Best Schools for Financial Aid 2011

The results are in and the Princeton Review has revealed the list of America’s best colleges for financial aid. What this means is, these colleges have the best financial aid ratings out of more than 600 colleges surveyed, so they were able to meet the financial aid needs of their students better than all others. The top 11 are:

  • -Bowdoin College (Brunswick, ME)
  • -California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, CA)
  • -Claremont McKenna College (Claremont, CA)
  • -Harvard College (Cambridge, MA)
  • -Lake Forest College (Lake Forest, IL)
  • -Princeton University (Princeton, NJ)
  • -Stanford University (Palo Alto, CA)
  • -Swarthmore College (Swarthmore, PA)
  • -Thomas Aquinas College (Santa Paula, CA)
  • -Washington University in St. Louis (MO)
  • -Williams College (Williamstown, MA)

The Princeton Review also listed schools where financial aid options are “not so great.” The top ten are Pennsylvania State University (University Park, PA), Quinnipiac University (Hamden, CT), New York University (New York, NY), Elon University (Elon, NC), Duquesne University (Pittsburgh, PA), University of Maryland (College Park, MD), Sonoma State University (Rohnert Park, CA), DePaul University (Chicago, IL), Miami University (Oxford, OH), and Grove City College (Grove City, PA). Eleven through 20 include:

  • -California State University-Stanislaus (Turlock, CA)
  • -Hofstra University (Hempstead, NY)
  • -Auburn University (Auburn, AL)
  • -Villanova University (Villanova, PA)
  • -Spelman College (Atlanta, GA)
  • -Howard University (Washington, DC)
  • -Washington State University (Pullman, WA)
  • -The College of New Jersey (Ewing, NJ)
  • -University of Kentucky (Lexington, KY)
  • -Westminster College (New Wilmington, PA)

For a full list of the best colleges for financial aid, visit


How to Choose the Best Job for Your Skills

It’s no secret that American’s are now living in an employers market. Gone are the days when headhunters lined up at your door hoping to sign you as a client. Hundreds of hopeful job seekers are even lining up to compete for positions that pay less than what was offered (for the same job) just a few years ago. So what does this mean for today’s job seeker? You need a strategy and it starts with knowing your skills and accepting your strengths and weaknesses.

To get started with assessing your skills and finding a suitable match in the job world, the first thing you need to do is understand the difference between a skill and what you “like” to do or “feel” you’re good at. According to Laurence Shatkin, Ph.D. and career expert:

A skill is a learned capability to perform actions. A skill is a capability because it gives you the potential to do something competently. A skill is learned because it is not something you are born with, and it is not acquired through normal sensory development or through special physical conditioning. It is not a talent or aptitude. A skill allows you to perform actions rather than just know or feel something, which is what makes it valuable to employers.

Keep in mind that critical thinking and a positive attitude are considered skills because they require actions on your part such as learning how to see things from someone else’s point of view, speaking with an upbeat tone or offering assistance with any given task. These skills, combined with certain technical skills such as typing, programming, etc., all make up a skill set and they all contribute to completing projects and other work related tasks.

So, now it’s time to take out a pen and a piece of paper and jot down your skills. After you have written your skills on a piece of paper, take a long, hard look at them. Now rate them. Use 1 for “low level,” use 2 for “moderate level” and use 3 for “high level.” Once you have done this, choosing the best jobs for your skills will be easy.

Below are just a few examples of best jobs for people with a high level of communication skills, equipment use/maintenance skills, computer programming skills, management skills, science skills, and social skills. These positions are listed as the top ten best jobs for your skills out of 50 by JIST Works, America’s Career Publisher. Please note that these careers require a “high level” of the listed skill and each list offers a wide variety of positions for all different education levels and personality types.

Communication Skills

  • – Teachers (Postsecondary)
  • – Surgeons
  • – Dental Hygienists
  • – Medical Scientists
  • – Personal Financial Advisors
  • – Physical Therapists
  • – Physician Assistants
  • – Pharmacists
  • – Social and Community Service Managers
  • – Market Research Analysts

Equipment Use/Maintenance Skills

  • – Network Systems and Data Communications Analysts
  • – Anesthesiologists
  • – Management Analysts
  • – Network and Computer Systems Administrators
  • – Computer Support Specialists
  • – Pipe Fitters and Steamfitters
  • – Plumbers
  • – Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists
  • -Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers
  • -Forest Fire Fighters

Computer Programming Skills

  • – Computer Software Engineers (Applications)
  • – Computer Software Engineers (Systems Software)
  • – Computer Systems Analysts
  • – Computer and Systems Information Managers
  • – Network Systems and Data Communications Analysts
  • – Computer Security Specialists
  • – Network and Computer Systems Administrators
  • – Financial Analysts
  • – Accountants
  • – Actuaries

Management Skills

  • – Computer and Systems Information Managers
  • – General and Operations Managers
  • – Computer Security Specialists
  • – Medical and Health Service Manager
  • – Sales Managers
  • – Management Analysts
  • – Marketing Managers
  • – Accountants
  • – Auditor
  • – Medical Scientists

 Science Skills

  • – Anesthesiologists
  • – Internists (General)
  • – Obstetricians and Gynecologists
  • – Psychiatrists
  • – Surgeons
  • – Family and General Practitioners
  • – Computer Software Engineers, Systems Software
  • – Pediatricians (General)
  • – Pharmacists
  • – Teachers (Postsecondary)

Social Skills

  • – Internists (General)
  • – Obstetricians and Gynecologists
  • – Psychiatrists
  • – Registered Nurses
  • – Family and General Practitioners
  • – Pediatricians (General)
  • – General and Operations Managers
  • – Dental Hygienists
  • – Auditors
  • – Medical and Health Service Managers

For a complete list of jobs, profiles, salaries, expected job growth and more, visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics at


Employer Tuition Assistance Programs

Did you know that many employers offer Employee Educational Assistance Packages to employees interested in pursuing an associate or undergraduate degree, graduate degree or certificate? Currently, around 33 percent of employees that attend college through Employee Educational Assistance Packages (EAPs) earn an associate degree, 23 percent earn a bachelor’s degree, 22 percent pursue master’s degrees, and 15 percent pursue professional certificates. EAPs offer tuition reimbursement and reimbursement for books and program associated fees.

Employee Education Assistance Packages are common at large firms, although some smaller firms may be receptive to the idea. More on this later. Larger companies in the insurance industry, public utilities, financial, hospital care and education will almost always offer EAPs to employees. And contrary to popular belief, many plants and retailers do offer tuition packages to employees under certain circumstances. A good example is Ford Motor Company. Back in 2004, when Ford’s Edison, New Jersey and Avon Lake, Ohio plants closed leaving 1,500 workers without jobs, workers became eligible to receive up to $15,000 a year toward tuition as long as they were enrolled as full-time students.

There are two types of EAPs: job related EAPs and self-improvement EAPs. Job-related EAPs offer the most benefits for employers. They are tax deductible for employers and the training the employee receives will increase the employee’s worth (i.e. performance and productivity). Job related EAPs are also tax-free for employees. Self-improvement EAPs may or may not be tax deductible, so it’s best to consult the most current tax regulations before applying for EAP funds.

To apply for EAP funds, employees must complete the application through the Human Resources (HR) department. Depending on the company, the HR department may evaluate the application based on the institution, the program, the employees work history, salary and whether or not the course of study fits within the objectives of the company. Again, this depends on the company. Some companies may offer assistance for just about any program as long as the employee maintains a B average or better.

Approximately half of all companies that offer EAPs pay 100 percent of tuition costs. Twenty percent pay between 50 and 90 percent of tuition costs and 30 percent pay below the 50 percent mark. While most employers offer tuition reimbursement through EAPs, other plans may pay for tuition up front, but with one caveat. If the employee drops out or does not pass with a B average or better, the employee will have to reimburse the employer in full. If the employee quits his job before paying the employer back, the employer has the right to collect through the appropriate legal channels. Remember, all employees that receive money from EAPs will have to sign an agreement stating that they agree to pay the employer back if the employee fails, drops out or quits his job.

Not every employer has a formal employee education assistance program in place, but they might be open to the idea on a case-by-case basis or as a group. If the employee or group can prove that higher education will result in returns for the company, the employer may be willing to make an offer. It’s best to schedule a meeting with the boss to present your case.

Overall, EAPs are well worth the effort. They offer an excellent way for employees to finance their education. Remember, billions of dollars are readily available through employers to cover the costs of tuition. No other financial aid avenue offers a salary plus free money for higher education.

The list below represents only a fraction of the companies that currently offer Employee Educational Assistance Packages.

  • -American Fidelity Insurance
  • -AT&T
  • -Chicago Mercantile Exchange
  • -Cigna
  • -Ernst & Young
  • -Farmer’s Insurance
  • -General Mills
  • -Google
  • -Hilton Hotels
  • -Johnson & Johnson
  • -Kaiser Permanente
  • -Lockheed Martin
  • -Microsoft
  • -Nike
  • -Philip Morris
  • -Starbucks
  • -U.S. Bank
  • -Wal-Mart
  • -Wells Fargo
  • -Xerox

*Google image provided by


Travel Nurse Salary and Benefits

Travel nursing is one of the fastest growing sectors in nursing today. Although travel nursing has become more popular in recent years thanks to wireless technology and Internet technology, this profession is not as new as one might think. Travel nursing can be traced back to 1978, where it all started in New Orleans. During Mardi Gras, the population in New Orleans nearly doubles in size, creating a demand for additional police officers, service workers, healthcare professionals, and many others.

In 1978, the hospitals in New Orleans were short-staffed during Mardi Gras, so one hospital hired a contract nurse to help out. According to Healthcare Traveler Magazine, this set a precedent. In the 1980s, a nationwide nurse shortage occurred. In response, hospitals hired contract nurses or “travel nurses” to care help care for patients. This trend continued after the most severe shortages ended, based on the convenience and cost-effectiveness of hiring skilled nurses for short-term assignments.

The U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there is still a nursing shortage in the U.S. The U.S. Department of Labor predicts a 500,000 nursing shortage by 2025, with more than one million needed by 2016. This is excellent news for aspiring nurses, but bad news for the industry overall. A nursing shortage means nurses that are already working are overworked, and hospitals are understaffed. As a result, more hospitals recruit and hire travel nurses. This creates a high demand for travel nurse agencies. In fact, there are more than 300 travel nurse agencies across the U.S. and this number continues to grow. Hospitals and placement agencies are willing to pay top dollar for skilled nurses willing to travel to hospitals and other medical facilities across the country.

It is estimated that, on average, travel nurses earn roughly 15 percent more than home-based nurses, excluding benefits and perks. Travel nurses earn an average of $83,200 per year. Median annual wages of home-based registered nurses is around $62,450 per year. It is important to note that most travel nurse agencies offer a number of bonuses such as signing bonuses, referral bonuses, and even a bonus upon completion of an assignment. Most home-based nurses do not receive bonuses.

Although travel nurses make more than home-based nurses, they still receive the same benefits as home-based nurses (i.e. health insurance, savings, retirement), but with several extras. Hospitals and nurse travel agencies are willing to pay relocation costs (no matter how many times you must relocates), they offer travel allowances, and you will never have to pay for an apartment or other accommodations. This means, travel nurses get to keep more of the money they earn as well.

The typical hospital nurse works a full-time schedule either days, nights or weekends. In facilities such as nursing care facilities where patients typically require 24-hour care, travel nurses may end up working the night shift. In some cases, overtime may be required. The amount of overtime pay travel nurses receive will depend on the position, facility, and if applicable, the agency. for example, a nurse that earns $42/hr. on assignment may receive $63/hr. for every hour worked above and beyond the regular 40-hour work schedule. Other positions list a n hourly wage of $40 and $60/hr. for overtime. Home-based nurses are eligible for overtime as well. The amount varies by facility.

Hourly wages are not the only financial benefit to working as a travel nurse. According to San Diego-based, “many travel nurse companies will allow their travelers to participate in their 401(k) plans.” Some agencies allow travelers to begin contributing on the first day of the first assignment, with the possibility to contribute up to $15,500, tax-free. Mature travel nurses, age 50 and up, may have the opportunity to contribute up to $20,500. Before you accept an assignment, simply inquire within about the agencies 401K plan. The same applies if you sign with a facility.

If you are considering accepting a travel nurse position and you would like to compare salaries and benefits of home-based vs. travel nurses, visit the U.S. Department of Labor at


Women More Satisfied with College Experience, Survey Says

According to a TIME report, women have surpassed men “in terms of college enrollment and competition,” but according to a new Pew Center Research survey, they are also “more likely than men to say college is a valuable experience.”

The survey results, released August 17, show that when asked to rate the job the U.S. higher education system is doing in terms of providing value for the money spent by students and their families, 50% of women who graduated from college say the experience was money well spent, while only 37% of men feel the same.

In addition to the divergent opinions over the value of college, the survey found more women than men reported feeling positively about their personal growth while enrolled. Seventy-three percent of women said college helped them grow and mature as a person, while 64% of men said the same.

The nationwide study also uncovered opinions about college affordability and intellectual growth.

Eighty-one percent of college-educated women say college was “very useful” in increasing their knowledge and helping them grow intellectually compared to 67% of men. One of the only areas where men topped women was in terms of college affordability: 14% of women agreed with the statement that most people can afford college today, compared with 26% of men.

The study surveyed 2,142 adults ages 18 and older between March 15 and March 29 of 2011. A year earlier, Pew also reported that a record 36% of women ages 25 to 29 had a bachelor’s degree, compared to 28% of men in the same age group.


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