Paying for College

College Cash for Christmas

Thanks to the global connectivity potential of the Internet, my blog here attracts all kinds of press releases from PR and other marketing-related firms. Some of these releases are helpful while others make little effort to obfuscate their desire to push products or services. Of course, this is the price we pay for being able to reach out and touch anyone who has a Web site or an email address. It's information overload.

One such press release I got this week actually had some surprising information in it:


Scratching your head about what to get the teenager in your life this holiday season? Based on the Fastweb survey released today, teenagers are more practical than you may think when it comes to gifts.

The scholarship website recently surveyed its members to ask, “What gift do you want most for the holidays?,” and found that more than half of the respondents wanted money for college. Only 12% wanted the newest technology gadgets for the holidays, 6% wanted a new car and 20% wanted gift certificates.

"More than half the respondents wanted money for college . . ." Hmm. To me, that's a significant chunk of the surveyed pool. I wonder why cash is so important.

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The flip side of this most coveted gift has some knee-slapper items:

"Only 12% wanted the newest technology gadgets for the holidays, 6% wanted a new car and 20% wanted gift certificates. Articles that topped the worst gift list included expired calendars, Q-tips, gum and eggstractors."

LOL. Q-Tips (hint, hint!). However, depending on the monthly pictures contained in that expired calendar, I wouldn't be so quick to chuck it. What the heck is an eggstractor??? Well, my live link there will take you to Amazon where you'll find user reviews that total a dismal 1+-star rating. Not eggsactly stellar.

Anyway, here's the full scoop on college cash for Christmas:

All I Want for Christmas is a College Education

Fastweb survey finds that college tuition tops students’ holiday wish list

As the holidays approach, many Americans are flocking to malls and scouring online stores for gifts for teenagers, who are  notorious for being difficult to shop for-- or are they?  Fastweb, owned by Monster Worldwide, Inc., parent company of Monster.com®, the leading job matching engine (NYSE: MWW), recently surveyed its members to ask, “What gift do you want most for the holidays?,” and found that more than half of the respondents wanted money for college.

“Every year more teenagers are worried about paying for college, and there are many ways their friends and relatives can help,” said Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of Fastweb and nationally recognized expert on student financial aid.  “For the holidays, friends and family can contribute to the student’s 529 college savings plan and help them search for scholarships. Every dollar saved or won is a dollar less the student will need to borrow to pay for their education.”

Fastweb surveyed 527 high school and college students, and found that only 12% wanted the newest technology gadgets for the holidays and 6% were thinking big and wanted a new car.  While 20% wanted gift certificates, more than twice as many respondents (54%) were hoping for money for college. As a top web site for scholarship and financial aid information, one in three college-bound seniors visit Fastweb looking for financial assistance for school.

Giving the gift of money for college also saves loved ones from the embarrassment of giving a disappointing gift.  Fastweb asked its users, “What is the worst gift you've ever received?,” and got some entertaining responses.  The Fastweb “Top Ten Worst Gifts” hall of fame, made up of actual survey responses, include:

  • A wooden stick doll without any eyes.
  • An Eggstractor.
  • A used led pencil.
  • Toilet paper.
  • A can of sardines.
  • Coal.
  • A calendar for 2009 that was given in December 2009.
  • Q-tips.
  • A box of gum.
  • A dead mouse.

Other statistics from the Fastweb poll revealed that besides wanting money for college, some of the “most wanted” gift trends this holiday season include tablets, laptops, popular cell phones, MP3 players, and gaming systems.   Also, 51% of respondents planned on working this holiday season, either to save money for college or holiday shopping, compared to 36% who either did not have time to work or did not want to work.

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So, Moms and Dads out there, it's time to head to your local bank and get a pile of fresh, crisp hundred-dollar bills. I remember when my grandmother used to give me that little acutely rectangular envelope every Christmas. I knew that when I opened it, Abe Lincoln's face would be grinning at me through the oval hole in the card flap. Five bucks!

Hey, don't laugh. At least it was a Silver Certificate. Try finding one of those today!

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Be sure to check out all my admissions-related articles and book reviews at College Confidential.