Pursuing higher education comes at a cost, but scholarships can be the breakthrough in advancing students to the finish line, and Jasmine Chigbu knows this as she’s experienced it firsthand.
As a first-generation Nigerian American growing up in a middle-class upbringing, Chigbu admits finances may not have been flowing but their overall financial health was in good standing. When she attended Duke University for her undergraduate degree in 2015, her family was able to cover half of the cost of attendance. The remaining funds were covered by scholarships, which Chigbu found through research.
Although Jasmine Chigbu pursued a bachelor’s of international comparative studies, her overarching goal was to become a doctor and first apply to medical school. After her gap year following the completion of her undergraduate degree, she applied to 25 medical schools. Chigbu became stricken after realizing she had been denied from every school.
Chigbu then adopted a new strategy to attend medical school. From her apartment in Durham, NC, the student applied for her master’s to strengthen her application and also began an extensive search for every scholarship that fit her needs.
“I did not want to pay as much money for my graduate program as I did for undergrad. So, I began scouring the internet for hours looking at opportunities for women, Black women, children of immigrants, or people interested in STEM,” Chigbu told AfroTech. “What started on a simple Excel spreadsheet, grew into a massive list of different scholarships for students like me.”
GrantEd Is Born
In less than two years, Jasmine Chigbu had developed a database with over 2,000 scholarship opportunities curated for Black and brown students. Chigbu’s hard work would pay off as she matriculated back to Duke University School of Medicine in 2018 with over $300,000 secured in scholarships and grants to fund her medical school tuition.
“I went from being denied by every medical school, to not even having to pay tuition at all,” Chigbu said.
Chigbu realized she had developed a catalog of resources that could benefit the greater good of society.
During her second gap year before attending medical school, she began working at a biotech startup in Houston, TX to learn the fundamentals of creating a startup. Here she learned to have grit and understand the importance of knowing your product better than anyone else.
Now Chigbu has become a student turned founder with the launch of GrantEd (formerly MTM). Currently, Black and brown students can access over 2,000 curated scholarship and financial aid opportunities to pursue their academics free from financial barriers.
“GrantEd is a digital marketplace for scholarships. We are modernizing, scaling, and transforming the way Black and brown students access scholarships and ultimately capital in this country,” she revealed.
How Students Land Scholarships
To provide students an ecosystem of freedom and opportunity, the software program is designed to do the heavy labor for students in three easy steps. Students must first enter their demographic data and financial information. Once the steps have been fulfilled, the algorithm will cater the results to show each scholarship the student can qualify for.
Once students access their pool of scholarships, they can read the description of the scholarship to understand the requirements, learn about the tentative deadlines for submission, and access the award amount. Students can even bookmark potential scholarship applications within the system. Once students apply, they can track the status of their applications within GrantEd.
“I wanted to remove any friction in the search process for scholarship applications. We want to make this as streamlined and as easy for students as possible,” Jasmine Chigbu told AfroTech.
GrantEd Advances The Mission To Eliminate Student Debt Crisis
According to a report, minority students would be less likely to fund their college tuition without loans. However, loans are not created equal and people of color often do not have equitable access. Unfortunately, many people of color must rely on debt more frequently as a means to pay for their education more than their white counterparts, placing them at a greater financial disadvantage. GrantEd offers a real-time solution to the student debt loan crisis disproportionately affecting Black and brown students.
“GrantEd is a tool to help Black and brown students achieve what they have largely been denied in the past: financial freedom, freedom of choice, freedom of opportunity, and freedom of access,” Chigbu told AfroTech.
She continued: “If we can enable students to minimize the amount of student loan debt they take on to hopefully nothing, or even basically just fund their education through scholarships and grants, what kind of future could they build for themselves? We want them to build free from financial constraints. That’s our goal.”
For The Future
As GrantEd looks ahead, they hope to partner with major organizations that can offer their platform to students in hopes of progressing their mission to reach every Black and brown student who would like to attend higher-level education in the United States.
The company also plans to embed more features into its growing platforms such as early access to new scholarships, reducing the friction on the platform by creating more filters, and connecting students on the platform with breadwinners from scholarships.
Chigbu wants to expand the company focus to not solely identify scholarships but to also adopt methods to ensure students will craft competitive applications.
Students looking to tap into scholarships can begin their journey here: Grantedco.com