Total Strangers Helping Students Pay for College

Crowd Funding If you are getting ready to go to college soon, you know the routine; submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), complete financial aid applications from your prospective schools, and search everywhere for free money for college. In the past, ‘free money’ usually implied searching for scholarships, but not anymore. Today’s college students are reaching out to complete strangers through the use of crowd funding to help cover everything from tuition to study abroad trips.

While the majority of crowd funding sites originated with the idea of helping charities or people in severe need (life-threatening illness or devastation from a natural disaster), many are now seeing an increase in campaigns specifically designed to help students pay for college. The premise is simple; tell your story and get people to donate.  The most successful campaigns include a compelling story, pictures and a limited time to donate, but where do you start? Here’s a sampling of what’s currently available.


This website was originally funded by a ‘generous donor’ and is now supported by donations. Unlike most of the other crowd funding sites, does not charge a service fee to use its platform. Users must create a PayPal account, as any donations (minus the PayPal transaction fee) received are immediately deposited into the account. Campaigns can run for a maximum of 120 days and users can easily share their page on Facebook and Twitter.


On May 10, 2010, launched its crowd funding website. Since that date, it has shown tremendous growth and has helped thousands of people raise money. The website is easy to use and can easily be shared on Facebook and Twitter. Users are charged a five percent (5%) fee per transaction, as well as the customary WePay or PayPal fees. Users can withdraw any or all of their donations at any time during their campaign.


Founded in 2007, is a non-profit organization funded by corporate sponsors. Depending upon the type of campaign, users are assessed either a five percent (5%) service fee (financial hardship campaigns) or a 10 percent (10%) fee (all other campaigns), in addition to a three percent (3%) credit card processing fee. Campaigns must run for a minimum of 30 days, but no longer than 90 days. Users cannot withdraw funds until the end of the campaign ($50 minimum required).

While these websites allow for both personal and charitable fundraising, newcomer recently launched its Beta version, specifically designed for students raising money for post-secondary education. Students can create a campaign for any college-related expense and must notify their financial aid office about any funds received. Payment is sent to the student at the end of the campaign after a 10 percent (10%) service fee (added to the donor’s bill) and credit card processing fees have been deducted. expects to have a fully-functional website available by August 10, 2012. Until the website receives more media attention, however, it’s doubtful that will be able to generate the funding amassed by or

If you are considering a crowd funding campaign to help pay for your college education, be sure you provide documentation to verify your need; donors are more willing to help students who honestly need a little help and are not just looking for a handout. Utilize social media to help spread the word about your campaign, as this will also help attract donors to your page, and remember to thank anyone who donates. Also, be prepared to have a back-up plan, just in case you fall short of your goal. While crowd funding may seem like a great way to raise money for college, it’s really a gamble as to whether or not you’ll be successful. Personally, I’d rather spend more time finding free money for college the old-fashioned way – applying for scholarships!

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Tamara is the Social Media Coordinator and a regular writer for, and She enjoys helping students prepare for college. As a mother of four, Tamara has first-hand experience with many areas of education, including special needs (autism), the International Baccalaureate program and post-secondary education. She enjoys speaking at schools and mentoring others online. In her free time, Tamara enjoys volunteering and supporting her favorite football team, the Jacksonville Jaguars.
41 Responses to “Total Strangers Helping Students Pay for College”
  1. Gus A Astorga says:

    I have a son who has been given a partial scholarship to attend Florida Southern College in Lakeland. At this time, I have to come up with $16,000 each year for him to attend. I need assistance to help me pay for his tuition.

    Can you give any suggestions as to who I can go to to help me finance this tuition.

    Looking forward to your reply.


    Gus Astorga

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Hi Gus,

      Your son should be applying to private scholarships, as well. Be sure to have him create a free account at, so he will be able to see which awards are currently available to him. In addition, I suggest having him run some fundraisers in your community to help raise money. A student in my town did a car wash every weekend at a local pizza shop and the business also kicked in 10% of the proceeds from the sales each day he was there washing vehicles. If you still come up short, you’ll need to look into student loans or an equity loan. Check with your bank to see what they offer and try a free comparison tool, like, to find the best plan for your family. Another alternative is to have your son start at the local community college, which is much cheaper, and then transfer his junior year to a 4-year college.

  2. emile yong says:

    I just graduated from high school with excellent results but i’m unable to further my studies
    i did science and wish to be an engineer
    but my dreams are crumbling.
    I need either a job nor matter what it is or somemoney for my studies, God will you all

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Be sure to complete the FAFSA, apply to as many scholarships as possible, and look into crowdfunding sites, too. Some students have been successful with fundraisers in their communities, such as car washes or hosting a pizza night at a local restaurant. You can always start with a class or two at your local community college while you are working and transfer to a 4-year college in your sophomore or junior year, if you are unable to cover the expenses for a full class load at this time.

  3. Monika says:

    Hey there,
    I’m twenty and I completed 1 year at my college but was forced to take a year off due to outstanding balances. My mom is a single parent who is unable to get a loan and we haven’t had any luck finding a co-signer. Are there scholarships out there for Filipinos or kids that are first generation to go to college? I am desperate!

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Most of the first generation scholarships are awarded to incoming freshman and not older students, but check with your college financial aid department to see if they offer any for current students. You should also register for a free account at to find awards that are matched to your specific needs and skills. Another resource you might want to check out is the Asian and Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund, Don’t forget to check out writing contests, too!

  4. kenisha williams says:

    I am a young lady who got accepted to an University and will be attending there this spring. But I need help financialy. My parents past away wen I was just a little girl. I have no one around willing to help. What should I do? Is there anything out there for me?

  5. Tricia says:

    Hi! I am a single mom, over 30, trying to get my 1st degree. I am in a Nursing BSN program, but I am out of loans with only two semesters left.

    Any ideas would be fabulous~

  6. Lekem says:

    I am in schòol now but i have not yet pay my school fee my parent are old and i dont have someone to help me please help thank u

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Hi Lekem,

      Be sure to register for a free account with ( and start applying for scholarships. Also, stop by your school’s financial aid office and ask if they have any grants or other financial aid available to assist you. You may have to pick up a job, if you need the money immediately, so be sure to ask about campus positions, too.

  7. Eden .T says:

    Hello Tamara,

    Okay so here is my situation, I’m 20 now, been working full time for a little over a year, I have completed High School with an Okay avrg, finished 6 SAT subject exams and I am not longer living in the states, I’ve been trying to save to go to an American College here but that hasn’t been working out, can’t take a loan from the bank because student loans here require you to pay while studying and I cant do that, my job is strictly full time.
    What are my options? If any..

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Hi Eden,

      If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to make an appointment with the admissions office at the college you are considering and explain your situation. They may know of resources in your country or at the school that can help lower your out-of-pocket expenses. Another thing to consider is taking one or two classes per semester (or whatever youo can afford). It will take longer to get your degree, but at least you can start chipping away at it. It also never hurts to start a crowdfunding campaign and ask others to help you out.

  8. Monica says:

    Hi I live in Texas and my current gpa Is a 3.0 I want to go to California study fashion journalism ,but FASFA only gave me 11k for the year and tuition is 20k what should I do .I can’t come up with that money by myself please help

    • Tamara Krause says:

      You have a few options. One, start at a community college where your general education classes will be less expensive. Two, look into other schools, especially those in your home state, that have cheaper tuition rates, but still offer a fashion program. Three, start applying to every private scholarship that you can! The easiest way to find those that you are eligible for is to register for a free account at Set aside time each month and shoot for 5-10 scholarships to complete. Keep applying, even after you enroll in college. Finally, although it may be a long shot, check out crowdfunding and see if some strangers might be willing to help you fund your education. Check out my 5 Tips to a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign before you begin!

  9. Efren says:

    Hello Tamara,

    I’m studying full time a Masters Degree at Boston University, thanks to a scholarship that I obtained, last year. However, that organization is giving me a total amount of US $25,000 per year, an amount that covered Fall 2013, which I finished with a GPA of 3.23, and after one year, also will cover Fall 2014.

    But now, I really need a hand in order to pay Spring 2014, which has a total cost of US $22,290 because as an international student I cannot obtain benefits from the University, besides, my (F1 visa) does not let me work easily.

    What could I do?

    Thank you.

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Unfortunately, resources for international students are limited, especially when you are unable to work here in the States. You will probably need to secure a loan to help cover your remaining expenses. However, you may be able to find some scholarships or grants through IEFA, or receive some help through a crowdfunding site, such as

  10. Anna says:

    Hello Tamara I’m Anna and I’m 20 years old and in my second year of college as a medical student looking for help to pay tuition I’m currently unable to continue going to college due to funds please help as I have no one to turn to Thank you in advance for your advice

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Hopefully you have completed the FAFSA, as this will give your access to free federal aid, as well as scholarships and grants offered through colleges. In addition, be sure to register with, as this will help you find scholarships specific to your needs. Next, check into potential loan forgiveness programs and other tuition assistance programs that may help pay for your college in exchange for your service. Don’t focus completely on medical scholarships, though. Apply for any that are for your year in school, writing contests (if you like to write poetry, short stories, etc.) and other potential awards that can help reduce your expenses.

  11. Heidi Essam says:

    Dear, Tamara

    I am currently studying at The university of Cambridge as graduate student, in architecture and urban studies. i have recently applied for several scholarships but i think as an international student my chances are like winning a lottery. I am applied for a phd already and i have a pretty good chance to get accepted. However, The money remains an issue. Do you have any ideas on how i can get enough money to at least cover the college and university fees. I think i can manage maintenance on my own, but not the tuition for sure. Funny thing is i am from Egypt, which is considered a third world country, and at the moment as everyone who watches the news can see it is politically unstable. which makes it impossible to get any government funds, although there aren’t any. yet i am still considered an international student who has to pay triple the fees of an EU or Home student, which i find illogical.anyways, Thanks for your time, and i appreciate any guidance or advice at this point.
    Thank you,

    • Tamara Krause says:

      International financial aid is not my area of expertise, but you may want to look at,, as you may be able to find some grants and/or scholarships through that tool. Another avenue may be contacting potential employers to see if they offer tuition assistance in exchange for future service. Studying outside of your home country is always an expensive endeavor, as most colleges/universities expect international students to pay their own way. Don’t forget to try crowdfunding, too. With a compelling story, you may be able to get some strangers to help you.

  12. cymon says:

    am a ghanaian and have to do the remainder of my undergraduate programme abroad. is there anyway i can get help for my tuition fees?

  13. fuchsia sawyer says:

    My name is Fuchsia Sawyer and I was recently a student at Full Sail University studying Music Business. I had to leave due to the lack of funding. I have been searching for scholarship and trying to get a loan but I do not have a cosigner. So I found out about this and decided to try it and see howmuch money can I get from donation to futher my education.

  14. Lisa says:

    Hi Tamara,

    I have a friend who is currently a sophomore who is in need of some financial assistant. Her mom is currently unemployed and diagnosed with stage 2 colon cancer while her dad is in the process of filing for bankruptcy. This individual is very hard working and need your assistance or your help in getting her story out there so others can hear and assist her. She only needs $5000 dollars to pay off the current school year depth in order to receive her transcript to send it to a community college in the area. There is no way she can come up with that money in such a time. The financial aid office at my institution is not willing to assist her in her time of need.

    • Tamara Krause says:

      First, please have her meet with her current college’s financial aid office and see if they may be able to work out a payment schedule with her. If that doesn’t work, I would encourage her to post her story on It is one of the largest platforms and has a good success rate. Be sure to have her friends and family share the link to her campaign across social media and consider contacting her local TV and radio stations to share her story. Scholarships will not help her pay off a current debt, but she should still apply to ensure she has the funding once she starts at her new college.

  15. kimberley says:

    hi I am a high school student that will be graduating on 2015 I wanted to get a head start on getting financially help to help me pay for my university tuition.

  16. JJ says:


    I am a parent of a senior in H.S. who was accepted to Baylor and UT. As excited as I am for him his EFC came out to be 21k. Needless to say that we dont know how they got that figure but our son has been applying to all these scholarships but are still afraid of knowing the outcome of it. Can you recommend anything that can help us send our kid to college with out breaking the bank?

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Congratulations on your son’s accomplishments! First, take a look at the FAFSA again, as there may have been a typo or omission that caused the EFC to be larger than expected. If your son has already received his financial aid award offer from both colleges, and you know you cannot make up the difference, consider filing a financial aid appeal. It never hurts to ask for more money, especially if you can show that your family’s income will not remain the same as last year. Continue to encourage him to apply for scholarships, but be realistic in those expectations. Since the national acceptance deadline is May 1, he may not have enough time to earn enough to cover the gap. This means your son should be looking into other options for college, or should plan to take out federal and/or private loans to cover his expenses, should he decide to enroll at Baylor or UT. If he doesn’t want to be saddled with a lot of student loan debt, starting at a community college or less expensive college might be something to consider.

  17. Oarabile Mudongo says:


    I am a 3rd year student pursuing Computer Science a major in Network Engineering. I am asking for help to study a short course (6 months) so that i can be a certified Network Engineer upon my graduation next year 2015. This certification helps me to be industrially prepared for any job in my filed of study. Do you have any ideas as to how i can find help for support of covering my tuition fees.


    • Tamara Krause says:

      Hopefully, you have registered for a free account with and started applying to scholarships. There are many for students in the computer science fields. Our monthly scholarships could also be used to help cover any expenses at a vocational school, college or university. You may also want to check with potential (or current) employers, as many will help meet the costs of certification programs if they are relevant to your employment.

  18. Hutch says:

    I know nothing about applying for grants and scholarships. it is not for me, (I’m 55), its for my ex-girlfriends daughter. She’s in her 2 semester at CSN, of Nevada. I’m a school bus driver and I promised that I would help put her through college. Mom is a single mom and has 4 girls. …. and also, is a school bus driver. I was hoping for one on one help with someone, (live).. To show me the ins & outs … what to look for & look out for…. /;)
    “Teach me to fish, and I eat for a life time”…. /;)
    Thank you..
    Las Vegas, NV

    • Tamara Krause says:

      I think it is awesome that you want to help this young lady finance her college education. First, please encourage your girlfriend’s daughter to complete the FAFSA ( because she is probably eligible for some need-based grants and scholarships from the government and her college. Second, have her register for a free account with Once she completes the profile (about 10 to 15 minutes), she’ll receive a list of scholarships that match her unique needs and skills. It’s important that she completes the work for the scholarships, as you cannot apply for her. You can help locate potential scholarships for her (check out our Twitter account @scholarshipguru or follow us on Facebook), but she actually needs to write the essays and apply for the awards. You may also want to read my Parent’s Guide to Helping Students Win Scholarships. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to email me at

  19. Samantha says:


    I have been out of school for a year due to a $1000 balance I have from my previous school. I am unable to go to any other school due to my balance. I am independent without any help so it is hard to save the money. I really want to be back in school by the fall. What advice could you give me? Is there any resources out that could help my situation.

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Hi Samantha,

      In most cases you cannot use scholarships to pay off a previous debt. I would suggest contacting the college and arranging a payment schedule with them. Until you are out of default, it will be very difficult to receive any financial aid from the government or colleges, but you could start working on scholarships for future use. Many providers will give you 6 to 12 months (or longer) to use the funding. Until then, consider picking up some odd jobs to help pay back the debt sooner, or trying your luck with a crowdfunding campaign (check out

  20. brook w says:

    I have a question I was in college last semester and I failed classes because of the became homeless and I finally have a place now stable place and they want me to pay for my two classes I failed and I want to know how would I get help paying for those.

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Please meet with a financial aid officer at your school and explain your situation. They may be able to work out a payment plan with you. Also, check with social services in your area (or churches that may help homeless teens/college students) as there may be some funding available to help you with these expenses.

  21. mario says:

    Hi im mario;
    Iam 23 years old and I graduated from everest college like six months ago and now i have start paying for it. But right now i can because of the fact that my dad got deported and my mom is unemployed and have brothers wchich rely on me. Because i am the only one that works and the job that i have does not pay me good so that i can payoff my 25,000 debt.. and on top of that i also have a 2,000 loan that i am paying off right now . What can i do.. is their any type of way for me to get some help to pay off my debt..

    • Tamara Krause says:

      If your loans are through the federal government, contact your loan servicer and ask about the various repayment plans. Depending on your income and financial situation, you could have your payments reduced. You may also qualify for deferment or forbearance. If you have private loans, your options may be limited, but it is best to contact them before you get behind on your payments. Unfortunately, there aren’t any scholarships available to help repay your student loan debt, so you’ll need to work with your loan servicers, or consider picking up an additional job to help cover your monthly payments.

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