Arizona State University has announced a new program that offers freshman students the ability to take their entire first year of courses online at an incredibly discounted rate. The program, called Global Freshman Academy, allows students to take an entire year of classes, paying only after they pass each course. In addition, participating students need not apply to the University in order to receive college credit for the courses.
The idea behind the program is to allow students the opportunity to try college courses out before they make the commitment of applying to college and paying the full tuition. According to Michael M. Crow, president of Arizona State, the program allows students to prove to themselves they are able to handle the workload without having to pay for it.
The estimated tuition cost of the program will total about $5,000 for participating students, which is roughly half of what in-state students pay and only 20% of what out-of-state students pay.
The credits will come at an incredible discount to students, costing only $200 each compared to the $480 to $543 each credit costs for online students who do not participate in the new program.
Despite this reduced cost, students who choose to participate in the new program will find themselves ineligible for federal financial aid. The rules behind the federal program state that students cannot receive aid for prior knowledge, and students who take part in the university program will not be officially enrolled in the school until after course completion, writes Jeffrey R. Young for The Chronicle of Higher Education.
While the cost of the program is significantly less than the school’s normal tuition, it still comes at a price higher than most community colleges.
The program will contain 12 general studies courses designed by university professors, such as mathematical studies, humanities, arts and design, social-behavioral sciences and natural science.
“They have to be constructed at a fantastic level of digital immersion, not just talking heads,” said Crow. “This is a general education freshman year, not a series of disconnected courses, so they have to be thought through together.”
The university partnered with the online platform edX founded by Harvard and MIT for the program, which will be offered as Massive Open Online Courses.
Although there is a lack of financial aid available for the program, ASU’s Dean for Educational Initiatives Philip Regier said participants do not need to pay the discounted rate until they successfully complete a course, writes Jessica Suerth for KTAR news.
“This really changes the risk relationship of the student to the course,” he said in an interview with the Washington Post. “For a modest sum, they purchase an option to determine if they want to buy credit at the end of the course. Students don’t have to pay for credit until they know they’re successful.”