Perspectives: What Do You Think About Students Crowdfunding Their Education?

I have to admit, the idea is pretty innovative and it’s pretty cool to see people willing to donate and contribute to random college students’ education. My AP Econ teacher in high school always told us to view our college education as an investment; it was a way to justify and view the high costs of tuition.

There’s an expectation for there to be high yield as well later on, which is supposedly why we’re all paying so much now. In that respect, crowdfunding seems almost logical. And since the function of most crowdfunds are for people to invest in organizations, products, or productions they believe will be successful, by donating to students’ college education, people are investing in the future of the world.

So really, in terms of the strict logic of it, crowdfunding seems like a valid option. I think the biggest concern has to do with potential downfalls of the system. Especially because it is all online, I’m sure there are more opportunities for cases of fraud; people can pretend to be well-meaning college students but in reality, simply be out to make easy cash.  In addition, college students can be pretty crappy at handling large sums of money so that could be a potential concern.

 

Ashley Duong is a first-year literary journalism major. She can be reached at alduong1@uci.edu.

 

Paying for college is a struggle for many students seeking to earn an undergraduate education. Adults grapple with debt years after graduation. Since the more traditional routes of earning financial aid, applying for scholarships or asking parents to pitch in, have become less applicable to the staggering check college tuition gives, many students have now turned to crowdfunding. But this method of earning money is not a stable way to pay for your college degree.

Sure, most students do not possess the capability to pay their entire tuition. Some pick up extra jobs or are escaping familial conditions, but others are in comfortable positions, without the stress of extraneous conditions. There’s no way for a potential donor tell the difference between the two types of students on a crowdfunding website, or for a donor to choose which cause is more worthy. It’s not fair to base a donation based on physical attraction. There is no stability and reliability with programs such as GoFundMe and Kickstarter.

 

Annie Nguyen is a first-year political sciences major. She can be reached at anniekn1@uci.edu.

 

Crowdfunding is an efficient way to raise money for short-term expenses, such as rent, but it leaves students in a state of dependency on an unstable source of income. It can be highly successful if students have established social media accounts with thousands of followers that they can rely on.

However, it’s unlikely that these ambitions will consistently be met throughout the years of attendance. It is understandable to want to limit the need for student loans, but there are several other options — scholarships, working, and grants. Crowdfunding leaves students in a state where, regardless if they reach their set goal, they still receive something for their work. All that is required to establish an account is an attractive profile picture, a brief description of why the funds are needed (which can be exaggerated to draw in more donors), and a target amount.

The intrinsic reward of working for something and seeing it recognized is completely gone, such as the excitement of receiving a scholarship. The possibility of failure looms with scholarships, but it teaches students to acknowledge defeat and rise stronger than before. Asking people to donate their hard earned money leaves students in a mindset that the world is this happy-go-lucky place that provides life’s necessities on a silver platter just because we asked nicely.

If college has taught me anything, it’s that you get what you put in. Study, work, and apply for scholarships. Crowdfunding is a last resort.

Lilith Martirosyan is a first-year Business Administration major. She can be reached at llmartir@uci.edu.
I have been wary of people who ask for money since I was young. My mom always told me to be apprehensive of  the homeless people on the street — perhaps they were just trying to take advantage of me. They would use my money for selfish needs, not because they were actually poor or trying to help others.

So when I see people using crowdfunding sites to raise money for their education, I am instantly skeptical. A young, healthy, intelligent scholar asking strangers for money? There is just something about it that sounds strange to me.

I understand that college costs an insane amount of money nowadays, and getting scholarships and grants is getting a lot harder. You can work five jobs and still have considerable debt. However, asking people for money through crowdfunding sites is akin to asking for loans, but then avoiding the process of paying them back. These are strangers, they donate on their own will, and a donation means that the money is not borrowed but taken.

And not to sound cynical, but who knows if these students will actually succeed in their education?

I believe that economic status should not hinder one’s education, but there are more legitimate ways to raise money than crowdfunding. Instead of asking strangers, students should ask people who actually know and care about them. Throw a fundraiser at their old elementary school, throw a birthday party where they get donations instead of gifts — I’ve been invited to one of these before — anything but asking strangers for money.
Michelle Bui is a first-year biological sciences major. She can be reached at mkbui@uci.edu.