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College students are used to mom and dad picking up the bill for college, but in a new trend, some are asking total strangers to front them the money.

With college tuition costs set to continue rising throughout the next 20 years, and loans and scholarships only stretching so far, some students have turned to crowdfunding, through such sites as GoFundMe, which claims to be the “world’s No. 1 fundraising site,” according to its website.

The concept of crowdfunding enables people to raise different amounts of money from numerous contributors all around the world who are interested in investing in a particular cause. Crowdfunding campaigns have been created to seek help with funding medical bills, building shelters or even giving well-deserving people a much-needed vacation.

GoFundMe advertises free and easy sign-up, a small service charge, no penalties for missing a goal and five-minute email support. To date, it has helped people worldwide raise more than a total of $1 billion, and approximately $4 million each day.

“There are roughly 11,000 fundraisers for college tuition on the site, now in an even larger category regarding education,” said Greg Smith, GoFundMe’s vice president of customer happiness. “It seems more and more people are setting up accounts to pay for college than they have in the past.”

Ashley Crooke, a junior health sciences major, decided that she would use this platform to raise the money she needed for her College Algebra course. On her GoFundMe page, she told potential donors that she does not qualify for any loans or grants.

“One class is currently holding me back,” Crooke wrote on her page. “I need to raise roughly $1,200 in order to pay for the price of the class and materials needed by Aug. 19 at 11:59 p.m. If I get the money, I will be able to finally move forward with my educational goals. Every cent will be greatly appreciated.”

She provided pictures of her fee invoice to prove to potential donors that she did indeed need the money to pay for the course. Within 24 hours of posting, she had raised enough money to pay for tuition and books.

“I’m still shocked when I think about it,” Crooke said.

All of the donors are people she knows well, but she said she was not expecting a result like the one she received and now feels obligated to do well in the course because of the investment others have made in her future.

“The pressure has never been more real,” she said. “This class isn’t just for me or my future anymore; it’s also for the people who believe in me so much that they would give me money to watch me succeed. I can’t let them down.”

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Brianna Ordenes is a Contributing Writer for the Central Florida Future.

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