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If You Have a Baby Today, It'll Cost $500,000 to Send 'Em to College. Is Crowdfunding the Answer?

Liz Dwyer

If college costs keep rising 4 percent annually, it could cost a cool $500K to send a baby born today to college. What's a family to do? With the Gradsave platform, families can crowdfund the costs even before a child is born. Gradsave founder Marcos Cordero told Forbes his goal is to "convert aunts, uncles and godparents into givers of bank account information rather than stuffed animals, Legos and American Girl Dolls."

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  • Todd Tyrtle

    I like this idea, I also like this idea: http://www.good.is/posts/oregon-s-pay-it-forward-program-eliminates-student-tuition-and-loans. I feel like going forward no matter what the subject, we're going to need a lot of different ways to address things.

    Come to think of it, I wonder if the problem we're currently facing is that we don't have *enough* different ways to deal with the issue.

    I also wonder how much we're making a university education an unnecessary prerequisite for many careers. (and then in the end many still don't end up where they hoped.) I feel like perhaps there's a bigger picture here that I'm not fully seeing.

    • Beads Land-Trujillo

      Yes, the "everybody must go to college" mentality seems to be producing an awful lot of college educated fast-food workers rather than actually matching knowledge, skills and abilities to real economic opportunities that benefit the society at large. I'm reminded of stories in the late 20th century of post-doctorate eastern European immigrants driving taxi cabs for a living.

      A college education meant something in the mid-20th century, when unions and the G.I. bill elevated an entire generation out of the economic immobility of prior generations. But at some point we need to ask ourselves whether we're doing ourselves and our children the best possible service by repeating patterns that no longer generate the same outcomes.

      Meanwhile, folks like Sugata Mitra are challenging the very foundations of the models we consider legitimate paths for learning. If we can anticipate it costing half a million dollars to send a child born today to college, yet children in India are learning advanced biochemistry from a public computer embedded in a wall, maybe the issue isn't how do we pay for college, but why are we spending so much money on an institutional form that could very well be obsolete by the time children born today reach "college" age? (If only we were prepared to rethink our institutions from the ground up.)

      • Todd Tyrtle

        Wow - thanks for mentioning Sugata Mitra - I hadn't heard about him. What a fascinating rabbit hole to go down.

    • Kris Giere

      Exactly! It is all of the things you have said, Todd. And, it is that nagging bigger picture notion that makes me wonder.

  • Kris Giere

    I think I like this, but I don't know. It is definitely thought provoking, and I like that I am uncertain. As always, Liz, thanks for sharing!

  • Beads Land-Trujillo

    Perhaps we should be critiquing the model that sees college education as a cost of the family unit (even the extended family unit), and seeking alternatives to that, rather than a putting energy into a tech-enabled 529 program.

    Rather than crowdfunding, why not something like microinvesting in human capital contracts, such that there is an incentive for financially successful non-relatives to contribute not only toward college tuition costs, but toward the preschool, primary, and secondary education that will maximize college attainment?