Modern States and Norfolk State University Unite to Increase College Access for Virginians

Fast Start Program Enables Learners to Earn Free College Credit

  • High school students and current NSU enrollees can save thousands of dollars on college tuition
  • Students who complete four Modern States courses and exams will receive admission to Norfolk State
  • The partnership is part of Modern States’ ongoing commitment to HBCUs across the county

NEW YORK, March 24, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Modern States, a philanthropy dedicated to making a college degree more affordable and accessible to everyone, today announced the launch of its Fast Start program with Norfolk State University (NSU). The program is designed to help high school students in Virginia and current NSU students earn up to a year of college credit at no cost. The partnership between the two organizations is the latest in Modern States’ commitment to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

Modern States forms strategic alliances at the local, state and university levels to design programs that meet a community’s specific needs. This targeted approach is helping provide additional college readiness tools to students and the ability to earn free college credit, while also providing universities with a new recruiting tool.

“Norfolk State University is proud to partner with the Modern States initiative as we both work to expand access and affordability to higher education for all students,” said NSU President Javaune Adams-Gaston, Ph.D. “This program is a gem. It provides a direct cost savings for prospective Spartans and allows for them to earn their degree early so they can begin their careers.”

NSU will offer admission to Virginia high school students who pass four Modern States courses and pass the corresponding credit-bearing exams. The four courses and exams can save students nearly $7,000. Fast Start can move students toward early graduation and entry into the workforce.

The NSU Fast Start program will mirror similar Fast Start initiatives launched by Modern States at Morgan State University and Purdue University. Through its commitment to HBCUs, Modern States will provide free online college courses and cover the cost of at least 10,000 credit-bearing exams to prospective students, ultimately saving over $10 million in tuition and expenses for HBCU students across the country. 

Modern States is fully funding the Fast Start initiative, with a special gift from the family of Steven and Maureen Klinsky. 

“I’m happy to have Modern States launch a Fast Start program at Norfolk State University,” said Steven Klinsky, the founder and CEO of Modern States. “Programs like this can play a pivotal role in attracting talented students to schools like NSU. I am confident the partnership between Norfolk State and Modern States will help ensure more Virginians have the opportunity to pursue a college degree without the fear of student debt.”

Modern States is the largest free college program in the country, with over 315,000 students since it launched in 2017. Along with the Klinsky family, Modern States has received funding from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, The Starr Foundation and the Heckscher Foundation, among others.

The philanthropy has partnerships with many states including Michigan, New York and New Jersey, as well as universities throughout the country, including the State of Texas University System and the State University of New York (SUNY). offers 33 top-quality college courses (in the areas of English, History, Math, Chemistry, Biology, Accounting, Spanish and others), all taught by leading university professors. Like a digital public library, the Modern States free online courses are available 24/7 and are self-paced, allowing students full flexibility and convenience. They can be taken from any device with an Internet connection, including a cell phone.

The courses prepare students to pass College Level Examination Program (CLEP) exams from the College Board. CLEP has been in place for over 50 years. A passing score on a CLEP exam is accepted for credit at NSU and more than 2,900 colleges and universities, including virtually all HBCUs.

For more information on the NSU Fast Start program, visit or contact Gladys M. Bennett, directing of testing services, at or 757-823-8611.

HBCUs that want to explore partnering with Modern States can contact David Vise, executive director, at or 202-439-0318.

About Norfolk State University
Norfolk State University is a comprehensive urban public institution that is committed to transforming students’ lives through exemplary teaching, research, and service. Offering a supportive academic and culturally diverse environment for all, the University empowers its students to turn their aspirations into reality and achieve their full potential as well rounded, resourceful citizens and leaders for the 21st century. NSU plays a vital economic and social role in the City of Norfolk, the Hampton Roads region, and across Virginia.

About Modern States
Modern States is a NYC-based philanthropy dedicated to making a college degree more affordable and accessible for everyone. Its first initiative is “Freshman Year for Free”: more than 30 online college courses available tuition-free for credit, from top university professors available to anyone with an Internet connection. Students can use these courses to earn college credits by preparing for and taking credit-bearing CLEP exams, as offered by the College Board, and accepted by more than 2,900 colleges, including most HBCUs. Learn more at

About the Klinsky Family
Modern States and the NSU "Fast Start" program were initially funded by charitable gifts from the family of Steven and Maureen Klinsky. Steven Klinsky is a New York-based businessman and philanthropist, and a leader in the private equity industry. Maureen Sherry Klinsky is an author and novelist. They have previously funded a professor of leadership at Harvard Law School, medical clinics in Africa, after-school centers and other causes, chiefly in the fields of education and children's health.

Media contacts:
Jennifer Leckstrom
RoseComm for Modern States

Stan Donaldson Jr.
Director of Media Relations, NSU
Phone: (757) 823-2119