As the cost of higher education in the United States skyrockets, many community college students face steep barriers to obtaining a bachelor’s degree, with only 16% managing to graduate within six years. Addressing this challenge, Campus, an online educational platform, has introduced an innovative model that could significantly increase graduation rates.

Campus combines the accessibility of online learning with the quality of instruction found in top universities. The company was founded by Tade Oyerinde, who was inspired by the plight of adjunct professors at prestigious institutions like UCLA, Princeton, and NYU. Despite their credentials, many of these professors earn salaries so low that a quarter qualify for government assistance. Oyerinde saw an opportunity to connect these talented educators with students nationwide, offering high-quality education at an affordable cost.

Recently, Campus announced a $23 million Series A extension funding round led by Founders Fund, with participation from 8VC. This investment follows a $29 million Series A round last year, attracting high-profile backers including Sam Altman and Discord founder Jason Citron, and even basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal.

Campus stands out by paying its adjunct professors $8,000 per course, significantly above the national average. This has enabled them to attract high-quality faculty members who also teach at Vanderbilt, Princeton, and NYU. The cost for students is set at $7,200 annually, but 40% of Campus’s students who qualify for federal Pell Grants attend for free. Additionally, all students receive a laptop, Wi-Fi access, and tutoring support, alongside personalized coaching, to ensure they stay on track.

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The model appears to resonate with students who view Campus as a modern gateway to four-year universities. The platform’s enrollment numbers have been rapidly increasing as it provides a “trampoline” for further education.

Campus has also expanded into physical education with the acquisition of a community college in Sacramento. This facility now offers in-person courses in fields like phlebotomy, medical assistance, and cosmetology, catering to both online and local students.

Trae Stephens, a partner at Founders Fund, highlighted that the scalability of Campus’s tech platform was a key factor in their investment decision. He noted that Campus’s structure allows for low overhead costs, making education affordable at scale—a challenge traditional academic institutions often face.

However, Campus is not just about technological innovation. The company is acutely aware of the checkered history of for-profit colleges. In a notable case, the University of Phoenix was fined $50 million and agreed to forgive $140 million in student fees after misleading claims about job prospects. Campus aims to avoid such pitfalls by aligning closely with the goals of federal Pell Grants and ensuring students do not accumulate debt.

One unique challenge Campus faces is hiring enough qualified coaches to support its growing student body. While attracting top-notch professors and students has been straightforward, finding individuals who can build deep, motivational relationships with students for years is proving difficult.

As Campus continues to grow, it remains focused on keeping education affordable and ensuring that more students not only enroll but also graduate. This new approach to community college education, combining high-tech solutions with personalized support, might just be the blueprint for future educational institutions.