Online university offers a chance for poor students

Like many young people around the world, Emmanuel dreamed of going to university in the United States.

The 26-year-old only told VOA his first name because he is an undocumented immigrant. This means that he does not have the official documents necessary to legally enter, live or work in the United States.

Emmanuel came to the United States from Mexico five years ago. But, when he arrived, he discovered that his dream was much harder to achieve than he thought.

“I first had to learn English and realized that there was very little Opportunities for me to really study formal education in the United States.

But then Emmanuel read about the University of the People. The People’s University is a university that has no tuition fees costs. The university’s courses and teaching materials are all free in line. In addition, all teachers are volunteers.

Federal laws in the United States do not prevent undocumented immigrants from attending college. But laws prohibit undocumented immigrants from receiving government financial assistance.

The Pew Research Center is an organization that studies social issues around the world. The organization recently reported that there were 11.3 million illegal immigrants living in the United States in 2014. Of these, 49% were from Mexico.

Many undocumented immigrants like Emmanuel come to the United States with little money to pay for things like higher education. College Board is an organization that collects information and resources to make higher education more accessible.

The organization recently reported on the average cost of a four-year degree at public and private US universities.

The average cost at a public university is $9,410 for a resident of the state where the university is located. The average cost at a private university is $32,405.

College Board also reported that 69% of financial aid came from the US government in 2014.

Emmanuel had no other choice, so he chose to study at the University of the People. Soon, he says, he believed college would give him the skills for a future in computer science.

Shai Reshef is the president of the University of the People. He was born in Israel. Reshef has earned millions of dollars as CEO of Kidum Group. The Kidum Group was a company that helped students prepare for tests.

Reshef decided to establish a tuition-free university after visiting several poor countries. People in these countries had limited opportunities to access higher education.

“We have built a model to show universities, to show governments that the question of higher education can be solved. Higher education can be accessiblemaybe affordablecan be of high quality and should not leave anyone out.

Currently, the University of the People only offers computer science and business administration degrees. Although tuition is free, the university requires students to pay $50 application costs. Additionally, the university requires students to pay a $100 test fee when they complete a course.

The total cost for a four-year degree is $4,000. But the university offers scholarships.

Students must be at least 18 years old. They must be very proficient in English. Students must also have completed high school.

The university has students from 170 countries. Refugees are part of the university’s student body. Reshef also said nearly 25% of students are undocumented immigrants.

To help these students, People’s University works with other schools such as New York University, Oxford University, and Yale University.

The People’s University also works with companies like Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard. Some of these partners offer financial assistance to students. Other partners offer students internships.

The Distance Education Accrediting Commission or DEAC is an American organization that reviews the quality of online schools and schools without physical classrooms. The DEAC approved the education quality of the University of the People in 2014.

Emmanuel said he misses seeing and working with other students in a classroom. But he enjoys working online with students from many countries.

“It helps me realize that I’m not limited to staying in one country.”

There are more than 2,500 students studying at People’s University. The university expects that number to double next year.

Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs are free online courses offered by universities around the world. Stanford University started offering free MOOCs in 2006. Oxford University started offering free online courses in 2009.

But these courses are not part of a degree program.

I am Pete Musto.

Elizabeth Lee reported and wrote this story for VOA News. Pete Musto adapted it for Learn English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

Now it’s your turn. Do you think online classes work as well as classes at a physical school? What other low-cost higher education opportunities do you know of? Let us know in the comments section below or on our Facebook page.


words in this story

realize(D) – v. to understand or become aware of something

Opportunitiesnm amounts of time or situations in which something can be done

formaladj. received in a school

residentnm someone who lives in a particular place

scholarship(s) – nm money that a government, school, or organization gives or lends to students to help pay for their education

tuition feesnm money that is paid to a school for the right to study there

in lineadj. made on the internet

accessibleadj. that can be used or obtained

affordableadj. can be paid for at lower cost

applicationnm a formal and usually written request for something

traineeship(s) – nm a period during which a student or recent graduate is working at a job in order to gain experience

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