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Upromise Tuition Tales: $10,000 Giveaway

Are you a current college student? Or maybe you’re a past college student that’s still paying off loans? Or you’re a parent of a child that will someday go to college? Now that we’ve covered just about everyone… would you like $10,000 for past, current, or future tuition costs?Learn more about Upromise.

Well, heck yeah!

Upromise has partnered up with Bank of America, Sallie Mae, and Bed Bath and Beyond to offer the Tuition Tales video contest. All you have to do is upload a 30 second video about why you deserve $10,000 for college bills. There are three categories: savings for college, in college now, and paying it back. And frankly, there aren’t a whole lot of videos uploaded so far, so you have a pretty good shot at this!

Even better, I want to help my Poorer Than You readers out. Why? Because I’m personally ineligible to enter the contest (I’m a Upromise affiliate). But that doesn’t mean I can’t be incredibly biased and help my PTY readers go the distance. Here’s the deal:

  • Upload your video to the Tuition Tales website. You must be a Upromise member to enter, but remember the Upromise membership is free.
  • Email me via my contact form with the URL for your video, and also tell me what your favorite post here on PTY is. (This is to make sure you’re a real PTY reader, and also so that I know what you guys like!)
  • One week from today, (April 4th, 2009), I will feature all of the PTY videos that have been sent to me here on the site. And I will tell everyone I know to vote for you, on Facebook and Twitter. And yes, I will play favorites, and put my favorite of the PTY readers on the top. So make your video good!

Obviously, you must upload your video before April 4th and send it to me to qualify. Tuition Tales allows you to upload up until May 3rd, but the sooner you upload, the more votes you’ll get. And viewer votes count for 20% of your score in this contest, so I want to give you as much help as possible!

You can also vote on the videos you like, and you get one vote per day. That vote enters you into an instant win contest for prizes from like a Bank of America $50 Visa gift card. (See the Official Rules for details.) So even if you don’t want to upload a video yourself, I encourage you to come back next week and pick a PTY reader’s video to vote for, and enter yourself in the instant win game!

Stephanie’s Kick-Ass Video Guide

Ok, I spent $42,000 in loans going to film school, so you can benefit a bit from my education here. First of all, here are the guidelines that Upromise has set for the Tuition Tales videos:

  • The Video must be in .avi, .dv, .mov, .qt, .mpg, .mpg2, .mpeg, .mpeg2, .mpeg4, .mp4, .3gp, 3g2, .asf or .wmv format;

  • The Video must have a file size no greater than 50 MB and be no longer than thirty (30) seconds in length; and

  • The Video cannot have been submitted previously in a promotion or contest of any kind or exhibited or displayed publicly through any means previously.

First and foremost, make sure your video follows those guidelines. Get the best camera you have – a digital still camera that does video will often work better than a webcam, and obviously an actual video camera will probably be better than either. Make sure you have a way to get the video into your computer if you’re not using a webcam.


  • Plan what you’re going to say. 30 seconds is not a lot of time! Show that you’re smart, and have tried other ways of paying, but could still use a little help. Record a few “takes” of your video so that you can choose the best.
  • Show us who we’re voting for! If it’s you, we want to see you. If it’s your adorable children, show them to us!
  • Think about lighting. If you’re shooting indoors, natural sunlight is your friend. Use indirect sunlight from a window to light your scene, and try not to mix natural light and light bulbs – they have different “color temperatures” that will make your video look bad.
  • Think about shooting outdoors. Most of the videos so far are of people sitting at their desks. A cooler location will help your video to stand out.
  • Worry about sound. Play the video on several different computers before you upload it, to make sure the sound is clear and loud enough to hear. I can’t tell you how many of these videos so far are barely audible!
  • Play your video for several people before you upload, and ask for objective opinions. Would someone vote for you if they didn’t know you?
  • Consider using a Mac with iMovie to edit. It’s seriously better than Windows Movie Maker. Borrow a friend’s computer if you have to.


  • Don’t have your light source in the “frame” of your video. You shouldn’t be able to see any lamps that are on, or windows that have light coming in, and definitely not the sun! (Unless you’re showing a pretty sunset, and nothing else in the frame, or you’re purposefully doing a cool silhouette thing.)
  • Don’t use copyrighted material. You have to own the rights to everything in the video, and that includes music and background noise. Also watch out for trademarked brand names in the background of your video – we shouldn’t be able to see any Coke cans or Doritos bags!
  • Don’t shoot your face too close-up. We should be able to see the top of your head, and a bit of your shoulders. It’s uncomfortable to watch someone when they’re “too close.”
  • Don’t whine, complain, or swear. It’s ok to tug on heartstrings, but a lot of us have trouble paying for school. Passing the blame onto others doesn’t make people want to vote for you.

Good luck with your video! And don’t forget to send the link to me via the contact form when you’re done… and do it before April 4th!

One response to “Upromise Tuition Tales: $10,000 Giveaway”

  1. Jill Freeman

    This is a great contest. Please consider voting for my son. He probably won’t go next year (Jr year) without a miracle. It’s easy:

    Final 2 days – Vote both today and tomorrow (5/4-5/5/2010) Maybe ask friends too?
    Go here: 1) click link 2) enter email address 3) click VOTE button. Watch for an email to CONFIRM your email address is real.

    We would appreciate it so VERY much. Thanks for posting this article, Stephanie!

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