All grant recommendations are subject to review and approval by the Fidelity Charitable Trustees.

Nonprofits that Invest in Social Enterprises

(Globally and in the United States)

  • A social enterprise is an organization that uses business methods to advance a social cause or mission. Social enterprises can be nonprofit or for-profit entities and operate around the world, working to address social problems ranging from affordable housing to education. The below organizations are some examples of firms that invest in social enterprises internationally.

  • • Acumen makes long-term debt or equity investments in early-stage companies providing reliable and affordable access to agricultural inputs, quality education, clean energy, healthcare services, formal housing, and safe drinking water to low-income customers.

  • • Echoing Green provides fellowships and innovative leadership programs to support a global community of next-generation talent working to solve the world’s biggest problems. Echoing Green seeks to track down the best and the brightest leaders, bring them together, and launch them on a path to success.

  • • Endeavor is a nonprofit that supports high-impact entrepreneurs by providing mentorship and access to networks to help them grow their ventures, driving job creation and economic development worldwide. Endeavor Catalyst is the organization’s innovative co-investment fund designed to support these entrepreneurs with their equity financing rounds and to contribute to the long-term sustainability of Endeavor. 

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