Education startup OnlineDegree.com makes the first year of college tuition-free — from forbes.com by Richard Vedder

Excerpt:

If you were told that an educational institution existed that would enable you to earn a year of college credit at zero financial cost and with minimal hassle –from a for-profit private entrepreneurial venture — you would no doubt be suspicious. I receive several pitches a week from individuals trying to promote all sorts of innovations, so I was especially dubious of this proposition – until I talked to Grant Aldrich, the fellow who helped initiate this project, and after reflecting a bit on modern internet-based businesses.

Hundreds of millions daily use at zero cost an immensely popular social media platform, Facebook. It provides much joy to user’s lives. Moreover, Facebook, Inc. has, of this writing, a market capitalization of $539.6 billion and its founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is at age 34, one of the richest people in the world. I suspect Grant Aldrich thinks that the Facebook model can be replicated successfully in higher education. Aldrich’s website (https://onlinedegree.com) will provide users with free, high-quality online college-level courses, financed through advertising, sponsorships, etc., much like Facebook and Google do.

The venture is brand new and modest in scope and is just now ready to launch its project.

 

He is bringing market-based capitalism to higher education without the crutch of government-subsidized student loans.

 

Yet Aldrich claims that he is not out to destroy traditional higher education, but rather to revitalize and support it. Students ultimately would go from his online courses into traditional schools, saving at least 25% of the cost through credit transfer, making traditional education significantly more affordable and viable.

 

 


The information below is from Grant Aldrich, Founder of OnlineDegree.com (emphasis via DSC)


Rather than bypassing traditional universities like the MissionU’s or Coursera’s, we have a disruptive solution to innovate within higher ed to combat student debt and bring students back to a collegiate path.

Here’s the quick summary: At OnlineDegree.com, anyone could receive credit, up to their freshman year of college, completely tuition-free. All from home, on their own schedule, no pressure, and no applications.

We offer students free college-level courses and work with accredited universities across the country to award college credit for the courses students take.  With many options to complete their entire freshman year equivalence, there are potential pathways to receive up to 44 units of recommended semester credit at over 1,400 colleges throughout the US…and growing.

By understanding the predicament that working adults have, it’s obvious that the current educational system hasn’t made it simple or easy enough for them to go back to school.  They’re busy, can’t afford it, and have a lot of anxiety taking the first step.  We’re changing that.

Further information is below.



Who Are We?

OnlineDegree.com is a team of startup veterans, leading academics and PhDs (from NYU, West Virginia University, Georgetown, etc). We’ve been working for over 2 years to make higher education more affordable and accessible for everyone. It’s been an incredible adventure to combat entrenched roadblocks and norms. More about us here:

How it Works
Students take as many college-level courses as they’d like on gen ed topics like Psychology, Robotics, Computer Programming, Marketing, History and many more…free. We’ve then worked with participating accredited universities across the country like Southern New Hampshire University, Excelsior College and others, so students can receive college credit for the courses they’ve taken. In addition, there are pathways to receive credit at over 1,400 schools in total throughout the US.

Our courses are:

  • Online and Available 24/7 – No class schedules, no fixed times, and completely self-paced.
  • Easy to Get Started- No applications, No entrance exams, and most importantly, No tuition.
  • Interesting and Top Notch- Our professors are experts in their respective fields with PhDs and advanced degrees. The courses are incredibly interesting.
  • Recommended for over 44 units of semester credit by the NCCRS

Why Is This So Disruptive?
Working adults now have a “bridge” to start their path back to school in 1 minute instead of 1 year in some cases…regardless of their finances or busy schedules. They can test drive different courses and subjects on their own schedule, be better prepared for college-level coursework at a university, and potentially receive college credits toward their degree. Given the common unfortunate student perception that applying directly to a community college or 4-year is intimidating, inflexible and/or costly, we’re more like “wading” into the pool rather than expecting everyone to jump in.

How Have We Made It Free?
We will always be 100% free to students…we’re not going to compromise on that. We’re exploring a marketplace for tutoring, Patreon, Kickstarter, university sponsorships/advertising, private grants, and many other avenues. We are bold enough to look outside of the traditional tuition paradigm to ensure we don’t exclude anyone from participating. There are all kinds of ways to keep the lights on without charging students or sacrificing educational quality.

Why Now?
Despite overwhelming demand to go back to school in the face of eroding manufacturing jobs, robot automation, and a quickly modernizing economy, millions of working adults are still not going back to school at a traditional university. The key is to understand the predicaments of the working adult: accessibility and affordability. Other marketplace offers that circumvent higher education have become increasingly popular. We’re solving this by removing all of the barriers to enable that first critical step in starting back towards a traditional university.

 


Also see:

 


 

 

 

From DSC:
What can higher ed learn from this? Eventually, people will seek alternatives if what’s being offered isn’t acceptable to them anymore.


 

The Disappearing Doctor: How Mega-Mergers Are Changing the Business of Medical Care — from nytimes.com by Reed Ableson and Julie Creswell
Big corporations — giant retailers and health insurance companies — are teaming up to become your doctor.

Excerpt:

Is the doctor in?

In this new medical age of urgent care centers and retail clinics, that’s not a simple question. Nor does it have a simple answer, as primary care doctors become increasingly scarce.

“You call the doctor’s office to book an appointment,” said Matt Feit, a 45-year-old screenwriter in Los Angeles who visited an urgent care center eight times last year. “They’re only open Monday through Friday from these hours to those hours, and, generally, they’re not the hours I’m free or I have to take time off from my job.

“I can go just about anytime to urgent care,” he continued, “and my co-pay is exactly the same as if I went to my primary doctor.”

That’s one reason big players like CVS Health, the drugstore chain, and most recently Walmart, the giant retailer, are eyeing deals with Aetna and Humana, respectively, to use their stores to deliver medical care.

People are flocking to retail clinics and urgent care centers in strip malls or shopping centers, where simple health needs can usually be tended to by health professionals like nurse practitioners or physician assistants much more cheaply than in a doctor’s office. Some 12,000 are already scattered across the country, according to Merchant Medicine, a consulting firm.

 

 

 

 

From DSC:
The information below is from Phil Adams, Resource Coordinator for the Center for School, College, and Career Resources:


I’m working on a campaign to help students find the best info on the web on financial aid, scholarships, and FAFSA. I’ve recently found two resources that would be great for your student readers.  Some quick details on them:

The first is a comprehensive guide to financial aid. In addition to covering financial aid for online learning, it breaks down financial aid options for ALL college-level programs. It also includes financial aid and scholarship info for minority students, students with disabilities, students who identify as LGBTQ, and more. The guide features advice and tips from Mark Kantrowitz, a nationally-recognized expert on planning and paying for college. You can read the full guide here:  Financial aid for online college students

 

 

The second guide focuses on FAFSA and the changes that have taken place over the past few years. It was created with the support of Robert Friedman, the University Director of Student Finance at Yeshiva University New York, and includes advice on how to maximize financial aid with FASFA, a glossary of terms normally encountered during the financial aid process, and additional resources for students to explore. You can check it out here: Financial Aid and FAFSA guide

 

 

 

 

 

2 reasons why blockchain tech has big, tangible implications for higher ed — from ecampusnews.com by Jami Morshed
While many may not be using bitcoin in the near future, the tech behind bitcoin–called blockchain–has the potential to influence higher ed in more ways than one might think.

Excerpts:

While many of us may not be making important purchases in bitcoin in the near future, the tech behind bitcoin–called blockchain–has the potential to influence our daily lives in more ways than one might think, including in higher ed.

1. Blockchain for the Future of Credentialing
For higher ed–and even for our professional lives after graduation–blockchain has the potential to drastically impact the future of credentialing.

2. Blockchain’s Financial Implications and Student debt

 

 

 

From DSC:
The article below caused me to reflect on the idea of using Income Share Agreements (ISAs) as a way for students to get through college these days. Although I appreciate that others are trying to help students get through college — an admirable goal for sure and one that I wholeheartedly share — I don’t like the means/method being proposed here. Why? Because I’m concerned that ISAs don’t offer any incentives for colleges and universities to lower their prices in the first place. The burden of debt is just spread out into the future. In fact, one could easily imagine the costs of obtaining a degree to continue to increase, because the immediate impact of the debt isn’t felt right now…it’s spread out over one’s future. The problem becomes invisible again, making it once again easy for those working within higher education to ignore.

So I hope this method doesn’t take off (as I understand it); instead, I hope that we can figure out better ways to reduce the price of obtaining a degree. Technology should be of use here.

 

Students Get Tuition Aid for a Piece of Their Future — from wsj.com by Jillian Berman
Income share agreements seem poised to take off, as costs and debt loads rise

Excerpt:

To help pay for ever-growing college costs, more students may soon be trying a new approach: selling rights to their future earnings.

Long discussed in college policy and financing circles, income share agreements, or ISAs, are poised to become more mainstream. A handful of backers currently exist that in effect have invested in college students’ futures by advancing them thousands of dollars in tuition money to bridge gaps in financing when student loans don’t quite meet all of their expenses.

Under the terms of a typical ISA, students agree to pay a percentage of their future earnings for a predetermined period in exchange for help up front with their tuition. Now, more students may have the opportunity to enter such deals, as lawmakers in Congress are working on possible ground rules for the agreements.

 

 

 

 

Google and Udacity offer scholarships for 75,000 aspiring developers — from thenextweb.com

Excerpt:

Google has announced its plans to extend its partnership with Udacity to offer 75,000 Android scholarships for aspiring developers and data scientists seeking to pursue careers in the digital field.

The initiative builds on the company’s two-year long collaboration with Udacity, which granted 1,000 and 10,000 scholarships for passionate newbie coders in 2015 and 2016, respectively. German media giant Bertelsmann will also be contributing to this effort.

 

 

Also see:

 

 

FACT SHEET: ED Launches Initiative for Low-Income Students to Access New Generation Of Higher Education Providers — from ed.gov

Excerpt:

[On 8/16/16], the U.S. Department of Education (ED) is inviting eight selected partnerships between institutions of higher education and non-traditional providers to participate in the EQUIP (Educational Quality through Innovation Partnerships) experiment.

These partnerships will allow students—particularly low-income students—to access federal student aid for the first time to enroll in programs offered by non-traditional training providers, in partnership with colleges and universities, including coding bootcamps, online courses, and employer organizations. The goals of the experiment are to: (1) test new ways of allowing Americans from all backgrounds to access innovative learning and training opportunities that lead to good jobs, but that fall outside the current financial aid system; and (2) strengthen approaches for outcomes-based quality assurance processes that focus on student learning and other outcomes. The experiment aims to promote and measure college access, affordability, and student outcomes.

 

 

Obama Administration to Fund Nontraditional Training for Students — from wsj.com
Education Department will give up to $17 million in loans and grants for training at eight entities that aren’t traditional colleges

Excerpt:

WASHINGTON—The Obama administration will inject millions of dollars into a group of nontraditional education providers to address a vexing problem: Many Americans are leaving college with debt but without skills the economy needs.

The administration is turning to the private sector for help. In a novel experiment, the Education Department announced Tuesday up to $17 million in loans and grants for students to undergo training at eight entities that aren’t traditional colleges. Most are for-profit companies. They include coding academies such as New York startup Flatiron School and Portland, Ore.-based Epicodus, as well as websites such as Study.com and StraighterLine that provide online courses at reduced costs.

The one that stands out from the group is corporate giant General Electric Co., which won’t receive funds directly but will provide training at one of its jet-engine plants under the program.

The program, called Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships, or Equip, is designed to enable low-income Americans to learn skills in areas where colleges often fall short, such as learning how to write computer code, or using new software to operate high-tech manufacturing equipment to make jet engines.

 

 

 

Can’t Afford Coding Camp? The Feds May Have a Loan for You — from wired.com by Issie Lapowsky

Excerpt:

A new Department of Education program focused on skills training aims to address that second part. Announced last year, the so-called Educational Quality through Innovation Partnerships program will offer federal student aid to students enrolled at non-traditional institutions like coding bootcamps and skills-training programs.

[On 8/16/16], the Department of Education revealed the eight organizations and educational institutions with programs that will be covered as part of the EQUIP pilot program. For now, the programs are located on both coasts and in Texas. They include bootcamps like The Flatiron School, as well as newly launched training programs from companies like General Electric. The Department of Education chose the programs from dozens of applications, and each organization will partner with an established, accredited college or university. Meanwhile, third-party quality assurance partners have signed up to monitor students’ results.

 

 

 

Feds propose decertifying accreditor of for-profit colleges — from wsj.com by Douglas Belkin

Excerpt:

The Education Department on Wednesday recommended that the organization that accredits many of the nation’s for-profit colleges and vocational schools shouldn’t be recognized, a step that could threaten access to nearly $5 billion in federal financial aid for more than 800,000 students.

The decision also has the potential to hasten the consolidation of the for-profit college sector as it could drive out of business many schools that lose access to student loans as well as students leery of attending schools under the regulatory microscope.

The move could mean the sector, already in decline amid tightening federal regulation, “will implode even faster,” said Trace Urdan, managing director at Credit Suisse and a longtime analyst of the for-profit college industry. “There will be significant consolidation ahead, a lot of people will lose their jobs, there will be fewer choices in the market but the schools that do survive will have a sort of double bonus, a clean bill of health and less competition.”

 

University of Phoenix owner, Apollo Education Group, will be taken private — from nytimes.com by Patricia Cohen and Chad Bray

Excerpt:

The troubled for-profit education company that owns the giant University of Phoenix agreed on Monday to be bought for $1.1 billion by a group of investors that includes a private equity firm with close ties to the Obama administration.

The university and its owner, the Apollo Education Group, have been subject to a series of state and federal investigations into allegations of shady recruiting, deceptive advertising and questionable financial aid practices.

In recent years, many for-profit educational institutions that have received billions of dollars in federal aid, including the University of Phoenix, have been pummeled by criticisms that they preyed upon veterans and low-income students, saddling them with outsize student loan debt and subpar instruction.

 

Also see:

  • New education department office to crack down on colleges — from wsj.com by Josh Mitchell
    Student Aid Enforcement Unit will focus on schools accused of misconduct
    Excerpt:
    The Obama administration plans to boost the federal government’s power to investigate and punish colleges accused of deceptive marketing tactics and other misconduct, part of a campaign to address years of student complaints about for-profit institutions.

 

Also see:

Student Aid Enforcement Unit Formed to protect students, borrowers, taxpayers — from ed.gov on 2/8/16

Excerpt:

As part of the Obama Administration’s aggressive action to protect students and taxpayers, the U.S. Department of Education is creating a Student Aid Enforcement Unit to respond more quickly and efficiently to allegations of illegal actions by higher education institutions.

“When Americans invest their time, money and effort to gain new skills, they have a right to expect they’ll actually get an education that leads to a better life for them and their families,” said Acting Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “When that doesn’t happen we all pay the price. So let me be clear: schools looking to cheat students and taxpayers will be held accountable.”

 

 

From DSC:
For profits have brought some solid things to the education table…but they’ve also brought some bad practices to the table as well. To some degree, the above items relate to the efforts and influence of the federal government to affect institutions involved in higher education.

Taking this thought into a different direction then…one should think carefully, therefore, when the federal government opens up new efforts to support innovation within higher education — something I support, by the way, as it could facilitate the creation of alternative pathways for learners and it finally enforces some true competition — and therefore a greater emphasis on innovation — within the higher ed landscape. (Yes I realize that there’s some level of competition within institutions of traditional higher education…but historical and current accreditation practices have pretty much kept things looking quite similar across the landscape.)

Institutions of traditional higher education may now be forced to rethink their game plans and strategies as they move forward — something I hope that will positively impact our future students.  Such forces and events should make institutions of traditional higher education more innovative, open to change (where it’s needed), relevant, and responsive to changes in the environment.

 

 

Michigan Radio’s Issues & Ale: College Affordability & Access

Excerpt:

College affordability is a big issue, from the living rooms of anxious students and parents, to the presidential campaign trail . Over the past ten years, tuition costs have increased more than five times faster than the Consumer Price Index and the average class of 2015 graduate with student-loan debt will have to pay back more than $35,000. Michigan’s students leave college with some of the highest debt levels in the nation .

A recording of the October 27, 2015 event is available here.

Average debt for graduates in Michigan: Just over $35,000

Notes:

  • Michigan is below national average in # of adults that have a college degree.  Need 300,000 more people to graduate with a college degree just to get up to the national average. (Doing so would add $7 billion to Michigan’s economy BTW.)
  • [Adjusted for inflation] Cost has doubled in 1 generation.
  • [Adjusted for inflation] Since 1975, cost at a public university is up 138%; at private 157%; but wages have only gone up 1.6% (flat lined basically)
  • Can’t work your way through college like your parents or grandparents might have done
  • Rising tuition
  • Rising textbook costs
  • Room and board
  • Need to have a talk about financial literacy; help a student know more about financial aid and what will need to be paid back and when
  • Scholarships, grants, funding
  • Transfer rates are sizable from community colleges
  • Community colleges are often a very good choice for students who are raising children and/or for students who are returning to college later on; can make a very good living on some of the jobs that you can get coming out of a community college
  • Students often don’t know how to advocate for themselves; don’t know how to navigate a campus and the services/resources therein; also don’t take advantage of office hours
  • Michigan State is pushing the idea of “neighborhoods” — like communities in the dorms; easier and less fearful to access services/tutoring/assistance
  • Other choices? Unions/trades such as plumbers; joining the military
  • Ingredients of costs; decreased spending at state level has had a significant impact on rising costs for students
  • …and more.

 

 

 

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