Freshman Year for Free is a new program where students can take high quality programs for college credit from top institutions at no cost.  The program was created by Modern States, a non-profit education alliance dedicated to college access for all, in conjunction with EDX from Harvard and MIT.

The course catalog includes more than 40 general and AP level courses in a wide range of standard topics from American Literature or AP Calculus, to Fluids & Thermodynamics and Spanish Language & Culture.  Per the organizations website:

“The courses are designed to prepare students for the major “Advanced Placement” (AP)* or “College Level Examination Program” (CLEP)* tests offered by the College Board, including subjects such as History, Computer Science, Math, English and Economics.

According to the College Board, more than 2,000 traditional colleges and universities already offer credit to students who pass AP and CLEP tests.  Students can take one course or many courses on Modern States, and then – by passing the AP or CLEP exams – can begin with up to a full year’s worth of credit after they enroll in traditional college, making Modern States an “on-ramp” to college. Modern States hopes to provide links for students to tutoring, mentoring and college advising groups as well.”

Modern States provides a sample list of the more than 2900 colleges and universities that have indicated they will “consider granting credit to students who take a Modern States course and score high enough on the related Advanced Placement (AP) or College Level Examination Program (CLEP) exam”.  Although each school sets its own policies and guiding regulations around accepting AP or CLEP credit, top traditional colleges such as Penn State, Purdue, Colorado State, the SUNY system, Texas State and University of Wisconsin at Madison have already provided the free college credit.

Compared to traditional college, this newly launched program is a drastic change to accessing higher education with literally no course cost, no book fees, no administrative surcharge and no travel expenses.  The only potential expense is the cost associated with taking the CLEP exam by the college board.

Many people are familiar with AP exams but the less well known CLEP exam is actually more accessible. AP exams are given only to high school students in May. CLEP exams are available to any person through thousands of testing sites throughout the year, and CLEP exams are currently free-of-charge to any active US Military member.

Over the last three years Modern States developed a complete set of quality, online courses to be used for free, with free online textbooks, for each subject where there is a CLEP exam in existence.  Last year over 175,000 people took the CLEP exam which requires a passing score of 50 or above to earn full credit when a student enters one of the 2900 colleges and universities that currently accept the credit, just like they were transferring units from a community college.

Spread the word as this program is a game changer!  Maybe in a few years all those teens with their faces buried in their phones will actually have a good excuse.