Texas State University Joins ‘Freshman Year for Free’


The Texas State University System (TSUS) has partnered with the Modern States Education Alliance to offer the first year of college to students tuition free, which reduces college costs by a quarter.

The program will be available the next school year and students will be able to choose among over 30 online courses to earn their first year’s worth of course-credit at Texas State.

TSUS is the first public university in the state to team up with Modern States’ ‘Freshman Year for Free’. The courses are currently under development and will be hosted by edX, a leading MOOC platform. Students who want to enroll in the tuition-free 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,” The University system said in a press release.

Traditional students can be eligible for college credit if they achieve an AP test score of three or more or get a passing CLEP score, but the ‘Freshman Year for Free’ at TSUS especially targets working adults and non-traditional students who do not have such access to college credit-bearing courses:

“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. He added: “We want as many tools for students as we can give. “We thought this was a particularly good one for older, busy, driven and disciplined students.”

Steven Klinsky, founder and chairman of the Modern States Education Alliance, said:

“No one should be shut out of education after high school because of tuition cost or lack of access.”

Apart from the Texas State University System, other schools that have joined 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.

While many MOOCs offer college-level courses, they rarely offer college credit. This is different with courses offered through Modern States, where students can take up to 10 courses with a minimum of classes they can take is five (15 units). Students have one year to complete a 10-course load and six months to complete a five-course load, and they only pay for the tests, which cost about $90 per class.

The Modern States Alliance started its Freshman Year for Free project in December of 2014. Some of the courses offered include English, Psychology, Macroeconomics, Physics, Biology, Business Law and Educational Psychology.

The Modern States Education Alliance has one goal, which is to:

“[C]reate at least one readily available path to a tuition-free, high quality and universally-accessible college education for any motivated student who seeks one.”

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