As students at Boston University know all too well, paying for college can be difficult, especially in the face of tuition and fees that reach beyond $60,000. Of course, BU touts that it gives out scholarships and healthy amounts of financial aid, but what is less clear is how that aid is given out to the students. For instance, the academic scholarship process here at BU is quite opaque. With deadlines that are earlier than simply applying for admission and the confusion of FAFSA, BU can seem affordable one semester and unaffordable the next.
Raise.me is a service that is attempting to make the scholarship system easier for both students and the colleges’ administrations. As it stands, colleges generally provide scholarships based on academic achievements and promise. These processes require a considerable amount of work on both ends, with students writing essays and filling out forms and colleges reading through these applications. Raise.me offers scholarships through its university partners that are very clearly defined. For instance, according to Teenlife.com, some colleges elect to give out $400 for an AP course and $5 an hour for participating in community service.
Students fill out their Raise.me application while they are applying to college, so they see the scholarships that they could receive in real time. This makes the price of college easier to understand, and students understand this earlier than usual in the college application process. Additionally, high school students who are not applying to college yet, can input their data beforehand, with Raise.me allowing for scholarships to be redeemed at a later date. In this way, Raise.me hopes to help motivate high schoolers to participate in activities that will help them get in college in the first place. Currently, the site partners with more than 100 participating colleges, with more expected to join in the future.
So far, according to The New York Times, the average award amounted is approximately $5,000 per student, per year. These scholarships are then added to normal financial aid packages, helping make college more affordable. Raise.me charges participating colleges up to $20,000 annually to get on the site, with colleges able to select the high schools they target with Raise.me scholarships and how much each scholarship is worth.
In the light of the current application process, which is already so achievement-based, I believe this new scholarship system will help level the playing field for all students by making it clear how they are earning their scholarship dollars. Raise.me is an advance on the current system and will help students from lower income demographics better understand the true cost of college, which is likely significantly lower than expected when aid and scholarships are considered. For these reasons, BU should join Raise.me to make its application more open and help potential students understand that though tuition might be expensive, scholarships can help lower the cost and make BU more affordable.