Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Really Creative Financing For College

My uncle had a good one on one with me about creativity in finding sources for paying for college. While the money being saved now is to be used for my education, he doesn't want me to take the money for granted. He explained that by using a little creativity I might be able to pay for my education in full and have this money for my first house down payment or retirement.

As an example, he explained about a guy in England that started the site a couple of months ago called Million Dollar Homepage to pay for his college education. This is how it started according to him:

It was a muggy summer's night late in August, the time around midnight, and there I was, lying on my bed with a notepad, brainstorming ideas to make money for uni. I think I'm quite a creative person, so I wanted to come up with an idea that was unique and would hopefully capture people's imagination, but with the whole purpose of making money. No point being shy about it! I think we brits can sometimes be too shy about money. Well bugger that, I DO NOT want to be a broke student!

So anyway, after an hour of two of jotting random things on paper, the idea seemingly popped out of nowhere. Almost like my subconscious mind had been ticking over in the background, working it all out. So it just kind of happened. That's about it. I scribbled it down and within about 10 minutes a picture of what needed to be done had emerged.

Well, his creativity ended being a big hit and he has earned over $250,000 for his simple idea and looks likely he will reach his goal of $1,000,000 which will more than pay for his college.

My uncle also told me about a guy that asked everyone to send him a penny to pay for his college education and his story has since turned into an Urban Legend. He managed to raise $28,000 by asking for pennies:

Mike Hayes...came up with a novel idea to solve his tuition and college expenses problem. Figuring that just about anyone could spare a penny, he brazenly asked everyone to do it.

He wrote to Chicago Tribune columnist Bob Greene, asking him to request each of his readers send Hayes a penny. The notion tickled the veteran columnist's fancy enough that he was willing to go along with it. From Bob Greene's column:

No one likes being used, but in this case I'm willing. It sounds like fun.

Mike Hayes, 18, is a freshman science major at the University of Illinois in Champaign. He is looking for a way to finance his college education, and he decided that my column is the answer.

"How many people read your column?" he asked me.

I told him I didn't know.

"Millions, right?" he said. "All over the country, right?"

I said I supposed that was true.

"Well, here's my idea," he said, and proceeded to explain.

I'll break it down simply: Mike Hayes wants every person who is reading this column right this minute to send him a penny.

"Just one penny," Hayes said. "A penny doesn't mean anything to anyone. If everyone who is reading your column looks around the room right now, there will be a penny under the couch cushion, or on the corner of the desk, or on the floor. That's all I'm asking. A penny from each of your readers."

Donations were received from every state in the United States, plus Mexico, Canada, and the Bahamas. Yes, he ended up with the $28,000 he'd set out to get.

My uncle likes to talk a lot about how building a foundation to be prepared is important, but also to be creative and seek new ways of doing things. I'm still a little young to take it all in, but I think he may have something there. I mean, how many kids start their own blog at the ripe old age of a month?

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