You could get your freshman year cost free with this online program

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There is currently over a trillion dollars in student loan debt in the United States and that number continues to grow each year. Fortunately, there’s a program offering an alternative way to earn college credit without having to break the bank. Modern States Education Alliance is offering free online courses to students that could even potentially eliminate the cost for freshman year.

Freshman year for free?

Modern States is a non-profit aimed at making college more affordable with its “Freshman Year for Free” program, which offers students access to free online courses, as well as digital textbooks and other materials. The courses are provided to help students prepare for the Advanced Placement (AP) and College Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests that are offered by  College Board. This is important because more than 2,000 traditional colleges and universities offer credit to students who pass the AP or CLEP exams, according to College Board.

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Modern States has partnered with edX and online learning platform from Harvard and MIT. The partnership allows Modern States to provide thirty freshman college courses —  including lectures, tests, textbooks, and other features at no cost. Courses will prepare students for the exams needed to get college credit.

Passing the AP or CLEP tests can allow students to begin with up to one year’s worth of credit after they enroll in a traditional college, which could potentially mean saving as much as 25% on tuition, according to the Washington Post. The program’s courses are taught by professors from Johns Hopkins, Columbia, Rutgers and other highly regarded schools.

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“Freshman Year for Free” isn’t technically completely free, since students have to take the AP and CLEP exams in order to be considered for college credit. College Board charges for both: The AP exam is $92 and the CLEP is $85  for each test, but even taking multiple tests the total cost is a great deal less than a year’s tuition at pretty much any college or university.

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