GoFund my education

This story was originally published in the Nov. 19 issue of The Skyline View.

Today, there are a few ways of getting financial aid such as loans, grants or scholarships. Millennial students are now using crowd-funding sites to help pay for their education.

Skyline College’s tuition is estimated to be an average of $5,342 between in and out-of-state students by College Navigator. Some students may find this to be too much to afford. For students who want to transfer to a four-year college, their families will have an even harder time affording expensive tuition, even with help from financial aid.

A student from the bay area was accepted to Manhattanville College, but her family is unable to pay the expensive $54,000 per year tuition by themselves, so they turned to a crowd-funding site called Gofundme.

Taisha Griffie from Redwood City was granted a very generous financial aid package, but there was still a $4,000 gap in tuition that still needed to be paid. This is when she turned to a crowd-funding site called Gofundme.

She said, “I applied to numerous outside scholarships, but didn’t win any of them. I wrote letters to various people and companies, and then I decided that I would attend community college and then transfer. My step mom and her good friend then told me about a website called gofundme.”

Griffie set up her account and wrote a biography describing her success throughout high school, her involvement with clubs, activities, work experience, aspirations for school and the help she needed. A little over $3,000 and a couple months later from friends, family and anonymous donors, she was able to begin her college career in New York.

Griffie said she thinks, “People were so willing to help me because they know how ambitious I am and they know that I don’t come from a financially stable home. Education is very important and (in most cases) can open many doors for one’s future, and one’s financial circumstances shouldn’t hinder that, and I think the people who helped me were aware of that notion.”

Sociology professor Michael Moynihan said people would want to help a college student in this situation as a form of investing in the future and as a sense of feeling like they are doing something positive for someone.

“Sociologically, it is like a big group hug,” he said. “I could see Gofundme as a kind of shared economy where we’re saying send me some money and I will help educate myself.”

He repeated the phrase “shared economy” and he referred to modern services such as Air B&B and Zipcar.

Moynihan suggested what Gofundme users do to update the contributors to let them know the money is being used as proposed. “People might, in their appeal, say, ‘here’s my situation, and here’s what I will provide you as way to let you know that I’m using this money as intended”.

Gofundme’s conditions do state, however, that the users must take the funds only for the purpose they stated in their “campaign”. “We reserve the right to provide information relating to your campaign with donors and beneficiaries of your campaign, and with law enforcement or to assist in any investigation.”

Griffie is now a sophomore, majoring in digital media productions with a minor in marketing. She only planned to use the crowd-funding site for her first year, and she took out a student loan for the remaining $3,500 each semester.