Education Innovation: Austin’s PelotonU is Making Higher Education Debt-Free


Surrounded by people who have their Master’s degrees, I often feel like a friggin’ idiot toy with the idea of going back to school.

Until I think about all the debt I’ll accumulate, which is a soul-crushing thought since I’ll essentially be debt-free this year.

During undergrad, I was one of the lucky ones. College cost me next to nothing due to being raised in a single parent, low income household. If I didn’t get the aid and grants that I received, college would have been extremely difficult, maybe even impossible. Though my mother would have held a butter knife to my neck and forced me to go to college ensured I went to college, I would be tens of thousands of dollars more in debt.

College is not cheap, and with reports that high-skilled labor is on the decline, some speculate that higher education might not be worth the price tag (current average: $24,000).

With that being said, that is why the program I’m about to share with you is absolutely essential.

PelotonU is an Austin-based debt-free college program.

You heard me: 100% debt-free.

Created to give opportunity to economically disadvantaged youth, PelotonU is hoping to change a model that is putting kids and families in debt.

I had the privilege of meeting with these inspiring individuals and wrote about the organization for CultureMap.

Please read more about this innovative idea, one that I hope will be the future of higher education.


What if for your entire life higher education seemed like an unattainable dream, and one day the opportunity to attend college became a completely debt-free reality — would you take it? In Austin, a new program, PelotonU, is not only offering a debt-free college degree, but job placement and one-on-one mentorship in hopes of changing the lives of economically disadvantaged youth.

Created by two individuals who believe in higher education for all — Rex Gore, an Austin-based entrepreneur and philanthropist, and Hudson Baird, a public policy graduate from Vanderbilt University — PelotonU is not your typical pathway to a college degree.

Aimed towards students “unlikely to start or complete a bachelor’s degree on time,” candidates are submitted by teachers and religious leaders and selected upon their “employability and compatibility” skills. Students must also pass a drug test, as well as show strong work ethic and the ability to cohabitate. Currently in its second semester, the program fosters seven all-male students and is hoping to expand to 25 male and female students next semester.


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