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One lucky student can win a free ride to college using just a penny—here's how to enter

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If paying a penny for college seems like the ultimate dream, then you're in luck. Michelin wants to reward one teen with a free ride to college for performing a simple safety test using the copper coin.

Michelin launched the #PennyForAFreeRide contest on Tuesday, challenging U.S. teens take a photo or video of themselves performing the "Penny Tread Test" to measure the depth of their vehicle's tires. To perform the test, you simply take a penny and put it into the tread of the tire with Abraham Lincoln's head facing down. If the tread is covering any part of his head, your tire is good to go.

As an alternative, you can also enter by snapping a shot of you checking the tire pressure of your ride. Contestants can then upload the photo or video to their public Facebook or Twitter account tagging @MichelinUSA and using the #PennyForAFreeRide hashtag. You can also upload an entry directly to Michelin's website.

One lucky winner, selected at random, will win up to $100,000 in scholarship money, to be paid directly to the student's selected college to cover tuition, books and education expenses. The scholarship can be used at any two-year or four-year college, or a post-secondary program within the U.S.

In addition to the scholarship, for every entry received, Michelin will add a penny to a separate "pocket change" fund that the winner can use as extra cash for school. If Michelin gets 1 million entries, the company will award the winner an extra $10,000 cash prize.

Entrants need to be U.S. residents with no criminal history and between the ages of 15 and 21 at the time of entry, according to the official rules. Participants need to be eligible to enroll in college within three years and cannot be an employee or a family member of a Michelin worker. Additionally, to keep the prize money throughout their college career, the winner will need to maintain a GPA of at least 2.5. Only one entry per person.

The scholarship contest ends on Dec. 3, 2019.

The #PennyForAFreeRide contest, while helping make the cost of college more affordable for one student, is primarily about promoting driver safety, Joanie Martin, Michelin North America's chief administrative officer, tells CNBC Make It.

"Safety is a core principle and obviously in our DNA here," Martin says. This year's scholarship contest is part of Michelin's broader Beyond the Driving Test program, which aims to raise awareness of tire safety techniques among teens and their parents.

More than 2 million accidents a year involve teen drivers and 300,000 are related to tire issues, such as worn treads or inflation, so getting the message out is "critically important," Martin says. Drivers should be checking the pressure and tread depth of their tires on a monthly basis.

"It's pretty straightforward thing: Take a little extra time to do the due diligence and pay attention to your tires," Martin says.

The company has also pushed to get tire safety and maintenance to be a part of the standard drivers' education curriculum in all 50 states by 2020. So far, 38 have enacted and published information in their required coursework, Martin says.

"We all share the road," Martin says. "The safety is not just about us in our own vehicle, it's about everyone essentially in a partnership on the road."

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