Tackling Rising Tuition in Smaller, More Manageable Segments

We know that the cost of a college education can be overwhelming to students and their families, especially young adult cancer survivors who already carry debt from cancer treatment.  With the recent economic downturn and looming fear of a recession, it is scary to imagine taking-on another expense, especially one as big as college tuition.

We are here to tell you and your parents that it can be done.  The key is to break the cost of college into manageable payments and to start saving now.  The question is not, “Can I afford to go to college?” The question is “Can I afford NOT to go to college?”

Grab your parents and read this column together.

Taken from US News Oct. 24th, written by higher education expert Scott Friedhoff:

Our current economy has made my how-to-pay-for-college conversations with parents a challenge. As an enrollment administrator for a selective liberal arts college, I’m used to talking with parents who are anxiety-ridden about whether their child will get into the “right” school. But the apprehension about getting into college is nothing compared with the worry—approaching despair—over how to pay for college.

Unfortunately, too many people—especially families with younger children—believe that saving for college requires a sacrifice they’re unable to make. They’re reading news stories that project the cost of a college education 10, 15, or 20 years from now—numbers that are so astronomical you might think they were a line item in NASA’s budget. Some analysts are saying that to be able to cover the cost of college then, you need to start saving $500, $750, or even $1,000 a month per child now. Well, the families I talked with can’t spare that—especially the family with triplets!

The not unexpected response is simply to give up. My response, however, is to remind parents that saving for college will always help, no matter how much they put away each month. In addition, parents have never had so many options for saving for college, especially because of the proliferation of 529 plans. The short- and long-term tax benefits of these plans make saving for college even more palatable.

Financial analysts who bring a message of gloom and doom about what you can expect to pay for college focus on the “whole nut"—the projected total cost of college at some distant point in time. They then calculate what you would have to save per month to cover that figure. They also assume no financial assistance in either need-based or merit-based aid.

Those of us in higher education encourage families to begin to save just one third of that monthly figure planners give you, then divide the balance between monthly payments to be made during the college years and long-term financing to be paid back after college.

Simple math. This plan seems so logical, so simple, so manageable, yet it’s not percolating down to the general public. First, save one third of the future cost of college with monthly contributions to a college savings plan. (I recommend first the 529 savings plans.) Once your child is enrolled in college, continue your monthly payments, but instead of sending the check to your savings plan, send it to your child’s college to cover the tuition. (At this point you’ll also be using money from that savings plan to pay tuition). Finance the final third by taking advantage of low-interest, deferred-payment student—or parent—loans.

Does one third of $500, $750, or even $1,000 per month now seem manageable? Perhaps so. And for those for whom this is not possible, it is very likely that the cost of a college education will be discounted by some significant amount that makes even a $50, $75, or $100 monthly contribution to a savings account helpful.

Some final tips:

  • Merit aid, while prevalent at many colleges, is something you might not want to count on. If your child is fortunate enough to receive such an award, use it to reduce either your monthly payments during college or what you finance over the long term.
  • Start your monthly contributions to a college savings plan as soon as possible, and try to increase the amount you save each year. Having your child contribute some portion of cash gifts he or she receives will increase not only the balance of the account but also your son or daughter’s sense of fiscal responsibility.
  • Explore financial aid options by calling college admissions offices, register on FastWeb.com to identify outside scholarship opportunities, explore MeritAid.com for information about which colleges offer merit-based scholarship, and take advantage of websites like savingforcollege.com and U.S. News’s “Paying for College.”
  • And, most important, don’t give up. You ask your kids to tackle tough problems in school every day so that they’ll have the opportunity to go to college. Beginning a college savings plan can be intimidating, but consider it an opportunity to show your children that challenges that seem insurmountable sometimes just require a little more homework.

Scott Friedhoff is vice president for enrollment and communications at Allegheny College , a private, liberal arts college in Meadville, Pa.

For more information visit:


~Jamie Corder, CCC Executive Director


Fall 2008

I have always loved this time of year and the feeling of change in the air. It is fitting that these months have also brought so much change to CCC. It has been a busy fall for us CCC staffers, and we are so excited to turn over the new CCC leaf. 

First, check out our new website! Not only do we look more sophisticated, we have increased our functionality so that you can find more information, resources and opportunities to network with your peers with less time and effort.  Check out our blogs for our workshop series on key topics such as how to improve your application essay, or how to maintain your health while away from home. Browse through our database called CCCpedia, which includes over 3,000 college scholarships and over $5.8 million in financial aid specifically for young adult cancer survivors.

Secondly, CCC is beginning to grow.  We are collaborating with other organizations that serve young adult cancer survivors to increase our scope of impact on this population. We recently partnered with the LAF, NSPA and RAI among others, and are looking forward to attending the Young Adult Alliance Conference in Austin next month. We truly believe that by working together we will improve college access and success rates for young adult cancer survivors.

Finally, get ready for the 2009 CCC Scholarship kick-off on Nov.1!  We have spent the fall collaborating with Scholar Select to streamline our online application process making it even more user-friendly for our applicants, which means less time with applications and more time with you!  Our goal this year is to give personal attention to each applicant so that no survivor must navigate the financial road to college alone.

Yes, I admit that change is often scary.  Yet we must remember that change also brings the possibility for new opportunities and experiences.  It is in this spirit that we have worked so hard to embrace and create change at CCC.  We thank you for your support during this period of transition and hope that you will join us in the exciting journey ahead.

Best Wishes,

Jamie Corder 
Executive Director, CCC 


5 Tips for Staying Healthy in College

College is one of the most exciting times in a young person’s life.  Suddenly you have more freedom, the opportunity to explore new ideas and make new friends.  Plus, no one is telling you when to go to bed!  Yet with all of this newfound freedom and excitement, it is easy to let your health fall by the wayside. As a young adult cancer survivor, now is the time to make sure that you make your health a priority, and keep it that way.

Here are five great ways to make sure that you stay on top of your game:

1. Repeat after me: “An ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure.” Wash your hands, get a good night sleep, take your vitamins, eat lots of fruit and vegetables…You’ve heard it all before, I know. But repeat after me, and chances are you will stay away from that weird campus infirmary.

2. Get a flu shot. College campuses are breeding grounds for viruses and bacteria.  Getting a flu shot, (and did I mention regularly washing your hands?) is the best way to avoid throwing up on your roommate’s futon.

3. Say “Aw.” As a young adult cancer survivor it is critical that you keep up with your routine check-ups. If you have a new physician, make sure to communicate concerns or questions to her.  If she is unable to answer your questions, seek out an alternative health care provider.

4. Get moving. Exercise boosts your immune system and prevents the dreaded “freshman fifteen”.  If that isn’t enough motivation to get you off the couch, exercise also is proven to boost feelings of wellness, reduce stress and contributes to a good night’s sleep.

5. Stay connected. Feeling lonely and homesick are common for many freshman students.  Depression and suicidal thoughts are not. Reach out to family and friends, or find a trusted professional to talk with.  Remember to stay connected to your young adult survivorship support groups, or join ours!

Follow these tips and chances are you will have a Fun, Happy and Healthy Freshman Year!

~Jamie Corder, CCC Executive Director


Welcome to the new CCC!

I am so excited to finally say those words!! The entire CCC Team is thrilled to have your support as we launch our transition as an organization. 

Our new website, CCC Scholarships, streamlines the college scholarship process for cancer survivors eager to continue their education at an undergraduate or graduate institution. 

The launch of CCC Scholarships signals the beginning of a really exciting series of programs that we will be launching over the coming months. 

We will be adding content regularly to the site as well as new functionalities so make sure to visit regularly! And as you may well know by now, I love surprises. So be prepared for lots in the near future :). 

We will be fine tuning the blog, but I will begin to post new blogs regularly this coming week. If you have been following the College Scholarship Workshop, I will be presenting part 5 (the final part) over the next two weeks. Be sure to email me if you have any questions. 

Again, welcome!!

Best wishes,


What do you think of our new site? Any comments or suggestions?? Don't be shy -- let us know!


College Scholarship Workshop: Application Bonus Points

"I know the price of success: dedication, hard work and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen." -- Frank Lloyd Wright

In part four of the workshop, we have focused on the application documentation/information (day one) and the application essay (day two). The final portion of the application section of this workshop focuses on "application bonus points." 

What are application bonus points? For the purpose of this workshop, the bonus points consist of actions/tips that will, as the title suggests, add bonus points to your application. Think of these bonus points like extra credit -- one or two extra credit points can take your grade from a B to an A!


Be more than an applicant on a piece of paper. Scholarship programs receive A LOT of applications -- how do you become "Tom" rather than "an application in pile 5?" 

  • Make Personal Contact
    • Make personal contact with the scholarship program (ex. request information regarding the application or program -- or just say hi and let the program know you're excited to apply)
    • What you say will leave an impression (very few applicants will make contact and use the opportunity to make a personal connection) 
    • Be nice to everyone you speak with (you don't know who the person is or who the person knows -- it may be a member of the scholarship committee or a friend of a committee member). You should be nice in general, but two words could be the difference between you getting the scholarship or not getting the scholarship (the magic two words = THANK YOU) 
  • Get Involved 
    • If the organization emphasizes involved (like our organization, CCC), get involved!
    • Volunteering an hour makes a tremendous impression. Don't neglect this opportunity. If you're not sure how to get involved, just ask (allows you to make personal contact at the same time)! 

Know the Scholarship Programs

Don't neglect learning about the scholarship programs. Yes, you may be applying to 20 different programs; however, if you treat each program the same, you are making a huge mistake. 

  • Research each scholarship program
    • Write down five key facts (just create five trivia questions for each scholarship program!)
    • Knowing why each program is different will allow you to tailor your application to each program. Small tweaks make a huge difference. 
  • Write a short cover letter to introduce your application materials
    • Keep this cover letter short, but take the opportunity to thank the program and committee for reviewing your application. Mention 1-3 unique aspects of the scholarship program --> tie these items into your cover letter (don't make it look like you're trying too hard!). 

Clean + Simple

When working on your application, see the big picture; however, don't forget about the details. Make sure that you allocate time at the end of filling out your application to "simplify" and proof read. 

  • Simplify
    • Less is More
      • Provide the materials asked for and maybe one or two additional items. Only add these additional items (such as a cover letter) if they are truly important to your application. Don't try to make your application as long as possible. Committees hate reading long applications. Your application is likely going to receive less attention if you include more. 
      • If you are asked for 3 letters of recommendation, only provide 3 -- not 5 or 6. Provide the 3 strongest letters and you will make a much better impression. 
      • Include the activities most important to you. Including two pages of activities you have been involved in is a huge turn off. Committees want to see what has been important to you over the years. Emphasize these activities. 
    • Stay focused on essay questions
      • Answer the questions asked (very important) and weave in your personality. Answering the essay question without giving the committee a feel of who you are as a person is a huge mistake. But don't respond and focus only on yourself without answering the essay question. You must find a balance. This balance is key to your success in the scholarship process. 
  • Proof Read
    • Spell check (important: spell the name of the organization correctly)
    • Grammar check
    • Make sure you answer every question. 
    • Make sure you provide all of the supplementary materials. 
    • Did you sign any required forms? Don't let one signature eliminate your scholarship application (it can). Triple check that you sign all required areas. 
    • Type your essays. We still receive handwritten essays. Please use the public library if you have to-- type the essay. 

You are the Star

Sorry for the cheesy heading, but this item is extremely important so it must stand out! 

  • Applicant or Parent?
    • Please remember that parents are NOT the applicants. Parents can be very involved in the process; however, parents (and applicants) must remember that the applicant plays a key role in this process. 
      • On the application, please fill out the information for the applicant (ex. put applicant's email address). If I had to guess, I would say that about 25% of applications we receive is filled out by parents (ex. includes parent's contact info not the applicant's contact info). Parents contact us with regards to their child's application about 5 times more than applicants. Does this make a difference? Yes. Yes. Yes! 
      • Parents can play a huge role, but please don't forget about the role of the applicant. The applicant must be the star of the scholarship process!! 

Fresh and Current

I highly suggest starting your application early; however, don't forget to update the content before submitting. 

  • Dates
    • Date all application material prior to submitting 
      • Why? It makes you look incredibly organized and will force you to double check that the information is current as of the submission date. 
        • For example, are you still attending the college you wrote down-- have your plans changed? Have you received additional financial aid that isn't reflected in your application? Have you received new grades? Is your email address the same? Is your phone number the same? 
      • Fresh letters of recommendation
        • If you are using letters of recommendation from a past year, try to have them updated by the recommender or add a couple fresh letters of recommendation. You want your application to represent your current status -- not your status from a year ago. 
        • Don't use the same letters that you used for another program (ex. applying to college). It's fine to have your recommender use the "same" letter, but update the content for the scholarship program to which you are applying (ex. letter shouldn't say To: College Admissions Board). Don't just copy the older letters and send them in (big mistake). 

I hope these bonus points help you put the finishing touches on your application and boost your confidence in your abilities to successfully achieve your scholarship goals. The first four parts of this workshop have guided you from the start of the scholarship process to the submission of your application. The final part of this workshop, part five, will guide you from the submission of your application to the end of the scholarship process. 

Best wishes and good luck!!



Tuesday Scholarship Surprise!

Once a month (and sometimes more!), we feature a Surprise on the CCC Blog! You don't want to miss the opportunity to receive this month's surprise.

We are giving away 2 free copies of the College Board's Brand New 2009 Scholarship Handbook-- just released! 

Here is the book's description from amazon.com:

"The Scholarship Handbook 2009 is an ideal resource for students and parents who need help paying for college.  It provides complete, authoritative facts about more than 2,100 scholarship, internship, and loan programs offered to undergraduates by foundations, charitable organizations, and state and federal government agencies.  Each program is clearly described, and indexes help students quickly find scholarships for which they qualify.  Included is a planning worksheet to help organize applications and meet critical deadlines."

How can you receive a free copy of this book? 

Post a comment to this blog and let us know why you want this book -- easy enough! The two winners we will be posted on the blog this Friday August 29. 

Happy Tuesday!!



College Scholarship Workshop: Application Essay

"Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world."
                       -- Albert Einstein

The first day of part four focused on application documentation/information. The other main component of the application: the essay.  

The essay is arguably the simple most important part of the entire scholarship application.The essay differentiates you from other applicants. How do you make sure that your essay gets to the top of the pile? Be strategic. Be focused. 

Step One: Read the Question

Read the question or prompt. Give yourself time away from the paper and computer to think about the question in an unstructured way. 

Review Sample Scholarship Essay Questions:


Step Two: Review Essay Requirements

Create a document that lists the requirements for each essay. When you are working on a particular essay, keep this document close by to reference. 

It should include:

-> Length of Essay

-> Specific questions to address

-> Specific topics to emphasize

-> Specific theme 

-> Overall purpose of essay

Step Three: Brainstorm

Before you begin to organize each essay and structure your response, brainstorm! That means step back from the ruled paper and jot down all your thoughts related to the essay. For most writers in general, brainstorming is the most valuable part of the writing process. 

Great article on How to Brainstorm: http://www.wikihow.com/Brainstorm

Another more detailed article on Brainstorming: http://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/brainstorming.html

What does brainstorming look like?

Here are a couple examples (one found on Google Images and one found on Flickr) -- there is no “right” way to brainstorm. Take out a piece of paper and just write -- however you like! 


[Image found on Google Images]

[image found on flickr - belongs to sougwen]

Step Four: Outline/Create Structure

There are many types of outlines that one can use for writing the scholarship essay. The purpose of this outline is to keep you focused while writing so that you don’t go off point and remember to meet all of the requirements. 

Please visit the Duke University Writing Studio for incredible resources to help you create the structure needed for a great essay: http://uwp.duke.edu/wstudio/resources/drafting.html

Step Five: Write Rough Draft

Use your outline and begin filling in the different sections. Your first draft should be a starting point. It doesn’t need to have perfect grammar. Writing a rough draft should reduce your anxiety because you know it’s not the final product. 

Great overview of the Scholarship Writing Process:


Step Six: Finalize the Essay

Work on your essay until you get to your final draft. It make take you 10 drafts -- that’s okay! Ask friends and family to give you feedback. It always helps to have fresh eyes look at the essay. And then when you have that final draft in your hand, check the requirements. Make sure that your essay meets everything that is required. 

Take it step by step and your essay will be golden!

---> Quick Tips from Whitney Ahneman, CCC Scholarship Director

  1. Give the reader insight into your personality and interests.  Include them and maybe use them to tell a story about yourself.  And trust me, we like getting a feel for who you are!
  2. Use the questions asked to show your values as a person.  How you feel about certain topics or how you react to certain words or situations will tell us a lot about you as a person.
  3. Please don’t list accomplishments.  Talk about various activities that have grabbed your attention and how they have become a part of your life.  You can be honest and proud of accomplishments but listing things you’ve worked on doesn’t show any passion.  Remember, we have a copy of your resume.
  4. The tone of your essay will come through based on the topic, your feelings, and your words.  There is no one right tone for an essay but it is the part of the essay that leaves a lasting impression so make sure it is a reflection of yourself.
  5. Proof read!  Typos happen, we realize that, but try to look over your essays so it doesn’t happen to you.


College Scholarship Workshop Part Four: Application Process

"Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment." -- Jim Rohn

The scholarship application process can be separated into two main components. The first three parts of this workshop are part of "Component 1" and the last two parts of this workshop are part of "Component 2."

Component 1: Prepare for the marathon 

Component 2: The actual marathon

You have completed the first component of the scholarship process, the preparation. You should feel confident that you have the necessary training to be successful in the next component, the scholarship applications. 

Lets get started!

Part Four Overview:

Day 1 ---> Application Overview

Day 2 ---> Application Essays

Day 3 ---> Application Bonus Points

Application Overview

  1. Deadline: Write the application deadlines on your main calendar. Do not miss the deadline! Most scholarship applications will have different deadlines so make sure you clearly identify which scholarship has Deadline A versus Deadline B. 
  2. Requirements: Note the requirements for each application.
  3. Paper versus Online: If given the choice, complete the application either way. Do what you feel most comfortable with. If not given the choice, don’t fill out the application the other way! Follow the directions. 
  4. Main Parts of the Application: 

a. General Information (ex. name, contact information)

b. Academic Information (ex. GPA, copy of transcript)

c. Personal Accomplishments/ Resume (ex. organizational membership, volunteer work, awards, extra-curricular     activities, work experience)

d. Financial Information (ex. Cost of tuition, Financial Need Documentation)

e. Recommendation Letters

f.  Personal Essays

---> Getting Started with your Applications

You can divide the applications into two parts:

  1. Documentation/Information 
  2. Essays
Both parts should get equal emphasis, so make sure to allow yourself enough time to write your essays. Day 2 of this workshop will focus solely on the application essays.  

So today we will focus on Documentation/Information.

Remember to stay very organized during this part of the process! 

Step One: Create a Master Plan

A master plan is a blueprint of all the different pieces that need to be completed. To create your master plan, you want to carve out some time to focus solely on this task. Don’t try to do it quickly or while doing ten other things. 

  • Create a timeline. How long do you have to complete your applications? Remember to note the deadlines of each application and keep those dates prominent on your timeline.  
  • Review each application and make a list of the items you need for each application. 
  • Now you know, for Application A, I need items X, Y, and Z by March 1. For Application B, I need items A, B, X, Y, and Z by April 5. 
  • Now pull together all of your separate lists and create one document that reflects the following:
---> Each Application
---> Each Application’s Deadline
---> Each Application’s Requirements

  • Final Step of your Master Plan: Create a list of the documents you need. [Note: Many applications ask for the same documents so by making this list you know ahead of time that you need 5 copies of your transcript.] This step will hopefully prevent you from making five separate trips to get your transcript!

Step Two: Create an Action Plan

An action plan takes your master plan one step further. It defines what actions need to be done in order to complete the items listed on your master plan. 

For example, you can set up an action plan that follows your timeline. 

Application Timeline/Checklist _________________________ Notes _______

September 2008   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

☐  Action 1 __________________________ 

☐  Action 2 __________________________

☐  Action 3 __________________________

October 2008 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

☐ Action 1 __________________________ 

☐ Action 2 __________________________ 

November 2008 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

☐ Action 1 __________________________ 

☐ Action 2  __________________________

December 2008 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

☐ Action 1 __________________________ 

☐ Action 2 __________________________

January 2009 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

☐ Action 1 __________________________ 

☐ Action 2 __________________________

and so on...

Step Three: Take Action Daily! Create Daily Action Plans. 

And the final plan: a daily action plan. Once you have created your action plan, you can easily determine your daily actions by looking at the month and plan what day you will do Action 1 on and what day you will do Action 2 on and so on. 

By creating the master plan and the action plan, you have set yourself up for success with part one of the application. The goal is to stay organized and to remember deadlines

It’s time for you to start taking action! I’ll see you back here on Friday for day 2 of the workshop: the essays. 

Best wishes,



College Scholarship Workshop: Learn some more

"We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." -- Walt Disney

At this point in the workshop, you have come incredibly far in the college scholarship process. You are likely tired and frustrated (but that's normal) so take breaks and make sure to remain positive. Don't get lost in the details of the process and focus on the big picture.

The work you have put in and are still putting in will pay off in the end. And you'll learn a thing or two during the process that will apply elsewhere in life :). 

In the last part of the workshop (Part 3, Day 2), you created a list of resources personalized to your own needs/goals. Now it's time to utilize them to get to Point B.  And Point B is where the money is located (pretty important to the scholarship process). 

Goal: Locate the money

Step One: Filter your resources

Go through your list of resources and focus on what each on provides. You should have created a separate column specifically for this purpose. 

Determine which resources show you where the money is located (ex. specific scholarships). Put these resources on a separate list to keep you focused. You can think of this list as your treasure map :). 

Step Two: Use your resources

A list won’t get you anywhere so now it’s time to actually use the resources on your list. Go through each resource you just selected and find out which college scholarships are available to you. 

Remember to stay focused on the goal: find college scholarships for you. Don’t get distracted. Go through each resource separately and don't try to do it all at once. 

Step Three: My College Scholarships

While you go through each resource, keep a list of college scholarships you find. After you review all of your resources, you will have a list of college scholarships just for you. 

Step Four: Take a huge sigh of relief. 

You've completed one of the most important parts of this entire process. You certainly didn't take the easy way out. You haven’t pulled a list out of a book or printed out your google search results, you’ve created your own personalized list. You are on your way to success! 

Coming up next week:

Part 4: The Application Process 

Best wishes,