Vanderbilt student Cassie Wessely has raised over $40,000 in five days.
A Vanderbilt University student has raised more than $40,000 in five days through a crowdfunding website after a family tragedy left her unable to pay tuition for the upcoming academic year.
Rising Vanderbilt sophomore Cassie Wessely was faced with an unthinkable tragedy when her mother took her own life last year, just three weeks before she was set to start college. After making it through her freshman year, Wessely learned this summer that Vanderbilt would no longer provide her with financial aid, as her father now had residential custody over her.
However, as Wessely told student news website InsideVandy, her father had recently lost his job and her family was about $25,000 short of being able to pay tuition. Taking what she calls a "shot in the dark," Wessely set up a page on crowdfunding website GoFundMe — asking people to "Please help me stay at Vanderbilt."
"After everything I had worked for, I was not about to give up on Vanderbilt without doing whatever I could do to make it work," Wessely told InsideVandy.
According to Vanderbilt's website, the school estimates the cost for the 2014-15 academic year at $62,320 — which includes tuition, fee, room, board, and any indirect costs.
Here's her Wessely announced the GoFundMe page through her Facebook account:
In two days, Wessely had raised her initial $25,000 goal. Five days after starting her GoFundMe page, Wessely had raised over $40,000 from nearly 1,000 people to help cover the cost of her sophomore year.
Wessely posted the following message on the GoFundMe page after reaching her initial goal:
WOW. I am so overwhelmed right now by all of this support. You are all going so far above and beyond my expectations, and then some! We did it!! You have all made this a possibility for me. I will be able to stay at the school of my dreams and I couldn't begin to tell you how much it means to me. I am going to work on getting back to a lot of you personally, but it just seems like such a small part of the thankfulness I am feeling right now. The goal has been reached! Any continued donations will be but in the bank for the coming years at this wonderful institution with this wonderful community, but of course I do not expect anything as you have all gone SO FAR beyond my wildest dreams right now. I am literally rendered speechless at this point and just keep repeating "What just happened?" But really I know what happened. Some AMAZING people and an AMAZING community came forward and really gave me something to be happy about and I am eternally and ridiculously thankful.
According to InsideVandy, the school's administration is now aware of Wessely's changed financial situation and fundraising efforts, and is in reaching out to her.
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