These days, more and more people are turning to crowdfunding to raise money for everything from charitable causes to new business ventures. But some college students are using today’s crowdfunding platforms to their advantage as well. In fact, in 2013, college students launched a whopping 41,683 GoFundMe campaigns and managed to raise a combined $4.63 million to cover their education costs.
It makes sense. Given the cost of college tuition these days, many students have no choice but to take out loans in order to get an education. And while some are able to qualify for federal loans, which have lower interest rates and more favorable repayment terms, others are forced to take out loans from private lenders, which often charge more in interest. In fact, according to a report by The Project on Student Debt, students who took out loans in 2013 came away from college with an average debt pile of $28,400. It’s therefore no wonder that so many students are resorting to crowdfunding in an attempt to lower the burden of repaying student loans.
The concept has gained so much traction that some folks created an app to help students raise money specifically for educational purposes. GoPYT, which stands for “Go Pay Your Tuition,” was launched in 2014 and works just like a standard crowdfunding platform. The only difference is that its use is limited to students looking to fund their educations.
While not everyone who’s tried has had good luck with crowdfunding college tuition, there are enough success stories out there to make it worth a try. Those facing significant post-college debt have nothing to lose other than perhaps a bit of time and pride by launching their own campaigns and seeing if anyone bites.
Of course, it never hurts to employ smart strategies when asking others for money. The campaigns that tend to be the most successful are those that set reasonable goals. Some students, for example, are modest in what they ask for, requesting just enough money to help them avoid private loans. Others specifically state in their campaigns that they’re looking for money to cover things like books and mandatory student activity fees—unavoidable peripheral costs of getting an education that loans don’t always cover in full.
When it comes to crowdfunding, honesty is also a good policy. It helps to be completely transparent about the costs of college and what the money raised will be used for. Publicity is also a major factor in a given campaign’s success. Thanks to social media, those who launch campaigns are able to extend their reach and appeal to the masses. Generally speaking, the more visibility a campaign gets, the more people are likely to contribute. Finally, it’s important to choose a low-fee crowdfunding platform. Most sites take a certain cut of donations, so it pays to do some comparison shopping.
Of course, crowdfunding alone won’t solve the student debt crisis the country is currently facing. With tuition costs continuing to rise, college hopefuls will most likely continue to rack up loads of debt on the path to obtaining their diplomas. But for some lucky students, crowdfunding can help ease the burden just enough to make going to college both affordable and worthwhile.