MIAMI (CBS4) — One of the biggest financial decisions you’ll ever make just got a little easier.

Parents and students worried about paying for college no longer have to rely solely on the traditional loans because students are finding some unique and creative ways to cover the high cost of higher education.

Erini Shields needs exactly $4,300 to start a master’s program in graphic design. She doesn’t have the credit to qualify for a loan, so she’s asking for donations online.

“I have about $321,” Shields said.

Erini is raising money on a website called Edulender. A similar site is A fundraising page allows Erin to explain her mission and send the link to family, friends, even strangers, like the one who donated $40.

“When I saw that I started crying. I can’t say enough to these people who are willing to help me out to follow my dream,” Shields said.

Sue Khim, the founder of Edulender, says the site also lists more than 200 federal, private, and state loans where students can compare the terms and find the best rates.

This list also includes something new to the market – non-profits such as The Bill Raskob Foundation or the Travers Program, which offer interest-free loans.

Zero-interest loans are great, but nothing beats free.

Scholarships can also be found on sites like

“There are all these little tiny scholarships out there, but they add up to big money,” says Carol Krashen.

There’s also a new twist on the old way of working your way through college. Many design and art schools allow students to sell their own work in a campus store or campus event.

“I made close to $400 in my last art sale,” college student Erin Mitchell said. “My parents finance my education, but I can buy groceries with that and they don’t have to send me money because I have it covered.”

In the future, you can look for companies that match college grads with volunteer services. The grads give up their time and the companies repay their student loans.

Related Links:
The Bill Raskob Foundation
Travers Program


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