The high cost of higher education pushes students to Crowdfunding


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — As higher education becomes more and more crucial to joining the workforce, the cost keeps getting bigger and bigger.

Now that nearly 70 percent of those getting a bachelor’s degree are leaving school with debt, some students are finding alternative ways to fund their scholarly endeavors.

We spoke with a local teen that’s turning to crowdfunding. Michael Farrington has been in the U.S. less than a year but he’s already got big plans for his future.

The 16-year-old has been accepted into a summer program for exceptional teens at Harvard. But to get there, he’s asking for help from anyone and everyone through GoFundMe. Michael and his family moved to the U.S. from Guatemala last year. His mother says he’s already been working hard to make sure he has a bright future in his new country, and it’s being noticed.

“Part of what he studied in Guatemala and part of working hard there was so he could come to the United States and go to a college in the United States,” said his mother, Tracy Plant.

“Harvard sent us an email just inviting me to apply. And I applied and by God’s grace I got in,” said Michael.

Michael has been accepted into Harvard’s Secondary School Program, where he’ll get college credit for several courses over the summer.

“It’s a seven week program. I’ll be staying at the dorms in Harvard, and I’ll be taking courses on macro-economics and the American presidency,” he said.

But, it has a big price tag: $11,550. While waiting to hear back if he will get a scholarship for the program, his family turned to GoFundMe.

“That is the main way that we will be able to send Michael to Harvard. We don’t really have the capacity to send him at this stage,” said Plant.

Michael is just like more than 100,000 others on GoFundMe trying to combat the high costs of higher education. In 2014, the site raised more than $13 million for education-related campaigns.

“Some of them have left me a note of encouragement. Some have said they really like what I’m trying to do, what my goals are, and how I’m a faithful Christian, and how I’m trying to serve God,” said Michael.

In 18 days he’s raised $1,225. He says reaching his Harvard goal would help make his American dreams come true.

“I really want my future to be at an Ivy League college and then perhaps get into politics and get a degree in law,” he said.

Michael’s full payment of $11,550 is due to Harvard in May. He’s also waiting to hear back about several other scholarships he’s applied for.

In the meantime he, like so many others, is relying on the good grace of internet users for help. To learn more about Michael, click here.

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