SPRINGFIELD, Mass., Feb. 27, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Sixty percent of U.S. college students take out loans, and graduates leave school with an average of about $20,000 in debt*, even as a college degree is recognized as essential for career success. To help more students afford that all-important college degree, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) announced today that the application period for its MassMutual Scholars program is now open for high achieving students of multicultural backgrounds interested in careers in the insurance and financial services industry.
Through this program, MassMutual will offer a total of $150,000 in scholarships--$5,000 scholarships to students attending four-year colleges and $2,500 scholarships to those attending two-year colleges. Students of all majors are eligible who are of African-American, Asian/Pacific Islander or Hispanic descent and attending school in the United States. Applicants also must meet certain academic criteria, such as maintaining a 3.0 or better GPA, express interest in financial services and insurance careers and demonstrate financial need.
"Growing up with Hispanic parents, NOT going to college was never an option for me," said Luis (Wicho) Hernandez, head of Linq Financial, MassMutual's general agency in Miami, Fla. Mr. Hernandez was fortunate enough to attend the University of Miami on a baseball scholarship, but after a year playing professional ball in the minor leagues, he decided that he needed to take his career beyond his "physical talents, which will only get you so far," he explained, "A degree would always be with me."
Having relied on loans for his graduate degree, Mr. Hernandez recognizes the hardship that the pressure of loan payments puts graduates under. He recommends that students put as much energy into finding grant and scholarship programs to help cover the cost of college as they do into finding the right college
Also in recognition of the financial challenges that new graduates and young professionals face, MassMutual kicked off the New Year with the launch of a Facebook-centric campaign to help the Millennial generation address the issue of student loan debt. Participants were invited to share how they plan to pay down their student debt on facebook.com/massmutual, and one participant will be rewarded up to $20,000 to pay down outstanding loans. The grand prize winner will be announced in mid-March.
"One in five households has student debt in this country*, and the issue is receiving growing attention," said Nick Fyntrilakis, Vice President of Community Responsibility at MassMutual. "Our MassMutual Scholars program helps provide financial support to students of diverse backgrounds, helping them achieve their dreams of obtaining a college degree."
The MassMutual Scholars program is just one of many initiatives that are part of the company's Community Responsibility agenda, which provided over $7 million in charitable contributions in 2012. In addition to national scholarships, the Career Pathways Program supports eligible high school and college students in Hampden, Mass. and Hartford, Ct. counties through scholarships, internships and experiential learning opportunities focused on careers in financial services.
MassMutual also has provided more than $640 million in free term life insurance coverage to eligible working families across the country, as part of its unique LifeBridgeSM Free Life Insurance Program, designed to help protect children's educational aspirations.
The application deadline for the MassMutual Scholars Program is May 3, 2013, and winners will be notified in late summer.
- Open to students of African American, Asian/Pacific Islander or Hispanic descent.
- Must show proof of U.S. citizenship or legal permanent residency with a permanent resident card or passport stamped I-551 (not expired).
- Have a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
- Plan to attend a degree-seeking program, full-time at a U.S. accredited institution in the U.S., Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands or Guam during the 2013-2014 academic year.
- Will be entering sophomore, junior, senior or 5th-year senior year in pursuit of an undergraduate degree at an accredited college or university.
- Students of all majors will be considered. Preference will be given to students who demonstrate:
- An interest in pursuing a career in the insurance and financial services industry.
- Leadership and participation in extracurricular activities.
- Must apply for federal financial aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at www.fafsa.ed.gov.
- Selected students attending accredited 2 year and 4 year colleges/universities will be awarded $2,500 or $5,000 respectively.
- A total of $150,000 in scholarships will be awarded for the 2013-14 school year.
For more information on how to apply or to obtain an application, visit www.act.org/massmutual.
*Pew Research Center. Tabulations of Survey of Consumer Finances Data (2012). A Record One-in-Five Households Now Owe Student Loan Debt. 26 Sept., 2012.
Founded in 1851, MassMutual is a leading mutual life insurance company that is run for the benefit of its members and participating policyholders. The company has a long history of financial strength and strong performance, and although dividends are not guaranteed, MassMutual has paid dividends to eligible participating policyowners consistently since the 1860s. With whole life insurance as its foundation, MassMutual provides products to help meet the financial needs of clients, such as life insurance, disability income insurance, long term care insurance, retirement/401(k) plan services, and annuities. In addition, the company's strong and growing network of financial professionals helps clients make good financial decisions for the long-term.
MassMutual Financial Group is a marketing name for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) and its affiliated companies and sales representatives. MassMutual is headquartered in Springfield, Massachusetts and its major affiliates include: Babson Capital Management LLC; Baring Asset Management Limited; Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers LLC; The First Mercantile Trust Company; MassMutual International LLC; MML Investors Services, LLC, Member FINRA and SIPC; OppenheimerFunds, Inc.; and The MassMutual Trust Company, FSB.