After realizing her financial aid package was insufficient, Boston University student Alexis Felix raised over $5,000 in donations through an online crowd-funding website to help pay her tuition for next semester.
Felix, a College of Communication sophomore, said despite her various scholarships, housing grants and federal loans, her family is still unable to fund her education at BU. She said BU officials told her earlier in the semester that they are unable to further contribute to her financial aid.
“My family’s expected family contribution is determined to be zero, and we’re still expected to pay about $10,000 for this year,” Felix said. “We met with the financial aid office multiple times, and they said to my face multiple times that I was out of options … and eventually, it got to the point where if I couldn’t raise the money, I’d have to leave BU officially.”
After applying for multiple loans and scholarships, Felix said her friends encouraged her to create a fundraiser for herself through www.gofundme.com, an online crowd-funding website. She said her goal of $5,000 was surpassed within 27 hours. As of Monday, Felix’s page has accumulated nearly $8,000 in donations.
“I wasn’t expecting it [the fundraising] to be that fast by any means,” Felix said. “I thought ‘maybe I’ll start to approach that number within the next couple of months…’ And, I was just completely shocked that it happened so quickly, and that so many people — people that I knew and people that I didn’t know — were willing to help me when I needed it the most.”
The excess funds raised will be used to help pay for her next few semesters at BU, Felix said. She said she also plans to appeal for more financial aid over the summer, as well as apply for specialty housing in BU’s Harriet E. Richards Cooperative House, a form of alternative housing for lower-income women.
Felix said her family was also surprised by the enthusiastic response to her fundraising efforts. She said the BU community also helped spread awareness of her campaign, by sharing her page using various social media channels.
“The primary donors I would say were students and alumni of my high school,” Felix said. “… Also, a lot of BU students, who I didn’t even know, actually helped me … My page was shared over 400 times on Facebook … I think I only shared the page myself twice.”
BU spokesman Colin Riley said BU financial aid officials are committed to helping students afford their studies. He said this commitment includes cases such as Felix’s, where the need for more aid is discovered after an initial financial aid package is issued.
“The university services center and financial assistance office are very supportive, and provide good guidance and information to students about the process for applying [for financial aid], and what needs to be done, and also on [how to use] the appeal process,” Riley said. “If there’s information that wasn’t provided originally during the completion of all the financial aid forms, or if there’s a change in circumstances [or the] financial circumstances of the family … the university responds.”
Felix said she is currently studying public relations and sociology. In addition to maintaining a high grade point average and researching for a Boston-area consulting company, she said she tutors children for a local YMCA and is a part of BU’s Latin Dance team. She said she was determined to stay at BU because of all of the opportunities available.
“I’m doing really well, and that’s not something that I’ll be modest about,” Felix said. “I know that I deserve to be here, and I deserve to be here just as much as anybody who is able to pay for full tuition.”