Philanthropy that Helps Learners Earn College Credit for Free Gets 150k Users

IBL News | New York

The Freshman Year for Free philanthropic project, which prepares learners to pass the College Board’s CLEP exam, has attracted over 150,000 active users during its first two years of existence.

This initiative, hosted on, is mostly used by learners seeking to earn credits for a few courses.

Modern States Education Alliance, the philanthropy behind the program, created by New York financier Steve Klinsky, pays the cost for the CLEP exam. This year, Steve Klinsky pledged an additional $1 million in gifts to students.

A total of $300,000 comes from other foundations, such as the Achelis and Bodman Foundation, the Laura B. Vogler Foundation and The Starr Foundation.

The Heckscher Foundation for Children has also partnered with Modern States, providing funds to New York City public schools in Harlem and the Bronx to facilitate adoption of Modern States.

“No one should be locked from education by lack of funds,” said Klinsky. “The new grants and gifts for Modern States help ensure that many thousands of students can learn at a college level, save on tuition, and move one step closer to earning their diploma.”

“Tens of thousands of poor and underserved youth fail to obtain a degree due to the high cost associated with attending college,” said Peter Sloane, chairman and CEO of  The Heckscher Foundation.

I’ve seen firsthand hundreds of students benefit from this extraordinary opportunity to earn free college credit,” said Darrin Theriaultdirector of academic testing at Kennesaw State University in Georgia.

Modern States includes courses in all 32 subjects for which there is a credit bearing CLEP exam, plus Advanced Placement courses. Courses tied to CLEP exams include: Psychology, Biology, American History, English Literature, College Math, Information Systems, and Introductory Business Law, among others.

In the program, professors participate from universities such as John Hopkins, Columbia, Rutgers, Purdue and others.

The learning platform used is Open edX, and the developer of the tech infrastructure and courseware is New York-based IBL Education.

“Modern States is now America’s leading free college program,” stated David Vise, Modern States’ executive director. “Our program is entirely free for students; no barrier to entry. We are dedicated to make college degree more affordable and accessible to everyone”.

“Modern States provides a great opportunity for students to prepare for CLEP exams and earn college credit, free of charge,” said Emily Paulsen, executive director of CLEP for The College Board. “The Modern States courses are a great resource for working students, service members, and students of all ages and backgrounds to ultimately save on tuition and get a head start on their college degrees.”

The pass rate of students who use to prepare for a CLEP exam is 75 percent, well above the national average. Each Modern States free course and exam passed can save students and their families $1,000 to $2,000 in college costs, with no taxpayer dollars spent,” said David Vise.

In addition to paying the $89 CLEP exam fee, Modern States reimburses students for test center fees, typically $25. Thousands of colleges and universities accept CLEP for credit, including major universities such as Penn State, Ohio State, SUNY, Texas State, and Morehouse.