Altius lands $8M to launch accredited online colleges

Altius Education, a company that partners with real junior colleges and universities to run a cost-effective, accredited online degree program, has brought in $8 million in a first round of funding.

Recognizing the need to provide access to areas of study being trimmed from budgets, especially at the community college level, Altius launched Ivy Bridge College in 2007 — with help from Tiffin University in Ohio. The web site gives enrolled students a more affordable route into a four-year university, all online and remotely accessible for greater flexibility. The company also provides students with round-the-clock tutoring and a personal academic coach to help them through their studies.

Many of the students taking advantage of the program also have to work full-time, making it difficult to attend classes in person. Others have been laid off from their jobs and are looking to make career changes as fast as possible. For these reasons, Altius has seen its business grow, even as the economy has dipped. It is looking for other universities and colleges to work with to launch online properties.

Ivy Bridge’s success depends on the number of its students making it into four year degree programs. For this reason, Altius has agreements with 24 of these institutions to accept students with credits from Ivy Bridge. This sets it apart from other e-learning or distance-learning services offering Associate’s degrees, the company says.

Altius plans to use its new funding to continue developing the Ivy Bridge site — adding more resources for students as well as course content. Specifically, it will add courses that could prepare students for careers in sustainability and health care industries. Maveron and Spark Capital led the round of financing, which included the Noah Fund.