Posts Tagged ‘Reporting’

Facebook App to help Students find Money for College

By Terrance Williams

Coming soon to Facebook, an app for Financial Aid. Devin Valencia, a recent graduate of the University
of Nevada; Las Vegas is developing an application with the help of The College Board and The Bill and
Melinda Gates foundation which will take information from a persons Facebook page and match them
with scholarship, grant, and loan opportunities.

Valencia entered a competition sponsored by the College Board called the Get Schooled College
Affordability Challenge. The challenge, which came with $10,000 in prize money, was to find a way to
simplify the financial aid process. In an interview with Fox Business, Valencia said her idea for the app
stemmed from the amount of information people put on Facebook. “Facebook is someplace where
people feel okay sharing information about themselves, and it’s easy and comfortable to use, so I
thought it was a good starting point — guiding someone through this process.”
Skepticism among Students

Some students however, are skeptical about the application and its usefulness. “I don’t see how it can
be any more useful than scholarship search engines and seeing advisors, ” said Charla Boveland, a Junior
Broadcast Journalism major. “I would use it because free money is always nice, but I don’t think its
necessary.”

According to Valencia, the application would demographic information provided on Facebook, such
as gender, age, interests, and the school you attend. “You can also enter more information to narrow
it down. Say you want to major in journalism, you can input that information and Connect Fund will
connect you directly to opportunities in that field. It will also explain how grants work, how to apply
for and repay loans, etc., so students have an idea of how to apply and get funded,” she explains in her
interview with Fox Business.

Terrie Hoover, a Junior Accounting major shared a similar skepticism however. “It would be useful in
certain situations. If they’re different offers that no one had seen, from other websites then yes, it
would be more beneficial. But if it’s the same scholarships that other search engines like Fastweb had,
then probably not. I would check it out maybe once or twice to see if there’s something different, that I
hadn’t seen from other search engines, but if it’s the same stuff then no.”

View From the Top
Derek Kindle, from the Office of Student Financial Services at Howard University provided an administrative view of such an app. “We do believe that social networking sites provide a convenient and quick way for students to learn about various educational funding sources. The type of Facebook application the UNLV is developing will certainly assist students in identifying funds,” he said.

“Our team is currently working on plans to use more social media to communicate general messages and scholarship information to students. We hope to launch such plans in the 2011-2012 academic year. As we are in the early stages of this process, we have not yet made a final decision on what social media networks would be used (and to what extent). However, we will be using Howard University students to assist us through the development process.”
In addition to the prize money, Valencia was awarded $100,000 in start-up money to develop the app.
She hopes to have it up and running this fall, or by January 1, 2012 at the latest in order to have it
available for students in the upcoming school year.

Advertisements