You can crowdfund pretty much anything these days, student loans included. At least, you can try.
You can start a campaign, but does it count as crowdfunding if no crowd forms to fund it? That seems to be the outcome for many looking to crowdfund their student loans on crowdfunding sites.
Does that mean it’s a bad idea? Not necessarily. More likely, it means many crowdfunders aren’t doing it right.
Crowdfunding student loan debt the right way
1. Rely on your family and friends for support
When you’re crowdfunding for a project or product launch, it’s easier to get strangers on board. When it comes to funding something as personal as a student loan, though, it’s going to be a tougher sell to people who do not know you.
That’s why you need to be able to rely on your family and friends for support. If you’re not comfortable asking them to support you with a donation, at the very least ask them to share your campaign with others, which will likely inspire them to give anyway.
Look at it like this.
I’m not going to ask my friends to do something that I’m not willing to do myself. So if my cousin, for example, asks me to share her crowdfunding campaign with the people in my network, I’m probably going to make a donation first. Or, if I decide I don’t feel comfortable sharing her crowdfunding campaign, I’m even more likely to make a donation so I can at least feel like I did something.
2. Choose the right crowdfunding platform
Some crowdfunding sites are more appropriate for student loan campaigns than others. Here are the most notable among them:
Generosity by Indiegogo: This platform focuses specifically on fundraising for personal and social causes. Indiegogo has been around for a long time, so it has good name recognition; Generosity is an extension of that. It’s also fee-free, with the exception of fees for credit card processing.
A search of “student loans” on Generosity turns up three dozen such campaigns, only a handful of which have raised anything toward their goals. One big exception is that of Kaila Jenkins.
Jenkins’ uncle started a campaign, speaking to the power of a third-party making an appeal on someone else’s behalf. Plus, the campaign name referenced “tuition debt,” as opposed to student loans. And Kaila was still in school at the time, meaning support would’ve enabled her to continue her education, not just pay down debt from education she has already received.
YouCaring: Like Generosity, this platform focuses on personal and social causes. It too is fee-free, again with the exception of fees for credit card processing. Though it doesn’t have the name recognition of Indiegogo, YouCaring is worth checking out. You’ll find a user-friendly format and lots of great resources for making your campaign a success.
The most successful student loan campaign on YouCaring is that of Jack and Rachel Legg. Their storytelling is a little confusing, but the success of their campaign is likely tied to the sharing of their community service work (they run a church) and the nature of their monetary appeal, asking for one-time gifts of $20 from 4,000 people.
GoFundMe: This is a general crowdfunding platform, but one with a lot of student loan campaigns. Unlike Generosity and YouCaring, there is a hefty fee at GoFundMe – 7.9 percent of what you raise plus 30 cents per donation, as well as the fees for credit card processing.
GoFundMe is the platform used by Erin Fox, whose crowdfunded student loan campaign is the most successful I’ve come across. Erin tells her story well, striking a good balance between expressing the urgency of a dire situation and maintaining a friendly, positive tone.
3. Give your campaign a positive spin
Most student loan crowdfunders do just the opposite, going into lengthy explanations about what a horrible situation they’re in and how they got there. If that worked, it would be one thing, but most of these crowdfunders haven’t raised a dime.
While it’s important to share the challenges you’re facing, follow it up with a positive spin.
Something like, “If you help me with my student loan debt, you’ll be supporting the education I’m using to [insert all of the wonderful things you’ve done and plans you have for helping people through your work].
Make sure your photos and videos reflect the same positive attitude.
4. Offer to give something back
Take a cue from Zerobound and offer to do community service in exchange for help with your student loans. This is a reward you should be able to offer on any platform you use.
For instance, if your goal is $5,000, you could offer to do 50 hours of community service when the goal is reached.
You can also offer something tangible, provided it’s not something that will be costly for you. This can be especially meaningful if you’re artist, maybe offering a painting or photograph to supporters who give $100 or more.
Even a handwritten thank you card could be a lovely incentive.
5. Give some thought to your campaign name
You can do better than the standard, “Help Me With My Student Loan.” Get creative with it, again with a positive spin.
6. Create professional-looking content
People want to support people who take pride in themselves and in their work. Prove yourself to be one of those people by taking the time to create quality content. Make sure your text is well-written and free of typos. And make sure your pictures and videos are well-lit and in focus.
7. Set a realistic goal
Don’t expect your campaign to cover all of your student loan debt. It’s very unlikely you will raise $30,000 crowdfunding. Plus, potential supporters are far more likely to give to a campaign with a goal that sounds within reach (e.g., $1,000 to 5,000).
That said, be sure to mention the total amount you owe so that your supporters know what an uphill battle you’re facing and how much you’re paying on your own.
8. Allow the lowest possible giving minimum
This may sound like more counterintuitive advice, but the lower your minimum, the more likely strangers are to give. Those dollars add up, as do the number of backers that show up on your campaign page. And the more backers you have, the more appealing it is for new supporters to back you too.
9. Keep your campaign short
You want to create a sense of urgency. Give people too much time and they’ll assume they have plenty of it and then, before you know it, they forget about you and time runs out. Thirty days is a good minimum, 6 weeks at the most.
10. Give updates regularly
The more involved you are with your campaign, the more involved other people will want to be, too.
What should your updates include? Things like how much closer you are to your goal, requests that people share your campaign with others, reminders about the approaching deadline date, and appreciation for their support.
11. Use social media wisely
While you might expect a decent percentage of your Facebook friends to support your crowdfunding campaign, the same may not be said for your followers on Twitter, for example. It’s especially important there that you simply ask people to share your campaign rather than making direct requests for donations. Create your own hashtag, too, preferably tied to your creative campaign name.
12. Give back what you promised
Say thank you and follow through.
Crowdfunding student loans is certainly a creative way to get rid of that debt, but you shouldn’t bank on it. Few student loan crowdfunding campaigns actually receive donations. However, if you follow all of these tips, you will be much more likely to successfully fund your debt pay off.
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1 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
2 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.89% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.50% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.27% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of April 17, 2019, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 04/17/2019. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
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3 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the fixed rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular fixed interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown.
All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.49% effective March 10, 2019.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.50% – 7.27%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 7.12%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.81% – 8.79%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 6.65%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.55% – 7.12%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|3.00% – 9.74%6||Undergrad & Graduate|