uopeople free
University of the People offers a tuition-free education for anyone who wants to obtain an American-accredited degree. Source: Shutterstock

You’re heard about University of People and your next question is “Is UoPeople free?”. Given the astronomical costs of a typical college education, a pay-nothing model seems too good to be true. Yet, that’s what reports increasingly tell us, i.e. that UoPeople is tuition-free and legitimate.

When Shai Reshef realised that tuition fees kept increasing, and the Internet becoming much more accessible, he recognised this opportunity and founded University of the People. Since then, it is increasingly recognised. It is now known as the world’s first tuition-free, online academic institution which boasts national accreditation by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission.

UoPeople is currently a candidate for regional accreditation by WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) Senior College and University Commission. That means your degrees will be recognised regionally as well, once UoPeople gets confirmation on this accreditation.

Top academics from world-class institutions such as New York University make up UoPeople’s academic leadership so you can be assured of the high quality of its courses. Their faculty includes scholars, professors and highly experienced industry professionals as well.


Is UoPeople free? Yes, in major aspects. Source: Andreas Solaro / AFP

UoPeople understands that their students have diverse life backgrounds; some can come from countries with low internet bandwidth. To help even more students have a chance to obtain higher education degrees, UoPeople does not follow the Massive Online Open Course approach – instead, they ensure their learning material relies less on audio and video.

Is UoPeople free?: A look into its ‘tuition-free’ model

Besides having access to these knowledgeable faculty and courses, UoPeople’s main draw is that students do not have to pay tuition fees. This is part of UoPeople’s vision to provide anyone and everyone with higher education.

Expenses for a typical college education usually include enrolment fees, accommodation, administration fees, and more. Without these, UoPeople allows its students to save up to 95% of what an American-accredited degree costs overall.

Several factors ensure UoPeople can sustain this tuition-free philosophy: being 100% online with no on-campus environment; using technology to reduce administration costs; and instructors using Open Education Resources only, making course materials entirely free.

What’s more, these instructors volunteer their time to teach the UoPeople students as they strongly believe in the University’s vision of accessible and affordable education for all.

How does UoPeople stay in operation then? Nominal fees – you have to pay a once-off application fee of US$60 and an Assessment Fee for each completed course (US$120 for undergraduate; US$240 for postgraduate); these assessment fees need not be paid upfront.

If you cannot afford these fees, worry not. UoPeople offers a wide range of generous scholarships from donors supporting its mission – for example, Afghan Women’s Scholarship Fund, Catalyst Scholarship for Refugees, and Gabriel and Marci Hawawini Scholarship. 

At the same time, the total costs for UoPeople’s courses are still manageable. An associate degree costs US$2,460; a bachelor’s degree is around US$4,860; an MBA US$2,940 and a Master of Education only costs US$3,180.

All of these are great for those students who cannot afford the increasingly expensive tuition fees elsewhere and want to gain a well-recognised qualification.

“For me, the opportunity to attend University of the People is a chance to further my potential and help usher in a new model for education. One that does not shackle a student to more debt for the rest of their lives, the current student debt in the United States is US$1.3 trillion,” writes an MBA student.

“By attending University of the People, you not only further your education, but also put a stop to the student loan insanity that is crippling millions of people before they even leave school. Education and social responsibility in action is a powerful principle that affects many on a long-term basis.”

Wherever you are, UoPeople’s online learning at any time makes your education even more accessible as well. If you are interested in applying and wish to have more information, click here.