Crowdsourcing To Fund Education

Crowdfunding is a new trend that is rising in the ever growing sea of Internet trends. With websites that allow people to create their own personal campaigns, those needing funds can encourage family, friends, and strangers to donate to their fundraiser. And some are taking advantage of that and using it to pay for their education.

“People were very supportive of me,” said Imranda Ward, 19, who with her campaign, supported by family members, raised $150 in just a month to fund the cost of attending a three week intensive program at Dance Theatre of Harlem .

Ward is a pre-physical therapy major at Kendall Campus. When she earned a spot at the prestigious dance program, Ward worried about expenses. She took her dance teacher’s recommendation and used gofundme.com, a popular crowdfunding site. Ward said she had a wonderful time in New York learning dance and would recommend gofundme to others.

There are currently 500 education campaigns posted on gofundme. Other categories include medical, volunteer, emergencies, memorials, sports and animals. Gofundme is just one of many crowdfunding sites. Another crowdfunding site that allows users to create personal fundraisers is Crowdrise. Websites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Patreon are geared more toward creative projects.

To create a campaign on gofundme one just creates an account and personalizes their own campaign. It requires at least a photo or video and a description of the campaign. To receive the money, users only have to click “withdraw” on their gofundme account. Users can request to receive funds as a check or have it sent directly to their bank account. Gofundme charges a five percent deduction with every donation that is made. There is no deadline or limit. Users can keep the donations even if they do not reach their goal. There is no way of telling whether a campaign is a fraud, so the website advises that people should only donate to people they know and trust.

According to gofundme’s website, education is the second most-used method of crowdfunding, right behind medical. Education campaigns rank highest on crowdfunding.com.

Samantha Segura, 20, a former MDC honors college student and current biology major at University of Florida, used gofundme to help pay for a medical seminar in Australia. She said she was able to raise $2,500 of a $5,000 campaign to pay for her flight and the program itself.

“You never know what could happen,” Segura said. “You never know who is willing to help.”

She paid for the rest of her costs with a scholarship and her parent’s help.

Amanda Aracena, 22, a former sports writer for The Reporter who is a telecommunications and political science double major at University of Florida, currently has a gofundme campaign to help raise money to travel to London for an internship with CBS News. Aracena has a scholarship and works three jobs, all of which is not enough to pay for the trip. She said she had no other option.

“You have to exhaust all your resources [to use the website],” Aracena said.

This is her second gofundme campaign. The first $3,200 campaign paid for her expenses while doing a summer internship at CBS News in Washington D.C. Her current $8,000 campaign currently stands at $1,675. Aracena advises that people be as descriptive as they can.

“People are not going to just donate money,”  Aracena said.

But not everyone thinks crowdfunding is the best avenue to pay for your education.   

“All we can say about crowdfunding is that it seems to be a waste for students to use technology to do what they’ve always done in the past, which is to look around in their immediate family and their circle of friends to ask who might be willing to help pay for college,” said Erin Timmons, Director of Communications at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.

All three students interviewed that used gofundme said that the method to having a successful campaign is to use social media and get the word out as much as one can.

“I branched out to a lot of people,” Segura said.

Aracena posts about her campaign on Facebook every two to three hours every day. She said most people have been supportive but recently someone called her lazy for creating a gofundme account.

Ward disagrees with that sentiment.

“I don’t think it’s wrong,” Ward said. “School’s very expensive.”

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Gabrielle Rueda

Gabrielle Rueda, 19, is a mass communications/journalism major at Wolfson Campus. Rueda, a 2014 graduate of Archbishop Curley-Notre Dame High School, will serve as the Forum Editor for The Reporter during the 2015-16 school year. She aspires to become a reporter for a major newspaper or magazine and to one day publish her own book.

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