Money for Everybody
(June 16th, 2015) For students, navigating the maze of different funding opportunities is often overwhelming. As a result, nearly 20% of scholarships available throughout Europe are never actually claimed. The new platform European Funding Guide aims to close this gap.
What was once a tedious and time-consuming task for students, can now be achieved in a matter of minutes. Founded by Mira Maier in 2014, the European Funding Guide aims to help students at any level – bachelor, master and doctorate – to identify the scholarship programmes that really match their profile. The platform works with a special algorithm, which matches each student’s profile instantly to a large database, with more than 12,000 scholarship programmes worth 27 billion euros.
The idea for this platform came from My Stipendium, a German website in operation since 2011, where students can find out about grants specifically available in Germany. After securing funding from the European Commission to partly fund the expansion, spreading the same principle to the rest of Europe was the next obvious step for Maier’s team.
The European Funding Guide now offers many different types of grants to study in 16 European countries, covering from traditional funding opportunities based on academic achievement or financial needs to more unusual grants, depending on marital status or place of birth. “We have scholarships, we have grants, and we have loans, for studying at the home university and also abroad” says Diana Lipstein, a member of Maier’s team. “It includes different programmes, for example, to cover the cost of living, for scientific research, for finding visas, also language courses or social projects. All depends on the student’s needs”. A further geographical expansion is also on the horizon, but covering new countries involves a great deal of research and this is likely to be a long-term aspiration.
At the moment, the biggest countries – Germany, UK, Spain, France and Italy – are the main users, but the number of students from other nationalities using this system is steadily on the increase. In fact, the platform is open to any student wishing to study in Europe. “The only requirement is to want to study in one of the 16 countries that we have on our website, but the students can be from all over the world. If, for example, a Chinese student wants to study in Denmark, he can look for funding online”, says Lipstein.
The platform could not be easier to use: students can register by filling out a small questionnaire about their personal situation. With a simple click of the button, the student is presented with a list of suitable programmes. The list includes links to the funding body’s website as well as advice on how to submit a written application.
Since its launch in September 2014, the platform is enjoying considerable success, with over 150,000 visits per month. However, the team is aware how essential it is to continuously look for further opportunities and keep the database updated. For that, they’re always on the lookout for new scholarships and have established strong connections to numerous universities spread throughout Europe.
In addition, they have high hopes for the platform in the future. They want to be more than a simple database by actually creating new scholarships available to students everywhere. So far they’ve created 21 new grants, some of them aimed specifically at students outside the remit of more traditional scholarships. This includes, for example, average students or students that have changed courses.
Above all, the team aims to break misconceptions about funding opportunities. “We want to create programmes to support every student who really needs support”, says Lipstein. “We've been growing exponentially every month and we receive new users every month. We're hoping we're going to keep growing like that”.