Video Contest Launched to Publicize College Cost Calculator

The U.S. Department of Education has launched the College Net Price Calculator Student Video Challenge in an effort to help students, parents and consumers better familiarize themselves with the tools that the Department has provided for parents and students to research the cost of a college degree.

This calculator helps give families a better sense of how much they are set to pay for their children to attend higher education institutions across the states, by factoring in and compiling the various grants and scholarship aid that students may be eligible for.

"Having a college degree has never been more important. And getting one has never been more expensive," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

"We want to give prospective students and their families the information they need to make smart educational choices during tough economic times. Net price calculators can help potential degree seekers better understand which schools they can afford to attend and how much debt they will have to take on to get a degree. We want to make sure that students and families are aware of these resources, and the video challenge is a great way to help us get the word out."

The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 makes it mandatory for postsecondary institutions that offer Title IV federal student aid programs to publish net price calculators on their websites.

The "net price" is something completely different to the advertized "sticker price", by estimating a full-time student's actual day-to-day college costs by taking into account individual circumstances like family size and income, and subtracting projected grant and scholarship aid from the published cost of attendance, says the Department of Education.

As is evident, these calculators can seem a little complicated. And that is why the Department of Education has launched the College Net Price Calculator Student Video Challenge.

By asking high school and college students to produce short videos highlighting why the calculators are a valuable resource, they will be able to familiarize themselves with the ways that the calculators work.

A panel of higher education stakeholders will judge the entries. The top three contestants will each win a $1,500 cash prize.

Video submissions are due by Jan. 31, 2012. The winner will be announced in the late spring.

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