University of the People, one of the newest members of the free online education arena, is adding academic heft with credentialed faculty and advisors, and nine out of 10 students who took classes in its first term said they would recommend the university to family and friends.

Launched in September with $1 million in startup money from founder and president Shai Reshef, University of the People's inaugural class included 179 students who took web-based college courses free of charge, only paying between $10 and $100 to process exams taken at the end of the semester.

The charge depends on the student's country of


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