By Danielle Richardson
NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. — A student at Penn State New Kensington has successfully funded their senior year through GoFundMe.
GoFundMe, according to their website, is the world’s number one fundraising website. Users can create a campaign and share it on their social media accounts.
Louis Payne, who is a second semester senior majoring in Information Science Technology, found out about GoFundMe through Facebook.
“I saw people sharing someone else’s story on Facebook, so I thought it would be a good way to try to get my story out there,” Payne said.
According to a Business Insider article, funding for educational expenses has risen 4,547% between 2011 and 2014. GoFundMe reports on their website a total of 1.3 billion raised so far this year.
Payne says he did not expect his own campaign to be successful. His GoFundMe campaign raised over 1,500 dollars, which was enough to fund his senior year. “It was enjoyable seeing how successful that was,” he said. “I didn’t think I had that many friends.”
The Maryland native is a member of Penn State New Kensington’s men’s basketball team and works two jobs while maintaining a 3.13 GPA. Payne shares his perspective with many other students who struggle to finance their education. “It’s not really asking for a handout, it’s a need, it’s asking for help. Especially if you put the work in. You never know what people are going through,” said Payne.
Theresa Bonk, the Director of Student Affairs on campus, says that she found Louis’s story very interesting. “I have not seen that before on this campus, but I was aware that there were students that were funding their educations this way,” Bonk said.
She expressed her support for the initiatives of these students. “Access and affordability to education is so important,” Bonk said. “I think that our campus is becoming a leader in helping students to be more financially literate with the ASPIRE program.”
Payne is a member of the ASPIRE program, which is a way for students to learn about making sound financial decisions. “It is a model for helping students to understand that and helps them to get funding for their education,” Bonk explained.
Payne shared his new perspective since his success with the website. “It changed me a lot,” Payne said. “Some girl I didn’t even know messaged me on Facebook and told me ‘just keep fighting.’ Just having that support from other people made me realize that I am still going to graduate no matter what. It made a big impact on me to know that there is people out there willing to help.”
Upon graduation, Payne says he has two jobs lined up. “I have one for Verizon as an IT back home, and one here as an entry level position. I also want to get into coaching.”