ST. LOUIS — Our 'A Way Forward' series focuses on the organizations in our area and the impact they are making.
This week we highlight an organization called EDUrain. It's a platform that helps students find ways to pay for college.
After being $60,000 in student-loan debt, SIUE graduate Bryon Pierson wanted change.
"Having bank accounts be negative, having three jobs in college, I don’t want none of those kids to go through that," Pierson said.
While getting his bachelor's degree, he did a research study his senior year on how to enroll and retain minority individuals in higher education.
"If you are a minority, you have a 90% chance of escaping poverty if you have a college degree," he said.
That's why EDUrain came to life. In 2020, he was able to recruit Washington University students as developers. In that same year, more than $73,000 was raised.
"This is built for students by students," he said.
EDUrain helps with the entire financial process, including FAFSA filing, scholarship services and financing off-campus housing.
For FAFSA, he said all you do is show a picture of your taxes and their platform reads it and submits it for you.
"It'll help you find that first apartment and helping you let your financial aid pay for it too," he said. "We’re trying to be this platform that’s Zillow and financial aid for college students."
As for scholarships, EDUrain has over 2,300 of them.
"You should be able to use FAFSA data and be able to match with scholarships specifically matched to you," Pierson said.
This free tech platform allows you to access all three outlets on one site, giving guidance to students. It's something that was tough for Pierson as a foster child.
"There was no planning on this for college, because every year my foster family changed and there were gaps. I think no matter what situation students are in, they should have a plan," he said.
Pierson urges more people to sign up. It's a way to continue paying it forward.
"Since November, we were able to help over 250 families help get financial aid for college. We're trying to get a thousand families on our platform at the end of the year," he said. "Every kid deserves a fair shot at life."
Kaycee Little benefited from EDUrain.
"I am so grateful for EDUrain," she said. "They have given me the opportunity to secure my housing without a worry or stress of how I could cover all my immediate expenses in such a small time span. I have so much gratitude for this organization."
To get access to EDUrain, click here.
As far as future events, EDUrain is hosting a bar crawl called "Rock Your Alma Mater" on August 14th in the Grove. They encourage you to wear college-themed hats or shirts from your former college.
They aim to raise money for the future generations of their Alma Maters.
Ticket sales include a bar passport for drink specials and an entry to a drawing for a prize. Funds raised from the event will go towards further technical development of the platform.