Outlier.org, a startup that allows students to take online classes for college credit, is announcing that it has raised $11.7 million in Series A funding.
GSV Ventures led the round, with participation from Harrison Metal, Tectonic Capital and Jackson Square Ventures. If you add this round to previously undisclosed seed funding led by Harrison Metal, Outlier has now raised a total of $16 million.
As part of the investment, GSV's Julia Stiglitz is joining Outlier's board of directors.
Founder and CEO Aaron Rasmussen previously helped to popularize online learning as co-founder and creative director at MasterClass. When Outlier launched last year, Rasmussen told me his goal is to address the growing cost of higher education by offering a more affordable alternative.
The alternative takes the form of entry-level college classes, starting with Calculus I and Introduction to Psychology, which are taught by professors and other instructors from institutions like Yale, MIT, Columbia and Cornell. They're also shot specifically for online viewing, and they include dynamically generated problem sets and one-on-one tutoring.
Outlier only charges $400 per class (that includes all costs, including textbooks), which is much more affordable than a class you'd take at a residential college. And if you pass, you get transferable college credits from the University of Pittsburgh.
The startup held its first classes during the fall semester, and it now says that students in those classes "achieved a C grade or better at the same rate as those in comparable courses within traditional classrooms."
Outlier also just announced that it's extending its partnership with the University of Pittsburgh into the spring and summer terms of 2020.
“Our mission is to increase access to high-quality education and reduce student debt,” Rasmussen said in a statement. “With this funding and the insight that we have gained from our two pilot courses in the 2019 fall semester, we will continue building more intro-level courses and expanding to accommodate more students and more experts in their fields who can provide top-quality education at a reasonable cost.”