- Online, tuition-free University of the People has seen its enrollment in the U.S. surge since achieving accreditation last year, particularly among students who are immigrants.
- Associated Press reports the number of U.S. students has grown from 72 in 2013 to 950 this year, and a survey by the school showed about one-quarter of them to be immigrants.
- Besides appealing to immigrants with fewer opportunities in traditional higher ed, University of the People appeals to those looking for low-cost options. Its bachelor's degrees in business and computer science cost about $4,000 in fees for an initial application and exams.
University of the People earned its accreditation from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission. It bills itself as the world's first free online university and has the support of New York University and the Clinton Global Initiative.
Tuition is free for students, in part, because instructors don't earn very much, the institution uses free online course materials, and it relies on a team of volunteers. The university writes the courses and then assigns them to instructors, so the faculty workload is lighter. Students are also expected to contribute to assessing their peers.
Cheaper, online institutions provide one way for these students to get a degree, though finding a job afterward creates another struggle.