These Innovative Organizations are Making College More Affordable—Here’s How

Teaching Trends
Online LearningStudent Success

Article Summary

  • According to one study, 45% of students surveyed chose not to register for a course due to cost.|Many Texas students graduate with over $27,000 in student loan debt.|Many would-be students are forced to put enrollment on hold because seeking a degree can be prohibitive for those with full-time jobs, or who care for family members.
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Financial stress: it’s often why would-be students shy away from higher education. In fact, this study revealed that 45 percent of students surveyed chose not to register for a course due to cost.

But there is good news: a number of organizations are approaching affordable education with innovative models, shaking up the status quo and providing inspiration for higher ed institutions. Not only do these models help alleviate the financial burden for students; they are also creating a better, highly skilled workforce. How’s that for a win-win?

Check out how these organizations are making college more affordable with outside-of-the-box solutions:


year up logo

Year Up bridges the affordability gap with an innovative and effective learn-while-you-earn model, enabling young adults to move from minimum wage to meaningful careers in just one year. During the first six months of the one-year program, Year Up students take classes to develop a variety of sought-after technical and professional skills, from operating systems and customer service to career networking and presentation skills.

Students then apply those skills during the second six-month stint at an internship with one of Year Up’s corporate partners, which include a roster of employers such as Microsoft, Bank of America and more, with coursework eligible for college credit. Even better? Students earn an educational stipend while being supported by a community of advisors and career mentors crucial to the success of young professionals entering the workforce.

A quote on the Year Up website from graduate Manual Misa encapsulates the organization’s mission perfectly: It’s just one year of your life to the career of your dreams.


Kenzie Academy logo

Without the right skills, breaking into and building a career within a specific field can be tough, and the tech industry is no exception. Enter Kenzie Academy, another organization taking a learn-while-you-earn approach to providing students with affordable education, and employers with a tech-savvy talent pool.

Through both in-person and online classes, students learn the technical skills (along with soft skills, such as networking) needed to succeed in tech-industry areas like UX, engineering, software engineering and digital marketing.

Just like Year Up, Kenzie’s “Earn and Learn” program offers students access to part-time technical support jobs that accommodate their class schedules. According to CEO and co-founder Chok Ooi, this new program provides students with much-needed income while gaining skills and professional development to set them up for success.

PelotonU logo

The very real fear of amassing student loan debt prevents many potential students from pursuing higher ed degrees. In fact, according to Austin-based nonprofit PelotonU, many Texas students graduate with over $27,000 in student loan debt.

The PelotonU approach to affordable education is focused on reducing (or even eliminating) student-debt stress. Working with government grants, donors and employers, PelotonU matches students with the best financial aid possible, with one year of schooling costing as little as $5,500 per year.


Duet Logo

Southern New Hampshire University is a non-profit institution striving to make higher education affordable and accessible with a cutting-edge program called Duet.

Boasting the tagline, Same Degree, Done Differently, Duet offers students a path to receive an accredited associate or bachelor’s degree quickly and without having to slow down at work.

An on-demand coursework model allows students to create their own schedules and finish homework on their own terms. SNHU tuition includes all the services Duet offers; even better, there are no additional expenses like books or fees.


What Can You Do to Help Your Students?

No matter what subject you teach or how your institution tackles the affordability challenges faced by today’s learners, you can add value to your students’ education by instilling them with workforce readiness skills employers look for.

Opportunities to teach students employable skills, like how to become better communicators and how to think critically, abound across every subject. Discover the skills employers seek so you can help your students hone them in this ebook.