If you don’t have the cash needed to study your dream degree, why not try crowdfunding? It might sound pretty daunting, but plenty of students have done it before. Here’s how..

If you’re struggling to pull together the funds you need to get yourself to university, crowdfunding probably isn’t the first thing that springs to mind.

It’s certainly not the easiest way to make money, and it won’t suit everyone. But, if you’re good at marketing yourself online, and you’ve got a great story to tell, crowdfunding for your studies could be the ideal route for you.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about crowdfunding your degree, and whether it could be the answer to your financial woes.

Crowdfunding is basically relying on the generosity of others (family, friends, academics and strangers alike) to donate towards a cause – in this case, the costs of your degree.

You set up an online crowdfunding page (these are the best sites to use) and promote it to the public, the press and the internet at large in the hope that generous people will help you out, and be nice enough to contribute in some way towards your financial goal.

Use your fundraising page to tell the world your story and explain why you’re asking for donations. You’ll also have to set a financial target that matches the cost of your degree, and be honest!

Don’t set your target at £20,000 if you’re applying for a master’s course that costs £10,000 unless you make clear why you need the extra cash. Otherwise, anyone can just Google your course and see how much it costs.

What to do if you don’t reach your crowdfunding target

Different crowdfunding sites have different policies on this, so you’ll have to check the small print to be sure. Some sites will refund all your donors if you don’t meet your target, whereas others will allow you to keep however much you make.

Can anyone set up a crowdfunding campaign?

Technically, yes! Anyone can try their hand at crowdfunding their degree, but whether you’ll be successful with it is another story.

Crowdfunding is clearly a better option for some students than others.

For example, there’s no point in crowdfunding the costs of your tuition fees if you could easily get the money through a Tuition Fee Loan from Student Finance.

And if you’re trying to crowdfund a bit of extra money to help you cover living costs, people might wonder why you don’t just get a part-time job to help you through.

On the other hand, crowdfunding for a postgraduate degree is a bit easier, and a lot more common. Although the government have now introduced financial support for master’s degrees and PhD courses, the money doesn’t go as far and can be more difficult to access.

International students often use crowdfunding too, as they face much higher tuition fees than home students and get very little government financial support.

In a nutshell, if you can show that without the generosity of the public, you genuinely would not be able to afford university, then crowdfunding could be a good option.

Are you an ideal crowdfunding candidate?

If you’re wondering whether you should start a crowdfunding campaign, here’s an idea of some of the situations that would make you an ideal candidate for crowdfunding your university costs.

Have a read through them and think if any of these (or something similar) would apply to you.

Master’s students who are ineligible for the Postgraduate Loan

Postgraduate Loans (PGLs) have been rolled out across the UK since August 2016, but many prospective students are ineligible because they don’t fit the criteria.

Not only this, but the PGL isn’t the best option for everyone, whether you meet all the criteria or not.

Loan repayments will be steep if you already have an undergrad loan you’re paying off (they need to be paid off at the same time) and the maximum loan of just over £11k won’t stretch that far – this will barely cover tuition fees for a master’s course at many UK universities, never mind additional costs.

Postgraduate courses often have a very specialised focus and candidates will normally have a clear idea of what they want to research.

This is an advantage when it comes to crowdfunding, as you can be more specific about exactly what you plan to study and how much it means to you – strangers (particularly academics in your field) are far more likely to donate if they’re convinced you’re passionate and focussed.

Art students able to offer artworks in return for donations

Art students able to offer artworks in return for donations

If you’re an art student, you are at an advantage when it comes to crowdfunding as it’s easy to show off your talent to the world and attract attention from potential donors (and the media!).

A great crowdfunding idea is to offer something in return to those who make donations – for example, a limited edition print or a small painting to anyone who donates £100 or more.

In fact, with some crowdfunding sites, giving something back is now an official requirement. Make sure you provide lots of photos and examples of your work on your fundraising page to really impress your audience.

You could take inspiration from the art student who funded some of their degree by making a necklace for Lil WayneLooking to make money quickly? We know of plenty of ways to do just that.