Image from Sonder

Image from Sonder

Whenever someone comments that society is selfish and narcissistic, I can’t help but think of the rise of crowdfunding. Strangers donate to complete strangers, whether it’s a Kickstarter to work on a creative project or Humans of New York racking up millions to combat bonded labor in Pakistan. Stories like these make me think: What compels people to give?

SonderFund is a new crowdfunding platform specifically for college students. Whether it’s tuition or textbooks, Sonder “strives to create a community supporting students to make college more affordable”. Sonder strongly agrees that everyone deserves an education, and aims to bridge the economic gap of the average student. Sonder was founded by four high school and college students across the US, who know first hand how difficult paying for higher education can be. Officially launched in August 2015, they’ve been backed by big names such as MIT Launch and the Institute of Product Leadership.

Each student has a Sonder profile with their hometown, college, and bio, following the belief that everyone, even strangers, have a powerful story to share. One major benefit of the college crowdfunding platform is, as Sonder’s website states, “Instead of donating to a general endowment, money flows specifically to the funds of deserving students who post their profiles and background information on the platform.” Private funding, such as crowdfunding, has the most potential to assist the greatest number of students. There’s no minimum household income, no GPA or major requirement, and no extraordinary essay-writing skills. Anyone who is willing to share their story can achieve financial assistance by anyone who is willing to listen.

Student debt is piling higher and higher; in June 2014, the Economist noted that “American student debt adds up to $1.2 trillion, with more than 7m people in default.” Sonder claims on their Facebook page that 57% of students cannot attend their first choice college because they cannot afford it. With donations coming from friends, family, companies, university alumni, and even complete strangers, crowdfunding has the potential to become the next big solution to the everyday student’s financial situation.

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