WSJ: ‘Free Freshman Year’ Is Latest Path to Free College Credits [Update: All Media Coverage]


The “Freshman Year for Free” Open edX-based educational initiative, with courses mostly designed by IBL Studios, was featured in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) this Friday, August 11, as “latest path to free college credits”.

  • “The venture is the brainchild of Steven Klinsky, founder and chief executive of New Mountain Capital. He is covering the cost of the creation of 40 online courses designed and taught by professors from accredited universities.” 


  • “Mr. Klinsky said the would cover the exam fees for the first 10,000 students. (Both AP and CLEP test cost just under $100)”


  • “Mr. Klinsky said the funded the endeavor, under the aegis of the Modern States Education Alliance, with a donation he described only as being in the “single digit millions.” He hopes that in the future other philanthropists will give money to the program to cover the cost of the exams.”



The program deserved also the attention of The Washington Post and The Chronicle of Higher Education (New Venture Will Offer Free Courses That Students Can Take for College Credit”).


  • “The venture, being formally unveiled on Wednesday, includes a catalog of online courses in more than 40 subjects that were developed by academics affiliated with major universities across the country. Leaders of the Modern States Education Alliance, the New York City philanthropy behind the project, call it an “on ramp” to college.”


  • “The venture is “a private-sector approach to solving a social problem,” said Mr. Klinsky, who is also the founder and chief executive of New Mountain Capital, a private-equity firm that once held a major stake in Strayer Education, a for-profit-college company. Modern States recruited the professors and created the courses in collaboration with edX, the nonprofit MOOC venture, and with a production studio in New Jersey.”



  • “Mr. Klinsky and David A. Vise, a former Washington Post reporter who is executive director of Modern States, said they expected the courses would be a useful alternative to online courses that cost much more. Students’ only costs associated with Modern States courses are the fees for the credit tests.”


  • “The venture could also contribute to improved rates of college completion, especially for nontraditional students.”


  • “Mr. Vise, of Modern States, said some high-school teachers are using the courses to supplement their AP curricula.”


  • “Both Mr. Klinsky and Mr. Vise acknowledged that the courses might not be for everyone, especially given research showing that students from disadvantaged educational backgrounds often need mentoring and support to complete an online course. “We’re saying, it’s an opportunity,” said Mr. Klinsky.”


  • “Freshman Year for Free wasn’t initially part of the Modern States plan. Back in 2012 Mr. Klinsky set out to create a new kind of organization that would grant accreditation to alternative education providers. But he ran into obstacles, he said, and realized, “I didn’t have the power to change the accrediting system.” So rather than try to invent a new accrediting body, he decided to create courses that could be validated through a credit system that had been around for decades.”


The Founder of Modern States Education Alliance was also featured at Bloomberg on an article titled “In the Hamptons, a Financier Talks Housemates and College Credit”.