Higher ed on handouts? SponsorMyDegree helps students beg for free aid

By now, the typical criteria for college financial aid have emblazoned themselves into the collective consciousness of students nationwide: demonstrable need, merit, perhaps ethnicity or specific college major for certain scholarships and grants. A relatively new website, however, aims to circumvent those pillars of the college financial aid system and replace them with a couple of much simpler ones: self-promotional savvy and sheer desperation.

The website SponsorMyDegree.com made headlines and inspired some heated message-board debates this week with its upstart blend of social networking and a process it refers to as "micro-philanthropy." Basically, the site enables student to erect Facebook-style profiles and plead their case to site-browsing prospective donors as to why they deserve, need or just plain really want some help financing their education.