Students Want Obama and Oprah to Pay Their College Tuition

Students are challenging others to pay their college tuition, and some are answering the call.

Blackboard said it will hold a scholarship competition. Is Oprah next?

By Allie Bidwell
Aug. 25, 2014 | 3:42 p.m. EDT+ More

President Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey and the Kardashian family – you have 24 hours to pay struggling students' college tuition.

Seeing how the power of social media caused the ALS #IceBucketChallenge to spread like wildfire, college students last week began asking politicians, celebrities and big businesses to pay their college tuition, using the hashtag #PayMyTuitionChallenge on Twitter.

But what started out as a facetious way to spotlight a genuine concern of millions of Americans actually caught the attention of a few organizations that are providing opportunities for students to win scholarships.

[READ: College Get More State Funds, but Rely on Tuition]

Seeing hundreds of students tweeting their concerns, education technology company Blackboard responded Friday afternoon, saying it had accepted the challenge and that it will be holding a scholarship competition. The company is asking students to answer the question, "How will you use your education to make the world a better place?"

The Twitter campaign, Blackboard said on its website, "is a fun and creative idea that addresses a serious topic."

National Financial Advisor Week – a week-long series of events organized by AdviceIQ – also is taking part in the tuition challenge. One student will be selected from a lottery for a financial counseling session and an "all-expenses paid education at the college of their choice."

While it's a long shot to expect the rich and famous to chip in for tuition payments for thousands of students, the campaign sheds light on how the rising cost of college can prevent some from a higher education, and how college debt can stay with individuals long after they graduate.