THE BLOG

How Much Does it Cost to Educate All Those Currently Priced Out of Education?

12/07/2011 04:05 pm ET | Updated Feb 05, 2012

Realistically, it will only take a drop in the bucket in relation to the billions floating within the higher education industry. To exemplify how insignificant the support needed to reach individuals currently priced out of education is, take the recently launched $6 billion fundraising campaign at the University of Southern California and divide by 1000; the average $300 million university endowment in the U.S. and divide by 50; or the interest Harvard earned every 10 hours last year. Either way, the solution is $6 million: a tiny price in the world of higher education but a number that has the capacity to educate the world over.

With $6 million, a non-profit, tuition-free online academic institution such as my University of the People can reach sustainability and then scale out - creating the capacity to educate an infinite number of individuals. At the core however, is the knowledge that upon reaching sustainability, the higher education industry can look sincerely at this model, leading to parts of its model being replicated by universities and governments to bring down the global cost of higher education. Adoptable parts, right now, include the use of open source technology, open educational resources, peer-to-peer learning and volunteers. Each one of these resources are powerful in themselves, but taken together, provide an efficient and economical way to deliver quality education to significant numbers of individuals.

Education has been well documented as not only a path to employment, but also a path capable of positively impacting individual health, lifetime income, and other quality-of-life measures. Improved economic stability, social awareness, and reduced crime rates are all linked to access to education. Thus it should be in everyone's best interest to safeguard the existence of adequate educational access across a myriad of options and ensure completely equal access for all.

With millions around the world priced out of education, and the gap able to be filled with $6 million, it seems counterintuitive to pump billions in philanthropic giving towards anything else. Leaders from Oxford, Harvard and Columbia University stand behind this model. The UN-GAID, Yale University, New York University, Hewlett-Packard and the Clinton Global Initiative have established partnerships with it. Over 1200 students from more than 120 countries have been accepted. More than 2,000 volunteers registered.

Fighting the gap in educational attainment is possible with a mere $6 million. And it starts with your help.