By Steve Klinsky, Founder and CEO of Modern States Education Alliance
For Mastery Academics
Access to education is fundamental to a world that respects every individual, yet college affordability is one our nation’s most rapidly growing social problems. Today there are more than 44 million people with student debt totaling over $1.3 trillion. Tuition and fees at four-year public colleges jumped 71 percent over the last decade and continue to climb.
Wanting to provide an on-ramp to an affordable and accessible college education led me to founding Modern States Education Alliance. Our “Freshman Year for Free” program, which includes more than 40 core college classes, along with textbooks and materials, is available online for students of all backgrounds at no cost. The courses are designed to help students prepare for the Advanced Placement (AP) and College Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests offered by the College Board and are taught by professors from Rutgers, Johns Hopkins, Columbia, and other top universities. As part of our philanthropy, Modern States is also paying the College Board test fee ($85 per exam) for the first 10,000 exams. More than 2,900 public colleges and universities offer credit to students who pass the AP or CLEP exams.
In fact, Modern States already has 45,000 registered users and more than 30,000 are taking classes.
One dedicated and hard-working student is 19-year-old Michaella of Claxton, Ga. Her family sees Modern States as a blessing, as Michaella is the oldest of seven children and money is tight. Having the opportunity to save money on an entire year of college is making a significant difference for the family.
“I got an email from the College Board about Freshman Year for Free and immediately started working on the courses,” Michaella said. “Even the CLEP tests are expensive for my family. When I heard about Modern States [it was] amazing – an answer to my family’s prayers.”
Michaella plans to attend Georgia Southern University in January to study horticulture or botany and is on track to finish more than eight courses, earning her entire freshman year for free and saving thousands of dollars in tuition costs. She accesses the courses on her phone, any time she chooses, and describes the experience as being “really manageable.”
“Freshman Year for Free” is a new, highly practical, low-cost, real-world way of tackling the higher education cost problem in the U.S., and fills an unmet need in the American higher education system. We encourage other students to seek us out, and we encourage potential supporters to contact us and find out how you can join our alliance to make college more affordable and accessible. Together, we can work together to provide a high-quality path to higher education for everyone.
Top: Modern States Education Alliance logo
Center: Steve Klinsky
A private equity investor and long-time education reformer, Steven Klinsky is the visionary behind the Modern States Education Alliance. His concern for the higher education inequity problem in this country led him to pursue alternative ways to make college affordable and accessible for all. He designed and funded the organization’s first initiative “Freshman Year for Free,” as a philanthropic effort that empowers people to earn college credits through tuition-free online courses. Klinsky attended public school in Michigan, earned his B.A. at the University of Michigan, received his law degree at Harvard Law School, and his MBA at Harvard Business School.