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Black Friday is a 5 billion dollar shopping day for the retail industry. However, it has a different connotation for Gwen Thomas, organizer, and founder of The Black Friday Scholarship Bootcamp. It’s a day that we want families with college-bound students not to go running to the mall to spend money on Christmas gifts but come to the 5th annual Black Friday Scholarship Bootcamp, so they can save money on tuition and learn to pay for college with scholarships.”

It’s a day that Thomas wants people to sit down and take a careful account of how they will help and guide their kids on paying for college.  That 5 billion dollar number also represents something different for Thomas, author of “The Parents Smart Guide to Sending Your Kids to College without Going Broke.”  Instead, it is the value of the number of scholarships that Thomas has provided to college students in her book. She teaches students and their parents from various income brackets, ethnicities, grade point averages and skillsets how to win scholarships.

The Black Friday Scholarship Bootcamp is becoming a tradition of sorts in the Metro-Detroit area.   Parents of college-bound students or returning college students, are in the thick worrying about how to pay college tuition for the next school year.  At the same time, some students along with their parents don’t really know how to get started with FAFSA and don’t know that scholarships are at all possible.

If any of these cases resemble your situation, then you may want to learn more about what Gwen Thomas, once a parent sitting in the seats of many parents today, frustrated and trying to figure out the puzzle has to say.  She was able to help her son generate nearly $500,000 in college scholarships that directly paid for his undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as study abroad in 40 countries.    Consequently, today her work continues by helping thousands of other families.

Several years ago, Thomas founded a non-profit foundation called Fresh Perspectives Seminars that help students not just in Michigan but across the globe get on the trajectory to win scholarships. Proceeds from her book sales, speaking engagements, small grants and donations from sponsors and individual supporters allow Thomas to put on workshops and seminars free of charge in the U.S. Central America, Asia, and the Caribbean.

“College tuition is one of the largest expenditures a person will make aside from purchasing a home. The goal of our organization is to help families realize that there are alternative ways like scholarships to funding college or reduce college debt, whether they have zero income or a six-figure income. Gwen Thomas is helping so many families, and it is incredible on how much work we have to do to get people to understand not just to get their kids on an academic track but understand the financial planning for college that is necessary. ” says Tylene Henry, volunteer board member, and National financial planner.

“Michigan is ranked number 11 of the 50 states and districts with the highest amount of student debt coupled with a default rate of 13%.  We have to teach students and their families about college debt.  We also have to teach them the importance of going into sustainable careers, such as STEM and in Michigan we cannot leave out skilled trade talent needed in manufacturing.  We want colleges to be more accountable and assure students become gainfully employed after graduation.  We have to meet the needs of the workforce, making sure students have language skills, culturally competent and tech savvy” says Thomas.

At the Black Friday Scholarship, Bootcamp Thomas and her team will be teaching invaluable information on how to successfully navigate through the process of securing funding for college. She will highlight strategies used to educate her son from kindergarten through college and how crucial conversations needed between students and their parents about the high cost of financing education. There will be various professionals who will speak about their careers, ACT/SAT Prep, College Admission, Scholarship Information, FAFSA Help, Study Abroad and Fulbright Information and a writing lab session in which students will learn how to write a compelling essay that gets noticed.

Thomas’ book is available for purchase filled with an extensive list of scholarships, fellowships, and internships for students from Undergraduate through Doctoral programs. To register for the Black Friday scholarship Boot camp, log on to www.freshperspectivesseminars.org

In 2010, Thomas created Fresh Perspective Seminars, a non-profit think tank dedicated to college readiness and workforce development for diverse students.  Thomas’ book serves as a companion guide for a series of seminars that focus on closing the achievement gap, parenting, and college financial literacy. Thomas has helped countless students across the country get on the scholarship track, reducing college debt for them and their families. She speaks to organizations and groups about these topics across the country. For more information about Gwen Thomas, her book and seminars, visit http://www.freshperspectiveseminars.org or call 609-474-4877.

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