There’s an article over at the Washington Post on an interesting project that could reduce the cost of higher education considerably:
President Obama is proposing to make community college tuition-free for qualified students nationwide. But what if anyone could take the first year of college free online?
A New York philanthropist announced a $1 million donation Wednesday that aims to make that possible through an online venture overseen by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University.
Steven B. Klinsky’s idea is for students to take foundational courses through the online venture edX that would prepare them for College Board examinations in various subjects. Those who pass enough Advanced Placement or College-Level Examination Program tests conceivably would be able to enter college as sophomores. That would cut the price of a bachelor’s degree by a quarter.
That’s closely related to something I’ve proposed here from time to time. The main difference is that I proposed a cooperative venture on the part of several states which would use funds presently being used to support non-performing brick and mortar colleges.
Nick Anderson, the author of the article, editorializes a bit:
Klinsky’s vision — “freshman year for free” — echoes in spirit what Obama proposed last week. The president wants Congress to approve $60 billion over the next decade for a partnership with states that would eliminate community college tuition for “responsible students” who get adequate grades and make academic progress.
I think the vision being offered is significantly different from President Obama’s proposal in a number of ways. The most obvious, of course, is that it’s a private initiative and wouldn’t crowd out or compete with other federal government spending priorities. Another way is that Mr. Klinsky is proposing something that is free while President Obama is proposing something that is “free”, i.e. it would not increase the student’s spending or indebtedness but it would increase the federal governmenet and state governments’ spending on higher education.
Still, I’m glad to see creative approaches being offered to the problem of the expense of higher education whether it’s being offered by a private individual or the president. Lord, send us a cure! The disease is already here.