Date, grouponThe fun people at Groupon are at it again, offering a college scholarship to the offspring of a couple who use the company's coupon on a first date.

That's got to be an awkward first date: Using a coupon, or Groupon as the company calls it, and then taking a photo on that first date with that day's newspaper in hand to prove you used a coupon on the date. Other forms of confirmation are also required, such as credit card statements, blogs, testimonials and other things, according to the official rules. Friends and family members will also be interviewed by Groupon to verify how the couple met and how their first date went.
Applications are being accepted now for the Grouspawn (get it?), but it will be at least nine months until a winner is chosen, I expect, since the Groupon baby will have to be born so that a college scholarship can be awarded. Groupon announced in a press release that it will give out up to two scholarships a year to children born of parents who used Groupon on a first date, so there will be two chances per year for deal-seeking couples to hook up and have a great story to tell their children. If more than two applicants qualify per year, the company says it will have to come up with more stringent criteria for picking a winner.

The rules don't state how much the scholarships will be for, although one man photographed holding a chicken and looking for love via the Grouspawn Date Assistant -- which was set up by Groupon as a free matchmaking service -- put the figure at $60,000. "Rodney" looks to be gaming the system, however, and says he'd like to have a "pretend baby" and split the $60,000 prize.

A Groupon spokeswoman told WalletPop that the amount of the trust fund was purposely left off the terms of the contest, but that it's approximately $60,000 and is meant to cover four years of out-of-state tuition.

You might remember Groupon from a contest it had earlier this year giving a $100,000 prize to a guy who is expected to live off Groupons for a year. He can't use cash and barters the coupons for things such as car rides. Groupon sells daily deals for up to half off. A $30 meal would cost $15, for example, and the coupon is valid for a year.

Planning so far ahead for a first date -- bringing a Groupon coupon, taking a photo and having that awkward conversation explaining all of this to your date, all on the hope that you'll have a kid together -- is asking for a lot. And before you go out and have the odd first-date discussion about having a child together and the chance to win a contest to pay for that child's college education, remember how far $60,000 will go in 18 years, when Groupon Junior is ready to enroll.

The Groupon spokeswoman said the $60,000 in today's dollars doesn't take inflation into account, but should be enough to cover four years at an out-of-state college. The company hasn't worked out how much interest, if any, the amount it's setting aside will earn, so it's unclear if it will actually be enough to pay for what it intends to. She said the company's intent is to pay for all four years. Any winners might have to wait 18 years to figure that out, but based on what I found online, it might not be enough money.

One website that helps parents set up a college savings plan estimates that assuming 7% college cost inflation, in 18 years the cost of college tuition for four years will be:
  • $195,000 for a public school in state.
  • $285,000 for a public school out of state.
  • $420,000 for a private college.
That's a lot of scratch in 18 years. But is doing all of the verifications listed above if they could kill the mood of the date?


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