Billionaire Elon Musk: 'You don't need can learn everything for free'

  • Billionaire Elon Musk said Monday that "you don't need college to learn stuff."
  • He added that college is "basically for fun" and that going is not evidence of "exceptional ability."

Billionaire Elon Musk downplayed the perceived importance of a college education on Monday at a conference in Washington, D.C.

“You don’t need college to learn stuff,” Musk said at the Satellite 2020 conference, which is billed as a gathering of aerospace experts, business owners, and business executives. Musk added that the value of college is “seeing whether somebody can work hard at something," CNBC reported. But the statement from Musk that drew even more attention on Monday was his assertion that “colleges are basically for fun and to prove you do your chores, but they’re not for learning.”

"Everything is available, basically for free. You can learn everything for free"   

"But there is a requirement of 'evidence of exceptional ability.' I don't consider going to college evidence of exceptional ability. In fact, ideally, you dropped out and did something. If you look at like, you know, Gates is a pretty smart guy; he dropped out. Jobs, pretty smart — he dropped out. Larry Ellison, smart guy — he dropped out. Like, obviously not needed. Did Shakespeare even go to college? Probably not," Musk added, according to Business Insider

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Musk's comments came just months after he was asked on Twitter, "do you still stand firmly on not requiring college degrees?" to which the billionaire responded, "yes." Musk also asserted during his speaking engagement Monday that anything a person can learn at college while paying thousands of dollars in tuition one could also learn at no cost. 

"Everything is available, basically for free. You can learn everything for free," Musk said, according to Mashable

Musk graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, according to CNBC. He later briefly attended Stanford but eventually dropped out. 

Musk in 2019 said he racked up six figures in debt while attending college. 

"I worked my way through college, ending up ~$100k in student debt. I couldn’t even afford a 2nd PC at Zip2, so programmed at night & website only worked during day," Musk said. 

[RELATED: Student loan debt soars as colleges spend millions on diversity efforts, illegal aliens]

Musk's views on college are similar to those of billionaire Peter Thiel, a supporter of President Donald Trump. Thiel, who founded PayPal, drew parallels between Silicon Valley's liberal environment and higher education during a 2018 interview. 

“One of the downsides of too much education," Thiel said, according to CNBC, "is that you get the most brainwashed.”

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Jon Street
Jon Street | Managing Editor

Jon Street is a news editor for Campus Reform. Six years ago, Jon cut his reporting teeth fresh out of college as an intern at Media Research Center's, where he interviewed multiple members of Congress and former presidential candidates. From there, he went on to complete a stint at, where his exclusive, investigative work was picked up or cited by the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox News, National Review, and the Drudge Report, among others. More recently, Jon spent three years as an assistant editor at In his free time, Jon enjoys trying new coffeehouses around the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and traveling back to his home state of Missouri to spend time with his family.

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