The Benefit of Earning College Credit Before Graduating High School

Not everyone has heard of CLEP, but the 50-year-old program is gaining traction with high school students.

The College Level Examination Program (CLEP), offered by The College Board, is a series of 30+ credit-bearing exams which test learners of all ages on college freshman-level subjects; passing scores on the exams are accepted for credit by more than 2,900 colleges and universities. High school administrators and teachers are advising their juniors and seniors to get a head start on college by earning credit via CLEP exams. Passing eight CLEP exams equals an entire freshman years’ worth of college credit – saving learners and their families thousands of dollars on tuition and an entire year of college.

There are various resources available to students interested in taking CLEP exams, including Modern States’ “Freshman Year for Free” program. Modern States, a nonprofit dedicated to making a college degree more affordable and accessible, offers a catalog of tuition-free, self-paced CLEP courses taught by college professors. Students can take one course or many, and the philanthropy pays the $89 test fee and reimburses proctoring fees – making any credit earned from passing a CLEP exam completely free.

Students across the country are looking for ways to save on college costs, especially since many high schools and colleges moved their classes online. “The more credits our students can earn now exponentially increases their chances of earning a degree,” said Eric T. Jones, superintendent of a West Tennessee school system. “We will do anything to help stack the odds in their favor and help minimize the amount of debt they take on.”

Despite challenges brought on by COVID-19, education remains a priority. By empowering high school juniors and seniors to prepare for and pass CLEP exams, schools are providing them a critical opportunity to get a head start on college.

David Vise, executive director of Modern States.