I am frequently asked questions about the price of our college-credit courses.
One of the most frequent is, “$200? How did you come up with that?”
A key part of TEL’s mission is to provide equitable access to college-level learning. Part of that commitment to equity is affordability. Anyone should be able to take a 3-credit-hour course for a price that would not force them to borrow money or make any unreasonable sacrifices.
But how much would that be?
To help us find an answer, we spoke to young working adults who had struggled financially. We asked them how much they could afford over a four-month period. We emphasized that it had to be based on an amount they could put aside each month without giving up anything essential.
The final answer? $200.
Everything included, $200 for a 3-hour course. Not $200 plus a $90 textbook. Not $200 plus $15 in student fees. $200.
That was a price that almost anyone could afford. It was also a price that would allow us to meet our goal of making an entire year of college credit (10 courses) available for $2,000. At that price, we knew we could provide an affordable pathway toward a college degree and save students thousands of dollars in the process.
Of course, we didn’t simply want to be inexpensive. We wanted to prepare students for their college and their professional career. We set out to design high-quality courses that would lead to learner agency and concept mastery. To accomplish that design goal, we created a curriculum development process that begins with evidence-based learning outcomes. These are mapped to all assessments and activities and can be aligned easily to state and national standards. This allows us to offer our courses as dual-enrollment solutions for high schools and for homeschool learners.
We also focused heavily on delivering a learning-content experience that promotes student agency and application. To support that goal, we use rubric-based evidence activities that promote demonstrable mastery of course concepts.
These are challenging college-level courses. Our partners review each course closely and confirm that the TEL courses are similar in scope, sequence, and rigor to courses they have or would have developed themselves. Several schools have even told us that these courses surpass their own general education equivalents.
But it isn’t enough for our courses to be well-designed. We want students to be successful. Quality educational experiences also include strong instructional services and support. That’s why, in addition to the instruction provided through our curriculum, we also provide active instructors, quick feedback from our technical support team, and proactive guidance from our student coaches.
Finally, affordability doesn’t mean much if a product isn’t widely accessible. We provide accessible, print-ready versions of all course materials to support that requirement. This allows students with low or no connectivity to work offline or study using a print format.
And, in case you’re wondering, the answer is, “Yes, we offer all of that for $200.”
Because if we want to give everyone a chance to start their college study, we need to reach people where they are at a price they can truly afford.