UB students use crowdfunding websites to pay rent and tuition

Students solicit funds from friends and family on GoFundMe


Marisela Lugo received an email on Aug. 31 stating her rent for her apartment was due. The email said she had three days to come up with $960.

“When I called my mom she was like crying,” Lugo, a senior communication major, said. “She was like ‘I don’t have the money, I don’t know what you’re going to do.’”

So Lugo decided to create a GoFundMe page to ask her friends and family to donate money.

Lugo and other UB students have created GoFundMe pages in an effort to raise money for rent and tuition. While some may think it is unusual, it is not uncommon. While glancing over the GoFundMe home page, there is an Education tab with thousands of students campaigning for college tuition, rent, textbooks and even food.

“From what I understood or maybe I just read wrong, there was $350 [for] the move-in fee plus the first months rent,” Lugo said. “And then there was also like a pet fee, a service fee and a gas fee.”

Lugo said she was charged roughly $150 for her cat, but she thought it was just a one-time fee. She was later informed that she would also have to pay a monthly $25 pet fee. She later found out there was an erroneous charge applied to her account and it would be corrected.

Lugo said other UB students who live in Twenty 91 North also commented on her GoFundMe page, stating that they had had erroneous charges on their accounts as well.

“I was told that they had made this mistake with other residents and I was like ‘so I’m going to be punished [for someone else’s] mistakes?” Lugo said. “If there was a mistake, [they] should have told me the day of the move in, not the day before it was due.”

Lugo’s remaining balance was $960 after the mistake was corrected. This balance included her first month’s rent and the pet fee that she didn’t know about.

Her friend gave her the idea to create a GoFundMe page to raise money for her rent.

She said she had a friend who had his TAP financial aid taken away and he made a GoFundMe page that his high school teacher shared with others. Her friend ended up raising enough money to pay his entire tuition.

“I made the GoFundMe page, but I didn’t tell my mom because my mom is like super prideful and then my cousin saw it and I texted all my friends [telling] them to share my page because I need this money in like two days and I ended up getting $665,” Lugo said.

Lugo’s family ended up covering the remaining $295 of rent money.

The funds were disbursed into Lugo’s account on Wednesday morning.

Lugo said her mother was “super upset” after she told her she created a GoFundMe page. Some of Lugo’s friends even discouraged her from starting one in the first place.

Lugo said some of her roommates told her to wait until she was able to pay the bill and pay any late fees she accrued, instead of asking friends and family for donations.

Lugo isn’t the only student who has used GoFundMe to raise money. Other UB students have started pages to crowdfund for their tuition.

Monica Duque, a senior social sciences interdisciplinary major, said her father was never able to pay for tuition since her freshman year. She took out several thousand dollars worth of loans for her first three years of college, but when she applied for the loan for this semester, she was rejected.

“I was desperate, so before asking my stepmom, I looked at every other private bank for loans but they said I had to be a citizen of America and it was just ridiculous so I decided to start a GoFundMe three weeks before school started,” Duque, an Ecuador native said.

Duque said the founder of GoFundMe sent her a $50 donation as soon as she created her page.

She said she felt “very embarrassed” to ask people for money and creating a GoFundMe and it never felt right.

She closed her GoFundMe account in less than one week, before she could receive any additional donations and she was eventually approved for her Sally May loan.

Duque said if she did not get approved for the loan, she would have kept her GoFundMe open only as a last resort.

While some students felt a bit of shame from creating a GoFundMe page, others looked at it as a learning experience.

“This experience taught me to be more shameless than I am,” Lugo said. “When you need help, you need help.”

Ashley Inkumsah is the co-senior news editor and can be reached at ashley.inkumsah@ubspectrum.com. Follow her on Twitter at @AshleyInkumsah.