Estella Struck is a studious class president and tri-sport star athlete — but between her and her future as a surgeon stands the very same obstacle all American dreamers face: money.

The path to a great education for many of today’s talented youth is blocked by expense — but in an effort to change things for herself and other students looking for a way to finance themselves, ambitious 9th grader Estella Struck turned to crowdfunding as a way to get into prep school.

As a student facing the inevitability of an expensive tuition, Estella’s options were one of three. First, she had the option to seek out financial aid — however, financial aid isn’t offered to most looking for a secondary education. Second, she could try for a scholarship — but not all schools offered those, either.

Lastly, Estella’s final option would’ve been to seek a federal loan — but those are even more expensive than they are for college students, and vast majority of America’s youth is already stuck in the loan trap.

The reality is ugly — more than 10% of the American population is stuck in student debt, which, unlike other consumer debts (including gambling) is inerasable. To add insult to injury, irreparable credit scores cause millions of Americans to indefinitely wrack up unpayable debts as they’re refused job after job due to these debts.

Oftentimes, these poor souls take their worries to the grave without a break in their life. It’s even worse the longer you stay out of the workforce — one statistic showed that students who spent six years in college racked up more than double the debt of students who spent four years in college. With nearly insurmountable odds like this, it’s easy to see why the student debt crisis is one in need of urgent attention — especially seeing that as debts and interest rates rise, wages remain stationary making that much harder to break through. With the way things are now, students end up going to school only to spend their entire lives trying to pay back the debts they racked up to get a job with which they can pay those debts — an asinine reality.

Where most would’ve given up, or compromised for a loan, Estella decided to take matters into her own hands and seek out a fourth option.

Crowdfunding. From 2008 to 2012 alone, crowdfunding grew by 60% and the number of platforms worldwide today is nearly up to 200. With the largest percentage of campaigns being about social issues (roughly 30%), and by appealing to the world to help her out just this once, Estella is proving that today’s youth, the foundations of the future, the surgeons and engineers of tomorrow, no longer have to worry about bleak prospects but can work harder to do their part for society knowing that with a little innovation and spunk, they can carve their own path to the chance of a better education, and a better life for the future of America. Estella’s project has just begun, and it’s far from over.

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