Want to study abroad, but don’t know how you will find the money to afford it? Keep reading.
If you're like most college students (and, honestly, graduate students, too) you well know that tuition fees and all the other costs related to higher education are... overwhelming. Which makes it more difficult than ever to justify dedicating a semester to fulfilling whatever study abroad experience you've been dreaming of since got into college. But studying alongside international students and fully immersing yourself in another culture for an entire academic year is too compelling an opportunity to give up on that easily. Right?
So, you’ve talked to your college counselor, financial aid office, researched scholarships and grants, financial aid, created spreadsheets comparing program costs and expenses compared those to every last way to find extra cash and... still can't come up with funding. Heartbroken, you turn to social social media (because of course).
My dreams are shattered. Study abroad is sooo expensive!!! #why #upset #stuckintheUSforever
But wait… these days, people use social media for a lot of things. Could social media help you raise funds to pay for your trip?
Yes, it can.
Crowdfunding, a type of social networking that can “help better cast-iron skillets and other big ideas become a reality," a characterization conferred by Kate Murphy in The New York Times.
Crowdfunding is used to a way to raise money to finance projects, missions, and other big ideas. Crowdfunding websites—like Kickstarter, Indiegogo—provide GoFundMe, a platform to request support for an idea fueled by passion but short on funds.
Crowdfunded projects vary from technological inventions and arts productions to backpacking trips and birthday parties. Family and friends, new fans, and online philanthropists can browse through numerous campaigns and contribute money with just a few easy clicks. It’s a user-friendly way to bring philanthropy to the people through social media and to give individual projects a showcase so they can raise funds to get started.
In other words, college students can collect donations to pay for study abroad through crowdfunding.
Crowdfunding is becoming more common in education, particularly as tuition fees and program costs continue to increase. Some colleges incorporate crowdfunding platforms onto their websites, as a resource for college hopefuls. Universities use crowdfunding to help students fund research projects, and some even use the platforms to collect donations for scholarships.
Arizona State University has a crowdfunding project, as does Pepperdine
Perhaps the most student-friendly option across the various crowdfunding websites is GoEnnounce, a platform built specifically for students. On GoEnnounce, students can post a crowdfunding project to support their academic missions, collecting donations online. GoEnnounce has one of the lowest processing fees (only 3.5% per donation, as compared to 4-9% elsewhere), and allows instant access to contributions, as compared to other sites that release funds only to a successful crowdfunding campaign—meaning, 100% of the project cost is reached.
Articulating the motives behind studying abroad can be an important step for a student. Crowdfunding helps build support in the student's family and social circles, and connects those people to the student's mission. It helps friends and family understand why the student wants to leave, and it allows them to become a part of the student’s experience. In addition to harnessing financial help, crowdfunding also generates moral support for the student as she prepares for the big transition of moving (temporarily) abroad.
Recently, a student named Kayla used crowdfunding so she could participate in a study abroad program in Peru. She was able to raise $2,250 from friends, family, and some outsiders. Once she was in Peru, she kept her followers and funders updated by using the social media functions of crowdfunding to share photos and news about her experience in Peru. She also wrote a summary review of her experience.
Crowdfunding via social media also provides important lessons for students. Learning how to develop a mission, communicate the goals of that mission effectively, and share the story with loved ones is perhaps as beneficial as the financial support of crowdfunding.
Best of all, most crowdfunding sites are free to use, and they can help you raise some or all of the money needed to send you wherever it is you’re yearning to go. Don’t let anything—especially money—hold you back from an opportunity to travel the world and learn something new. Let the crowd help you make your dreams come true.
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