(Photo by Stephen Babcock)
Baltimore-based StraighterLine is introducing a new program that allows students taking its courses at a Texas community college to access federal financial aid.
It’s the first result of StraighterLine’s participation in a U.S. Department of Education experiment called Educational Quality through Innovation Partnerships (EQUIP). Announced in 2016, EQUIP allows colleges and universities to partner with non-traditional education providers.
Through the program, StraighterLine is partnering with Brookhaven College, which is part of the Dallas County Community College District in Texas. In two associate’s degree programs for business and criminal justice, students will be able to complete all of their coursework online. StraighterLine’s online courses, which are designed as a lower-cost, self-paced option for students, can be accessed for more than half of the coursework. Applications opened last week.
DCCCD Chancellor Joe May describes the approach this way in a statement: “In other words, they can finish college with an online degree and low-to-no debt, and in a convenient, online format that meets their needs.”
The Council for Higher Education Accreditation is serving to review student outcomes and other info to ensure quality offerings.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, the program is the first to get approval to enroll students under the EQUIP initiative. The initial round of programs selected for EQUIP also included an emphasis on coding programs.
Congrats to @dcccd — the first school approved to enroll students in the EQUIP experiment. EQUIP opens the door for students to use federal aid to enroll in innovative programs previously only available outside the federal financial aid system. https://t.co/PIRoXMQ2cN
— US Dept of Education (@usedgov) April 13, 2018
StraighterLine partners with colleges to offer its courses, but the use of federal financial aid is new. When Straighterline initially joined EQUIP in 2016, CEO Burck Smith said it was a sign of further market adoption of the South Baltimore company’s approach.
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