Valedictorians and star quarterbacks aren't the only ones earning college scholarships. In the 2011-12 school year, more than $6.2 billion in private scholarships was awarded to more than 1.8 million undergraduate students with all manner of academic and athletic achievements.
Starting early is a key to success. The fall of your junior year of high school is a good time to begin evaluating your scholarship options. Application deadlines will vary, but don't be surprised if some are due a full year before college starts. And it's never too early to start. Jif, the peanut butter maker, has awarded a $25,000 college fund to the winner of its "Most Creative Sandwich Contest." Only kids between the ages of 6 and 12 can qualify.
With so many options available, be sure to look beyond the big-money scholarships. "Small awards can add up," says Eric Johnson, a spokesman for the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Plus, each award that you win will beef up your credentials on subsequent scholarship applications.
We've identified 11 great sources of college scholarships. Take a look to see which ones are right for you.
The best place to start your search is online. With free scholarship finders that will do the initial legwork for you, the 30 minutes or so that you spend creating your profile can turn into hundreds of scholarship opportunities. Be sure to fill out every available field in your profile -- even the optional ones -- because the more information you provide, the more scholarships you can get matched with.
Kiplinger's favorite scholarship finder is at Fastweb.com, which maintains a database of more than 1.5 million scholarships. Other reliable online scholarship finders can be found at Scholarships.com, StudentScholarshipSearch.com and Bigfuture.collegeboard.org. Available scholarships and search criteria can vary by Web site, so try using at least two to boost your odds of success.
Once you've been matched with scholarships, talk to your high school counselor to narrow the field to the most promising candidates, recommends Eli Clarke, a college counselor at Gonzaga College High School, in Washington, D.C. Beware scholarships or scholarship services that charge a fee. "The cardinal rule is, never pay a person or service to apply for scholarships," Clarke says. "The information and process is always free."
The scholarship pursuit doesn't end once you arrive on campus. Mark Kantrowitz, founder of FinAid.org, a financial aid Web site, advises students to continue searching for scholarships throughout college because there are a lot of single-year awards for current college students that you have to reapply for annually.
When you decide to apply to a college, the first thing you should do is contact the admissions office to request a list of scholarships offered by the school. Be sure the list includes detailed information on eligibility requirements and deadlines. Don't wait to inquire about scholarships until after you are admitted, which might not happen until the spring of your senior year. School-based scholarship applications can be due as early as the fall of your senior year, before admissions decisions are made.
Some schools automatically consider applicants with grade point averages or standardized test scores that are above a certain threshold for merit scholarships. No additional scholarship application is required. Schools do this in order to woo top academic students.
Other school-based scholarships are available only to students nominated by their high schools. For example, the Morehead-Cain Scholarship at UNC-Chapel Hill, which offers a full merit-based scholarship for four years in addition to summer enrichment opportunities, involves a multistep application process that begins the summer before senior year. Another full scholarship, the Jefferson Scholarship at the University of Virginia, requires nominees to go through several rounds of competition in order to earn a scholarship that covers tuition and additional enrichment activities over four years. Every college's scholarship application process is different, so it's critical to stay on top of the details and deadlines.
SEE ALSO: 10 Best Values in Private Universities
As a perk for workers, some businesses have scholarship programs available not only to employees but also to employees' children and sometimes even extended family. If you're a student with a job, contact the human resources department to see whether you qualify for any scholarship opportunities. McDonald's, for example, has a National Employee Scholarship Program that awards $1,000 to one employee in each state and the District of Columbia every academic year. In addition, the fast-food chain annually gives one $5,000 scholarship to the "McScholar of the Year."
If your employer doesn't offer a scholarship, don't be afraid to ask why it doesn't. Management might be receptive to an opportunity to give back to ambitious employees. Taking the initiative could pay off for you.
Don't restrict yourself to your own employer, though. "Look at your family tree," says Clarke. "Ask any and all family members if they know of a scholarship for which they can nominate you." Many employers use a third-party administrator, such as Scholarship America, to select scholarship recipients, so don't assume that the money only goes to the higher-ups' kids.
Check with your place of worship to see whether it offers any scholarships to members. If not, staff might know of local or regional groups that do offer scholarships to students of your faith. Just keep in mind that faith-based aid might be directed to students attending universities with religious missions, or students pursuing religious studies and related professions.
Be sure to expand your search to include national religious governing bodies. The United Methodist Church, for example, oversees more than 50 scholarship programs available to its active members. The average undergraduate award is between $500 and $2,000.
Even non-believers can get in on the action. American Atheists gives out two $1,000 scholarships and six $500 scholarships every year. The awards are presented annually at the group's national convention.
SEE ALSO: 10 Best Values in Public Colleges
You can take advantage of a wealth of resources in your community if you know where to look. "Many public libraries have career centers or bulletin boards with local scholarship opportunities posted," says Kantrowitz, and some parent-teacher associations have programs to help fund local students' college ambitions. If your local PTA doesn't award scholarships, it might be able to point you to a state-level PTA group that does. The Texas PTA, for example, offers $1,000 scholarships to graduating high school seniors; the California PTA, a $750 and $500 scholarship.
Also check around to see if any local businesses offer money to help area students attend college. If not, ask if they would consider it. Scholarships are a good way for business owners to give back to the community and good publicity for the business. It's also common for Rotary Clubs, whose ranks are often made up of local business owners, to sponsor club scholarships funded by members.
It's not a bad idea as well to see if a Dollars for Scholars chapter operates in your area. The nationwide network of more than 500 locally based affiliates is run by Scholarship America. Each chapter raises money to fund college scholarships for local students.
Your High School and Elementary School
Some schools, with funding from the local parent-teacher association or local philanthropists, award annual scholarships. For instance, John Champe High School, in Aldie, Va., offers two $1,000 scholarships, sponsored by the PTSA, to graduating seniors. And the Clarence M. Gillis Memorial Scholarship Fund, a $500 privately endowed award, is given to a graduating senior from one of two Roanoke, Va., high schools. If you are part of the band or chorus at Lincoln High School in Lincoln, R.I., you can apply for the Daniel Patrick O'Neil Memorial Scholarship.
Other schools, such as Staples High School, in Westport, Conn., offer tuition grants to students demonstrating financial need. In 2014, Staples awarded $320,000 to 112 graduating students and alumni.
It's worth checking with your elementary school, as well. The PTA-sponsored $500 Davis Alumni Scholarship, for example, is awarded to students who spent at least three years at Will Davis Elementary School, in Austin, Texas.
SEE ALSO: 7 Hidden Costs of College
Jakert via Wikimedia Commons
If you think there's no way that your obscure hobby could help you pay for school, think again. From duck calling to competitive eating, name your pastime and there is probably a related college scholarship for enthusiasts just like you.
Hobbies with national governing bodies are the most likely sources of college funding, says Kantrowitz. Take scouting, for instance. The Boy Scouts of America lists about two dozen scholarship opportunities for Eagle Scouts. A biggie is the Mabel and Lawrence S. Cooke scholarship, which usually awards $48,000 over four years to one Eagle Scout and $25,000 over four years to four other winners.
There are scholarships just for females, too. Some come from national organizations, such as the Girl Scouts of the USA, and others come from smaller groups. If you happen to be an aspiring female filmmaker, check out the Girls Impact the World Film Festival. By creating a three- to five-minute film discussing issues faced by women around the world, you can compete for $1,000 to $5,000 in cash, as well as an internship with the Creative Visions Foundation.
Your Academic Interests
Corporations and professional organizations offer scholarships to standout students in their fields. You don't have to pursue a major or a career in a related discipline to apply for a scholarship, but demonstrated interest in the field will set you apart from other applicants.
As Kantrowitz explains, "Depth matters more than breadth." Scholarship providers like to see students who invest their time in a specific interest rather than spend a limited amount of time working with many interests.
Science-oriented students can enter competitions such as Intel's Science Talent Search, which awards three high school seniors a whopping $150,000 apiece. Winners are judged on their scientific research and future potential. Runner-ups pocket anywhere between $7,500 and $75,000.
There are similar opportunities for right-brained creative types. ShurTech, the maker of Duck brand duct tape, offers $10,000 apiece (plus $5,000 to the winners' school) to the winning couple in its Stuck at Prom scholarship contest. Entrants are required to create and accessorize their prom outfits with duct tape. Runners-up receive between $500 and $5,000. No prom date? No problem. There's also a singles category.
Students involved in honor societies, such as the National Honor Society or the National English Honor Society, can apply for scholarships worth between $1,000 and $13,000.
SEE ALSO: The Best College Values With the Lowest Graduating Debt
Companies and Philanthropic Foundations
Sometimes identifying the best stocks to buy can be difficult, but if you examine billionaire Warren Buffett’s moves, you can learn a thing or two.
Buffett is many things — one of the world’s most successful fund managers, legendary philanthropist and owner of over 60 companies. Now, the “Oracle of Omaha” as he is known, has revealed the third-quarter trades of his $177 billion Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A, NYSE:BRK.B) fund.
The result: a valuable glimpse into which stocks Buffett likes, and which he doesn’t. Now we can look back over 2017 and pinpoint Buffett’s best stock picks this year. These are the stocks that this hedge fund guru is most bullish on.
Bear in mind that the 13F forms filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission reveal trades made in the last quarter rather than the current quarter, so it is possible that the fund’s Q3 positions have since changed. Nonetheless, his moves are still carefully tracked by investors around the world.
Here we also include TipRanks’ stock insights from Wall Street’s best-performing analysts. Does the Street sentiment match Buffett’s stocks to buy? We look at the outlook on these stocks from the best-performing analysts on Wall Street. These are the analysts that consistently outperform the market with the highest success rate and average return.
Buffett is now Bank of America Corp’s (NYSE:BAC) largest shareholder. Back in August, he made a snap $12 billion profit after exercising the fund’s right to acquire 700 million shares at a steep discount following the initial purchase six years ago. And it would seem Buffett hasn’t looked back since.
In the third quarter, he extended his position by 6.82% to 679 million shares valued at over $17.2 billion. BAC is now the fund’s fifth-largest position and Buffett’s favorite bank stock. “Bank of America has done a sensational job under [CEO] Brian Moynihan” he told CNBC recently, before adding that Berkshire “will be holders of Bank of America stock for a long, long, long time.”
Berkshire isn’t the only fan of this large-cap financial stock. The Street also has a ‘Strong Buy’ consensus on BAC. This breaks down into 8 buy ratings and 2 hold ratings from top analysts in the last three months. Meanwhile, the $29.20 average price target means upside of over 11% from the current share price. Earlier this month, on Nov. 14, four-star Renaissance analyst Howard Mason upped his price target on BAC. He says:
“We are raising our 12-month PT for BAC from $29 to $32 as the return-on-tangible-equity (ROTE), likely just over 11% for FY2017, increases to near 14% by 2019. Key drivers are: Operating leverage … capital return and …. a capital and credit tailwind from continued run-off of the legacy portfolio.”
Newcomer Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has fast become one of Warren Buffett’s favorite stocks. Since initiating the position in Q1 2016, Buffett loaded up on AAPL stock in every single quarter of 2017. The fund’s total AAPL holding now stands at 134 million shares, worth a whopping $20.6 billion. In Q3, he picked up 3.9 million shares, making AAPL the fund’s third-largest holding.
After missing the tech sector rally (Buffett recently admitted that he “blew it” by not investing in Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL) earlier), the Oracle of Omaha has been busy plowing money into AAPL. And from Berkshire Hathaway’s recent annual meeting (according to Silver Value Partners’ Gary Mishuris) Buffett revealed just why he likes AAPL so much:
AAPL is more of a consumer company than a tech company (Buffett famously avoids tech stocks); Apple’s brand and eco-system results in a loyal community of AAPL users with high switching costs. Consumers stick with AAPL products because of the ecosystem (iTunes, apps, etc.); and Its products are popular because of the aesthetics and ease of use rather than technological superiority.
AAPL also has the Street’s seal of approval. Apple scores a ‘Strong Buy’ top analyst consensus and in the last three months, analysts have published 23 buy ratings versus just 6 hold ratings on the stock. These analysts believe, on average, that AAPL is a great stock to buy as it can soar by a further 10.66% over the next 12 months.
Drexel Hamilton’s Brian White is the most bullish. He says: “We were the first on Wall Street to project that Apple would reach a $1 trillion market cap as reflected by a price target; our current price target of $235.00 equates to approximately a $1.2 trillion market cap.”
Warren Buffett Stocks to Buy: Synchrony Financial (SYF)
Berkshire recently initiated a large position in Synchrony Financial (NYSE:SYF), and in Q3 Buffett ramped up this holding by another 19%.
The fund’s total holding in this private-label credit card company now stands at 20.8 million shares with a value of over $645 million. Although Warren Buffett has not commented publicly about his investment in SYF, we can see that he does have big positions in other credit card companies including $1.1B in Visa Inc (NYSE:V) and $696 million in Mastercard Inc (NYSE:MA).
And it seems like Buffett’s move is paying off. A promising deal between SYF and leading digital payment company PayPal Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:PYPL) was just announced earlier this month. PayPal will now sell Synchrony $5.8 billion in receivables and another $1 billion in participation interests held by third-party companies. Crucially, PayPal also says that this deal “significantly expand[s] their strategic consumer credit relationship” with Synchrony. Following the news, SYF shares spiked 3%.
Overall, this stock has a cautiously optimistic outlook from top analysts. In the last three months, the stock has received 6 buy ratings vs. 4 hold ratings. These analysts have an average price target of $37.44, suggesting close to 6% upside potential from the current share price.
Warren Buffett Stocks to Buy: General Motors (GM)
Buffett is also a long-standing supporter of top dividend stock General Motors Company (NYSE:GM). After substantially boosting Berkshire’s GM position by 20% in Q2, the fund now holds 60 million GM shares valued at $2.4 billion. While Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) has been hogging most of the self-driving spotlight, GM is busy making its own mark in this fast-growing space.
Guggenheim recently upgraded GM from Hold to Buy on the back of the company’s “vision for an autonomous future” as well as a “comfortable” 2018 outlook. “GM has expressed notable optimism about the status of its AVs, and seems confident it can launch a ride-hailing fleet of robo-taxis well before 2020 for geo-fenced urban areas,” says analyst Emmanuel Rosner “CEO Mary Barra has famously said and repeated that GM’s AVs are quarters away, not years.”
Top analysts appear divided on the outlook for GM. In the last three months, the stock has received four buy ratings and four hold ratings. For example, Morgan Stanley’s Adam Jonas is concerned that GM will be unable to exceed rising investor expectations.
On the flip side, Deutsche Bank’s Rod Lache calls GM his top pick in U.S. autos, and recommends buying the stock heading into 2018. Meanwhile, the average analyst price target of $49.83 suggests 14% upside from the current share price.
Warren Buffett Stocks to Buy: Southwest Airlines (LUV)
Source: Jerry Landers via Flickr (Modified)
At the end of 2016, Buffett shocked the market with huge investments in four key airline stocks. Only a few years ago Buffett called the sector a “death trap for investors” However, with the industry fast consolidating, he has now changed his tune. Buffett’s partner, Charlie Munger, explains “It (the railroad industry) was a terrible business for 80 years … but they finally got down to four big railroads, and it was a better business. And something similar is happening in the airline business.”
And one of the four stocks to buy that he particularly likes is Texas-based Southwest Airlines Co (NYSE:LUV), the world’s largest low-cost airline carrier. After initiating his $2.1 billion position in LUV, Buffett continued to ramp up the stock in 2017. In Q1, Buffett ramped up the position by 10% with the purchase of 4.45 million more shares. Now the fund has a huge $2.7 billion stake in LUV.
Deutsche Bank’s five-star analyst Michael Linenberg is also confident on LUV stock. He boosted his price target from $63 to $71 at the end of October, indicating upside of over 20%. According to Linenberg, the revenue environment is improving and Southwest should also benefit from its new reservation system. Note that Linenberg boasts a very impressive 89% success rate and 41% average return across his 18 recommendations on the stock.
Over the last three months, AAL has received five analyst buy ratings and just 1 hold rating. Given that LUV is now trading at $67.50, the average analyst price target suggests upside of close to 15% from the current share price.
Warren Buffett Stocks to Buy: Monsanto (MON)
Monsanto Company (NYSE:MON) is one of the world’s top suppliers of farm pesticides and seeds. It describes itself as a modern agricultural company that uses innovation to help farmers grow food more sustainably. In the latest quarter, Buffett ramped up the fund’s MON position by 10% with 831,685 new shares. Now, the fund holds over 8.8 million shares valued at well over $1 billion.
German drugs and pesticide group Bayer AG is planning a massive $63.5 billion takeover of Monsanto. The deal was supposed to go through in 2017, but it has been delayed by an antitrust review from the European Commission (EC). The EC will now deliver its verdict in January 2018.
Bayer’s CEO Werner Baumann says the review is going into “unimaginable depths,” but he is confident that the deal will close early next year. “To illustrate the point, we have by now delivered more than 4 million pages of documents to the EU commission,” Baumann said recently. And it would seem from Buffett’s ongoing support that he is also optimistic the deal will go through.
The picture from the Street is muddied. Over the last three months, this ‘Moderate Buy’ stock has received 2 buy ratings and 3 hold ratings. Meanwhile, the average analyst price target of $127.20 stands at an 8% upside.
Warren Buffett Stocks to Buy: Bank of New York Mellon (BK)
Last but by no means least we have diversified financial services giant Bank of New York Mellon Corp (NYSE:BK). In Q1 and Q2, Buffett significantly increased this position by over 52%.
Since initiating the stock a decade ago, Berkshire now holds 50 million BK shares worth over $2.6 billion. Buffett may well be a fan of the stock’s attractive dividend payment and consistency over many years. And although the company is a bank, it makes relatively few bank-like activities. It rarely makes loans, has very little in deposits, and doesn’t need to open up customer branches.
While Buffett is no doubt looking for the long-term, the Street has a more short-term perspective. This could explain the discrepancy between Warren Buffett and the Street. Only one analyst published a buy rating on BK in the last three months vs four hold ratings. Furthermore, the average analyst price target from the analysts of $56 suggests marginal upside from the current share price of 3%.
Note too that the only analyst who published a Buy rating on the stock is Goldman Sachs’ Alexander Blostein. But even Blostein recently downgraded the stock from Conviction Buy to Buy. Blostein cited slower net interest revenue (NIR) and fee growth. He also trimmed his price target to $58 from $59.
However, the analyst nonetheless remains positive on BK’s earnings-per-share growth potential and attractive valuation.
Which stocks are top 25 hedge fund managers buying? Find out here.
TipRanks doesn’t just rank hedge fund managers. We also give investors the latest insight into the activity of 4,500 analysts, 5,000 financial bloggers and even 37,000 corporate insiders.
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