Crowdfunding College

Author: Alecia Pirulis

For many, when it comes to funding college, the thought of finishing debt free can feel more like a disjointed dream than a reality. Weighted by rising tuition costs, the inevitable financial burdens that individuals face while flipping the bill, can seem to multiply ever so quickly when accounting for loans and high interest rates. Couple that with limitations and availability of grant and/or scholarship funding, and you’ve got a scenario that may feel more comparable to hungry leeches feasting on your savings account, rather than an act of social responsibility. Yet, there seems to be one untapped solution that may be worth exploring when it comes to collegiate funding options. It’s called crowdfunding. How does it work you ask? It’s really quite simple. Step 1: Create a profile. Step 2: Build a campaign. Step 3: Share your story with family, friends, and potential donors. Step 4: Collect and invest in your future. So how does THAT work? Okay, okay…keep reading.

Made popular by way of startups like Pebble and magnified by celebrities such as Zach Braff with his film based Kickstarter campaign, it’s no wonder that crowdfunding has also become an alternative funding solution for college goers. Crowdfunding allows future grads to display their goals and ambitions to potential donors in a way that is currently unparalleled when receiving alternative funding, unlike that of grants or scholarships. Furthermore, it really can help take the burden off of yourself, mom or dad, your spouse and/or other family members. So, if you’re currently thinking about crowdfunding for college, or are just looking to learn a little bit more on the subject, here are a few things you should know when getting started.

kickstarter logo

First off, before you decide to open up an account on any platform: do your research. Different platforms cater to different needs, meaning some are better for startups whereas other are better for college funding. Each crowdfunding “ecosystem” is different. Because money is involved, it’s a good idea to read between the lines. Be sure to check out if the platform you’re considering will include fees or additional charges. In addition, certain crowdfunding sites won’t allow you to collect your earnings unless you’ve met your goal. However there are others that allow you to receive partial funding. Again, it’s a good idea to do your homework.

Once you’ve determined which platform best suites your needs, it’s time to figure out your pitch. According to a recent Forbes article, “Navigating The Sea Of Crowdfunding: How To Pick The Right Platform For Your Brand.”“ People tend to pledge money for three different reasons:

English: Zach Braff at Tribeca Film Festival 2010

1. They relate to the message or cause behind your project

2. They connect to the creative presentation of your materials

3. They are interested in a physical aspect of your project, i.e. the rewards”

I believe this rings true no matter the person, no matter the campaign. If you know why you’re committing to your cause, this is the part of the process to bring that message home. When crafting the pitch, consider merging logic with emotion. You know why you want to go to college, you know what you’re passionate about , now is the time to share that commonality with like minded individuals who will be more inclined to back you in your goals for achievement. Don’t be afraid to make it personal.

Once you’ve made it to this point, you should be ready to engage your audience. Keep in mind, there are a few things you’ll want to make sure you have inline when you’re engaging. First, you’ll want to make sure that you create some transparency between you and your campaign. Meaning, you should inform your audience of your educational goals and ambitions. In addition, you’ll want this information presented in a way that your audience can relate to. Being able to connect individuals with your message will make your audience more inclined to participate and share. Don’t discount the power of social either. Utilizing social media channels and blogs are great ways to connect your audience with what’s happening behind the scenes. Utilizing audio or digital can be a way to really catapult your message to the next level.

Finally, you’ll want to keep in mind your deadline for funding. This is important not only for yourself in staying accountable, but it’s also a key awareness factor for your audience. Check out: www.instagrad.com, www.indegogo.com, www.scholarshipproz.com for more information.