Gemeinnützige Initiative für transparente Studienförderung gUG

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Gemeinnützige Initiative für transparente Studienförderung gUG

Germany
Project Stage:
Scaling
Budget: 
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Mira Maier is redefining Germany’s educational funding landscape by bringing transparency into the sector, making existing offers more efficient and opening new targeted funds and opportunities, in order to create a more robust system. This allows all people who are eligible to start and pursue a university degree to actually do so – a key to creating equal opportunities in education.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Lack of financial resources is the main reason for young people to forego attending university or to drop out. Even in a largely tuition-free environment, the costs of pursuing higher education are prohibitive in a country with limited financial aid from government and private sources. Existing government programs only reach 30% of the student population and for many of them the aid is not sufficient. There is only a limited number of university-based or private financial assistance. One root cause of this situation is the lack of information given to students and their families. In a survey, 75% of all high school graduates feel a lack of information concerning scholarships. Many scholarship programs are poorly marketed and little known. 90% of all students applying for scholarships do so for only 1% of the available programs. Of the existing 6,000 scholarship programs in Germany, 20% are not paid out today because of a lack of applicants. This is partly due to the high cost of setting up and marketing scholarship programs properly. Many scholarships are granted by small foundations or individuals that are already overwhelmed by the administrative burden that comes with maintaining a program. Moreover, many companies and institutions would like to offer scholarships, but refrain from it due to the high initiating costs for newcomers to the field for orientation, set up, administration, etc. Beyond the lack of market knowledge, the perception towards scholarships is that they are only for the very intelligent or the underprivileged. The widespread misperceptions have led to a situation where even among German high school graduates with very good or excellent grades, only one in eight students consider applying for a scholarship. Additionally, scholarship-receivers from non-academic and migrant backgrounds are underrepresented, as are students with disabilities and chronic diseases.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Mira Maier works towards a society – in Germany and beyond – in which no one is kept from pursuing the education he or she desires based on the lack of financial resources. Through her institution “Initiative für transparente Studienförderung (Initiative for transparent study-support – ItS)” she brings much needed transparency into the field and supports stakeholders in using existing offers of financial support. She also works with key partners to mobilize support for target groups whose needs are not yet met and creates standards and platforms, which lower the entry barriers of newcomers to the market of education support. Mira uses a multi-pronged approach. She began by creating Germany’s first comprehensive scholarship matching system “myStipendium.de” that she planned on scaling on an EU-wide level in late 2014. She then built a supporting partner system with high schools and universities to improve their financial aid counseling. Mira expanded her efforts by creating new scholarships with partners. Working with universities and schools, foundations and other funders, she has already started programs for two student groups: handicapped students and migrants, who are underrepresented on university campuses and underserved by the scholarship system. Simultaneously, she attracts new stakeholders to the field to become scholarship providers themselves, thus enlarging the market and creating new structures for financial aid. She is also working to raise public awareness for the unmet need for scholarship assistance as well as on the underutilization of available resources. Through the above, Mira is challenging the common perception in Germany and many parts of Europe that scholarships should be reserved for a small minority of extraordinary achievers with significant needs and unique abilities.