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A contentious Farm Bill heads to U.S. House for debate. Also on our rundown: gaps cited in protections for small-business employees and nonprofit volunteers; plus some warning signs, that increased youth activism may not correspond to voter turnout.

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Free First-Year College Classes Being Offered

A nonprofit offers online courses to help students afford college. (Kiyana Carter)
A nonprofit offers online courses to help students afford college. (Kiyana Carter)
September 29, 2017

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Many parents struggle every month to make payments for their child's education, and every year the cost of college goes up. That means many young people never get the opportunity to go on past high school.

Tuition plus fees at four-year public colleges jumped by more than 70 percent over the last decade.

Modern States Education Alliance is a nonprofit that focuses on making a high-quality college education free of cost and accessible to all. Founder and CEO Steve Klinsky says the new "Freshman Year for Free" program lets students earn up to one year of college credit without tuition or textbook expenses.

"You can take chemistry from a Columbia professor, college math from Johns Hopkins, introductory business law from the former dean of George Washington Law Schools," he says.

Klinsky says Modern States' 40 courses are designed to prepare students for the "Advanced Placement" or "College Level Examination Program" tests offered by the College Board.

He says most universities offer online courses, but they're almost as expensive as attending class on campus. He says other free classes don't come with college credits. He says Modern States' classes are open to everyone.

"We've had homeschoolers, working moms who work all day, put their kids to bed and can take these courses at night," he continues. "We've had people in the military. So it's for anyone, any age, from high school to college student to, it could be, an 85-year-old retiree who just wants to learn chemistry."

According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2016-2017 school year in the U.S. was more than $33,000 at private colleges, almost $10,000 for state residents at public colleges, and $25,000 for out-of-state residents attending public universities.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MD