Win a Scholarship and Explore Ways to Pay for College by Playing This Game

Teacher showing a student some results on his paperwork.
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We get it: Talking about finances isn’t always the most comfortable thing (even though it really should be).

While surveys show millennials are actually more comfortable than baby boomers when it comes to discussing money, we still have a ways to go if we’re going to make financial conversations a normal part of everyday life.

Not only could talking about money ensure that teens are well-versed in finances by the time they’re ready to head out into the world, but it could help them avoid making common money mistakes that could haunt them for years.

But one topic is becoming more and more crucial for teens and parents to talk about: how they’re going to pay for college.

And making sure they understand the implications of student loan debt? Well, that could help steer a lot of their financial decisions before and during those college years.

The PAYBACK Challenge from Next Gen Personal Finance

To help start the conversation between teens and their parents about student loan debt and paying for college, Next Gen Personal Finance is sponsoring a scholarship competition.

The contest will center around Next Gen Personal Finance’s new online paying-for-college game, “Payback,” which helps students understand the different paths they could take when it comes to financing their education.

While the gameplay and subsequent discussion are technically intended to take place in the classroom, the process can provide students with the tools necessary to bring up the topic with their parents at home as well.

Here’s how the contest will work:

First, teachers have to register with Next Gen Personal Finance. The contest is limited to the first 2,500 educators to register for the program.

Then, teachers will direct their students to play “Payback” once or twice through, either at home or in the classroom. (The more times students play, the more they can understand how various choices could impact their financial futures.)

After a discussion about the different outcomes, students will write a 250-word essay that answers the question, “How could you use the online game, PAYBACK, to have a conversation with your parent/guardian about paying for college?”

Finally, teachers can nominate and submit one student essay.

Only current middle- and high-school students are eligible to participate in the contest, and the essay submissions will be accepted only from educators.

(Although if you’re a parent or student who’s interested, you could either pass this info along to a teacher in your life or simply use this game at home to facilitate your own discussion!)

The deadline for essay submission is March 23, 2018, and winners will be announced in late April.

Ten grand-prize-winning students will receive $5,000 each, while another 150 honorable mention recipients (at least two from each of the 50 states plus D.C.) will receive $500 each.

The teachers who nominate the prize-winning students will each receive $200 for classroom projects, while the rest of the nominating educators will be entered into a drawing to win $100 for their classroom.

To find out more details and start the education and nomination process, visit the contest’s information page.

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.