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Students Drum Up College Funding with Angeldorm
- By Dian Schaffhauser
A new Web service helps students raise money to cover some of their college expenses. Angeldorm provides a means for students to set up personal profiles (called a "dorm") with photos, information about the schools and majors, and other details they choose to share. Then they use their social networks to get the word out to family members and friends that they're drumming up contributions.
All funds contributed go into the student's college 529 plan or to the university directly. Depending on the school, the funds can be applied to tuition, fees, books, residential housing, campus food vouchers, and related university-specific expenses. Pre-college students can also raise money for their future college plans with all money raised held in a 529 savings plan. The organization behind the service is hoping to see it become a destination for gift giving for birthdays, holidays, and other occasions when students might traditionally receive gifts of money.
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Anthia Diaz grew up in Spanish Harlem and didn't have a family, yet she became a Better Chance scholar and paved her way to Wesleyan University. Anthia’s online dorm has inspired other students at Wesleyan to build their own dorms on the Angeldorm website.
The site charges a flat $2.75 per transaction fee, and additional fees apply to credit card processing and currency conversion; however, students pay no fees to set up their accounts. They're allowed to set up three fundraising cycles a year.
The Angeldorm site provides links to other college funding sites and scholarships, including other crowdfunding services. Participation in the service also enters students into site-funded scholarship contests.
The site was founded by Scott Baxter, a former investment banker, and has backing from Fidelity Investments, which will manage the donations and set up a 529 savings plan for participating students who don't already have one. (Students can also choose to work with another financial provider on setting that up.)
"I paid for my own education, but I was lucky enough to have parents who risked well over their net worth when they co-signed my college loans," said Baxter. "We created Angeldorm to make it easier than ever before to raise money for college, while doing so in an environment that is safe, secure, and connected directly to the university of your choice."
The service is also hoping to encourage students to do community service and to include their volunteer efforts in their profiles. "We created space on the site for volunteer organizations and students to get connected, giving those who receive funding a chance to give service in return for the generosity of donors," said Baxter, who served as a volunteer fireman while attending Utah’s Weber State University.
Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.