Student Video Contest Seeks to Spread the Word About the Real Cost of College

The College Net Price Calculator Student Video Contest will award three prizes of $1,500 each.

Can a video contest pave the way to making sure families have straightforward information about the cost of college? That's the hope of the U.S. Department of Education. This year, the department launched a set of handy tools—including a net price calculator—on its useful College Affordability and Transparency Center. Beginning at the end of October, new government regulations required all colleges to post a net price calculator on their websites. But according to the USDOE, too few students know what a net price even is, and still have no idea that they should even be looking for the calculators.

In order to spread the word about net price and the calculators to students, the education department is turning to the people who know them best—their peers. The DOE is holding a College Net Price Calculator Student Video Contest, which "asks high school and college students to submit short videos highlighting why the calculators are a valuable resource."

For years, prospective college students have been accepted to their dream schools only to find out that the amount they would need to pay to attend is significantly higher than they expected. That's the difference between a college's “sticker price”—the cost of tuition alone—and the “net price”—which includes room, board, books, and supplies—minus the amount of financial aid a family receives. Net price calculators simply give students the real cost of attending a school upfront.

The contest is a great opportunity for student filmmakers—many of whom have their own experience figuring out how to pay for school when it became more expensive than they thought—to win some cash while helping to educate the public. The student creators of the top three videos will win $1,500 each and see their winning entries posted to the education department's website and shared across the web. Entries are due on January 31, 2012.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user Images_of_Money

Julian Meehan

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