Many Americans view a college degree as the key to a rewarding, high-paying career. However, ever-escalating college costs mean more students and their families are looking for ways to fund their educations that won’t leave them deeply in debt after graduation. Some students are turning to home-based/dorm-based entrepreneurship for income to help support them through their college years.
Ballooning costs of college
The total cost of tuition and fees at a public four-year college rose 9 percent in the past five years, according to data from the College Board. In 1976, one year at a public four-year college cost just $2,600. Today, tuition and fees at the same school would run nearly $10,000 per year for in-state students and nearly $25,000 for out-of-state students, the College Board reports. At a private nonprofit four-year school, tuition and fees average $33,480. Additionally, room and board range from $10,000 to nearly $12,000 per year for four-year institutions.
Families and students fund college through multiple tactics. According to Sallie Mae’s How America Pays for College 2015, for a typical American family, parents’ income and savings pay 32 percent of the total cost of college, 30 percent comes from scholarships and grants, 16 percent from student loans, 11 percent of students’ income and savings, 6 percent from parental borrowing, and family and friends contribute 5 percent of the total cost.
The impact of college costs
Escalating college costs deeply affect families and students.
At least one survey by Edward Jones financial advisers seems to indicate fear of the high costs of higher education is keeping people from even trying to attend college. The survey, conducted in 2015, found 83 percent of respondents said they couldn’t afford to pay for college, and even people with incomes of $100,000 and more said college was too costly. In fact, only 37 percent of higher earners said they could afford to pay for college.
Among students who take on the financial burden of paying for college, just 59 percent will graduate within six years of starting, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Multiple studies show costs are a significant contributing factor to the college dropout rate and are also responsible for graduation delays.
Further, among the students who successfully graduate, student loan debt can linger and create financial hardship long after graduation. Student loan debt averages more than $30,000 per borrower, and seven in 10 college graduates had student loan debt in 2015, according to the Institute for College Access and Success. Managing debt can be challenging at any stage of life, but many college graduates are finding student loan debt is hindering their ability to achieve financial stability in their post-college lives.
Finally, high-stress levels associated with the financial challenges of paying for college can affect students’ health, relationships and academic performance.
Creatively combating college costs
Loathe to rely more heavily on borrowing, and reluctant to place additional financial burden on parents and family members, many college students are turning to a creative option for defraying college costs: entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurship is hugely attractive to millennials; 54 percent have or want to start their own business, the Huffington Post reports. That streak of independence will drive more millennials to work for themselves, and software giant Intuit predicts that by 2020, 40 percent of the country’s workforce will be working independently. Further facilitating millennials’ movement toward entrepreneurship is the fact that it’s no longer necessary to raise large amounts of capital to start a business, Intuit notes. Technology has made it easier to start, manage and run a small business.
College students don’t have to look any farther than their favorite pieces of technology to find examples of successful businesses that were started when their founders were in college. Facebook, Google, and many other tech companies are examples.
Not every student, however, has the wherewithal to found a tech giant in their dorm rooms, but there are many other routes for entrepreneurship that can help defray college costs. Entrepreneur reports on a University of Virginia student who sells jewelry on Etsy to help pay for college. A group of New York students created a rideshare app that connects student passengers with student drivers.
Relying on entrepreneurship to defray college costs has many advantages. Students can do virtually any type of business in their spare time, from the convenience of their own dorm room or home. If the endeavor is a creative one they enjoy, the “job” can actually act as a stress-reliever as well as a moneymaker. Further, college-based entrepreneurship helps students develop skills that will be useful post-graduation. Some may even be fortunate enough to found businesses while in college that they can continue to run and grow after graduation — think Snapchat and Dell computers!
Technology, especially the Internet and social media, have also made it easy to market products internationally. A college student creating custom dog clothing in a dorm room in Kansas can easily establish a website to market his creations internationally. International exposure can increase sales and customer base. However, once students achieve international sales, they may discover shipping is problematic.
Shipping product domestically and internationally presents multiple challenges. Entrepreneurs need to understand how to properly address packages and documents for international addresses. For example, a U.S. address requires a street number and name, city, state and ZIP code. However, addressing an envelope or package to India requires the addition of a specific locality within a given city, and the country name.
A parcel’s dimensions also affect the cost of shipping internationally, and influences how a shipment must be prepared and processed. It’s also important to know how to properly prepare shipping labels to ensure envelopes and parcels successfully reach their destination. Poorly prepped shipping labels could result in packages that are delayed, rejected or even lost.
The eShipNow solution
Students looking to expand their college-based business internationally now have a shipping option that can do the heavy lifting for them. eShipNow is a shipping tool that allows users to easily and quickly prepare envelopes and parcels for international or domestic shipment. The tool helps students to properly preparing shipping labels to ship while helping them save money on shipping costs. Students can rate shop and ship through various carriers. eShipNOW also allows students access to eShipGlobal’s volume discount, which will help them save even more money. In addition, it is easy to use
Currently, 90 percent of eShipNow’s business comes from colleges and universities. Most of the items shipped are small personal items weighing less than 150 pounds. Recently, the company has seen an increase in the shipments of handmade items from students.
In the future, eShipNow hopes to evolve to also act as an order-fulfillment solution for small businesses and individuals, expanding beyond primary use in a university environment. This evolution would allow users to input product and package information into a database for quick reference. In addition, they would also like to integrate this order-fulfillment solution with systems such as Etsy. This integrated system will send a notification and the information to eShipNow so the seller can complete the order.
For students turning to entrepreneurship and international business to defray college costs, eShipNow is the easy, cost-effective online tool that can help students grow their business, both domestically and internationally.
By : Evelyn Pimplaskar