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Online course platform could slash student loan debt by thousands of dollars

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Model could save students thousands of dollars on college

An expanding online education platform could help students save money on college while boosting their income, according to a recent College Fix interview with a nonprofit entrepreneur.

TEL Education “provides general curriculum and an online learning platform to accredited colleges,” Vance Fried (below), the president of the nonprofit told The College Fix via email. “Several colleges participate in our Courses-on-Demand program where any student can take individual, transferable 3 credit hour courses for $200 all-inclusive.”

TEL Education started in 2018 and has been offering courses since 2019.

The online education platform comes at a time when politicians and experts debate canceling student loan debt. The total amount of student loan debt held by students has reached $1.73 trillion.

The cost includes “all learning materials, course instruction, technology, exam proctoring, and support via email, chat, and phone,” according to an explainer on the organization’s website. “We also provide onboarding support for school administrators and teachers.”

He added that TEL has added colleges where students can obtain a “full associates degree for $4000.”

Fried taught classes on entrepreneurship at Oklahoma State University.

Thousands of students have enrolled

He told The Fix that 8000 students have taken courses through TEL and there are currently 150 students enrolled in the new associates degree program. Partner colleges include Iowa Wesleyan University, Greenville University and York College. TEL lists 11 different universities that participate in its programming.

Students could take, for example, US History, Language and Composition or Latin and have the class count at their primary university.

“We feel that ENGL 1303 [Language and Composition] was so well-written that we will count it for both Comp 1 and Comp 2 at [Oklahoma Wesleyan University],” assistant provost Dalene Fisher wrote in a quote for TEL’s website.

“Students love the flexibility of TEL classes,” Fisher told The College Fix via email. “The courses are put together in understandable, straightforward ways with clear learning objectives.”

She recommended the platform to other colleges.

“TEL Education is knowledgeable, professional, and responsive,” Fisher said. “We’ve found the curriculum to fit nicely into our general education core, and we are thankful for the partnership.”

Fried said TEL continues to expand and this will help students save money and reduce student loan debt.

“Several of our college partners offer Collegiate Academy programs (dual and concurrent enrollment for high school students). This dramatically reduces the opportunity cost of higher education,” Fried said.

“If you do the first two years of college while in high school, you can complete your higher education in two fewer years total,” the nonprofit executive said. “This gives you two more years of your life for working at a higher wage. E.g. if you get a $40,000 a year job when you graduate, you’ve picked up an extra $80,000 of income.”

Its high school information page explains that the program allows students to obtain course credit at a “small fraction of the cost at a public university, cutting thousands off their college price tag. Plus students who go into college with credit get out faster and start earning sooner.”

Interested students can check out some of the free courses available on TEL’s website. Classes include economics, history, Christianity, Latin and algebra.

MORE: Speaker Pelosi says the president cannot cancel student loan debt

Editor’s note: The article has been updated with a more recent estimate of student loan debt.

IMAGES: 1889 Institute; Dean Drobot/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author
College Fix contributor Jeremy Hill is a student at Boyce College studying political science. He is involved in Young Americans for Freedom and Students for Life of America. He is a state captain for SFLA and a field representative for the Family Foundation of Virginia.