Education, News

Can Crowdfunding Help Pay for College?

In the past few years, crowdfunding online has become increasingly popular. There are a number of different websites that allow people to post their pitch in order to raise funds to everything from vet expenses to starting a small business venture. An increasing number of students are now using crowdfunding as a way to help pay college tuition or for expenses like books and supplies. We’ll take a brief look at what crowdfunding is and if it is actually an effective method of earning money for college.


Crowdfunding sites

Let’s start with the basics. Crowdfunding platforms are websites that allow individuals to publish a campaign with a specific monetary goal. The sites vary in their focus — some may specialize in the arts, while others focus on helping those in research and start-ups get funding for their projects. There are also generalist sites that allow any kind of campaign. A few popular examples are,, and

These sites provide the tools you need to set up a page and post videos, photos or other material that relates to your cause. They even encourage you to offer rewards or gifts for contributors who give a certain amount of money. In turn, the crowdfunding site takes a certain percentage off the amount raised. This varies according to the site as do the rules pertaining to fundraising.

Some sites even help you strategize and create an effective approach for your campaign. They offer suggestions on everything from to preparing your text to simply being grateful toward your donors.

Crowdfunding: Legitimizing the process

Today, the Internet is full of suggestions on how to raise money to pay for college, which seems to be soaring out of reach of many students. Parents can no longer afford to send their children to college, and loans end up being very costly.

Online sites are now encouraging students to consider crowdfunding as a viable option. In fact, some colleges have their own crowdfunding sites for students to use and others will match students to donors with scholarship opportunities.

As a result, campaigns to raise money for college have increased substantially on crowdfunding sites. The education category has even become the second most popular option on, for example. In 2013 alone, $4.63 million was raised on the site for educational costs.

Why crowdfunding for college

For some, crowdfunding can be the way out of a last-minute financial or family crisis that threatens a student’s chance to attend college or it can simply be a way to cover books or a portion of the tuition. Donors may see it as a way of impacting a student’s future, while some students may end up with a mentor at the end of it.

The problems with crowdfunding an education

While crowdfunding may be appropriate and beneficial to many, it does not always work. It may not be a practical solution, and could be seen as a temporary fix. In some instances, students may feel obligated to their beneficiaries. It is, of course, important to read any terms and conditions on the crowdfunding platform that is chosen for the campaign, and to understand any tax implications.

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The Author

Mary Brown

Mary Brown

Mary Brown has enjoyed writing about education and finance related topics, such as scholarships, student loans, college, vocational degree choices, and adult education since the early 2000's. She also writes about school budgets, accreditation and fundraising.