Need money for a college education? Try crowdfunding

The cost of a college education just keeps going up. In its most recent report, the College Board found that the estimated annual budget (which includes all fees associated with attending college) ranged from $17,000 for a two-year commuter school to $49,320 for a private non-profit, four-year on campus education.

It’s no surprise then, that college students and the people who love them, have found more innovative ways to raise money for college. Yes, there are traditional 529 plans and Roth IRAs to help parents stash away college money from the day a child is born, but for the many students who don’t have those resources, crowdfunding has increasingly become a way to fill in the gaps.

Students have been using GoFundMe to help raise money for their educations since the company was founded in 2010, but in the last few years, there has been a significant increase in these campaigns. More than $100 million has been raised for education related expenses by users and education related campaigns are one of the fastest growing categories on the site.

Georgia is one of the top ten states (it ranked number 5) for the number of GoFundMe campaigns related to education fees. There have been 6,887 campaigns in Georgia which have raised $2.9 million.

The trend of more students using the site for education related needs prompted GoFundMe to release a guidebook to help students seeking help with tuition and other college related costs find success.

A new hub on the site, helps donors find students on GoFundMe and also directs users to a guidebook of resources such as national and state specific data about college costs, examples of individuals who have used crowdfunding to help reduce those costs and step-by-step instructions on how to launch a successful GoFundMe for educational fees. The hub highlights the specific type of eduction expenses students are seeking so donors can give exactly the kind of support they desire.

Students are using the site to raise money for everything from books to study abroad programs. Some are seeking amounts as small as a few hundred dollars while other are asking for tens of thousands of dollars. Both types of campaigns can be successful depending on how they are structured.

Some campaigns get fully funded or over-funded, offering students that extra help they need for school. While crowdfunding probably shouldn’t be the only method for raising college tuition, it has helped more than 130,000 students in the last three years raise a total of $60 million to pay for college tuition and related expenses.

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