MTV and the College Board teamed up to announce the first social media tool of its kind, geared to helping students find money for college. Announced at a 2011 Clinton Global Initiative university session, the concept was imagined by University of Nevada, Las Vegas graduate Devin Valencia—the winner of the "Get Schooled" College Affordability Challenge.
The challenge called on current and aspiring college students to submit ideas for digital tools to simplify the financial aid process. According to the College Board, studies show that more than two million college students do not apply for any of the nearly $70 billion in financial aid distributed by the government each year, and up to two-thirds of students find the process difficult. "Navigating the financial aid process can be incredibly challenging—we need a way to make it easier for students," says Valencia.
Valencia came up with the idea for "Connect Fund," a Facebook app that will help students find more money for school. Scheduled to launch this fall, the app will leverage information from a user's Facebook profile to systematically present a customized list of opportunities for receiving financial aid. The app will also provide basic information, answer commonly-asked questions and offer tutorials on certain topics, such as how to fill out the FAFSA form.
"There are many great options for students and families, but too often they don't get the right information at the right time…we are moving closer to the day when cost will be only a speed bump on the road to a college degree," says Gaston Caperton, College Board president.
Hopefully this app will serve as a starting point to connect students with more accessible grant, scholarship and loan opportunities—and perhaps more innovative and affordable initiatives [not just in the social media realm] can be developed and sustained. For the student-athlete going through the college application process while under the pressures of schoolwork and sports, being able to ensure some type of financial assistance would only widen the post-high school playing field.
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