Student loan debt is at an all-time high, with outstanding debt more than doubling in the last decade from $516 billion in 2007 to more than $1.2 trillion in 2015, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. That surpasses all other categories of consumer debt, aside from mortgages.
The College Board says the average cost of four years at a private college is $125,000 and $37,000 for in-state tuition at a public college.
Some 41 million Americans are carrying student loan debt. According to the Wall Street Journal, 71% of bachelor’s degree recipients will have loans, and the average loan for 2015 graduates was $35,000, the highest ever.
The issue is coming to a head. Just last month students across the country organized a Million Student March calling for tuition-free education at public colleges.
It’s a big problem and recent college graduate Christopher Gray believes he has the solution. He and two colleagues created Scholly, an app that connects high school students with college and post-graduate scholarships.
The idea came out of Gray’s own experience. He received $1.3 million in scholarships for his education at Drexel University in Pennsylvania. Now, he’s hoping his app will help other students find the money they need to pay for their educations.
“Students are looking for alternatives,” he says. Grey believes those alternatives are out there—if students can find them. “There’s over $100 million in unclaimed scholarships.”
So far, Gray says Scholly has 600,000 users who have found more than $20 million in scholarships. “It turns the months of looking for money for college into two minutes. There’s all this money out there looking for students. There’s students looking for money for college, but they can’t seem to find each other, so Scholly kind of solved that problem.”
Scholly identifies all kinds of scholarships from schools, institutions and foundations and allows users to search through them for the right kind of scholarship that might apply to the individual.
The company, based in Philadelphia, has received funding from Gray’s appearance on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” as well as AOL founder Steve Case’s Rise of the Rest competition, as well as other backers.
Grey says the company is nearing $1 million in revenue this year. Scholly's revenue comes from the $2.99 cost of downloading the app, and the company is moving toward a model that will include advertising as well, according to Gray.
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