How to Take Online Community College Classes for Free

How to Take Online Community College Classes for Free
Learn about programs across the country that allow students to take online community college classes for free.
Looking for a way to get a college education at little or no cost? So is the current administration!
 
Last year, President Obama created a plan for community colleges that included a $500 million budget to create free online courses that could be tailored to the specific needs of students. According to Inside Higher Ed, the proposal was part of a larger plan to beef up community college services and access, preparing more Americans for practical job opportunities in the current workforce.
 
Plan Specifics
 
In addition to helping high schools come up with low-cost curriculum, the original proposal coming out of the White House offered federal funding to help community colleges develop courses that students could take absolutely free. The $500 million originally offered would be used to both create curriculum and ways to assess student performance in the courses. The efforts would be coordinated under a "National Skills College."
 
Many community colleges supported the efforts, even as they were making the move to put more and more courses online. An online curriculum makes sense to many community college students who are trying to structure their education around a professional job and family responsibilities. In light of the fact that many community college students have limited resources to spend on education, the free courses make even more sense on this level. Some college officials are even hopeful that free online courses would inspire other organizations to set up laptop programs to make computers available to low-income students.
 
Unfortunately, the Obama plan has yet to transpire. Despite widespread support for the proposal, the $500 million earmarked for free online courses was dropped from the recently approved healthcare and student aid bill, as reported by USA Today.
 
However, all is not lost on the free classes’ front after all. Another institution, which has been providing free online courses for years, is slowly but surely growing in terms of courses offered and its membership base.
 
The National Repository of Online Courses
 
One organization that was hoping for a piece of the pie in Obama's latest proposal was the National Repository of Online Courses (NROC). This institution has been creating free online courses through its e-learning portal, HippoCampus, since long before President Obama drafted his proposal. The organization is slowly growing, both in the number of courses provided and the number of members it boasts in its base.
 
How the NROC Operates
 
This non-profit program is supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, according to the NROC website. Originally, NROC purchased courses from the University of California's vault of preparatory courses. However, according to NROC's director, Gary Lopez, nearly one-third of all students and institutions using NROC's free resources today are community and technical colleges. With the help of a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the organization was able to begin designing its own coursework that is better customized to the individual needs of its members.
 
The courses are developed by representatives of leading educational institutions across the country. Each online class is carefully assessed for instructional value and presentational impact. The courses are flexible enough to be used in many generalized curriculums and can also be customized to the individual needs of the college or student.
 
HippoCampus is the online portal for distribution of NROC's materials. According to the HippoCampus website, this project, like NROC, is a project of the Monterey Institute for Technology and Education. The website provides curriculum for both the college and high school level, with a broad range of course topics to choose from.
 
Eliminates the Need for Textbooks
 
Karen Kaemmerling, a history instructor for Colorado Community Colleges Online and blog writer for NROC, told USA Today that the NROC's move to more sophisticated teaching tools may put traditional publishers in a bind. She adds that NROC's material is much more usable to students, and in addition to the free price tag, the intuitiveness makes these resources much more attractive than traditional textbooks. Currently, NROC is working hard to develop a developmental math sequence, which would make even more courses available without the need for textbooks.
 
How Free is Free?
 
While students have access to NROC materials at absolutely no charge, the same is not true for institutions. Many have to pay a membership fee to gain access to the portal, which ranges from $3,000 to $50,000 per year. The lower end of the fee scale typically applies to individual institutions, while the higher cost mostly applies to state education systems. In some cases, institutions pass this cost along to students by charging a nominal tuition fee for courses obtained through NROC membership.
 
College used to be considered the "impossible dream" for many low-income students and adults looking for additional work training. However, thanks to proposals from President Obama (which still may come to pass sometime in the future) and organizations like NROC, students can get the education they need at a price they can afford.

Additional Resources [+]
Online Community College Classes
Online Community College Classes
Sending Prisoners Back to School? A New IHEP Study Says Yes
Sending Prisoners Back to School? A New IHEP Study Says Yes
comments powered by Disqus
Recent Articles
4 Indispensable Tips for Surviving Your 1st Semester of Community College
4 Indispensable Tips for Surviving Your 1st Semester of Community College
This summer will be wrapping up before we know of it, and your first semester at community college is rapidly approaching. Are you ready for it?
Simple Mistakes Cost Community College Students Millions
Are you receiving the full financial aid you should? The process of applying for financial aid can be both time-consuming and confusing, especially for first-time college students. Learn about common errors to avoid in order to maximize your financial aid opportunities.
Students Stuck for Four Years to Earn an Associate?s Degree
A recent report revealed that many California community college students take twice as long to get an associate’s degree as is normally required. While community college is less expensive than attending a four-year institution, students who drag out their degree programs lose much of that savings in additional tuition, fees, textbooks, and lost wages. In this article, we examine the reasons why some students take so long to graduate.

Get Your Degree!

Find schools and get information on the program that’s right for you.

Powered by Campus Explorer

Courses in College

ONLINE COURSES

Online classes give you the flexibility to learn off-campus, often at times most convenient for your schedule. Identify 10 degrees you can earn online, weigh the pros and cons of online education and find out how you can take online classes for free.