14 Jan 2015

Education Not a Commodity: Crowdfunding Yourself

University fees have skyrocketed over the past decade and will only continue to rise. This is the reason why many who are unable to afford the financial cost of a university education decide to discontinue their educational journey, thereby missing out on valuable developmental opportunity.

Some students tap their parents’ savings to fund their education or turn to interest-laden bank loans, the latter of which are notorious for leaving students in debt after they graduate!

A Platform, A Stepping Stone
But one ambitious Singaporean teen did none of the above – she started a crowdfunding campaign to help fund her education. When the 19-year-old dancer who studied at Singapore’s School of The Arts got accepted into the prestigious Taipei National University of the Arts, she started a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo in a bid to raise US$40,000 (S$50,000).

According to her campaign information on Indiegogo, her father was retrenched and she was unable to shoulder her university fees. She then turned to crowdfunders for support, and marketed herself by putting up a video of her performance on her crowdfunding page to showcase her talent. She eventually raised close to S$7,000 – a figure not quite close to her target amount, but is testament to the generosity of strangers in the crowdfunding community. 

An Education Fund
Crowdfunding for education is already becoming popular among individuals who refuse to let their financial instability jeopardise their chances of receiving their desired academic qualifications.

US companies such as Upstart and Pave have sharpened the crowdfunding-for-education model. Under Upstart, students are required to commit a certain percentage of their future income to their ‘backers’ for 10 years. In addition to financial support, they can also receive forms of mentorship from their generous backers.

Similar to platforms that allow crowdfunders to support and fund a project, Upstart and Pave allow investors to invest in a person. These platforms thus provide the means for talented, motivated individuals to take the first step in their chosen paths and at the same time for successful professionals to help these individuals achieve similar success.

Crowdfunding Your Education in Singapore?
With more and more Singaporeans voicing their opinions that education should be a right and not a commodity, crowdfunding one’s education here might soon become a popular thing to do. After all, although the crowdfunding scene in Singapore is still in its early stage of development, the awareness of crowdfunding is slowly but surely rising.

When the idea of crowdfounding does warm up to Singaporeans, Singapore would progressively see a rise in young entrepreneurs, in individuals daring to dream big and working towards securing the success of those dreams, and ultimately in a more generous and supportive community. For those who are unable to pursue further education due to the lack of financial resources, start to explore the possibilities of crowdfunding!