Yes, More People Enroll When College Is Free - Featured Image

Yes, More People Enroll When College Is Free

A new experiment in Minnesota is once again proving what we already know: when you make college more affordable, more people attend.

Undergraduate enrollment has fallen substantially since 2010, and the economy is increasingly facing a lack of qualified workers that require training generally offered at community colleges. The more populations have access to higher education, the better the economy does. So getting more people, and more kinds of people, enrolling and succeeding in college is a crucial concern.

It seems like every few years, someone asks, “What if we make college cost less? Would that help?” It’s been tried at schools in Maine, In Florida, in Michigan, in South Carolina, and California. And the answer is always yes. Every time a college or higher education system tries, it lowering costs works

Minnesota’s “North Star Promise Scholarship Program” is the latest such experiment. It’s a full-ride scholarship at in-state public colleges and universities for every Minnesota resident whose household earns less than $80,000 a year. It’s a great idea.  

The program hasn’t even taken effect yet, but enrollment is already up slightly across the Minnesota state system, and applications are up nearly 20% for the fall 2024 semester.

Cost isn’t the only barrier to college accessibility, but it is a significant one. If we want more people to go to college, they have to be able to afford it.

Here in California, Calbright is on the leading edge of college accessibility. We’re free, online, flexibly paced, and we accept any Californians over 18 with a high school diploma or equivalent who applies. Plus, our programs are designed to fit into the schedules of working age Californians. And our enrollment has increased substantially over the last few years, mostly with populations who are underrepresented at traditional colleges. 

When you make college accessible people come, and it helps everyone thrive.

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