Students who enroll in online courses have to pay a one-time fee of $60 a month or $40 per month for a yearly membership, according to a new study by the California Department of Education.
The California state education department said the online education entrance program, which was launched in April, is meant to encourage parents to pay for their children’s education through a tuition-free, online program.
The online program has more than 11 million students, according a state Department of Finance spokeswoman.
The agency did not provide a breakdown of how many parents have opted in for free tuition.
A similar program, launched in Oregon, has enrolled more than 100,000 students.
Beth Bostian, executive director of the advocacy group Families for Excellent Education, said she is “shocked” by the government’s decision to put tuition costs ahead of parents’ needs.
The new fee structure puts the onus on students to make sure they can pay for tuition, she said.
“It’s really disappointing, really surprising, and it’s going to be a very hard sell,” Bostion said.
Agency spokeswoman Emily Hultman said the agency will continue to work with parents to encourage them to enroll their children in online classes and to make it easier for them to do so.
“We have not yet determined whether there will be any significant impact to the cost of education in California,” she said in an email.
Some parents may have already paid for online classes with their child’s money, but Bostions fears that this will have a negative impact on their child.
“That’s not the way that this is supposed to work,” Bossey said.