Today MTV, in partnership with Get Schooled and the College Board, launched "My College Dollars," a new Facebook app that matches US students with financial aid opportunities. Once you sign up, you are targeted with scholarships based on information collected by Facebook such as your age, gender and state.

For the next 6 weeks, students can also take part in the "My College Dollars Sweepstakes." If they connect to the app and save a scholarship deadline to their calendar, or, as it usually is with socially driven contests, share the app with a friend, they can enter to win. Prizes include tickets to the "2012 MTV Music Awards" or gift cards to cover school supplies. They suggest books and fees, though knowing college students, some of it will go on beer.

So why is this app so important?

With yearly tuition costs ranging from $9k to $36k a year, it's not hard to imagine why 45% of American students don't finish their studies. On top of that, over 2 million college students who could benefit from the $70 billion in financial aid each year, don't apply. Either they don't know about the opportunities or give up after finding the application process too hard. In comes, "My College Dollars" to help students get past both those barriers.

Though companies like MTV and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are supporting this initiative, the idea itself came from 24-year-old Devin Valencia, a recent graduate from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Earlier this year, she entered this idea into the College Affordability Challenge and won.

According to Get Schooled, Devin hopes "My College Dollars" will help student to graduate. “I’m the first person in my immediate family to actually attend college and graduate. I’m normal, a normal girl from a normal town, just knowing that I can inspire anyone who is watching this makes me feel proud of my accomplishments and of myself” she said.

The "My College Dollars" app is easy to use and not only does it connect you to the right funding opportunities, it gives tools to help students make the right decisions about their finances before they go to college. It also features videos of students who have benefited from government funding with titles like "My father did not want to help me" and "I just assumed I wasn't going to go." A bit sappy but heartfelt.

This is one of the rare apps that uses the massive amounts of data Facebook holds on us for acts of good. With the rising costs of tuition in other parts of the world, it would be surprising if an app like this wasn't developed on a global scale. As a massive opportunity to not only help the elusive 18-24 year old market but to advertise to them, it will probably be sooner than later.

Heather Taylor

Published 19 January, 2012 by Heather Taylor

Heather Taylor is the Editorial Director for Econsultancy US. You can follow her on Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.

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