Strapped students turn to GoFundMe to help finance their college education in Virginia – Affordable College Tuition
Strapped students turn to GoFundMe to help finance their college education in Virginia

Across Virginia, hundreds if not thousands of students have turned to a novel method of helping finance their college education, underscoring the desperate financial plight of many of the future graduates of the state’s 15 public colleges and universities.

The popular website GoFundMe has had Virginia college students opening accounts over the past several years as they turn to the popular personal online fundraising platform to finance their higher education ambitions.

According to Forbes, GoFundMe campaigns have netted aspiring college graduates and recent graduates more than $100 million over the past two years. GoFundMe even gave away 10 scholarships valued at $10,000 apiece in October to students who are raising funds on the platform.

In Virginia, students from campuses across the commonwealth are turning to GoFundMe in desperate attempts to fund their college education.

At Old Dominion University, freshman Jaysean Carter, of Chesterfield, Va., had a GoFundMe account started in July by his grandmother, who has custody of him because his father is in prison and his mother is unable to care for him. The $10,000 GoFundMe account has had donations given of $4,586 as of late December.

The fund was started by Carter’s grandmother, Agnes Mack. In an update, she wrote in November that he is in his first semester “made possible through the GoFundMe page and your donations to him.”

Carter’s GoFundMe link: https://www.gofundme.com/2cmvet8?ssid=848777316&pos=11

Haziel Andrade-Ayala, of Arlington, Va., is a freshman at Virginia Commonwealth University and launched a campaign in July 2016 to raise $5,900 to attend college. Within a week she had raised $1,300, but her campaign stalled out afterward and in late December was at $1,392 raised.

Andrade-Ayala wrote that she planned to major in Environmental Science at VCU, had a summer job with Arlington Public Schools but was finding it difficult to secure enough funds to cover tuition and housing for her first semester.

Andrade-Ayala’s link: https://www.gofundme.com/dreamertocollege?ssid=848598936&pos=50

Another VCU student, Richmond resident Jonathan Brooks, was also taking the GoFundMe route in 2016 to raise $4,000 for tuition and expenses. With a career goal of being a Physical Therapist, Brooks had raised just $370.

Brooks’ link: https://www.gofundme.com/m4ku76e4?ssid=848651710&pos=48

A VCU student’s success story via GoFundMe is Chris Wall, a Richmond resident who sought in August 2016 to raise $3,500 for his last semester before graduating with a degree in Psychology. Amazingly, Wall achieved his goal in a day — and more! As of late December, Wall’s GoFundMe account stood at $5,000 that he wrote on his webpage that would be applied to graduate school.

Wall’s link: https://www.gofundme.com/2hddnw9g?ssid=848645060&pos=69

At the University of Virginia, one student has aimed high and nearly achieved her fundraising goal. Kyndia Riley, of Heathsville, Va., is studying Biology at UVA and set a goal of $25,000 to help finance her college, overcoming extraordinary personal challenges along the way.

After setting up the account in February, Riley has raised $20,650 as of late December. Riley writes that attending UVA means the world to her and allows her to keep a promise to her grandmother.

Riley’s link: https://www.gofundme.com/vnnpjnsk?ssid=848654216&pos=29

At George Mason University, student Joe Kasuska launched a campaign in April 2016 to raise $10,000 for his tuition and living expenses after his mother became ill with cancer and the family began experiencing financial struggles. Kasuska is studying Athletic Training and by the end of December had raised $7,135 to try and stay in school.

Kasuska’s link: https://www.gofundme.com/49yef798?ssid=848671738&pos=35

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Student loan debt in America now exceeds $1.3 trillion – a national embarrassment. We know that this debt figure also includes the outstanding debt of tens of thousands of Virginia students and their families. These examples of Virginia students who are struggling to pay for college should motivate our elected officials, who will soon convene in Richmond for the 2017 General Assembly, to make affordable public education in Virginia a major legislative priority this year.
At many Virginia colleges and universities, tuition increases over several years have risen far faster than inflation. It is time for the men and women who govern and manage these schools – along with the legislature that supports them with taxpayer dollars — to ensure affordable excellence at all Virginia institutions.

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