How to be successful crowdfunding for college

Posted at 10:52 PM, Nov 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-22 23:54:09-05

With the rising cost of college tuition and student loan debt, some students are looking for new ways to pay for their education.

On the Florida Atlantic University Campus, paying the bills is always top of mind.

Senior Lola Adelakun says, "I work at night and go to school during the day."

Sophomore Tyler Bonney relies on his family. "My parents they just told me don't screw up your grades and we'll keep paying your tuition."

Freshman Cristian Moreno says, "I've been working for two years, all the money I've worked, saving, it's gone."

They agree, the hardest part of college life isn't going to class, it's finding money for tuition.?

"The first thing that went through my mind was 'I got in, what do I do next?" Juan Rubio says.

Rubio of Lantana has overcome a lot to get into Georgia Tech. He moved from Colombia to Florida at 12, not knowing a word of English. He quickly realized that for him, getting accepted to a good school was just the beginning.?

He says, "I started thinking, I starting Googling... how to pay for college, creative ways to pay for college. And one of them said crowdfunding."

Crowdfunding is a way people raise money for pretty much any cause, and anyone can do it. GoFundMe is one of the most popular sites.

Juan created a GoFundMe page, sharing his dream to attend Georgia Tech and then someday work for NASA.?

"Its a great way to tell people look, this is my story. I need help," he said.

And so does just about every other college student. According to, 71 percent of students who earned their diploma in 2016 racked up an average of $37,000 in debt.?

In the last two years, GoFundMe reports education pages raised more than $10 million.

At first, Juan's family and friends were the only ones to give. "Then I started seeing $100 from somebody I didn't know. And I mean..I felt... I just wanted to cry. Because there are these people who believe in me that I don't even know," he says.

And while every little bit helps, Juan's GoFundMe page only put a dent in his $30,000 a year tuition. The $1,800 he has collected so far has gone toward books and rent, and he's grateful for the support of so many.?

Nathan Mendenhall is the social strategy director at THAT Agency in West Palm Beach. He says, "money is tight these days and people have a lot of decisions to make financially so if you can really trigger their passion and show that you are something that someone can believe in, you can have success."

The marketing firm helps clients shape their message to reach the biggest audience. He says the same goes for crowdfunding. ?

"You always want to make sure you are telling your story. If you want to convince anybody of anything, you want to show that value," he says. 

Parker Cuskey, Inbound Marketing Specialist, adds, "it's really about seeing the right thing at the right time. And in context. So if you can do your research, find out who you want to put your stuff in front of, that's probably the most effective way to reach the goal that you want." 

Juan says he now believes anything is possible."There is a way, I found a way. I don't know how I'm here." 

GoFundMe has several tips for a successful campaign, no matter what the cause. Those include:

-sharing on Facebook is the most important thing you can do. Encourage friends and family to like and share as well.

-share through email, text and other social networks

-use a high quality photo or video and clearly explain why you are raising money

-keep donors in the loop by posting frequent update messages

-show your appreciation and thank your donors