Modern States Launches “Freshman Year For Free”

A new project aims to provide “a path to college for all kinds of learners” with a catalog of tuition-free online courses allowing students to earn traditional academic credits at more than 2,900 major colleges and universities.

A new project aims to increase global access to high-quality education by offering an "on ramp" to college. The non-profit education alliance Modern States announced the launching of “Freshman Year for Free”, a catalog of tuition-free online courses for 40+ core freshman subjects, which enables learners to earn traditional academic credits at more than 2,900 major colleges and universities. 

The courses, taught by professors from leading universities, aims to let students earn up to one year of college credit without tuition or textbook expense and prepare them for the Advanced Placement (AP) and College Level Examination Program (CLEP) exams from the College Board. 

With this project, Modern States wants to become a “global digital public library of great college courses.” The courses are free to anyone who wants to take them, without regard to age, location, nationality, family income or prior credits.

The professors who teach the courses include faculty from some of the best universities, including Columbia, Purdue, Rutgers, MIT, Johns Hopkins, Tufts, Baruch College, University of Texas, and Cal Berkeley.

Modern States also announced it will pay exam fees to the College Board for the first 10,000 test takers, enabling students to earn up to a full year’s worth of credit for free, and reducing the cost of a traditional four-year college degree by 25 percent.

“Access to education is fundamental to a world that respects every individual and fundamental to the American Dream,” said Steve Klinsky, founder and chief executive of Modern States. “College costs have gotten more and more expensive, and so Modern States is creating an innovative way to make a degree affordable. By providing top quality, totally free courses that lead to full traditional academic credits, Modern States ‘Freshman Year for Free’ fills an unmet need in the American higher education system.”

Modern States has partnered with edX, the nonprofit online learning platform, to both offer courses on the edX platform and to develop new courses in subjects like Biology, Calculus, Chemistry, College Algebra, American Government, American History, English Literature, Principles of Management, Financial Accounting, Western Civilization, and many others.

“This partnership creates an innovative new pathway for learners to gain the knowledge they need to prepare for and enter into college. We are excited to mark this milestone in furthering our shared mission of increasing access to education for all learners everywhere,” said edX CEO and MIT Professor Anant Agarwal.

“Freshman Year for Free” isn’t the only venture offering free college options. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, similar efforts like the University of the People, the Global Freshman Academy at Arizona State University were created with the same idea. 

In the long term, Modern States wants to provide “a path to college for all kinds of learners” by helping over one million students earn college credits at no tuition cost.