MTV, Get Schooled and the College Board today launched "My College Dollars," a Facebook application that utilizes information from a user's Facebook profile - including age, gender and state - to connect students with targeted financial aid opportunities. In addition to matching students with scholarships, the youth-conceived application will also provide information, guidance and tools that will enable students to make smart financial decisions about paying for college.
Difficulty paying for school is a key reason many college students fail to graduate. Past studies have shown that upwards of 2 million college students don't apply for any of the nearly $70 billion in financial aid the government distributes each year, and that almost two-thirds of students find the process of applying for financial aid difficult. "My College Dollars" is an intuitive, step-by-step guide on how to fill out the FAFSA, as well as apply for grants, scholarships and loans. The app will prioritize financial aid opportunities based on the user's demographic information and it will incorporate the following tools:
· Video tutorials from Jason Derulo on how to get the financial aid students need.
· Connections to peers and experts for support and guidance, as well as the ability to share and track each other's progress in the process.
· Integrated calendar to help students track important dates and deadlines.
"A college degree is more important now than ever for young people entering the workforce," said Stephen Friedman, President of MTV. "'My College Dollars' is an innovative digital tool that will help students connect with money for school and hopefully put a college degree in closer reach for more students."
One of the greatest barriers to college completion is the rising cost of a degree," said Gaston Caperton College Board President. "But now, thanks to the ingenuity and creativity of young Devin Valencia, millions of students will have access to critical financial aid information that can break down this formidable barrier and create a new generation of college-going Americans. I am incredibly excited and proud, and I look forward to seeing 'My College Dollars' at work."
Several early adopters of the app will be rewarded through "The My College Dollars Sweepstakes," which is being sponsored by MTV and Get Schooled, a non-profit organization dedicated to using media, technology, and popular culture to improve high school graduation rates and college success rates. The Grand Prize of the sweepstakes is two tickets to the "2012 MTV Video Music Awards" and a $500 gift card, which can be used to cover school expenses like books and supplies. Ten second prize winners will take home $500 gift cards, with 15 third prize winners being rewarded with $100 gift cards. Students can enter through the next six weeks by connecting to the app, saving a scholarship deadline to their calendar, or sharing the app with a friend.
"My College Dollars" was originally conceived by Devin Valencia, a recent graduate of the University of Nevada Las Vegas, and developed by MTV and the College Board, with additional support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The idea for the application won Valencia the "Get Schooled College Affordability Challenge," a national competition that asked students to reimagine the financial aid process.
The application is also integrated into Get Schooled's "College Dollars Challenge," with high schools across the country participating in a friendly competition that encourages seniors to get the information they need to make good financial decisions and ultimately complete their FAFSA. For more information on the College Dollars Challenge and to see a full list of participating schools, go to www.getschooled.com.