What is the most common complaint about higher education? Cost.
Tuition costs — and student-loan debt — continue to skyrocket, and books, room-and-board and meal plans aren’t far behind. How much longer can Americans afford bachelor’s degrees?
According to Gene Wade, co-founder and CEO of the for-profit startup UniversityNow, we’ve already reached that point:
The U.S. higher education system is poised for change. The cost of a college degree is skyrocketing with no end in sight. As a result, college is financially out of reach for many potential students, especially working adults. While they are the fastest growing segment of the American higher education market, working adults are also the group enduring the greatest increase in student loan debt, in part because they are the least likely to qualify for federal and state grant aid. UniversityNow is uniquely positioned to offer these non-traditional students the opportunity to earn an accredited, high-quality college education that won't leave them saddled with debt.
UniversityNow aims to make higher education more affordable. Their first school, New Charter University, is offering unlimited courses for just $200/month, which includes books and materials.
Their goal to disrupt the traditional model is made very clear, and technology is what makes their proposed changes possible.
We believe that there’s another way – and that higher education can be re-imagined, creatively and thoughtfully, to better address the needs of today’s students.
In the U.S., getting a college degree is one of the most significant financial decisions that an individual will ever make. Given its importance, families are willing to invest their life savings, and students are willing to mortgage their futures in order to pay for college. This is reflected in the $1 trillion in student loans outstanding, which has surpassed both credit card debt and auto loans in the U.S. (and shortly will surpass the total of both combined). Yet, as the cost of college continues to skyrocket and its importance continues to grow, the model for delivering education hasn’t changed much. For the most part, the experience of school is the same as it has been for over a century.
It has become increasingly clear that higher education needs to change. But will self-paced education satisfy enough students to push traditional universities to innovate?