Free College Courses for Credit: Now a Reality

Posted by Steve Klinsky on March 07, 2019 at 8:50 AM

CFCT is always looking for innovative ideas to make college tuition free. While we are not affiliated with the Modern States philanthropy and are not endorsing its solution to the challenge, we do think our readers should be aware of its existence.


Free College Courses for Credit: Now a Reality  

By Steve Klinsky


Nobody should be denied a college education for lack of money. However, as evidenced by student debt exceeding $1.5 trillion, college affordability is a major issue for students and their families.

The Modern States philanthropy has created a tool to address the college cost problem: a digital public library of great online college courses at that anyone can use to earn real college credits absolutely free. The site has already gained 119,000 registered students in its first 16 months since launch, and has already saved students millions of dollars in tuition and textbook expense.

Modern States spent three years hiring some of the best university professors in America to create this first-ever collection of tuition-free online courses in over 30 major college subjects, from College Algebra to Physics to Spanish. The courses can be accessed for free at Online textbooks and practice questions are free as well. Each course was specially designed to enable learners to earn traditional academic credits at more than 2,900 colleges and universities, from Ohio State to Morehouse, by preparing students to pass the well-accepted College Level Examination Program (CLEP) exams from the College Board – the same organization that offers the SAT and AP exams.

Each time a student passes a CLEP exam, they can get credit for that subject course when they enroll in any of the thousands of traditional colleges which already accept CLEP scores for credit. If a student passes eight CLEP exams, they can often earn enough college credit to cover an entire year’s worth of college, saving tremendous time and money. Modern States is even paying for the $87 CLEP exam fee and the $25 test center fee for the first 20,000 exam takers. 

Modern States’ efforts have helped thousands of students, both traditional and non-traditional learners. We hear from them about how Modern States has made it possible for them to earn college credits while still in high school, to graduate college early or on time, to achieve professional advancement in their careers or to attend school while also caring for their families.  

Nataniel Pabon-Trinidad, currently a senior at Thomas Jefferson HS in Louisiana, earned 32 college credits – eight courses, or a full year’s worth – by utilizing Modern States during his junior year. He plans to transfer the credits to Louisiana State University upon graduation. Michael Eide, a 36-year-old learner from Arizona, surpassed program expectations and passed 20 CLEP exams after taking Modern States courses. He received his bachelor’s degree and is now pursuing law school. is a resource for anyone of any age or background who is looking for a way to save money on the cost of college: high school students, college students, adult learners, citizens and non-citizens alike.



Steve Klinsky is the founder and CEO of the Modern States Education Alliance. He has been active in education reform since 1993, founding afterschool centers, charter schools and professorships and currently serves as chairman of the Harvard Program on Education Policy and Governance.


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The Campaign for Free College Tuition is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization established in the State of Washington in 2014 to educate parents, students, the higher education community, policy makers and taxpayers about efforts needed to fundamentally reform our nation’s system for financing higher education. This website and CFCT’s educational outreach activities are made possible through generous individual and foundation support.