Ph.D. with ADHD brings can-do focus to science, life

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In third grade, Jennifer “Jenna” Kotler was perfectly happy counting the tiles in the classroom ceiling instead of doing her work. What she tried hard to do was sit quietly like her classmates in their French-immersion school in Toronto.

Sitting quietly isn’t a requirement at Harvard, a place no one ever expected Kotler to land. At age 8, she was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a learning disability that can challenge even the most determined student.

“I was not disruptive, never got into physical altercations or had vocal modulation,” Kotler said. “But my third-grade teacher knew I had a learning disorder because I could not do the written work. My mom had to stand behind me with her thumbs in my ears and her hands around my eyes so I could finish a page of multiplication tables.”

Twenty years later, Kotler is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Organismic & Evolutionary Biology (OEB) at Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. An evolutionary theorist, she uses clinical and genetic studies to reinterpret how humans think about health, disease, and the human evolutionary path, especially as it relates to biological and psychological development.

David Haig, the George Putnam Professor of Biology and Kotler’s doctoral adviser, worked with her to create an interdisciplinary research program that would accommodate her condition. While she doesn’t count the ceiling tiles in her brightly lighted office at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, Kotler still spends nearly every waking moment combating her ADHD, which affects both her memory and her personality.

“My brain works differently … I struggle daily with how to be in the workplace and constantly monitor myself,” Kotler said. “I’m really enthusiastic and eager, so I talk a lot, and really loudly. I interrupt a lot, and can be distracting to others. I’m extremely friendly, and tend to come on very strong. It sets you up for a lot of heartbreak, because that’s not how people typically interact.”

Kotler credits her early ADHD diagnosis with summoning a mission to help others who face arduous paths and learning to convert her own challenging characteristics into strengths.

“It’s really difficult to separate your personality, your identity, from your diagnosis. They are deeply connected,” Kotler said. “Most of the training I got through school was how to be successful there, which was important, but not sufficient when you are trying to survive the rest of the world. I needed support.”

She got that growing up in a family of feminists and activists. Outings with her parents often involved bringing snacks to teachers on a picket line, or sitting with striking daycare workers. Her early engagement in local activism, and her rejection of gender stereotyping, grew into a commitment to social justice.

“I never felt like I wasn’t smart because of ADHD; my parents did not emphasize my diagnosis, and my family talked to me about complicated issues,” she said. “They knew I was capable and also knew I needed to learn the skills to get things done.”

Kotler combined multiple therapies, including neurofeedback, focus training, and muscle-relaxation exercises, to manage her symptoms, but it was years before she could sit still in a classroom. As an undergraduate at McMaster University, studying psychology, neuroscience, and behavior, she often needed to Skype with her mother to do her work.

“It was hard for me to sit and do the work alone. I have some hyperactivity,” she said. “I just needed to know somebody was there helping me.”

Continue onto the Harvard Newsroom to read the complete article.

The Transition from High School to College

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Graduating from high school and getting accepted into college can be an exciting time for students. At the same time, it’s also a transition period that leads to new change and growth.

This may not be a problem for the average student, but for students with learning disabilities, this transition can be an overwhelming process. The irony, though, is that more students with learning disabilities are getting accepted into colleges each year.

Therefore, it’s even more critical to address this question: Why is this crucial transition process is so difficult for students with learning disabilities?

 

Overpowering Independence and No Self-Advocacy = Struggle

Part of the reason could be that students with learning disabilities in the K–12 level receive their accommodations through federal laws such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or have psychological evaluations as well as an individualized education program (IEP) via psychologists working for their schools or school districts. I can speak of this through my own experience, as my school psychologist diagnosed me with a learning disability while I was in kindergarten. I received an IEP document specifying the services and support I would need for school. However, this all changes when students enter college. Instead of the school administrations taking the responsibility of immediately providing accommodations for students, now the students have to be proactive and seek out accommodation services their colleges offer on their own … something that these students are hesitant about.

Why is this the case? Of course, there is a multitude of factors, but research has stated that a key cause of this stumbling block is that the school system focuses on curriculum rather than focusing on self-advocacy of the students themselves in terms of preparation for college. In fact, according to research conducted at Walden University, when students with disabilities enter college, some aren’t even aware that they must disclose their disabilities to the college in order to receive accommodations! Even more surprising is that some of the students who do know also do not make an attempt to disclose their disability. According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), additional reasons for this hesitancy include:

  • A desire to establish an identity independent of their disability
  • Shame or fear of being perceived as lazy, unintelligent, receiving an unfair advantage by requesting accommodations
  • Fear of receiving no response or a negative response from faculty who may not know much about certain disabilities
  • Being unaware about what kinds of disability services are available in college or how to access them
  • Having a high school transition plan that does not specify postsecondary accommodations

This is why self-advocacy is critical for students with disabilities to acquire, because this skill would allow these students to not only be confident in themselves but also confident enough to rely on themselves to explain their disabilities and receive accommodations. More importantly, self-advocacy will also be a handy skill to apply as soon as these students enter the workforce.

Advice for Students

Seek out any resources that can assist you with self-advocacy, self-confidence, and self-worth, whether it is through means of a psychologist, counselor, organizations, friends, parents, or group conversations. Additionally, I highly encourage you save all your documentation of your diagnosis for both your own records and for the records of the disabilities accommodation program of your respective college.

To make the transition easier, do some background research on the college of your choice and see which accommodations they provide for students with learning disabilities. Take a tour of the college campus and see where your classes are located. Another option is to go to community college prior to transferring to a four-year university. In fact, this is the route I took, as I believed going to a four-year university was too dramatic a change for me. As a result, I spent three years at a community college completing a majority of my science and math classes, getting familiar with the feel of a college campus, and figuring out how to apply for disability accommodations (on my own, of course). Today, I still believe that the transfer route was the best decision I’ve ever made, both academically and financially. Nonetheless, you must still be proactive into discovering the route that is best for you. The sooner you start self-advocating for yourself, the better your chance for not only graduating from college but also being successful in life.

3 Tips for Filling Out Applications for College Financial Aid

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College students and parents are already looking ahead to the 2019—2020 school year with the FAFSA- the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The great news is that the Department of Education just launched “myStudentAid” app to make it easier for students and families to fill out the federal student aid application through their mobile phones.

According to the National College Access Network, only 61 percent of high school students file a FAFSA, leaving more than $24 billion in state, federal and institutional aid on the table. Completion of the FAFSA form is one of the best predictors of whether a high school senior will go on to college, as seniors who complete the FAFSA are 63 percent more likely to enroll in postsecondary education.

For the 2019-2010 school year, the FAFSA filing season opens on October 1st and the sooner students file, the better as some financial aid is awarded on a first come, first served basis or from programs with limited funds.

Furthermore, students should look beyond federal student aid as scholarships are a great way to pay for college, and unlike loans they don’t need to be repaid. But winning scholarships takes time, dedication, intensive research, and hard work, especially on the essays. It’s deadline time for college applications, so it’s important to start the application for free money now!

Tuition Funding Sources (TFS) offers access to 7 million scholarships and $41 billion in financial aid. Start by filling in the registration; then with a click, the site searches to find any scholarships for which you might qualify. The more information you provide about yourself, the more matches TFS can make.

Richard Sorensen suggests these tips when applying for financial aid and scholarships:

Tip No. 1: Apply through FAFSA mobile app

The FAFSA mobile app is very simple to use as it asks one question on each page and after answering the question the student goes to the next page and the next question. The student can leave and return to the app as often as they want so it can be completed in several different sittings over a period of time.

Some students don’t apply because they mistakenly think the FAFSA is only for students with financial aid. That’s not accurate, families should know that income is not the only factor used to determine the financial aid they can get. It also depends on the number of children in a family and how many are enrolled in college at the same time.

Tip No. 2: Follow the steps carefully

Even though the FAFSA mobile app is generally easy to use, pay attention to the signature process, because both parents and dependent students are required to sign before the application can be processed. Never tap to “Start Over” button when including a parent signature as this will erase all previous information. And if you need to add a school, click “New Search” not “Next” which moves students to the next question.

Tip No. 3: Submit scholarship applications early

Meet the deadlines and don’t wait until the due date. If the organization asks you to mail the application, don’t try to email it and if there is a maximum word count limit, don’t go over it. Most scholarship providers receive more qualified applications than available funds so reduce your chances of being disqualified because you didn’t follow their requirements.

At TFS undergraduate and graduates can search for scholarships that fit their interest. The majority of the scholarship opportunities featured on TFS Scholarships website come directly from colleges and universities, rather than solely from competitive national pools – thereby increasing the chances of finding scholarships that are the best match for undergraduate, graduate and professional students. Each month TFS adds more than 5,000 new scholarships to its database maximizing the number of opportunities students have to earn funding for their education.

TFS has been helping students for over 30 years and offers more than 7 million individual scholarships and more than $41 billion in aid. Visit tuitionfundingsources.com to learn more.

2018-2019 Disability Rights Storytellers Fellowship

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The Disability Rights Storytellers Fellowship managed by Rooted in Rights and AAPD provides the opportunity for individuals with disabilities to learn and apply skills in digital media storytelling, and to connect with media professionals to prepare participants for advanced careers in media production, journalism, online advocacy, or digital design. The project combines hands-on training in cutting-edge technologies with a strong foundation in developing each individual’s voice and using story-driven videos in advocacy.

Upon admission to the program, Rooted in Rights will send a pre-tested, pre-assembled video production kit to the Fellows. The fellowship kicks off with orientation sessions in which Rooted in Rights creative professionals and AAPD staff lead workshops on the history of disability justice, current policy issues, and the media’s role in the disability rights movement as well as technical workshops focused on video technique, script writing, digital storytelling, basic camera composition, and video editing.

The Fellows will begin using their kit and gain valuable hands-on experience right away. During the 6-month fellowship period, Fellows are expected to write and film two 3-4 minute videos. At every step in the process, the Fellows are a part of the Rooted in Rights production team – receiving feedback and guidance while being challenged creatively to make the videos as engaging as possible while also meeting the standards for quality and universal accessibility that all of our video projects demand. The Fellows will have the opportunity to ask questions and Rooted in Rights professionals will be available for one-on-one mentoring. At the beginning of the fellowship, Rooted in Rights will work with the Fellows to arrange a schedule for choosing video topics, developing a production plan, filming, and editing to ensure timely completion of both videos.

In addition to hands-on workshops, the Fellows will participate in video chats and Q&As with media professionals, including people with disabilities, to receive advice on how to break into the media industry. AAPD will also work to connect each Fellow to internships and employment opportunities. Because work in the Storytellers Fellowship is not a full-time commitment and can be completed from anywhere, the Fellows would have the opportunity to begin work or internships simultaneously.

Apply for the fellowship now!

4 Tips to Consider When Comparing Financial Aid Packages

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college students walking to class

According to the U.S. Department of Education, 20 percent of undergraduate students did not apply for financial aid in 2011-12.

Across all types of institutions, students’ top reasons for not applying for financial aid, and thus leaving financial aid on the table, were that they thought they were ineligible for such support and they thought they could afford college without financial aid.

Students who apply for financial aid receive their financial aid letters in late March and early April. Most students will have until the May 1 National Candidates Reply Date to decide whether to accept the college’s admissions offer and financial aid.

Here are four things for families to consider when comparing financial aid packages:

  1. What are my total costs to pay for college? What other costs such as textbooks, room and board, commuting to campus, personal expenses do I need to be prepared for?
  2. How much will I need to repay after college and how long will it take to pay back my loans?
  3. Are there factors such as significant changes in family income and grade point average that might cause my financial aid to change after the first year?
  4. How do each school’s financial aid offers differ? This will help determine which school is the most affordable.

Need extra money to help pay for college? TFS Scholarships has been helping students for over 30 years and offers more than 7 million individual scholarships and more than $41 billion in aid. Visit tuitionfundingsources.com to learn more.

UCLA law students to publish first disability law journal in the nation

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ucla school of law

UCLA law students are starting a new journal that showcases scholarship on disability law.

The Disability Law Journal at UCLA will be the only disability law journal in the country after it publishes its first issue in spring 2019. Law students who created the journal said they hope to inform more people about disability law in the United States and issues that disproportionately affect people with disabilities, such as employment discrimination, police violence and sexual abuse.

The journal is one of several specialized law journals at UCLA, including the Criminal Justice Law Review and Entertainment Law Review.

Sunney Poyner, the editor-in-chief of the journal and a UCLA law student, said the lack of legal and academic publications about disability law inspired her to start the journal.

“This came about when I was in my disability law class, and it came to my attention that there was no disability law journal. That was very surprising, especially as it is such a vast area of law,” she said. “I started talking about (the journal) with people at the law school, and everyone was very supportive.”

David Koller, business manager for the journal and a UCLA law student, said he thinks the journal will help give credit to scholars and academics who are dedicated to working on disability law.

“This experience represents a really great opportunity to give legal scholarship the recognition it deserves when they focus on these important issues,” he said. “It comes down to, ‘Do you want to make the world a better place?’ Part of that, in our mind, is giving people (who) are disabled the proper rights and benefits as people (who) are not.”

 

 

Continue onto UCLA’s Newsroom to read the complete article.

5 Tips For Winning Scholarship Applications

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TFS Scholarships

Scholarships are a great way to pay for college, and unlike loans they don’t need to be repaid. But winning scholarships takes time, dedication, intensive research, and hard work—especially for essays. It’s deadline time for college applications, so it’s important to start the search for free money now!

The Internet has made the search easy and free, and scholarship databases like Tuition Funding Sources (TFS) offers access to 7 million scholarships and $41 billion in financial aid. Start by filling in the registration; then with a click, the site searches to find any scholarships for which you might qualify. The more information you provide about yourself, the more matches TFS can make.

Undergraduate and graduate students can search for scholarships that fit their interests. The majority of scholarship opportunities featured on TFS Scholarships come directly from colleges and universities, rather than solely from competitive national pools – thereby increasing the chances of finding scholarships that are the best match for students. Each month TFS adds more than 5,000 new scholarships to its database, maximizing the number of opportunities students have to earn funding for their education.

Richard Sorensen, President of TFS, suggests these tips when applying for scholarships:

  1. Apply for smaller scholarships

Many students look for scholarships that offer big awards but those are also the most competitive. Scholarships with smaller awards are easier to obtain because fewer students are competing for them. These scholarships can help with college costs such as books and living expenses.

  1. Customize your essay

Scholarship judges can tell if you’ve adapted a previously written essay to meet their criteria. Customize your application and use the beginning of your essay to showcase your personality and set yourself apart. Remember, the time you are spending to tailor your essay can be rewarded with a college debt free future.

  1. Submit scholarship applications early

Meet the deadlines and don’t wait until the due date. If the organization asks you to mail the application, don’t try to email it and if there is a maximum word count limit, don’t go over it. Most scholarship providers receive more qualified applications than available funds, so reduce your chances of being disqualified because you didn’t follow their requirements.

  1. Follow your passion

Apply for scholarships that fit your passion and interest. TFS has scholarships for everyone. The more personal the scholarship the higher your chances of winning!

  1. Increase your submission rate

The more applications you submit, the greater your chances are of winning scholarships. Treat applying for scholarships as a part-time job. Organize your free time and try to work on submitting one scholarship application every week and more during weekends. Remember if you spend 100 hours on submitting applications and win scholarships for $10,000 that is a really good part-time job!

TFS has been helping students for over 30 years and offers more than 7 million individual scholarships and more than $41 billion in aid. Visit tuitionfundingsources.com to learn more.

People Are Wearing Blue for Autism Awareness Day

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April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day, and people are wearing the color blue to raise awareness for the developmental disorder.

World Autism Awareness Day is an internationally recognized event when the United Nations reaffirms its “commitment to promote the full participation of all people with autism, and ensure they have the necessary support to be able to exercise their rights and fundamental freedoms.”

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects about 1% of the world’s population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This year’s World Autism Awareness Day is focused on supporting women and girls who have been diagnosed with the condition.

“The 2018 World Autism Awareness Day observance at United Nations Headquarters New York will focus on the importance of empowering women and girls with autism and involving them and their representative organizations in policy and decision making to address these challenges,” according to the U.N.’s website.

Various buildings and landmarks around the world will light up in the color blue Monday to raise autism awareness as well. The White House, the Empire State Building and Niagara Falls have all been lit in blue on Autism Awareness Day in years past.

If you want to show your support for autism awareness on social media, you can use these pre-written tweets and posts, or even turn your Facebook profile picture blue for the day. You can also use the hashtag #LightItUpBlue.

Continue onto TIME to read the complete article.

What I Learned About Succeeding in My Career From Battling Illness as a Kid

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Bishoy Tadros

When I was three years old, I was diagnosed with ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia). The odds were against me, and as a result of my diagnosis, my parents had to leave their life in Egypt in order to immigrate to the US and ensure my recovery.

I went through years of chemotherapy and radiation, and on my 13th birthday had to undergo brain surgery. The obstacles I faced as a child were not only medical, but physical, cultural, social, and mental.

At a young age, I developed a mantra of “breaking barriers” (which is not concidentally the name of a fundrasier campaign I ran recently) and little did I know that those barriers would lay the groundwork for how I navigated through my career.

As I look back on my life journey to date—and it is certainly far from over—I can attribute a lot of small victories to the consistent application of three lessons that were instilled in me as a child.

You Have to Have Patience

As a young immigrant child growing up in Long Island and undergoing treatment, there was no hiding that I was different.

I used sports as a way to connect with my peers, but it quickly became clear that although I was able to play, due to the side effects from my treatment, I didn’t have the speed or stamina as some of the other kids.

So as a child, I had to learn in the most painful fashion that you don’t always get the results you want when you want them. You’ll be disappointed, you’ll have to change course, and you’ll have to adjust your timeline.

As an adult, patience guided me under even the most difficult circumstances. I graduated college (in the heart of the financial crisis) without a job. Patience taught me to focus on small wins, and to build up from there.

Instead of focusing on finding my “dream job” right away, my focus was on landing a position that would get me closer to where I wanted to go. I spent three years—which could’ve easily felt like an eternity—taking small steps to position myself for my ideal career—including taking an analytical role on a trading desk at an investment bank, which brought me one step closer to working in sales today.

You Have to Have Perspective to Keep You Grounded

Given the conditions of my childhood, I had to grow up fast and accept my cards as they were dealt. My parents had their hands full with critical decisions around my health as well as our livelihood as a family in a new country.

As a result, I wasn’t completely sheltered from a lot of the realities they faced. If my parents were late to pick me up from school, for example, I knew it was for a good reason.

I learned early on that sacrifices are necessary sometimes to achieve what you really want. Before I landed my current role in finance, I was working at a CPA firm while pursuing my MBA simultaneously. I was taking five classes at a time and juggling 70-hour weeks at the office.

I had to bail on friends frequently and rarely managed a full night’s sleep. I was fully focused on positioning myself for the moment a bank would come ringing; a moment that signified a major step in my career and toward the right job “fit” for me.

You Have to Know What Success Means for You

A defining moment in my life was when I received a positive prognosis after my brain surgery. After 10 years of fighting off side effects and setbacks, I was free to start over; cancer was officially in the past.

I was tried over and over in my childhood, yet I was determined as ever to be successful in what I set out to do. With that said, my vision of success as a child was more concrete; to have a good job and be secure enough financially.

As an adult, I took on a whole new approach when it came to defining success and understanding what it means to me. I’ve learned that it’s not an end game, it’s a journey, one I anticipate will last a lifetime.

In order to continue on the path to “success,” you have to exit your comfort zone, take risks, and prepare yourself for setbacks that’ll require you to get back up and try again.

When I look back at my life in this way, it’s clear that the setbacks I faced as a child certainly didn’t define me, but rather dared me to be a stronger, more driven individual.

At times, you may feel the odds are against you, but you must acknowledge that barriers are meant to be broken. Channeling this mindset will facilitate a comeback that is greater than any setback—and it’ll be one step further on the journey to success.

Author:
Bishoy Tadros

Read the complete article and more from The Muse here

How to Avoid Scholarship Scams

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It’s no secret that scholarships are a great way to find free money for college. While it’s now easier than ever to search for scholarship opportunities online, easier navigation on the internet also makes it easier for online scammers.

Unfortunately, many families have fallen victim to scholarship scammers who are stealing millions of dollars from families every year. Your goal is to get money for college, and it shouldn’t cost you anything to apply for scholarships.

The good news is that there are red flags to look out for to avoid becoming the victim of a scholarship scam. A general rule of thumb – if it sounds too good to be true, it is. Learn the signs to protect yourself against being defrauded and find scholarships that are right for you. Here are 3 tips to avoid scholarship scams:

  1. Be cautious of fees: Applying for scholarships should not cost money. Be cautions of scholarships with application fees and never pay to get scholarship information. Scholarship databases are free and readily available online. Be on the lookout for phrases like “Guaranteed or your money back.” Scholarship websites can’t guarantee that you will win a scholarship because they’re not deciding on the winner. Legitimate scholarships won’t require an upfront fee when you submit the application.

TFS Scholarships

  1. Protect your data: Never reveal financial information such as your social security number, credit card numbers, checking information or bank account numbers to apply for scholarships. Scholarship scammers could use this information to commit identity theft.
  1. Get a second opinion: If you’re still unsure, talk with trusted organizations about which websites they recommend. School counselors, librarians, financial aid offices, and local community organizations have knowledge and tools to guide you in the right direction.

To help cut through the clutter, TFS Scholarships provides free educational resources to ease the academic journeys of students and families around the country. Sponsored by Wells Fargo, TFS Scholarships has been helping students for over 30 years and offers more than 7 million individual scholarships and more than $41 billion in aid. Visit tuitionfundingsources.com to learn more.

TFS Scholarships Launches Online Toolkit to Provide College Funding Resources

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SALT LAKE CITY— TFS Scholarships (TFS), the most comprehensive online resource for higher education funding, has launched a free online toolkit to provide counselors, families and students with resources to help improve the college scholarship search process. The toolkit, available at tuitionfundingsources.com/resource-toolkit, provides downloadable resources and practical tips on how to find and apply for scholarships.

The launch comes in celebration with Financial Aid Awareness Month when many families are beginning the FAFSA process and researching financial aid options.

“We hope these resources help raise awareness around TFS and the 7 million college scholarships available to undergraduate, graduate and professional students,” said Richard Sorensen, president of TFS Scholarships. “Our goal is to help families discover alternative ways to offset the rising costs of higher education.”

The resource toolkit includes flyers, email templates, newsletter content, digital banners and table toppers which are designed to be shareable content that counselors, students and organizations can use to spread the word about how to find free money for college.

The newly revamped TFS website curates over 7 million scholarship opportunities from across the country – with the majority coming directly from colleges and universities—and matches them to students based on their personal profile, where they want to study, and stage of academic study. By tailoring the search criteria, TFS identifies scholarships that students are uniquely qualified for, thus lowering the application pool and increasing the chances of winning. By creating an online profile, students can find scholarships representing more than $41 billion in aid. About 5,000 new scholarships are added to the database every month and appear in real time.

Thanks to exclusive financial support from Wells Fargo, the TFS website is completely ad-free, and no selling of data, making it a safe and trusted place to search.

For more information about Tuition Funding Sources visit tuitionfundingsources.com.

 

About TFS Scholarships

TFS Scholarships (TFS) is an independent service that provides free access to scholarship opportunities for aspiring and current undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. Founded in 1987, TFS began as a passion project to help students and has grown into the most comprehensive online resource for higher education funding. Today, TFS is a trusted place where students and families enjoy free access to more than 7 million scholarships representing more than $41 billion in college funding. In addition to its vast database that’s refreshed with 5,000 new scholarships every month, TFS also offers information about career planning, financial aid, and federal and private student loan programs as part of its commitment to helping students fund their future. Learn more at tuitionfundingsources.com.

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