At this college, you only pay if you pass

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Arizona State University plans to offer a freshman year of college to anyone in the world with an internet connection - no application required.


Even better? You only pay if you pass.

In its latest effort to distinguish itself in a crowded higher education field, ASU announced Thursday it will partner with edX, a popular online course provider founded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard, to create the Global Freshman Academy.


The program will offer 12 online courses and students will only owe tuition - $200 per credit - if they get a passing grade. Students will be able to complete courses on their own time, so everyone from people with day jobs to high school students looking to get an early start on their degrees could enroll.

ASU is fast becoming known as an innovator in the higher education space. Earlier this month, Starbucks announced a partnership with the college to cover the cost of all four years of a bachelor's degree for employees.

President Obama has praised the university for helping to "open the doors of higher education to students from every background."

While some colleges have been criticized for using massive open online courses, or MOOCs as they are widely known, to funnel students through remedial courses with little success, ASU's model is relatively unique. Students won't have to pay unless they successfully complete a course, and unlike some one-off courses offered on MOOC providers like Coursera and edX, ASU is a nationally recognized university, meaning the credit is very likely to be transferable.


The university is one of a growing number of colleges looking at new ways to educate students online.

In the last several years, more than a dozen elite universities have partnered with 2U, a company that helps schools offer certain graduate degrees online.


“At ASU, we’re committed to academic inclusion and student success," ASU President Michael M. Crow said in a statement, "regardless of a student’s family circumstances."

Emily DeRuy is a Washington, D.C.-based associate editor, covering education, reproductive rights, and inequality. A San Francisco native, she enjoys Giants baseball and misses Philz terribly.

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