As college money for tuition continues to skyrocket world over, creative fundraising ideas are necessary since to most people pursuing a college degree you’re passionate about may seem out of reach.
Student loan debts in the US for instance, stand at a whopping $29,000 per student. No student wants to start off their adult life with a massive debt and that’s why many now prefer to pay their tuition while still at school.
But how do you raise tuition without incurring debt?
While college scholarships are the first answer that everyone will give you to this question, we prefer more creative ideas that boost your chances of getting tuition fast. Scholarships are definitely a good start, and for most students, a reliable source of debt-free tuition money.
However, scholarships are also tedious to apply and the competition is often too high lowering your chances of raising the funds you so badly need. So how about delving into various non-traditional fundraising methods?
Let’s take a look at 15 fundraising ideas that have been successfully tried and tested to raise money for college..
It’s quite true that charity begins at home. So before you go looking elsewhere begin fundraising in your own backyard. Let your family, relatives, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, old teachers, professors and other people that you know personally, know that you’re trying to raise money for college.
Remember you need their help not the other way round, so be courteous and let them know why you deserve their help. Give them details about the college and course that you’re interested in joining and why you’re excited about it.
Make sure that you personalize your messages especially if you’re going to contact people via email. Have a fundraising goal with a specific amount of cash that you’re looking to raise and probably even suggest a pledge amount.
We are a networked world and social media is changing lives in phenomenal ways. You are probably an ardent social media user already. If not, then you should familiarise yourself with the various social media platforms.
The beauty of social media is that it has the power to turn strangers into friends. You don’t have to know someone for them to help you. They simply need to identify and sympathise with your situation. Social media is a good place to fundraise for tuition and to also find financial aid.
There are two ways to go about it. You could go right ahead and ask people to contribute towards your tuition by running an online fundraising campaign through your social media platforms. Facebook, for instance, has a Donations feature that lets you run a fundraiser.
Alternatively, you can use social media to find already existing scholarship and financial aid opportunities by searching through the platforms. Make your search easy by using popular hashtags such as #scholarships, #financialaid, and #college.
Small businesses, startups and NGOs have been raising money successfully through crowdfunding for years now. But did you know that you can also get total strangers to pay your tuition through crowdfunding?
Once you have a good social media following, extend your fundraising campaign to a crowdsourcing site and take advantage of your online presence to raise funds. Ask your friends and family to spread word about your crowdfunding campaign and together you can create a social buzz and see the world send you to college!
GoFundMe is one of the most popular crowdfunding sites and among the successful college funds campaign available today is that of a student from Syracuse who’s trying to raise $6,500 to pay her student loans. She has already received over $3,950. A young mother is also trying to raise funds for a nursing program and has already received $3,625 of her $20,000 goal in just 27 days!
Other popular crowdfunding sites that you can use to raise tuition are ScholarMatch and YouCaring.com. So go on give this fundraising idea a try, you have nothing to lose but a lot to gain.
There are many local companies that are willing to give back to the community and a lot of them don’t have any projects going on but have the funds to offer and are always open to ideas. Approach as many local businesses as you can and let them know of your fundraising efforts and request them to contribute.
Going in person and introducing yourself directly to the staff will bear more fruit than simply sending a letter or email. Be sure to ask for a specific amount of money so that they can see that you truly are serious in achieving your goal of going to a college of your choice.
People are always more open to creative fundraising ideas as opposed to the usual cliches that make people feel that you’re only interested in their money. Stir things up a bit with a fiesta! Instead of simply approaching people and requesting them to donate, organise a fundraising party.
Come up with a fun theme that will make people want to attend. You can have an attendance fee or simply have an open fundraising session. Remember, creativity is key here.
Approach local businesses and request them to sponsor or even co-host the fundraising party. You could also suggest that they donate merchandise, gift certificates, raffle tickets etc. and auction them at your event as a way to offer their support.
Garage sales are not just for kids or moms who want to clean up their houses. It’s also a good way to raise money. Find anything that you are no longer using and put it up for sale.
Collect items from family and friends too and create a massive sale event with lots of valuable items or souvenirs that your local community will be interested in.
Garage sales are also a good way to create publicity about your fundraising efforts. Neighbours may not necessarily buy anything but they may also take the chance to contribute towards your goal.
If you already have partial tuition to allow you to start your study program you can consider getting into a work-study program. There will normally be part-time jobs on most campuses available for students. The pay from such programs will come in handy in paying your tuition.
As a work-study student, you will be paid directly every month for working a few hours every day. If you don’t qualify for work-study at your campus, don’t lose hope you can always get a part-time job outside the campus.
Besides raising tuition, work-study opportunities and part-time jobs are also great for gaining experience which will be helpful in applying for jobs after college. You will thus, not only earn much-needed money but work experience as well.
Volunteering or joining an internship program is another creative way of raising college money. Most programs will not pay you directly but they will be open to sponsoring your studies in return for your time.
Volunteer programs are also great if you want to increase your chances of getting awarded sponsorships outside the program. Most organizations are looking for people who are not only needy financially but who are making a difference in their communities. By giving back to your community through volunteering, you make yourself a better financial aid candidate.
Thanks to the internet you can now easily start a side hustle that can pay your way through college. You might be a talented writer, find online publications that pay writers. You might be a talented artist you could sell your artwork on eBay or even have your own online shop. There are so many ways to sell your expertise online so go for it and earn some money through your side hustle.
Some countries such as the US offer education tax breaks to families through the American Opportunity Tax Credit. Parents who earn up to $180,000 annually can claim tax breaks if they are paying the college tuition of their undergraduate kids. You can therefore, get upto $2,500 per year for your tuition if your parents claim the tax relief. Find out whether your country offers tax breaks for college students and take advantage of this.
We’re trying out creative fundraising ideas, right? So go on a limb and contact your local media, newspapers, radio and television stations and mention your fundraising efforts and see if they’re willing to help.
To increase your chances of having the media support you, pitch ideas that will be mutually beneficial. Consider writing regular letters to the editor or topical articles of interest to your community.
If you’re a member of a local church, request members to support your fundraiser. Most churches will be willing to hold a special collection during one of their services dedicated to your fundraiser. If you’re a member of the youth group or probably the choir, approach your group’s leader and let them talk to the church leaders on your behalf. Some churches may even have an education fund for its members so it never hurts to ask.
Besides your church groups, there other local associations and groups that may be willing to support you financially. Research for existing associations, civic and interest groups and approach the leaders to see what kind of support they are able to extend to you.
Don’t forget your high school alumni. Even if they don’t offer any money, request them to run a writeup about your fundraising efforts in their newsletter. This will help spread news of your fundraiser faster and wider.
Most colleges offer incentives for getting good grades. If you’re a top student get rewarded for your hard work. There are schools that are willing to offer you cash bonuses for maintaining a good grade point average. Check what are the incentives that your college offers for good grades and apply if you qualify.
It may be too late for you to apply for scholarships for your first semester but if you want to increase your odds of getting next semester’s financial aid, the time to apply is now. At the very least start looking for open college scholarships and create reminders to send the applications so that you don’t miss the deadlines.
These creative fundraising ideas to raise college money may not all work for every student but at least they are a good starting point. What is most important is that you stay committed to your efforts, be confident and don’t lose hope.