News & Politics

Colleges Offer Unusual Payment Schemes To Prevent Student Debt Problems

College isn’t cheap. Every year, legions of college graduates flood the job market already saddled with mountains of debt. While those who studied something with an actual application in the real world will be able to best deal with that debt, it’s still debt, and it’s a major roadblock.

So a handful of schools are now looking at models for obtaining a degree that don’t require gobs of money. From The College Fix:

The nonprofit Modern States Education Alliance provides more than 30 tuition-free online college courses to prepare students for Advanced Placement and College Level Examination Program exams, from biology and American history to college algebra and financial accounting, along with free online texts and materials.

The program name isn’t a gimmick, spokesperson Jennifer Leckstrom told The College Fix in an email: The courses themselves are “100 percent free,” while the exams cost $85 each. (The organization is paying exam fees for the first 10,000 test takers and seeking donations to cover more in the future.)

Last week StraighterLine announced its newest partnership with Manor College, a two-year Catholic school near Philadelphia that advertises itself as an alternative to “local community colleges.”

Under the deal, Manor College students can complete general education courses online “starting at” $59 per course, or pay a $99-a-month subscription for unlimited courses, with no minimum subscription period.

In a joint press release, StraighterLine said it’s looking to partner with as many as 2,000 colleges and universities and already serves at least 20,000 students a year with its offering. In a private Facebook message, StraighterLine told The Fix it has “over 100+ partner colleges.”

These aren’t top names, but both of these models would provide college classes at far more affordable rates than any Ivy League school ever will.

Gotta love free market innovation. Perhaps the professors at these schools can’t provide the very best education out there, and neither option offer a complete bachelor’s degree, but these programs may just be the tip of the iceberg. After all, the market demands ideas like this. How long until other colleges are pressured to match the competition?

The free market will one day end the politicized academic cartel we have all come to know and … well, know. Mark my words, it will happen.