As the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) forces Americans to shelter in place and keep a social distance from each other, an opportunity exists to more fully harness available technology.  Expanding distance learning’s use has this potential. Beyond addressing the immediate challenge of educating during COVID, it can help make college more affordable, by reducing tuition costs and tuition related debt.

Private initiatives have been expanding the availability of online courses.  Businessman and education reformer Steven Klinsky champions a national digital library of online college courses, available on a tuition-free basis.

Klinsky’s Modern States Education Alliance combines top-quality professors, free online textbooks and credit-granting certifying exams.[i] The Alliance’s “Freshman Year for Free” offers free online courses that can lead to credit. Working with an online joint venture of Harvard and MIT and other course developers, they are producing top quality, tuition-free online courses for every one of the traditional freshman college subjects.  Making more credit-granting online courses available makes college far more affordable to students at very little taxpayer cost.

As Klinsky has written: “Online college courses are nothing new. Millions of students have now taken college courses entirely online for the past twenty years, for full academic credit, and from all types of colleges and trade schools. The problem, however, is that — due to the regulatory and “pricing power” structure of accredited post-secondary education — the tuition cost for these online courses has been set every bit as high (or sometimes higher!) than for the same course delivered in the physical classroom.” [ii] <READ MORE>