Scholly has been downloaded several thousand times since May.

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.


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