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How to Avoid Student Debt in 2019

How to Avoid Student Debt in 2019

Happy New Year from Scholly! It’s 2019 which means new goals, new scholarships, and new opportunities. With college application season all but over, scholarship season is in full swing. It’s our mission to help as many students as possible reach their potential - and that means having access to education. With each year, we strive to propel even more students towards success than the last, so here are some Scholly tips on how to maximize those scholarship applications and avoid student debt in 2019.

File your FAFSA.

Your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is your first step towards determining your financial aid packages from your schools of choice. The sooner you file your FAFSA, the sooner you’ll know how much assistance you’ll receive from each of your prospective schools, and the sooner you can start planning for your future. Try to finish filing this month if you haven’t already. Filing early will to give you time to take advantage of rolling scholarship opportunities that could supplement your aid.

Check out Scholly.

Log onto Scholly ASAP and check out your new matches. We consistently update our database so that users have a range of scholarships to choose from. Save scholarships to which you would like to apply. Try to save a combination of scholarships with high Scholly Scores and large awards to prioritize your applications.

Now plan your attack. 

Take note of due dates for your saved scholarships and make an application timetable for yourself. Be sure to set realistic goals to give yourself enough time for each application. Some spring scholarship applications are due sooner than others, but a bulk of them tend to be due in March, with another in April. Start early so that you’re not scrambling to apply for scholarships by the time spring break rolls around.

When in doubt, ask!

We understand that scholarship essays can be tricky. Some topics are very broad while others are rather specific, and deciphering what and what not to include can be daunting. Many scholarship programs have a ‘Past Winners’ section where you can see profiles and sometimes essays of previous winners. These sections can help you get an idea of the kind of applications the scholarship program is looking for. Scholly also has an in-app ’Resources’ section with examples of scholarship essays for some extra help.

Edit.

Run your application essays through Scholly Editor! It’s our instant proofreader that scans your writing for both style and grammar mistakes so you can put your best foot forward. Content wise, ask teachers, friends, parents or anyone else in your life whose eyes you think would benefit your application to read your essays. You’d be surprised at how people can pick up on some of your strongest qualities that even you may miss. They can help you articulate those attributes for your applications and make them stronger.  

Lastly, keep going.

The scholarship application process is full of ups and downs. If you’re feeling disappointed about not having won a few scholarships to which you’ve applied, keep trying. There is always another opportunity out there and you are not going to win every scholarship you apply to, but a scholarships is always a better option than a student loan. Remember to stay positive and keep improving upon your applications. If you don’t win an award, you can always reach out to ask for feedback on your application!

2019 is already a big year for Scholly with the launch of our Student Loan Payoff Program in partnership with grownish - and that is just the beginning of exciting things to come for the Scholly community. So Happy New Year, happy applying, and all the best for 2019!

6 Ways to Keep Your Money Up Post-Grad

6 Ways to Keep Your Money Up Post-Grad

This past two months have been huge milestones for college students around the country. In the words of Elle Woods, congratulations class of 2018, we did it! It’s time to trade in the cap and gown for a suit and tie and make sure your post-grad life is off to a great start. Here are 6 tips to keep your money right after graduation.

1. Don’t be Afraid of the B-Word

After you score your first job and get used to receiving a paycheck for a few months, it’s important to sit down and figure out a budget. Take the money you get after taxes, add up all of your monthly expenses (i.e. student loan payment, car loan, cell phone), and violà, your weekly budget has been born. Always try and spend less than what you make so you can put away money for a rainy day. Shoot for having 3-6 months of living expenses in your savings so that you’re prepared for emergencies.

2. Start Breaking Down your Debt

Hopefully you were Scholly member and accessed that free money to graduate debt free. If not, no worries – we’ve still got you. It’s no secret debt is daunting, but it’s how you persevere through that debt that can put you in the right financial mindset for the future. A crucial first step is to make a clear and detailed plan. If you have college debt, research options to refinance your student loans. Refinancing allows you to consolidate your federal and private loans into one streamlined payment with a lower interest rate. Streamlined payments lower your monthly payments leaving you with more money to save or invest. Find other ways of curbing your spending like packing lunches, passing on happy hours, and most importantly living within your means. You’ll break down your debt even quicker.

3. Check and Establish your Credit

Your credit score is a benchmark of your financial responsibility. After you graduate, it’s important to check your credit score to make sure there aren’t any unnecessary marks against you. If there are, request to get them adjusted. There are free websites available for you to check your credit score so there are no excuses. Your credit score will affect major financial decisions like purchasing a car, refinancing your loans, and renting an apartment. You don’t want to have a measly number holding you back from achieving your goals.

4. Utilize Your Employer’s 401k or Retirement Plan

If your employer offers a 401k retirement plan or some type of equivalent, take advantage of it. Ideally, you would want to contribute enough to get the company match (usually 4-6%), because who doesn’t like free money? The younger you start contributing to your retirement savings, the more powerful the compounding interest will work in your favor. Don’t stop at the company match though; if your budget allows for it, increase the percentage every year or each time you get a raise.

5. Start Investing

Investing can seem like uncharted territory to a recent college grad. It’s a common misconception that you need to pay down all of your debt before you put a chunk of your money into an investment account. Time is your biggest advantage when it comes to investing so don’t wait until you are making more money. Check out this guide for beginner investing tips for college grads.

6. Splurge on Experiences

Focus on experiences rather than material things. You don’t want to look back on your twenties and regret not booking that trip or going to that concert. You’ll never be this free again, so take the opportunity to travel to new places, try new things, and meet new people!

 

Happy "App of the Day" Day!

Happy "App of the Day" Day!

February 26th marked something special for Scholly. It wasn't our birthday, but it felt like it.  We celebrated the "App of the Day!" It's like winning an Oscar for apps. Apple joins our mission to provide opportunity for all by recognizing Scholly among the millions of other apps in the App Store.  This recognition furthers our work to help students just like you achieve their potential. We pride ourselves on providing the tools students need to get access to and funding for college.

Our CEO and founder Christopher Gray shared these words,

I  am honored that Scholly is being featured as the “App of the Day”. This recognition from Apple is a testament to all of the hard work my team has and is doing to help students find funding for college.

February has been a notable month, first with the Scholly Scholarship Summit in Chicago and now with Apple’s highlight. 

Students are graduating from college with alarming amounts of student loan debt. Scholly actively changes the tide of that trend and puts more money in the hands of students that need it the most. USA Today stated that Americans owe over $1.48 trillion in student loan debt, surpassing credit card debit by $620 billion. Less than two years ago, the average graduate from the Class of 2016 graduated with upwards of $38,000 in student loans. We are reversing this graduation to debt ratio by reaching students where they are in a compelling way. Our partners and brand ambassadors are committed to finding solutions to educational disparities that stem from socioeconomic restrictions. Scholly is creating a future where students can walk across the stage to receive their degree without the weight of loans. 

What's next for Scholly? 2018 is proving to be a great year, and there are more great things in store. New product features are slated to roll out this year, so the excitement is far from over.   

Celebrate our "App of the Day" feature by sharing Scholly with a friend or fellow student. For more information watch our screen share tutorial. 

Trying to avoid student debt? Start with our $10,000 'No Essay' Summer Scholarship below! Application takes 2 minutes.

How to keep your scholarship money!

How to keep your scholarship money!

Congratulations to all Scholly winners, and any scholarship winners in general! There’s nothing quite like the feeling of your hard work paying off and having some of that financial strain eased. However, as a scholarship winner there are some things you REALLY need to know. 

Money from scholarships, grants, and fellowships can count as income, which means these funds can be taxable. And if they are taxable, you need to tell Uncle Sam. Keep reading for a 101 on taxes and scholarships. 

A scholarship/grant/fellowship is tax free if:

  • You are a full-time or part-time student working towards a degree at a primary, secondary, or accredited post-secondary institution

  • The award goes toward tuition and fees to enroll or attend an educational institution

  • The award goes toward fees, books, supplies, and equipment required for your courses

  • Your award will be tax free only if you use it to cover expenses just summarized

A scholarship is taxed if it is used to cover:

  • room and board

  • travel

  • research

  • clerical help

  • fees, books, supplies, and equipment that are not required for the course or attendance

If your scholarship/grant/fellowship goes towards both tuition and room and board, the amount that covers tuition is tax-free and the amount that covers room and board is taxable. Making this adjustment will require you to adjust other parts of your tax return as well.

Say you are filing a deduction for educational expenses, you must subtract the tax-free amount of award money from your deduction. Generally speaking, items required for your course, or course attendance, are not taxable. 

When in Doubt, Ask!

And ask asap. If you don’t know if your award is taxable, ask the scholarship program sponsoring the award. They will likely have information from the IRS about the tax status of your award money.

You can also be your own detective by going over the IRS’s benefits for education: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-benefits-for-education-information-center

Congrats to the winners and happy applying to our scholarship seekers, and if you haven't won yet remember to use Scholly to go make it happen!

End of Semester Tips

End of Semester Tips

Thanksgiving is over and the end of the semester is near. That means final papers, final exams, and scholarship deadlines. Some of you may still be enjoying your leftovers - lucky you. But while you’re indulging in the taste of home, you want to make sure you’re prepared for a strong finish to the semester. Here are our tips to help you get the results you want.

Make a study timetable.

It seems redundant, but you’ll thank yourself later. Especially if you’re a procrastinator, work schedules are a way of ensuring you get all your work done with the least amount of stress possible. Set realistic goals when allotting time slots for your work. To get the best out of your timetable, try to strike a balance between making your schedule flexible enough that you can make needed changes down the line, but rigid enough that you will adhere to it. 

Set up a reward system.

Getting to the end of an assignment, exam, or project is always more fun when you have something to look forward to. Whether it be dinner with friends, a mini Netflix binge, or a visit to your favorite art gallery, make sure your reward is something that will motivate you.

Break a sweat.

Exercise is an excellent stress reliever so what better time to relieve stress than during finals? These workouts do not have to be long. A twenty minute run, ab circuit, or jump-roping every morning can make a huge difference to how you feel both mentally and physically. Exercise also boosts your immune system. 

Take those vitamins.

As it gets colder and stress levels increase, you’ll be more susceptible to catching a cold. Any student will tell you no one has time to be sick. So whether you like vitamin C chewables, multivitamins, or even healthy amounts of fruit and vegetables, make sure your immune system is getting the support it needs. 

Sleep.

It’s important for both your productivity levels and your immune system. You’ll have more energy, be able to recall information faster, and manage your stress levels better. 

Apply for scholarships.

A number of fall scholarships close at the end of the year. Be sure to check Scholly regularly and make time for scholarship applications in your study timetable. You wouldn’t want to miss out on free money simply because you didn’t make time to apply for it. We know paying for school is a mission and a half; we’re here to help.

Good luck with the rest of the semester and those scholarship applications. Happy Holidays!

Win our $1000 Scholarship!

Win our $1000 Scholarship!

Share Scholly to enter our $1000 scholarship. If you're a Scholly member, share your code through your app or web account. Every time someone clicks your link, it counts as 1 entry to our $1000 scholarship.

The most entries wins.

Go to your SHARE link in the main menu of the moble and web app. Share your link through social, email, SMS, or all of the above. The more people click on your link the better your chance of winning. A winner will be chosen at the end of September, so share, share, share... and share!

Of course if you're not a Scholly member, sign up now, this won't be the only scholarship opportunity you'll be matched with.