By Sean Mott
Paying for tuition is a major concern for students in Nova Scotia.
Those who don’t have scholarships, family support or student loans have to take on part-time jobs to pay for their studies. It is a difficult issue to solve.
Rebecca Zimmer faced this problem of tuition payment and came up with a creative solution: Crowdsourcing.
Zimmer, who is 26 and originally from Saskatchewan, is now in the one-year bachelor of journalism program at University of King’s College.
Over December, she worked to pay for half of her tuition, which totals around $10,000. She then applied for a bursary and got another quarter amount of the money she needed. She was unable to get a student loan so she was left with around $1,000 in unpaid tuition. That’s when she got a fresh idea.
Getting the word out
“I commented on Facebook that I needed 200 people to send me $5,” she said. “I said it as a joke but a whole bunch of people said, ‘I’ll give you $5.’”
But then one of those people gave her the idea to crowdsource.
Crowdsourcing involves setting up an account online where people can donate money to a cause or project. Zimmer’s account, which was set up at gofundme.com, quickly surpassed her goal of $1,000. While she initially saw it as “begging on the Internet instead of begging on the street,” she’s grateful for the help.
“I was so happy to have that much support in my corner,” Zimmer said. “It was overwhelming how people loved me and believed in me.”
Tracey Pelham, another journalism student at King’s, donated $100 to Zimmer’s cause. Pelham is in a good financial position and knew she could help Zimmer.
“I just felt for her,” she said. “She should be able to get her education.”
“In her situation, what other option do you have?” Pelham added. “You either do nothing and you can’t get your education or you ask people for help.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.”
King’s student Patrick Wappler’s thoughts on crowdsourcing:
Know when to ask
Zimmer recommends crowdsourcing for students who have run out of options.
“It’s not for everybody,” she said. “You have to accept that you need help and for some people that’s hard to do.
“You shouldn’t feel ashamed about it. You have to let your guard down.”
Zimmer’s advice for students:
While Zimmer can’t reimburse donors, she wants them to know their help is appreciated.
“I’m definitely going to do something for the people who helped,” she said. “I have a list of everyone who donated.”