StraighterLine and College Affordability: Making the Grade

Jaime Dalbke

From December, 2008...

Forty-nine of 50. That's the number of states in the U.S. with failing grades in higher education affordability, according to The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.

The Center published the findings in its "Measuring Up 2008: The National Report Card on Higher Education" study, which grades states in six categories. But none proved more dramatic than the affordability section, which provides grades based on the percentage of average family income it costs to attend college.

Consider the aforementioned statistic for a moment. Every single state in the union, save for California's grade of C minus, was deemed unaffordable. It's a startling trend, and one that we recognized some time ago. The rising cost of getting a solid education has unreasonably outpaced students' ability to pay them.

Contrast this year's findings with those of 2000, when only three Fs were handed out. What happened?

Students today are facing mountains of debt that only seem to grow. The average cost of a college degree doubled between 1997 and 2007, according to the College Board. And the Project on Student Debt reported that the average level of debt from a college education is now around $21,000.

StraighterLine, our online educational system, was founded as a tool to help balance the fulcrum of college affordability by shifting the power balance back toward students. It's the "competing markets" response to ballooning higher education costs. Through StraighterLine, students can complete a six-month general education course for just $399. They may also elect to try our "StraighterLine for $99" program, which offers the same course for only $99 a month.

Students can, upon completion of a StraighterLine course, choose to receive credit from one of our six regionally accredited partner colleges. Any credits earning may also be transferable to non-partner colleges that recognize StraighterLine's partner's courses as equivalent programs. The combined costs of either approach will save students thousands of dollars. Refreshing, isn't it?

So, college seekers living in a flunking-grade state - that's pretty much all of you, right? - check out your options. You might find an affordable alternative that can provide a great education without drowning you in debt.

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