The scholarship hunt has come a long way from the pre-internet years, the days of haphazardly curated binders in the school counselor’s office. There are dozens of scholarship databases online, but the hunt is still incredibly frustrating, offering few ways to narrow down search results.
Christopher Gray, a scholarship prodigy who won over a million dollars in order to cover his degree at Drexel and any future academic path, remembers the madness of the hunt.
“There’s all this money in the marketplace looking for students. There are students on the other side and they can’t find money. And all this money gets unawarded,” said Gray in an interview with Yahoo Finance. And so he created Scholly, an app that matches students from high school on up with scholarships they’re likely to qualify for.
Similar to a dating app, Scholly narrows down a search with eight or more parameters, including location, GPA, race, and a miscellaneous category for atypical qualifiers (left-handed, red-headed, club affiliations, etc) so the search results are a relevant list for the searcher.
Since its launch in 2014, more than 600,000 users have downloaded the three-dollar app. At least 2 out of five users are students of color, more likely to be low income students relying on scholarships to go to university at all. With them in mind, Gray started a program called Give: Scholly, which lets companies and organizations and sometimes even schools to buy bulk codes so they can give their students free access to the app and its database. This year, he hopes to be able to offer the app free to an additional 600,000 high school students, via a partnership with a non-profit.
Scholly does enough business that Gray has eight employees, and while the company is not yet profitable, it has already put him on Forbes’ “30 under 30” list. In the next twelve months, he hopes to close deals with those Fortune 500 companies that offer tuition reimbursement programs to offer their employees the app for free as well.