How StraighterLine Makes Two-Year Degrees Easy and Affordable

Jaime Dalbke

From January 2009...

Among its many worthy charitable efforts, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation ( has set a goal of doubling the number of low-income young adults earning a postsecondary degree by age 26 in the United States. Postsecondary degrees include any education after graduating high school, and one of the foundation's strategies involves plans to make obtaining a two-year degree easier, quicker and more affordable than at present.

We at StraighterLine (SL), an online education solution, believe that we can serve as a primary component of accomplishing this goal, since these are the same objectives we kept in mind when we created SL. Regarding affordability, our entry-level courses are available in two pricing programs - purchasing individual courses at only $399, or buying the StraighterLine for $99 program, where a $99 per month subscription with no additional start-up costs includes unlimited access to any and all courses one at a time. Our e-Books cost nearly less than half what other college textbooks covering the same material charge. And because our courses are all online, our students do not have to shell out cash for parking, transportation, activity fees, and many other expenses associated with traditional bricks-and-mortar colleges.

The ease of use of our program fits into the foundation's goal quite effectively. Once a student logs onto our Web site to take any course, he or she can begin studying it immediately. There is no need to wait for a starting semester date, as some other sites require. Since our courses occur via the Internet, they provide the students with the power to choose whenever and wherever they want to study. For students with an irregular work schedule or family to care at home at odd hours, this is a godsend for their ability to obtain a two-year college degree.

Once students start a SL course, it is up to them to determine what length of time is best for them to absorb the lessons in each course. If so inclined, they can finish and take the final exam to earn credit weeks, even months earlier than students using a traditional college semester to study. For motivated students, this is a huge advantage over traditional college learning techniques.

We do not claim that SL will be the ultimate solution for the two-year degree strategy of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as we offer only developmental and entry-level college courses. However, we have several regionally accredited partner colleges where students can receive credits and easily transfer their studies, and credits may also be transferable to non-partner colleges that recognize our partner's courses as equivalent programs. We provide the incentive to encourage these students to pursue their degrees on their own terms.

There is so much more that we offer all college students at StraighterLine. Visit for a complete description of all of our courses, requirements and the many benefits of our unique education model.

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