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Begging for College Cash

Ever since Karyn Bosnak paid off her $20,000 credit card debt by begging for cash on SaveKaryn.com, students have been following her lead. But unlike Karyn, these scholars aren't raising money to afford their Starbucks lattes, Gucci purses, and BCBG tops--they need help funding tuition.

Where Are Students Begging?
Karen Kelly, a "starving" middle-aged first-year law student, used to whine about her financial aid woes. And then she realized something: "Any student who stays in college is a champion. And any student who graduates is my hero," she says.

So instead of whining, Karen founded Starving Student Scholarships (www.starvingstudentscholarships.org), a site that helps college students struggling with finances stay in school and graduate.

All you need is $1. This buck will put a student ad on the Web--it's a form of "sophisticated cyber-begging" for college cash, really. College students in need can include a picture; a description of who they are, what they're studying, and why they need help; and be as creative as they like.

Once the ad is live, collecting college cash is just a matter of getting sponsors and donations from friends, family, even strangers. Student ads are posted until students graduate or pay off the education-related debt.

Other Cyber Fundraisers
While some college students are begging, others are selling actual goods and providing services to procure some much-needed college cash. Their cyber avenues of choice: Web sites like eBay (www.ebay.com); Craigslist (www.craigslist.org); and College Junktion (www.collegejunktion.com), an auction site started by three University of Miami (Miami, FL) students.

On Craigslist, you'll find listings for personals, apartments, and jobs. You'll also find auctions of old textbooks and tech gadgets like graphing calculators and used laptops. And, given tuition woes and textbook debt, there are plenty of ads that read something like this: "UC Berkeley grad student available for tutoring." Other students offer up their word processing and typing skills.

Victoria Fleming, a master's in social welfare degree student at the University of California Berkeley, places ads on Craigslist to teach writing, Spanish, algebra, and social studies. She's had success with the venture by landing a number of clients.

"Students really need to be flexible and persistent in what they are willing to do to make ends meet," she says. "I make sure to post daily when I am in need of funds."

Victoria has also listed a variety of odd jobs that highlight her other interests and abilities, including child care and pet care.

To beg or not to beg for college cash? As these college students illustrate, it's not as humiliating as it sounds--if it's for a good cause. Because ultimately, it's your education that will help you give back to society.


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