Website pairs students with college donors

June 29, 2011 7:55:13 PM PDT
Imagine spending only a few dollars to help sending a Bay Area student to college.

That's possible through a new website called Scholar Match. Students in financial need post their profile hoping to get people to donate money toward their college tuition.

College is an expensive proposition, but Scholar Match, based in San Francisco, is helping students like Bianca Catalan and Dorrian Lewis pay for their education.

Scholar Match stemmed as an idea at a tutoring center called 826 Valencia. Many of the students were being accepted into college at the center, but they didn't have a way to pay for it.

"We work with our students when they come to us to figure out how much they need to fill in teh gap between what they get in CAL Grants and what they need for their tuition money," said Scholar Match executive director Miel Alegre.

Each student must fill out a profile stating what they're interested in, their major and career goals. Within two weeks of posting her profile, Lewis had reached her goal thanks to five anonymous donors. Lewis attends city college in San Francisco

Catalan has one donor in Los Angeles who has now pledged to pay for the remaining three years of her education at St. Mary's College.

"And that was an amazing thing to hear," said Alegre. "You feel like you won the lottery because you don't realize until you go to college how much you need money in order to keep going."

Anyone can donate to a student, even if it's a smaller amount.

"What we tell people is it's whatever you can afford," said Alegre. "If you can afford $50 and you have ten other friends who have $50, all of that money can be pooled together and send a scholar to college."

Students then stay in touch with their donors through the website.

"You update every few months or so, and you just tell them how school is going, what it's like, how was your first year of college," said Alegre. "Just letting them know how their money is being used."


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