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Crowdfunding is an alternative to cost of local tertiary studies

Early next year, the more than one million Matric students who wrote exams in 2020 will find out their fate, and whether they qualify to study at tertiary institutions in 2021. Given the size of the number, the education sector finds itself with a serious issue as it pertains to those who will actually be able to study.

If you qualify though, an even bigger hurdle is that of tuition, which is often far too expensive for most, meaning that other sources of funding need to be found.

Locally the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is suppose to play its part, but it too struggles to meet the needs of the hundreds of thousands of students who apply for funding.

Alternative methods

Looking a bit more closely at the problem, student-focused crowdfunding platform Feenix, says creating better access to funding not only addresses the problems in the education space, but will also have a positive impact on government’s plans to reinvigorate the economy.

“Education is a powerful tool that helps to advance societies, driving innovation and birthing new industries that boost economies,” notes Leana de Beer, CEO of Feenix.

The platform’s own research has found that students fundraising through Feenix had an average household income of R173 000 per annum, which indicates that the cost of tertiary tuition is simply out of reach.

Added to this, Feenix’s findings say a staggering 70 percent of these students’ household income is below R100k per year, yet 88 percent of the students do not qualify for NSFAS funding.

“There are a myriad of reasons that these students do not qualify for NSFAS such as them being postgraduate students, fundraising for historical student debt, have exceeded the years of funding allowed, or their degree type does not qualify,” adds the platform.

Here, Feenix believes alternative funding methods need to actively be looked at by students, as NSFAS simply cannot cope with the need, with an estimated 40 percent of learners failing to qualify for a loan to fund their studies.

“This is where online crowdfunding, which is commonly associated with funding small business startups, has become a game changer in the tertiary education sector,” says de Beer.

“It has become a popular tool that is being using by students to help raise the necessary money to pay for their tuition or resources needed to complete their studies. It’s really about the power of community. Many small donations by individuals and corporates that can easily add up to fund those in need,” the CEO continues.

A year of struggles

Like many industries, the education sphere also suffered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic this year, with it making almost untenable to access the necessary resources needed for study, Feenix found.

“During the national Covid-19 lockdown, we found that for students to survive and thrive with the transition to online learning, they need enough money to cover their living expenses and have access to resources such as data and laptops,” de Beer explains.

As a result, Feenix shifted its focus by expanding its offering to support students in crowdfunding for the necessary resources and expenses that would help them continue and complete their studies.

Along with its own platform, de Beer also advises students to look at other potential solutions outside of NSFAS, such as Fundi and ISFAP Funding.

To find out more about Feenix, whether you’re a student looking for funding or a backer wanting to support someone’s studies, head here.

[Image – Photo by Jonathan Daniels on Unsplash]

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