Public donations pay tuition

By Matthew Robinson, Advocate Staff

The high cost of tuition has made students in higher education turn to online crowdfunding to help pay for costs not covered by financial aid.

Students can go to websites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo or GoFundMe to crowdfund and will frequently find support.

Crowdfunding is a way to raise money, primarily through the Internet, from family, friends and complete strangers.

Crowdfunding can be used for a variety of things. It can support projects and ideas or help out those who are having financial trouble.

Student Breanne Edwards said, “We are expected to pay tremendous amounts of money directly out of high school.

“Financial aid is helpful, but I was in a situation where my mom was at a point where she just got a job,” she said.

“But we were struggling and I didn’t qualify for financial aid, so we had to pay out of pocket and it led to more stress.”

Edwards had to entirely miss out on the spring semester to go to work.

“The debt is ridiculous. That was just for community college, not even a university,” she said.

Anyone can start a crowdfund request, but not everyone can be successful in reaching their goal.

It’s about effort.

Someone who puts a description of their goals and background is more likely to get donations rather than someone who puts minimal effort or care into their pledge.

Edwards said, “Crowdfunding does sound like a good idea, but it’s probably for schools like Harvard, Yale, Princeton and so on. 

“If it’s community college, where the  drop rate is high, I don’t think it would raise as much money.”

When people give money to crowdfund they aren’t expecting anything in return, except the satisfaction of having helped.

Unlike Kickstarter, where there are predetermined rewards for donating set amount of money for projects like games, gadgets and clothing, GoFundMe just focuses on helping other people.

Donations primarily go for medical bills, accident recovery and also student tuitions.

GoFundMe claims that students have raised over $8 million dollars since 2014.

“Tuition does suck,” undecided major Alysia Viergutz said.

“I qualified as an out-of-state student, so classes were over $800 each for me. Luckily, I did qualify for financial aid.”

Viergutz, who had originally moved away from home in Minnesota, said, “Crowdfunding doesn’t seem like a bad idea, but it feels like you need to know a lot of people to raise enough (money).”

Student Kyle Huang, said “I would only crowdfund if I can give (the money) back. I wouldn’t ask for money if it was a matter of self interest.”