MTV and the College Board Build Futile Alliance

Ah, a long last. Someone has come up to the truly novel idea of combining rock music and college. According to an article by Jacques Steinberg in the New York Times:

[MTV], the music channel and the College Board are scheduled to announce this morning that they are joining together to stage a contest, the “Get Schooled College Affordability Challenge.’’ In it, “current and aspiring college students’’ are being asked to create “an innovative digital tool that helps more low- and middle-income students connect with money for school.’’

The winning individual or team will get $10,000, as well as a $100,000 budget to bring the idea to fruition. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is helping to underwrite the project.

The idea, apparently, is to try and increase college completion “by making it easier for students to navigate what can be a confusing financial aid maze.’’ This is because, as many know by now, financial pressure is what leads many students to drop out of school.

Nice try. But while the MTV effort may represent an alliance of the cool and the stodgy, it’s not going to move college completion much.

The trouble is that difficultly paying for college is not a matter of a lack of “schooling;” it’s a lack of actual money for college.

Education reform movements are littered with “innovative tools” that are supposed to help students learn more, get through school faster, and connect to funding sources.

And yet still the cost of college keeps rising. Financial aid may be confusing but is confusion the major problem here? It appears the perplexity of financial aid is a most a minor annoyance. The real problem is that financial aid doesn’t actually cover the cost of college.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer