Some college students just got a new way to make their tuition payments: cryptocurrency.
Bentley University, a private institution with roughly 5,000 students in Waltham, Massachusetts, announced Tuesday that it is now accepting cryptocurrency for tuition payments. The school says it is partnering with the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase to accept bitcoin, ethereum and USD Coin, which is a stablecoin pegged to the U.S. dollar.
Money named Bentley one of the top 10 best business colleges in the U.S. in 2020. The school also has a lively student investing scene, including the Bentley University Investment Group, which manages a portion of the university's endowment.
“We’re proud to embrace this technology that our students are learning about, which will soon transform the global business landscape they’re about to enter," E. LaBrent Chrite, president of Bentley University, said in a news release.
Cryptocurrency's popularity has recently exploded. In 2021, the crypto market's value skyrocketed from $965 billion to as much as $2.6 trillion, according to a Morningstar analysis of data from CoinGecko. In March, the White House said around 16% of adult Americans — approximately 40 million people — have invested in, traded or used cryptocurrencies, and President Joe Biden signed an executive order to establish the first-ever federal U.S. strategy on cryptocurrencies.
Exchanges like Coinbase and online trading platforms like Robinhood have made trading crypto akin to buying and selling stocks and bonds. Venmo users can buy cryptocurrency in the same app where they're sending money to their friends, and this year, TurboTax gave taxpayers the option to receive their tax refunds in cryptocurrency.
What colleges accept crypto as tuition payments?
It's still very rare for colleges to accept cryptocurrency for tuition payments. Bentley University says it is one of the first universities in the U.S. to offer this option to students.
In October, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania announced it would allow participants of a new six-week online program about blockchain and digital assets to pay tuition in bitcoin, ethereum or USD Coin. In 2014, Time reported that King's College in New York City had become the first accredited U.S. school to accept bitcoin payments. And back in 2013, GeekWire and others reported that the University of Nicosia in Cyprus became the first accredited university in the world to accept bitcoin for tuition fees.
Some other international universities also accept cryptocurrency as a form of payment, including the European School of Management and Technology in Germany and the University of Cumbria in the United Kingdom.
"Many institutions are exploring how to do this and if this is a good practice for their institution," Jim Hundrieser, vice president for consulting and business development at the National Association of College and University Business Officers, told Money via email. "We believe this practice of accepting multiple currencies will continue to expand."
Bentley University also announced it plans to accept the three cryptocurrencies as gifts and donations.