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InstagradStudent loan debt has surpassed $1 trillion and yet the cost of college tuition continues to rise.

Instagrad launched its attempt to solve this problem today. The startup has built a crowdfunding platform to help parents pay for their kids’ college education. Parents create campaigns on Instagrad where friends and family can invest in a child’s established 529 savings plan. They can include photos, messages, and fun facts and share the campaign on social media to attract support. Instagrad has also built a template for holidays and birthdays so parents can turn these events into fundraising opportunities.

“All the founders come from modest backgrounds so college is what made us into the people we are,” said cofounder Didier Boucard in an exclusive interview with VentureBeat. “However, our competition is not our peers but Toys R Us, Walmart, and Target. Why?  Because parents are assailed with offers of useless toys, clothes gadgets on and offline.  With student debt at 1 trillion we want to change the paradigm and make parents refocus on what’s important: a college education.”

Boucard met cofounders Mauricio Idarraga, Vicken Kanadijan, and Sanjay Bakshani at McGill University. Years later at Bakshani was throwing a birthday party for his toddler and Idarraga didn’t want to buy him the usual baby gifts that end up collecting dust or being re-gifted.

“I personally want Sanjay’s child, Zidane, to have the university experience I had,” Idarraga said. “A college education is the best gift anyone can get.”

A college education is not easy to come by. Getting in isn’t the hard part — its paying for it that presents a challenge for most.

Ed-tech startup CourseSmart recently conducted a study which found that tuition in the US is expected to double in the next ten years. Among adults 18-34 who do not have a bachelors degree, almost half could not afford it. The average debt per students is over $27,000 and outstrips car loans and credit card as the largest sources of personals debt. The Pew Research Center estimates that nearly one in five households is paying of student loan debt.

In the face of this escalating situation, Instagrad wants to provide an easy-to-use, social tool that allows parents to rally loved one together to support a child’s future.

Instagrad is based in New York City with offices in Montreal. The startup has raised $200,000 from FounderFuel, an accelerator in Canada, and private angel investors.

Photo Credit: Instagrad

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