Internet Marketing is Nothing New, But for College Tuition?
"I have to come up with big-time cash," writes Max Stephenson. The 18-year-old is headed for New York University and all his grants and loans only cover half of the school's $50,000 annual tab. So to cover the gap, he's hoping friends of friends of friends will each send the money via a secured online donation.
Two weeks after Stephenson sent his e-mail to 300 of his friends and his parents' business contacts — and asked them to forward it to anyone they could think of — he says he has already received close to $6,000 from countless people. "Everybody's been really nice about it," he says.
A recent high school grad from Glen Gardner, N.J., Stephenson is sending out his e-mail solicitation at a time when students' financial needs are expanding and the loan market is shrinking. He also created Facebook-like profile detailing his background, interests and what he plans to do after graduation. "I have plans to use my college education to improve our environment," he notes toward the end of his tuition plea and explains that AccessHybrid is an organization he set up to help college and vocational students buy fuel-efficient cars.
Among the donors is Chris Sperry, a sponsorship manager in Atlanta who donated $5 to Stephenson even though the two of them have never exchanged a single word. Like other donors, Sperry says he wants Stephenson to have an easier time paying for school than he did. "It's a shame that you get saddled with loans right out the gate," Sperry says, recalling that during his own years as an undergraduate, he worked three jobs to offset tuition costs. "It's tough to get ahead when you have that anchor weighing on you."
The Nanotechnology Research Foundation has developed a strategy to provide students a free personalized secured website for donations and tracking, letter templates for messaging and personal support to execute a successful fundraising campaign.