The Freshman Year You Don’t Have to Pay For

As I was going through my e-mail the other day I came across an article that said something like “Free college, right now, for real.”



I’m always interested in education topics and especially about saving money, so I quickly clicked on the link.

I came across what sounds like a genuinely exciting and unique opportunity: the chance to earn a full year of college credit absolutely free. And not just any college credits, but coursework taught by professors from some of the most renowned institutions of higher education today.

Developed by Modern States Education Alliance, 40 freshman courses—from college algebra and chemistry to French—are available for transferable credit that traditional colleges will actually accept. Many colleges have agreed to accept the credits. Students should verify that the school they want to attend will do so. The only cost is the $85 that the College Board charges for students to take the CLEP exam. Passing the CLEP exam for each course you take is how you earn the credit.

The excerpt below explains how this brilliant idea came to pass. What could be more brilliant? Your taking advantage of it.

Something important happened in the field of education this month.

For the first time ever, any student anywhere can take top-quality courses online in every major freshman college subject, taught by professors from the most prestigious universities, that lead to full academic credit at 2,900 traditional colleges, such as Purdue, Penn State, Colorado State and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, all absolutely free.

There is no tuition cost. No textbook cost. No administrative or connection fees. No taxpayer subsidy or federal Title IV funding required. And this is not a plan for the future, but a working reality available to students now, already built, entirely as a private 501(c)(3) philanthropy, at an exceptionally efficient price.

The charity that built the courses, over 40 in all, is called the Modern States Education Alliance. It has a bipartisan set of allies that include the nation’s largest public college systems, such as the State University of New York system and Texas State, which themselves serve over 1 million students and want to improve college access. Modern States is a new type of “on-ramp to college” for any hardworking person anywhere, and a way to cut the cost of traditional four-year college by many thousands of dollars and up to 25%.

Now, anyone can go to, the way they go to Netflix, and choose a college course the way they pick a Netflix movie. There is no charge for the course and no charge for the online textbook that comes with it. The student can watch the lectures at any time of the day or night, repeating any part of it as often as needed. When the student feels ready, they can take the CLEP exam (a well-established, credit-bearing test from the College Board, described below) almost anywhere at any time at one of the thousands of already existing test sites.

Read more at Education Next.