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4.0 Student Panhandles to Raise Money for College Tuition

The Short of It

A Massachusetts high school senior is raising money for college by panhandling.

The Lowdown

Emily Stutz needs to raise money to pay for college—$20,000 to $30,000 a year, to be exact. So the high school senior stood outside a Target store for three hours, panhandling with a sign that read: H.S. Senior. No $ for college. Anything helps.

"I had a lot of people come up to me and give me an overwhelming amount of support," she said. "Some people made negative comments and told me to get a job, but the good outweighed the bad so much that it didn't even matter."

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Stutz—who works three part-time jobs, jumps at every volunteer opportunity and still manages to maintain a 4.0-4.5 GPA each semester—says it's her dream to be a doctor.

"When it came time to apply to college I felt as though I would be all set to get in and go to any school, that is what everyone told me," she explains on the GoFundMe page she set up for additional donations. "I always worried about money but I was assured by many people to not give up on my dreams and with my grades and after financial aid, I would be fine."

It turns out, they were wrong. While Emily got accepted to all the school she applied to, she couldn't actually afford to attend any of them. Despite receiving $11,000 to $18,000 in merit aid for the private colleges that accepted her, she said she received no additional need-based aid to cover the cost of more than $50,000 a year.

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"My parents have had immense financial struggles and simply cannot come up with $20,000-$30,000 a year, nor are they able to cosign a loan for me," she wrote. "I am at a loss. I see my dream of becoming a doctor slip further and further away as the days pass by so I've decided I am going to do whatever it will take to get myself to college."

The page has raised close to $18,000 in four days.

The Upshot

I'm not sure if I'm 100 percent down with the panhandling, but it's a sad day when our kids need to be out on the streets begging for money to get an education, and there's no denying that Stutz's determination to make her dreams come true is inspirational.

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"We've all seen the panhandlers, giving us long faces as we awkwardly sit at red lights waiting for the light to change," she wrote. "If people will give to the 'homeless' panhandlers, then maybe they will consider sparing a dollar or some change to an aspiring doctor who has all the academic, but no financial, means to attend college. Anything helps at this point! As an old Tanzanian proverb says, 'Little by little, a little becomes a lot.'"

Stutz is still not sure where she will be attending school, but she plans on pursuing a pre-med path, majoring in psychology to become a psychiatrist.

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