As college costs soar, Kentucky students turn to GoFundMe for help

As the price of college in the United States has risen steadily, students in Kentucky have turned to GoFundMe to help alleviate their financial burdens.

GoFundMe, the San Diego-based crowdfunding platform founded in 2010, has released national and state-by-state statistics that show how educational campaigns are its fastest growing fundraising category.

Since 2014, 130,000 education GoFundMe campaigns in the U.S. have raised $60 million from over 850,000 individual donations for college tuition and related campaigns, the company stated in its study. Those numbers include 1,677 education campaigns in Kentucky that have raised $485,000. That amount was raised through 8,800 donations.

Many of the education campaigns focus around unexpected costs including textbooks (which run an average of $1,200 a year) and studying abroad. GoFundMe CEO Rob Solomon credited the spike in popularity of education campaigns to how easy it is for people to contribute.

“We’ve democratized fundraising. We’ve made it social, and we’ve removed a lot of the friction,” Solomon said.

The rise of GoFundMe couldn’t have come at a better time for college students in Kentucky. Kentucky’s public universities and colleges approved tuition increases between 4.6 percent and 6.1 percent for the 2016-17 school year. The state’s research universities, the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville, were limited to no more than a 5 percent increase for the fall 2016 semester. The average cost of tuition in Kentucky was $9,953.


One student who felt these increases personally and turned to GoFundMe for help was Dalton Partin. In February 2016, Partin, 22, an architecture major at UK, started a campaign and raised $2,000 that needed to travel to a training program in California. The money was mostly raised by friends, family and, to Partin’s surprise, a handful of strangers.

“I was grateful. To me, if I was in a position that I could support people of the same interest of me, I would probably do that as well,” Partin said. “I’m just very thankful that someone would be interested in something like that.”

Partin’s two-week “externship” was with the Los Angeles firm P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S. The trip out West was his first, and it was the first time he’d ever been on a plane.

Partin graduated in May 2016 and works now for Lexington’s nomi design, which designed the interiors of both Athenian Grill restaurants.

Fernando Alfonso III: 859-231-1324, @fernalfonso