To garner a full college scholarship, you need to have good grades—or a great viral gimmick. Candace Payne may indeed boast a stellar scholastic record, but it's her recent online ubiquity as "Chewbacca Mom" that's earned her, as well as her two grade-school-age children, full scholarships at Florida's Southeastern University, Fox 13 reports. The four-minute video that Payne posted on Facebook a couple of weeks ago—showing her sitting in her car outside of a Kohl's and laughing hysterically as she tries on a growling Chewbacca mask she purchased—caught the attention of the Christian college's administration (she apparently already knew one of the VPs) and led to the scholarship offer. In a video that shows Payne taking a trolley tour of the campus with President Kent Ingle, he makes the surprising announcement.
"To make this the greatest tour ever, our gift to you is to provide you and your family full tuition-free scholarships," Ingle tells her, to which she replies: "This is awesome!" Southeastern Executive VP Brian Carroll adds that the school has been able to boost its student aid "from $6 million just a few years ago to over $25 million this year," so "if we can help [Payne] in any way, we just want to be able to do that." While Fox 13 concedes some have been critical of Payne's higher-ed jackpot, others are urging her to cash in on her 15 minutes. "I have student loan debt," one student tells the station. "I have two jobs, a family and a kid, but honestly, it's a gift to them—they should take it." In the meantime, Payne is enjoying her time in the limelight, visiting Facebook headquarters, making the late-night talk show rounds, and meeting up with Chewie himself at Disney World's Hollywood Studios. (In South Africa: scholarships for virgins.)