The cost of attending college in the U.S. is rising. In order to afford higher education, many students need financial aid such as scholarships or loans. However, financial aid is typically awarded after a student has applied to or been accepted to college. For many, particularly those with limited financial means, this process occurs too late.

More than 3 million teenagers are scheduled to graduate from high school this year, and some high-achieving students will avoid applying to college simply because they don’t believe they can afford it.

The team at RaiseMe want to change that. Here’s how:

Rather than waiting until senior year to earn scholarships, RaiseMe enables students to earn “micro-scholarships” throughout high school.

As early as ninth grade, students can start earning money for their college education. Micro-scholarships are awarded for actions that simultaneously prepare students for success, such as getting good grades, volunteering in the community or joining an extracurricular activity. Users can log in to RaiseMe by mobile or desktop and see their earnings go up in real time. Seeing their financial aid increase often acts as a motivator for students to do more.

Response to the technology has been positive, and 35 percent of students report that they “considered schools that [they] would not have considered otherwise” after using RaiseMe. Approximately 40 percent of students on RaiseMe will be the first in their families to attend college.

The Innovation Challenge is sponsored by Samsung NEXT and produced in partnership with NationSwell. In America, not everyone has the same access to education, workforce development, and economic empowerment. We’re looking for exceptional entrepreneurs who are using technology to close this opportunity gap. The winner will receive $25,000 to further their work, $13,000 in Samsung technology and a one-year membership to the NationSwell Council.

To meet our five finalists, visit


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