College students use hashtag to ask celebrities to pay their tuition

Angelica Nahalka, Contributing Reporter

If Matt Damon and Kate Moss can suffer through the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, maybe they can pay your tuition costs too. Using the hashtag #PayMyTuitionChallenge, college students are utilizing Twitter to ask celebrities, CEOs and other wealthy individuals to pay their tuition costs, similar to how the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was used to raise money and awareness for the ALS Association. 

The Pay My Tuition Challenge usually involves facetiously nominating people and organizations perceived as extremely wealthy to pay a student’s tuition costs within the next 24 hours of the post. Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates and Beyonce are some of the most frequently called upon “one-percenters.”

This new trend on Twitter comes at a time when many students and their families are struggling to pay rising tuition costs. While the rate of these increases is slowing, the increase of college costs over the last 10 years is considerable. 

At private, four-year colleges like Tulane, tuition and fees increased by 51 percent over the last decade. Tulane’s tuition and fees are $48,305, a figure similar to those of its peer institutions. At public four-year universities, tuition and fees increased 25 percent over the same time. 

With resources like financial aid, loans and federal government grants such as Pell Grants, most students do not pay the full sticker price for college. Loans, however, still can stress students financially even after they graduate. 

Blackboard, a site familiar to many Tulane students, responded to the Pay My Tuition Challenge by creating a scholarship that will give one first-place winner $15,000 toward that student’s tuition and two runners-up $5,000.

As for the rappers and business men called upon to “rise to the challenge,” students have mixed opinions on whether they should fork over the cash. 

“It would be nice if they did and they have the opportunity,” freshman Meghan Marks said.

Junior Stuart Rowe said that celebrities do not have an obligation to donate to students. He said that Bill Gates, for example, has already shared much of his wealth and it may be unfair to imply he has any further obligation to society outside his existing philanthropy. 

“Bill Gates already has the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation where [philanthropic acts] are exactly what he does … if it’s something that they’re willing to do then there’s nothing wrong with it,” Rowe said.