A Billionaire Is Paying Teenagers $100,000 To Drop Out Of College

Peter Thiel thinks college is overrated. He co-founded PayPal and was an early investor in Facebook, so he has the money to act on his convictions.

He's created a fellowship that will give a few dozen teenagers $100,000 (and a fair bit of mentoring) to spend two years trying to build high-tech companies.

To qualify for the money, they have to drop out of college (unless they never enrolled in the first place). They can go back to school after the fellowship if their company doesn't work out.

The winners were announced today. They are, of course, ridiculously impressive.

Here's a typical sentence about one of the winners:

After he stops out of Yale, his first project will be to build a diagnostic biosensor, the initial step toward his goal of making synthetic biology easier to engineer.

Thiel, who graduated from Stanford, recently explained his skepticism about college to New York Magazine:

It's not just a question of if you get [a degree], you make more money ... It's also a question of how many options you're precluding for the future. ... lots of college debt means that you're maybe stuck on a particular career track for the next twenty years.

Here's more on the fellowships from Bloomberg Businessweek.

Planet Money Question of the Day: Is the Thiel Fellowship a good idea?



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