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Scholarship Opportunity or Nah?


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Let's assume that he meets all the academic requirements.

 

Scenario:

Scholarship offers up to $30,000 a year, student has to major in 1 of 2 areas (one of which he has mentioned he is interested in) and you need to maintain a "B" average. After graduation, it is required to put in 1 and 1/2 times the years it took you to graduate. For example, if he graduates in 4 years, he would need to work for this organization after graduation for 6 years. Essentially, he would not be permitted to change majors and he would need to commit to time afterward. If you do not complete the the said 6 years afterwards, he must pay all the money back.

 

Husband: "Are you kidding me, jump at this".

 

Son: "That means I can't change my major? "I'll feel trapped"

 

Me: "Well since you're undecided and you have shown an interest in one of the majors, you might as well try." No guarantee you'll get in." The financial burden would be practically non-existent." "If you don't want to, you don't have to." (Can't you tell I'm a middle child)

 

Of course if he decides to go through with it, he'll need to write an essay within the next week or so. He's not too excited about that.

 

Opinions Welcomed

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I would do it if it was the only way to pay for college.

I would not encourage my kid to go for it unless he definitely wanted this as his major and was excited to work for the organization.

Signing over 6 years of your life is a pretty big deal, because it would force the young graduate into a specific situation and location and not allow him the freedom to make use of other opportunities or relocate to be with a significant other.

I'd be reluctant to make this commitment, unless it is the only way to get a college education.

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I agree wholeheartedly with Regentrude. The NSA offers up to $25,000 per year in grant money if one majors in math, and works for the NSA - these are guaranteed job openings presently because they are so desperate for mathematicians who are US citizens and can pass the security check - so it's a great deal. It would make many state flagships just about full tuition plus room and board, and make a huge dent in private school tuition. But the downside is you have to work for the NSA. The introductory salary is around $60,000.00 which is big in terms of newbie college graduate pay, but we are talking about having to live in the D.C. area which is a high cost of living so it's four years of living on mac N cheese, tuna, and ramen noodles while renting a high priced apartment and having at least one roommate. Therefore, the student needs to be very committed to this from the get go or they end up paying the NSA back, and I'm not certain what the repayment schedule is but would just about guarantee that it benefits the NSA a good bit, and the student not too much.

 

So, unless his education can not be afforded any other way, I would be leery. However, if he is interested in the major and could manage a double major in something else that he loves - both dh and I double majored in college so it is definitely doable - then it would be something to consider.

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The repayment schedule is similar to service academy or ROTC time commitments.

 

The biggest NSA area I'm familiar with in the DC area is at Fort Meade, MD. That does open up a wider area of suburban neighborhoods, though they are still pricier than the Midwest. I would look at places like Calvert CO and north on I70.

 

There are also NSA jobs elsewhere like HI. High cost of living there too. But it is Hawaii.

 

I think with a program like this, you have to want to do the payback job or it could be a long 6 years.

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Another thing to consider is what payback is required of the student needs to drop out or cut back on school for some reason.  This has been a big issue for us over the last year, as our daughter has struggled significantly with a health problem that began to interfere with school during her sophomore year.  We have found ourselves in the position of having to come up with cash to pay back the agency.

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As others have said, if this was the only way to afford college then yes.

 

Besides needing to be sure about the major, what about the organization? Does their purpose match your ds's goals. Do they have a political or ethical direction. I'd research the organization because you are talking about associated with them for 10 years.

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I've been looking at a similar scholarship possibility for DD except that it has a one to one committment (one year of employment with the agency for each year of tuition covered).  She's currently at a community college with the tuition covered by a state program so if she decides to pursue the scholarship, it would be only for the last 2 years at a university.  Two years is MUCH easier to commit to a work agreement and provides an excellent experience base to then go wherever the student wants.

 

I'd be more hesitant with a 6-year work commitment.  What if the student really doesn't like the work, the organization, or the work location?  Six years is a LONG time to barely endure a situation.

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Some of these allow a student to apply as a sophmore or junior.  This would allow him time to decide if it's what he wants, and for some the years of work are dependent upon when the student began receiving the grant, so this would cut down on the commitment time.  Of course there's no grants until the student applies and is accepted.

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 Nah for us.  

 

Even if she didn't have good merit aid, there are a few places we could afford, and I would strongly encourage taking a good look at a 'lesser' school that doesn't come with such a huge commitment if those were the only choices. At some of my jobs, I would have jumped off the nearest bridge if I had to stay for six years. 

 

Some students either can't pay for college any other way, or they have a very strong sense of what they want to major in and/or the type of work they want to do. It doesn't sound like your son does, and most students do change their major at least once. 

 

If I had already made a financial commitment to my child (we will pay x amount for college), then I wouldn't back out on that because of this type of opportunity. If we were just in the discussion stages, I'd say (and have said) that these schools we can manage, those schools mean you will need to take out student loans. At that point, it's their decision. 

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Oh, I also meant to say that there is one exception: if we were perfectly willing to pay for that college anyway, and the payback terms were clear and reasonable, I'd be more open to it. It would mean keeping those funds available for a very long time, so a lot of discipline would be needed! 

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I'd be VERY careful about this.

 

That said, the job market is not great right now, and there is a LOT to be said for having a job lined up and waiting for you. I know too many young people who have graduated with reasonable majors from reasonable schools who have been looking for a job for the past six months. A ready-made job has a certain attraction!

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If this is for the NSA scholarship, questions I would have would include:

 

What jobs would graduates be placed in?  How are placements assigned?

What GS level?  What automatic step increases?

What possibilities for promotion or transfer?  

Would the graduate be able to apply for other NSA jobs, as long as they continued to work for the agency for the payback period?

Is employment restricted to one agency or can graduates apply for jobs that would have them shifting between agencies?  (Ex. start with NSA, then be hired at NGA)

 

What would contribute to difficulties getting a security clearance and how would this affect possible job placement?

 

Info for the NGA Stokes Scholarship.

https://www.nga.mil/CAREERS/STUDENTOPP/Pages/Stokes-Scholarship-Program-FAQ.aspx

 

 

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As I was reading, I was thinking--sounds like ROTC or SA. Yeah, I'd encourage my kid to consider it.

I see this as different from ROTC. This prgram locks you into your major. ROTC does not. We don't know the group offering this scholarship, but I suspect the longterm opportunities/connections one would get from participating in ROTC and completing service would be significantly greater.

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I was a NC Teaching Fellow, which meant I had to teach in NC 4 years after graduation to meet the terms of my scholarship/loan. 

 

Pluses:

1) College paid for; I even had a few hundred dollars left over!

2) Great program; preparation above and beyond that of many education majors

3) I wanted to teach, and this helped me to do that.

4) I had a definite advantage when applying for jobs.

 

The cons were not as many, but they were big ones:

1) I had to teach in NC, but my senior year I met & married dh. He lived in TN. We moved to the state line and both of us had to commute--in different directions.

2) My dh is 10 years older than me. We decided to wait until after I finished my teaching commitment to have children. It would have been nice to have started earlier.

 

The biggest issue I would have with the situation described above is that ALL of the scholarship would have to be paid back if the 6-year commitment wasn't fulfilled. With Teaching Fellows, the repayment amount was reduced for every year of teaching, and that seems much more fair to me.

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