Students Turn to CrowdFunding To Pay For College

While a higher education provides numerous career opportunities after graduation, a majority of students are often discouraged by the massive amounts of debt that they accrue.

As paying tuition grows increasingly difficult, many NJ students have turned to online crowdfunding for assistance. Crowdfunding, or the practice of funding a project by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, is typically used by those who are unable to afford the entire sum by themselves. Websites such as GoFundMe, YouCaring, GiveForward, and Fundly provide a platform for users to tell their story to the masses; people who read their story can then donate to the cause.

Thus far, tens of thousands of education-based crowdfunding accounts have reportedly been created this year, and the trend continues to grow. Currently, over $20 million has been raised for students in the Garden State alone.

At the University, many students were divided on the topic of crowdfunding, as it may seem like an innovative idea, but it can potentially spiral out of control.

Connor Orr, a sophomore psychology student, said that the use of crowdfunding is an interesting way of acquiring tuition money, so long as students are reasonable with their requests.

“I can definitely understand why people would resort to crowdfunding, because tuition is so ridiculously expensive these days,” said Orr. “People might actually donate to the cause, which is helpful. However, if people start to catch on and more and more college students keep doing it, it might turn people away and become a problem.

Currently, Monmouth University’s tuition alone stands at an average of $33,000 per year, which is comparable to many private universities. However, many students still find covering the entire cost to be an onerous task.

Often, students will take out loans to cover tuition costs, and these loans are repaid over a number of years. It can be a few decades before one is finally relieved of tuition debts, which may make the crowdfunding concept enticing.

Caroline Shanahan, a sophomore nursing student, noted that crowdfunding is a convenient and simple way to gather the necessary funds.

“I have never heard of crowdfunding for college tuition before, but I think this a good strategy because it is something you can organize from the comfort of your own college dorm room,” said Shanahan. “However, although the idea seems good, it might have some drawbacks. It takes a lot of time and effort to follow these accounts, and there is a possibility that people might not even donate, so you cannot put all of your eggs in one basket, because you might end up with no donations. A lot of that time and effort could instead be used for schooling and homework.”

Erin Smith, Undergraduate Admissions Counselor, said there are some drawbacks to crowdfunding for tuition funds.

“There is no guarantee that the crowdfunding will cover all four years of college tuition,” said Smith. “There are numerous other ways, such as applying for scholarships that can yield great results.”

Furthermore, Ava McClendon, a sophomore art student, said that crowdfunding is an effective way to receive help, because people always unite to help one another.

“The only drawback that is evident is that critics might bash the student for ‘begging’ for money, but there is always a sense of negativity with every charitable thing in life,” said McClendon. “Otherwise, it is a great way to spread the word for a good cause and for people to come together to help one each other.”

The constant transformation of technology has enabled students to implement different strategies, such as crowdfunding, in order to pay for tuition. Students that have already graduated said that such a strategy was not popular when they attended college, and if it was, they would have made the most of it. In the past, taking out a loan was one of the only options, however, the vastness of the internet has provided a number of ways for students to gather their funds.

Anthony Branco, a Spring 2015 MBA graduate, said that crowdfunding for college tuition did not exist when he was applying for college, so he had to cover the costs himself. However, he noted that he most definitely would have attempted to get donations had the idea been around.

“Crowdfunding is a generally new phenomenon and it is just now beginning to gain popularity among the general public,” said Branco. “Typically students would have to cover the costs of college by themselves, but now technology has allowed them to ask for donations. If crowdfunding was popular when I was applying, I most definitely would have attempted to gather my funds through the internet, as I know a lot of people that are really struggling to pay off their debts.”

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