GradeFund Is Trickle Down Economics For Students

What happened to the good old days of wannabe college students gyrating to “Private Dancer” to fill that college tuition jar? Or managing a paper route? Or at least stealing lunch money from the kid who ran the paper route?

Saving for college is hard, and that’s the impetus for the new start-up GradeFund, which connects students (or aspiring students) with gracious donors. The starving students are motivated by the fact that the donors, from corporations to anonymous peeps, can choose to award money based on marks. Get an A in history and grab the attention of deep-pocketed Samaritans. Flunk physics and you owe someone $30. (Kidding.)

While students can recruit potential sponsors to chip in on books, those looking to donate can choose particular causes. For example, they can donate $5 for someone who gets a C- in shop class. GradeFund, which takes a pittance of a percentage off the top of transactions, promises to verify all grades and transcripts so no one can scam the system.

GradeFund is an earnest concept, but its logic is fuzzy. It decries student loans, which is actually positive debt that’s fairly flexible to manage even when you’re broke (Trust me, I know). It also disses scholarships as hard to win, but that’s sorta the point, right? And GradeFund actually has the nerve to say that financial aid encourages families to make less money. Yes, I’m sure dad turned down the promotion and denied an inheritance because it would make him ineligible for aid.

As it turns out, GradeFund could be a decent complement to tradition tuition-earning methods. But on its own, especially in its infancy, the start-up alone could probably just pay for the VCR repair correspondence class.

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