The online university UniversityNow is offering a way for working adults to get a college degree at literally no cost to its students.
Lucky high school students can scrape together enough scholarships and grants to cover a hefty portion of their college tuition. But working adults? They’re generally on their own. UniversityNow has gained a following for its approach to solving the college tuition program: a competency-based education platform that offers low-cost degrees through two accredited online schools–New Charter University and Patten University. The schools are cheap compared to traditional universities–New Charter is $199 per month for unlimited classes (including e-textbooks). But UniversityNow is going a step further, making it possible for a significant portion of the working adult population to get a degree from Charter or Patten for free.
The startup announced this week that it’s teaming up with the mayors of San Francisco, Oakland, and Sacramento, California, for the College Works Initiative, which caps the cost of attending UniversityNow’s schools at whatever students receive in tuition reimbursement from their employers. That means several hundred thousand workers in the three cities–anyone who gets tuition reimbursement–can now obtain a college degree at no cost.
Believe it or not, this won’t put a strain on UniversityNow’s business. “Because we run a low-cost model, for most employers their tuition reimbursement is more than our retail cost. That’s how we stumbled into this,” explains UniversityNow co-founder and CEO Gene Wade. And for the working adults who get a smaller tuition reimbursement–well, they’re in luck.
The federal limit for giving employees tuition reimbursement without being taxed is $5,250 per year. That’s often where employers will cap reimbursement, giving employees facing college tuitions that cost tens of thousands of dollars each year little hope. A BS in business from New Charter, on the other hand, costs $6,368 in total.
via FastCoExist – Ariel Schwartz
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