Scholarship News

Street Corner Scholarships? Student Panhandles in Attempt to Pay for College


April 26, 2016
by Susan Dutca-Lovell
The class of 2015 had the largest student loan debt in history and while some students may side hustle to cover their tuition bill, one student has opted to skip the grind and instead, hustle the streets to help pay for her college education.

The class of 2015 had the largest student loan debt in history and while some students may side hustle to cover their tuition bill, one student has opted to skip the grind and instead, hustle the streets to help pay for her college education.

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Star student Emily Stutz wasn't offered the necessary financial aid to attend college, even after she appealed to all of the eight schools to which she was accepted. Her parents, who earn a combined $155,000 as special education teachers, aren't able to "come up with $20,000-$30,000 a year," according to Stutz. So she created a GoFundMe account and panhandled outside a local Target over the weekend, holding a sign that read "H.S. Senior. No $ for College. Anything helps." So far, Stutz has raised over $24,000 via her GoFundMe page, which would cover one year's tuition at a private college - so she considered staying home and going to the University of Massachusetts which costs only $13,500 a year.

While she had many sympathizers, some drivers told her to get a job. Though she has a 4.0 GPA, works two jobs, has been accepted to all eight to which she applied, she claims, "even the smaller cost [of attending college] was unattainable." Most importantly, Stutz wanted to relay her message on the issue of student loan debt and college unaffordability, stating "It's such a big issue with the presidential election...people take out these huge loans and have to pay back like a mortgage on their education."

Merit scholarships at private institutions aren't enough to lessen the burden of the tuition price tag, according to Stutz. While we were unable to discover to which schools Miss Lutz applied, perhaps a community college would be an affordable option. The money she has raised via GoFundMe so far would likely pay for all or most of her undergraduate studies if she spent the first two years at one of the dozens of community colleges in Massachusetts, most of which are around $4,000 per year. There are also ample opportunities out there for students who take the time to search and apply for scholarships. Many high school students start searching for scholarships when they are a sophomore or junior in high school, which is a great idea as well, rather than relying on the colleges to which you apply for all of your financial aid. Applying for more than one scholarship also increases your chances of earning more money towards your college education. Just read the Success Stories of some of our users and see how they made their post-secondary education affordable and occasionally even free.

In your opinion, do you think panhandling for college funds is the best option? Would you do it? What other options would you consider pursuing? Leave us your thoughtful comments below.

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Ernestine Jordan  on  5/12/2016 6:18:09 PM commented:

I absolutely believe panhandling is legit. I'm considering panhandling for my tuition. However, I thought the most effective way to raise money is to sell my use and new clothes on-line. There are numberous sites on-line where you can post clothing and sell; which is the best way to go, because no investment is needed. There are sites such as Wallapop, Etsy and Greentree consignment store to sell new or used clothing. Wallapop and Etsy is really simple way to post clothing on-line and watch it sell. Greentree consignment consistent of going to the store and dropping off your clothes. However, the clothes have to be designer clothing only, but you make good money. There are other ways to raise money for tuition, but keep in mind you don't want to put out extra money to make a little money. Remember to keep the over-head low.

Kim W  on  4/29/2016 8:26:53 PM commented:

Doing anything that is legal to fund your education is smart, including panhandling. I'm a MSW grad student and I will have a mountain of student loan debt so I can serve others and give back to my community. I am now considering taking the same route.

Ann 4/28/16  on  4/28/2016 2:19:53 PM commented:

Good for her that she is bringing awareness to this cost of higher education. When you fill out your fafsa they never ask what you are paying in health insurance which should be a factor in your fafsa application. The debt that our children have to start their life is incomprehensible. Scholarships from private and state universities are based so much on their ACT and SAT score and not so much what kind of student they are. It is also ridiculous the essays they have to write for a 500 dollar scholarship. They have no life their senior year because they are busy writing essays, taking another ACT tests, and filling out admission applications to universities plus the cost to apply on top of everything else. It is getting ridiculous and overly complicated.

Yvonna  on  4/28/2016 12:25:23 PM commented:

I had grandchildren in college while their parents all college education andc still raisinig other children are still paying off their own student loans. Only in this country do youhave to go into such tremondous debt to even try to be middle class in the future. The rish want you to stay poor so they can maintian control over us. I think what this young girl did not only for her own need but to bring attention to the issue was smart. All these kids and parents need to get out there and protest the high cost of college and grad school. They dont want to be rich, they just want to survive and countries like Germany offer FREE College so why does the Great USA not????

Judith C  on  4/27/2016 10:09:03 AM commented:

Although I don't think panhandling is the best option when it comes to acquiring money for college tuition, I do not condone what that particular student did. If I had no other choice, I would panhandle in order to get college funds, but I would also consider maybe taking some time off of studying and working full-time until I felt like I had a nice cushion to fall back on when the part-time doesn't cut it.

Deann D.  on  4/27/2016 10:08:56 AM commented:

I do not agree with panhandling. We are in the same financial situation...my daughter was given the option, stay home and attend a local university with a CAR...or attend a private university with merit and financial aide and NO car. She decided to attend the private university, worked hard all summer to assist with costs, and immediately found a campus job to assist during the school year. Welcome to REAL life where you have options, and have to consider what works for you.

Lee Ann P.  on  4/27/2016 7:22:30 AM commented:

I see nothing wrong with what she did. I would much rather see a student panhandling trying to make money to further their education and to better themselves then the typical panhandler who is far from productive in their community.

Martha c.  on  4/26/2016 5:02:40 PM commented:

Ok...so your suggestion that she should go to a community college and then transfer to another four year college is a bit narrow minded. She will still have thousands of dollars in tuition to pay. If all students did this then the private four year colleges would only be filled with kids from wealth. Community colleges would only be for poor kids. Is this the message we want to send our youth? Also you make it sound like that transfer to a new school is just a snap. It is not. And many of your gen.ed. Credits may not transfer over to your new school. She's a smart kid. 4.0 works two jobs...kudos to her for being creative on raising money for her education! I applaud her efforts and think that this girl will go far! I have had two kids go through college and one starting in the fall. Believe me when I tell you that they have made applying for these scholarships a priority. The cost of higher education in the United States is incredibly high.

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