‘Freshman Year for Free’ Program: Texas State University System with edX

‘Freshman Year for Free’ Program: Texas State University System with edX

The Texas State University System (TSUS) in partnership with the Modern States Education Alliance are planning a program allowing students to earn up to one full year of college credit tuition-free, reducing the cost of a degree by up to 25 percent. TSUS is the first public university system in Texas to partner with Modern States’ ‘Freshman Year for Free’ program.
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The program, available to students in fall 2016, will offer more than 30 top quality online college courses ranging from U.S. history to astronomy at no cost, along with free online texts and materials. These courses are under development through edX, the joint venture of Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology that is the nation’s leading developer of Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Students can take as few — or as many — of the courses as they’d like.

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How it works

Students wishing to participate in the TSUS-Modern States program will be able to select freshman-level courses from the Modern States catalog that apply toward degrees at TSUS’s eight component institutions. After completing these courses, students will be prepared to take Advanced Placement (AP) or College Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests offered independently by the College Board, and may receive course credit from TSUS institutions when they enter with an AP test score of three or better, or a passing score on a CLEP test.

Students would only have to pay for the tests, costing about $90 per class.

About TSUS & the Modern States Education Alliance

The Texas State System, which includes Texas State, Lamar, Sam Houston State and Sul Ross State universities, has a large number of nontraditional students. More than 70 percent of the system’s students also work. Older students with kids and full-time jobs might benefit the most, McCall said, since they may not have time to take four years out of their lives to attend school.

The ability to earn college course credit through AP and CLEP exams is already well-established in Texas for high school students. For the first time, however, the ‘Freshman Year for Free’ program will make this option available to non-traditional students who did not have access to college-credit courses in high school or who are entering college as working adults.

“As our student population becomes older and more diverse, the pathway to a college degree varies greatly from student to student,” said TSUS Chancellor Brian McCall. “Our goal in partnering with Modern States’ ‘Freshman Year For Free’ program is to provide students with another option to earn their degree on a timeline and budget that works for them.”

“We are proud to be partners with the Texas State University System and its 83,000 students, in order to make college more available and affordable for everyone,” said Steven Klinsky, founder and chairman of the Modern States Education Alliance. “No one should be shut out of education after high school because of tuition cost or lack of access.”

Modern States is creating a web portal that will offer the course catalog, and will also link students to resources such as low-cost or no-cost tutors, volunteer mentors, and information about partner colleges and universities.

The Modern States Education Alliance was launched in 2014. Its goal is to create at least one readily available path to a tuition-free, high quality and universally accessible college education for any motivated student who seeks one. The ‘Freshman Year for Free’ program is Modern States’ initial effort toward this goal.

Along with TSUS, other major colleges and university systems involved in the ‘Freshman Year for Free’ program include: the State University of New York; the Ohio Department of Higher Education; the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education; the Tennessee Board of Regents; Arizona State University; Colorado State University-Global; and Rice University. Together, these university systems serve more than 500,000 students.

The Texas State University System is Texas’ first university system, comprising eight institutions spanning from far West Texas to the Gulf Coast.

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