Website allows students to bet on their grades, earn money


by Christina Kimble/Contributing Writer

Jon Edwards, a UNF graphic design junior, can usually tell at the beginning of a semester what grades he will eventually receive in his classes.
“I always aim for a B, and probably one time out of five do I get lower,” Edwards said.
Edwards has a 3.2 GPA and said money has motivated him to do well in his academics. He said he admits his parents even encourage him with money.
That’s why Edwards said he would love it if a new national venture that promises to incentivize students to achieve anticipated grades would come to Jacksonville.
Ultrinsic, a website that allows students to bet on their grades, could allow Edwards and UNF students to earn money. Ultrinsic allows university students to put down a set amount of money, called an incentive, that they will earn a target grade. If users earn their target grade for a class during a semester, Gelbart said Ultrinsic then calculates what the user will be paid based on the amount of money the user paid initially and the target grade they went for. Then the money is credited to their online Ultrinsic account.
Jeremy Gelbart, president and co-founder of Ultrinsic, said the website launched last fall with two universities and has grown to include students at 36 universities, with 6,500 users. Gelbart said the easiest way for Ultrinsic to come to UNF is for UNF students to sign up for free.
“Everything is  customizable,” Gelbart said. “There is no set amount of incentives.”
Gelbart declined to answer how Ultrinsic calculates the money that is credited to a user’s account. If users don’t earn their target grades, they owe Ultrinsic the incentive they originally placed.
The failure to get their money returned if they don’t make the grades they predicted has made some UNF students skeptical to the idea.
James Hall, a UNF music junior, said Ultrinsic sounded like a junk bond and that  a person needed a good plan for a target grade.
Some professors, too, are skeptical. Christopher Trice, a UNF photography professor, said he didn’t like the idea conceptually either.
“It’s almost like betting on a horse race or a football game,” Trice said. “I find it repellant.”
Sid Rosenberg, a UNF accounting and finance professor, said the concept of students betting on their grades seems relatively harmless, and he is not morally opposed to it.
But Gelbart said incentive is a more accurate term than bet. Gelbart compared Ultrinsic to an insurance company and said for the same reason you wouldn’t call insurance a bet, you wouldn’t say Ultrinsic encourages betting.
In fact, Ultrinsic will ban a student from its website if the company notes that the “incentives” it offers aren’t working and a student’s grades are falling, Gelbert said.
Elena Shackelford, a UNF athletic training freshman, said she might consider using Ultrinsic.
“I actually don’t have that much money to start with, but if I had it, I mean sure, why not?” she said.
Gelbart said the more incentives a user creates, the more money a user can earn. Grades can be self-reported, but users cannot withdraw money from Ultrinsic without an official transcript.
Gelbart said a user has to be 18 years old to join.  So far, there haven’t been any issues with members of the site misusing Ultrinsic, he said.