A college education can cost as much as $200,000, and the small scholarships that most students apply for won’t make much of a difference in the long run. So Schoold, a college search app that debuted a few months back, is making it easier to search for scholarship information as part of its app.
The scholarship information will further the company’s mission of helping students and parents navigate the bewildering process of choosing a college. Not only will Schoold’s iOS and Google Play help kids and parents choose a college, it will also help them figure out how to pay for it.
“We’ve been building an app that does what a college counselor does, but in a mobile, game-like way,” said Joe Ross, president and chief operating officer of Schoold, in an interview with VentureBeat. “One of those things is to help a prospective college student understand how she would pay for college.”
The Schoold app has been downloaded more than 700,000 times since it was released in March, and the company announced in April that it closed a seed round of $4.5 million.
San Francisco-based Schoold has come along as funding for educational tech companies continues to rise; the sector has received a five-fold boost in investment during the past five years. In fact, global education technology funding rose 58 percent in 2015, according to market researcher CB Insights.
Ross said that Schoold is trying to cut through the noise to rapidly identify meaningful scholarships.
In the app, a student indicates which colleges he or she is interested in and which majors, as well. The app will find scholarships that are associated with the particular schools, and it will also find those that are associated with the listed majors. The scholarships can be sorted by application deadline or award amount.
I could have used this app a couple of years ago when my oldest kid was looking at colleges. We looked around at various scholarship sites, and we found that many of them were lead-generation scams, or they required a lot of work for very small scholarships.
“These are lead-generation sites looking to find users,” Ross said. “We’re not interested in being part of that problem. We’re looking for higher-dollar opportunities. They’re tough to get, and we don’t guarantee anything. The suggested scholarships populate into the app automatically.”
And there are surprises to be found, such as scholarships for public service that are available for college juniors.
In future versions, Schoold will try to offer even more detailed help.
According to a new national report on college affordability, higher education is less affordable today than it was before the economic downturn. With the steady rise in college tuition, for many students, scholarships are a must.
Schoold’s app offers algorithmic-based results, free of charge. It factors in data from a user’s profile and interests. The app alerts a user to new scholarships when they become available. Over time, Schoold will use machine learning to make its results even more effective.
“This is a much better way to find natural funding,” Ross said.