Connecticut Students Use Crowdfunding to Help Pay Tuition

The rising cost of higher education has some students seeking new ways to pay for college.

According to the Project on Student Debt, college students in Connecticut graduated with an average debt of nearly $30,000 in 2014.

So it's no surprise many are now turning to crowdfunding sites to help pay their tuition.

Bianca Alexis of New London recently walked across the stage at the College of Mount Saint Vincent in Riverdale, New York.

A double major, Alexis earned degrees in psychology and religious studies. She was allowed to walk at graduation, but her diploma holder is empty. The college is withholding Alexis’ diploma until she pays the remaining $16,000 balance on her tuition.

"I feel like that diploma is a symbol of everything that I've been through. And not to receive it is very heartbreaking," she said.

Since graduating, Alexis has gotten a job and is working to pay off her balance. When a friend suggested she try to raise the money through the crowdfunding site Go Fund Me, Alexis was skeptical.

"I can't ask people for money. Everybody has their own problems, why would they want to donate to me of all people?"

Ultimately, Alexis decided she had nothing to lose by starting a GoFundMe campaign.

"It's one of those situations that if it's meant to be, it will be. If it's not, then it's not. But I'm going to try my hardest to get there," she said.

Recent high school graduate Wadlet Jean Baptiste is also using GoFundMe to help pay for college. The 18-year-old moved to the U.S. from Haiti six years ago.

"When you're in Haiti all you hear talk about is coming to America. The big dream. Coming to America is what everyone wants. Our dream came true," he said.

His new dream is to study nursing at Southern Connecticut State University, where he’s been accepted for fall 2016.

"Imagine going to a nursing home, and you only speak Creole. And nobody else speaks it. So I could help out," he said.

Like Alexis, Baptiste has a job and is saving up for his tuition. One of his high school teachers suggested GoFundMe.

"He told us that there's a lot of people out there that's willing to help so all we have to do is ask for help," he said.

A few friends have donated to his campaign, and he’s grateful for each one.

"If you could donate $5, $6, it's as important as $100. Anything possible," he said.

Donations made through GoFundMe’s website are encrypted. For your own safety, GoFundMe recommends donating only to people you know and trust.

Alexis and Baptiste said people who don’t feel comfortable donating to an online campaign can send the money directly to their respective schools.

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