The purpose of this article is to train Financial Aid Counselors on what SponsoredScholar is and how to advise students in using the solution.
- Project Sponsor
- Financial Aid Counselors
Helping Students Stay in School
Your school now has a new, viable solution called SponsoredScholar that empowers students to raise funding for their education and stay in school. Historically, when students experienced financial distress over an existing balance, they would seek small loans with high-interest rates, reactively apply for scholarships that don’t align with their urgent timelines, dip into their personal savings or living expenses, or worse, drop out of college.
With SponsoredScholar, students are now able to share their story on a school-branded crowdfunding page, identify their support network, and leverage crowdfunding tools and templates provided by the SponsoredScholar technology to raise money for their education.
With this solution, we have the opportunity to retain more students, increase revenue, and reduce student borrowing.
To log into your SponsoredScholar account, visit: https://dashboard.sponsoredscholar.com
Further details for each of these items are provided later in this training document. First, let’s review the SponsoredScholar student journey at a high-level.
When a students owe a bill, they learn about SponsoredScholar as an option for them to raise money from their support network. To use SponosredScholar, they must first sign up and register their account. Next, they share their story by building their campaign page. To begin fundraising, students are prompted to identify 10+ contacts within their support network and upload their email addresses to their account. Once they upload their contacts, they then email those contacts using the email templates provided in SponsoredScholar. At the end of their campaign, any funds raised will be posted to their account whereby the student can pay his or her bill.
Financial Advisor Training for Students
How You Can Help Students as a Financial Advisor
The SponsoredScholar technology is designed to steward students through the crowdfunding process with guided tours, prompts to learn more when stuck, and resource articles to further their education. However, as you may foresee, students with outstanding bills are oftentimes in distress, making the process emotional.
Having the opportunity to meet with you in person goes a long way in assisting students in achieving financial success. As a Financial Advisor, you can help students benefit from this solution in the following ways:
Assessing Fit (i.e., is SponsoredScholar the right solution for this student?)
Below are walk through videos of the SponsoredScholar technology. Please revisit these videos or share these videos any time you want to show a student how SponsoredScholar works.
In discussions with students who have used SponsoredScholar, there are times when they are in an emotional state due to the financial distress they are under. Students can often feel anxious, desperate, depressed, stranded, and without hope. As you are aware in your role, sometimes what a student truly needs in the moment is someone professional and supportive to talk to. Someone to simply hear where they are and assure them there is a path forward.
As you meet with students who need funding, it is important to first assess if SponsoredScholar is a good fit for their needs. The solution is designed in a way that students create their story and share it with their support network. This means they need to be willing to crowdfund and have a support network they feel would be willing and capable of contributing to their education.
Does the student have a bill between $100 - $1,500?
Does the student feel s/he has a support network?
Is the student willing to crowdfund for their bill?
Is the student willing to send emails?
If a student is unwilling to crowdfund for their bill, then SponsoredScholar is not a good fit for them. This objection from students is typically because they do not feel comfortable asking for money for their education. They may feel they are “begging” for money. We encourage you to share that crowdfunding is a common practice - millions of students successfully crowdfund their education every year and that it is the new normal. Share that oftentimes they will be surprised by those who show up to support them. Lean in and seek to understand.
Similarly, we have met with students who may not feel they have people within their personal network that are (i) willing to contribute to their education or (ii) they can’t contribute to their education. In these situations, we try to dive deeper by asking questions such as, “who, specifically, comes to mind that you can share your page with?” We’ll share more tips for helping students identify their contacts in the Identifying and Uploading Contacts section later in this training document.
Finally, the SponsoredScholar crowdfunding process is predicated on students sharing proven email templates with their contacts. Of course, sharing on social media is encouraged, but this should be secondary. Social media has a 3% conversion compared to a 25% conversion for email for personal campaigns like these. If students are not willing to send emails to their contacts, this may not be a great fit for their needs.
If the student answers “Yes” to all three of these questions, then they are a good fit for the program. We encourage you to share the signup link (shown in the below section).
If time permits, we encourage you to walk them through the entire process: signing up, building their page, identifying their contacts, and sending their email messages. This process typically takes 20 - 30 minutes. We have also seen success in training multiple students at once and allowing them to share their personal stories with one another and trade ideas for outreach.
When students need funding for their education, you can prompt them to sign up for SponsoredScholar. Contact your school’s Director of Financial Aid for this link.
Students are required to enter their name, school email address, date of birth, contact phone number, and Student ID. Students cannot launch their campaign without their Student ID added to their account.
Creating Scholar Page
Next, students tell their story on their Scholar Page. This is where they share details about their educational goals, financial challenges, and appeal for support from their community.
We recommend using our simple and effective five-step storytelling framework:
Introduce yourself: Your name, what school you attend, what year you are, what you are studying, and any other details about your education (GPA, awards, extracurriculars, etc.)
Introduce your purpose for attending college: What do you want to do after you graduate? What impact do you want to create in the world? Why are you passionate about what you are studying?
Introduce your conflict: share what you are raising money for and why you are crowdfunding. If you have an outstanding bill but need help affording it, be authentic and share this with your community. You’ll be surprised who shows up to support you.
Ask for help: specifically ask for the support of your friends, family, and community.
Thank your community: show your gratitude to everyone who visits your page by thanking them for their consideration and support.
Example Scholar Page
Identifying and Uploading Contacts
Once they create their Scholar Page, they then identify people within their support network - friends, family members, and community members - that they would like to share their page with and inspire financial support from. The student uploads the email addresses of those contacts to their SponsoredScholar account. We recommend each student upload 10+ contacts.
Here is a list you can share with students to help them brainstorm their contacts:
Immediate Family: Your aunts, uncles, grandparents, siblings, and cousins want to see you succeed. Ask them to be the first supporters of your campaign
Friends of The Family: Are you close with the parents of your friends? Are there friends of your family you can rely on? These are great people to share your campaign with
Neighbors: Who in your neighborhood wants you to succeed? Consider going door to door to find emails to add
Faith Community: Faith is about supporting your neighbor; we recommend speaking to your faith community about supporting your education dreams
High School Sports Coaches: Did you play soccer growing up? Consider asking your high school or travel coaches
Family Accountant: Who manages your family’s taxes? They often make a nice living and can help your campaign
Mentors: Who has helped you succeed in school and life? Consider sending them a message, they’re highly motivated to help
Doctors: Remember braces? Your dentist made a lot of $$$ on your dental care. Consider asking your dentist, primary care doctor, or sports surgeon to help your campaign. If you don’t have their email, call their office and tell your story
The goal is to help them identify 10+ contacts and source their email addresses to be added to their SponsoredScholar account.
Sending Email Messages to Contacts
Within the student’s SponsoredScholar account, they can then send crowdfunding email templates to the contacts they uploaded.
Here is what the email templates and system look like for the student in SponsoredScholar:
We encourage students to send the Launch Day email template while in your office to all contacts they added to their account. Then, have them send the following email templates during their 30-day campaign:
- First Week (we recommend sending this on the 3rd or 4th day of the campaign)
- Halfway Through (to be sent 15 days into the campaign)
- Last Week (we recommend sending three to four days before the end of the campaign date)
- Final Day (to be sent on the last day of the campaign)
Students who send all email templates to each of their contacts will have a higher chance of successfully raising the money they need for their education.
Students can also create their own email from scratch by clicking on the Your Template option from the email template dropdown.
Campaigns are by default set to 30 days. At the end of 30 days, if the student has not yet reached their goal, the campaign will end and they will not be able to receive any more gifts. If the student achieves their goal before the 30-day campaign ends, the campaign will turn off.
Funds will then be posted to the student account after the campaign ends. The student then pays their bill using the funds they raised.