Christopher Gray couldn’t even afford college application fees, let alone tuition. His single mother was out of work, and there were two siblings to think about, then ages 2 and 3.
But with a passion for entrepreneurship, the Birmingham, Ala., student dreamed of attending a college in the Northeast so he could be close to New York City and other major business centers. “So the onus was really on me. I had to deal with it myself,” recalled Gray, now 21 and a rising junior at Drexel University.
For three months, he holed up in the local library — he didn’t have a computer at home — and searched out and applied for more than 70 college scholarships.
Gray, an A-B student in high school who had served in leadership roles and started his own nonprofit company, had astounding success. He received 34 scholarships worth $1.3 million — enough to get his bachelor’s, his master’s, and his doctorate, plus cover his living expenses with some left over to invest.
Now, Gray — since dubbed “the Million Dollar Scholar” — has found a way to help other teens find scholarship money. He and two associates have developed a mobile app called Scholly — shorthand for “scholarships” — for both the iPhone and Android. The app has been available for only about a month, but several thousand downloads have sold.
Gray and his colleagues decided to keep the price at 99 cents because their intent is more public service than profit.