It’s no secret that college in the United States has become incredibly expensive.
Student debt in the US is currently close to $1.5 trillion in total and people graduate with an average $37,172 in debt.
And while politicians debate about what to do about it and investors tell young startup founders to quit the college rat race altogether, one company is working on a solution from within the system to help people afford their degrees.
That company is OnlineDegree.com, a free platform that helps students reduce the cost of college by around 30 percent.
As “a modern alternative to junior college,” OnlineDegree.com lets students accumulate up to 44 transferrable credits via their online classes.
All of the courses can be completed at the student’s own pace and are available 24/7, making them ideal for people who are still in the workforce but want to finish their education or get started with less debt. The site also helps students get tuition discounts when they enroll in participating accredited colleges.
“With student debt at all-time highs, people across the country are hesitant to take the first step towards college,” says OnlineDegree.com Founder Grant Aldrich. “By providing a flexible and tuition-free pathway that uniquely fits the needs of today’s working adults, we’re making the college dream a reality for everyone.”
Here’s the thing: Yes, college is expensive. But so is not having a college degree.
One study from Georgetown University found that college graduates make $1 million more over their lifetime than people with only a high school education or a partial college education. Another Pew Research study found that college graduates make a median of $17,500 more than high school graduates per year.
Additionally, many people carry college debt without a four-year degree, making them especially prone to poverty. In 2015 and 2016, for example, 3.9 million students dropped out of college with debt. And while people make the calculated decision to take on debt in order to get an education that will lead to a better life, without that degree, it’s very difficult to pay that money back.
OnlineDegree.com has decided that the best way to tackle this problem is by offering their services totally tuition-free. Instead of money from students, they rely on advertisements, sponsorships, a planned marketplace for tutoring, “and other avenues yet to be explored.”
“We’ve decided on a bold path to look outside of the tuition paradigm to ensure we don’t exclude anyone from participating,” says Aldrich. “We’re on a mission to make college affordable and accessible for everyone, and we’re not going to compromise on that.”
And it looks like their approach is working.
With less than a year on the market (the site launched in June 2018), OnlineDegree.com just celebrated their 10,000th registered student. As an increasing number of people search for ways to make college more affordable and reduce student debt, it’s a fair guess that 10,000 students is only the beginning.