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These 14 Colleges Offer FREE Tuition for Students

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FREE college tuition? Yes, please!

It’s no secret that a college education is expensive. In fact, according to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2017–2018 school year was $34,740 at private colleges, $9,970 for state residents at public colleges, and $25,620 for out-of-state residents attending public universities. Yikes!

Although getting a completely FREE ride to a college or university isn’t typical for most Americans, it IS possible to save thousands by avoiding those hefty tuition costs! In fact, there are many colleges and universities that are willing to pay for your tuition once you’re admitted, although you may be required to pay for extra expenses – such as student fees, housing, meal plans, textbooks, and other items.

NOTE: Some schools may require you to live/work on-campus or work within the local community during your college years in order to qualify for free tuition. Keep in mind that each tuition-free school listed below mandates its own financial and academic eligibility requirements.

1. Alice Lloyd College

These colleges like ALC offer free tuition.

Located in Pippa Passes, KY, ALC enrolls students from 108 counties in the Appalachia Mountains regions of Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia for free.

What’s the catch? All eligible students are required to work at least 160-240 hours per semester in an on-campus job or in the local community in the Student Work Program.


2. Barclay College

Barclay College, a private, Christian college located in Haviland, KS, automatically offers all resident/on-campus students a $15,000 full-tuition scholarship upon acceptance.

What’s the catch? Students must live on-campus, and as part of the graduation requirements, all full-time students are required to report a minimum of twelve clock hours of Christian Service per semester. Service hours must be completed during the semester in which they are being reported.


3. Berea College

Berea College, a private, liberal arts college in Berea, KY, promises each admitted student the Tuition Promise scholarship that amounts to over $155,000 over four years.

What’s the catch? Each student must work 10-15 hours per week in approved jobs on campus or in the community while carrying a full academic course load. From over 100 labor departments, students can decide which area they’d like to work in for extra pay and will earn a lower-than-average hourly rate ranging from $3.80 to $6.25, depending on the job. Students will learn the values of being in the workforce and gain extra cash for school books, and for room and boarding.


4. College of the Ozarks

College of the Ozarks, a private, Christian liberal arts college located in Point Lookout, Missouri, offers free tuition to full-time students. The majority of applicants are required to show financial need.

What’s the catch? Students must work at least 15 hours every week at an assigned campus work station (over 80 options!). In addition to the normal weekly 15 hours during each semester, students will work two 40-hour weeks each year chosen from the weeks when classes are not in session.


5. Curtis Institute of Music

Curtis Institute of Music, located in Philadelphia, PA, provides merit-based, full-tuition scholarships to all undergraduate and graduate students, regardless of their financial situation. The institute has a very selective process as approximately 4.8% of applicants are accepted every year.

What’s the catch? At registration, new and returning students must pay a comprehensive fee of $1,700 upon admission, as well as other fees and deposits.


6. Deep Springs College

Enjoy manual labor? Deep Springs College, a school located in Big Pine, CA, offers a two-year education in liberal arts. Every attendee at Deep Springs College receives a full scholarship for tuition, room, and board, regardless of financial need, country of origin, or any other considerations. The process is selective as only 15 students are invited to enroll each year out of 180-250 applicants.

What’s the catch? All students must work at least 20 hours on the ranch at Deep Springs College.


7. Macaulay Honors College

Macaulay Honors College, a public institution located in New York, NY, offers all students a tuition scholarship, which funds four years of full-time undergraduate study, excluding fees.

What’s the catch? Students must meet CUNY NYS residency requirements for in-state tuition to receive the tuition scholarship, and they are also required to pay all associated fees. Also, all students must perform 30 hours of community service throughout the course of their time at Macaulay.


8. United States Military Academy at West Point

Located in West Point, NY, those who are selected to attend USMA receive a college education that is unparalleled in the world with tuition, room and board, and expenses fully paid.

What’s the catch? Upon graduation, you will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army and serve for five years on active duty (if you choose to depart the Army after five years, you will be required to serve three years in the Inactive Ready Reserve). During your senior year, you’ll find out which specialized field you will enter based on the needs of the Army and your preferences.


9. United States Coast Guard Academy

At the Coast Guard Academy, located in New London, CT, there is no cost for tuition, room or board. This elite education, currently valued at more than $280,000, is fully paid for by the government.

What’s the catch? Upon graduation from the Coast Guard Academy, there is a five-year commitment to serve as a commissioned Coast Guard officer, but 85% of graduates choose to serve longer. Your commitment guarantees you a career in a position of leadership.


10. United States Naval Academy

At USNA, located in Annapolis, MD, the Navy pays 100% of the tuition, room, and board, medical and dental care costs of Naval Academy midshipmen. Additionally, midshipmen pay is $1,087.80 monthly, from which laundry, barber, cobbler, activities fees, yearbook, and other service charges are deducted. Actual cash pay is $100 per month your first year, which increases each year thereafter.

What’s the catch? ALL students who attend the Naval Academy do so on a full scholarship in return for five years of active duty service upon graduation.


11. United States Air Force Academy

At USAFA, located in Colorado Springs, CO, cadets receive full tuition, room and board, free medical care and access to a low-cost, government-sponsored life insurance program, and a monthly stipend to cover incidental expenses – over a $415,000 investment paid for by the Air Force.

What’s the catch? All that is required in return for a fully paid world-class education is your commitment to serve as an officer in the Air Force. The length of commitment depends on your career path and other opportunities, such as graduate or medical school, which may extend it.


12. United States Merchant Marine Academy

At USMMA, located in Kings Point NY, midshipmen receive their full tuition, room and board, uniforms, and books at no cost from the Federal Government. However, midshipmen are responsible for paying certain costs of educational supplies and services which are NOT provided by the government.

What’s the catch? In exchange for a taxpayer-funded education at the USMMA, all midshipmen commit to fulfilling a maritime service obligation that continues after graduation.


13. Webb Institute

Located in Glen Cove, NY, Webb Institute provides all enrolled students full-tuition scholarships to U.S. citizens and permanent residents, valued at almost $50,000. Webb Institute provides a dual undergraduate degree option in both Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. Plus, all Webb students graduate with 100% job placement, so there’s no fear of not landing a job after graduation!

What’s the catch? As part of their Winter Work Term which guarantees them 100% job placement after graduation, freshman-year students are required to work alongside ship fitters and welders in shipyards. Sophomores serve as student observers aboard ocean-going ships, and juniors/seniors network and apply themselves in design and engineering offices around the world.


14. Williamson College of the Trades

Williamson College of the Trades, a men’s junior vocational college located in Media, PA, offers all students a full scholarship that covers tuition, room, board, and textbooks. However, students pay entrance costs for personal items, annual fees for certain equipment, books that they retain for personal use, and annual fees for breakage and yearbook.

What’s the catch? All students must live in an on-campus dormitory supervised by an adult dormitory manager. Also, students must follow the college’s regulations, policies, and procedures in the Student Handbook, including assisting in food service operations & campus maintenance.


Considering an Ivy League School? 🏈

The Ivy League schools (such as Brown University, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Stanford, Vanderbilt, and Yale) are some of the most expensive schools in the nation. However, most Ivy League schools also provide free tuition and other financial assistance for students from families with a minimum household income ranging from less than $60,000-$120,000/year.


Join The Discussion

Comments 35

  1. Amelia

    Love that you shared this! I attended Alice Lloyd and strongly support the work study program!

    • Mary (Stellar Sidekick)

      You are so welcome Amelia! And thanks for sharing – I’m glad you had such a great experience at Alice Lloyd! 🙂

  2. Christine

    This is so cool! Thank you Collin and Team! Also on another note, anyone know of any schools or programs that cover an MBA?

    Thanks!
    -Christine

    • lenin1991

      The best way to get an MBA paid for is from an employer. Some companies like UPS, Amazon, and Starbucks are well-known to provide this benefit even for part-time employees.

    • Mary (Stellar Sidekick)

      You’re so welcome! Thanks for the extra tips lennin1991!

    • donia hicks

      Christine,

      Look at http://www.upike.edu

      The MBA they have is where I currently attend. It is now based online and is far cheaper than any other I had researched. It is a great find.

  3. Alex

    This is an awesome list! I would add a catch of the military schools is you must be able to pass their extensive health exams and meet several other requirements before you can be accepted. I always wanted to attend the Air Force Academy but was not allowed due to a medical condition I have

    • Mary (Stellar Sidekick)

      Good to know! Thanks for the feedback.

  4. Laurie m Villotta

    My daughter will be a freshman in HS this fall. We are currently researching the private small christian schools here in the midwest. From what I currently know is that we will have about $12,000 that we are eligible after filling out the FAFSA. My daughter is currently the top 5% of her class. If things continue to go forward she should be awarded a full academic scholarship to this college totally $40,000/year. She will also do work study for a small portion that is not paid. Many times we have found that private colleges cost more,but have a lot more money to give out. State schools do not. I went to a private college and was blessed to come out after 5years with $2500 student loans. My hope is that both of my girls graduate under grad debt free and then find a job that will pay for grad school if that is the way it goes. I chose not to save a lot for college and all that money is growing me a nice nest egg for retirement. In the end it will all turn out fine.

    • Mary (Stellar Sidekick)

      Wow – that’s awesome! Congrats to you and your daughter!

  5. riss

    Our oldest son is graduating in May (yay!) No student loan:) My husband is a veteran so our kids’ tuition fees are covered by Calvet, as long as they’re enrolled in a state college. We have a very small amount of money set aside for their college expenses, but the rest we cashflow. We got zero financial aid. They were offered subsidized loans, but we didn’t take it.They also work during the school year and summers. The money they earn are theirs to keep and use when they travel. Our youngest will be a resident advisor next school year, and it covers his dorm fees and food for 3 quarters. So next school year, we only have to give him his allowance and book money. They’re so happy and grateful (and relieved) that they’d both graduate without student loans!

    • Mary (Stellar Sidekick)

      Way to go – that’s so awesome!

  6. Christina

    @Riss, do you have information on how your child qualified? I would love to get more information from you, since my children may qualify through my husband as well. Please email me garciafam6501 @ gmail . com

    • riss

      I’ll email you later when my husband gets home.

  7. Crystal Condo

    You can also earn free college credits with Modernstates.org

  8. Crafty Barhainista

    I would like to note that the competition for those Ivy League scholarships makes it near impossible to get them. My niece is a straight A student, in Honors program at a magnate school, and was just a couple points shy of a perfect score on her ACT. She’s taken (and passed) so many AP courses that she’ll be starting college as a sophomore. Her parents have had financial setbacks due to illness and were hoping to get her into a private college on their scholarships. They did everything they could to make her well-rounded: she was leadership in an award-winning marching band program, constantly volunteering, took internships at the local college, and even was awarded Homecoming Queen by her fellow students! Every singe out-of-state college either waitlisted or flat out rejected her (Duke, Brown, Columbia, George Washington, and UNC). 😢 UGA was the only one who accepted her because it was in-state and she can get the HOPE scholarship because she has over a 3.0. So yeah… competition is crazy.

    • *Angela-Miles*

      That’s crazy, I applied to UNC an was accepted and I’m not a genius or anything LOL. But UNC isnt an ivy league school, I didnt apply to any of those. Many of the schools I applied to, focused partially on the essay you wrote not just your ACT score. It was mentioned in one of my acceptance letters. I would say I did about average on the tests but wrote really well to sell myself. Competition is fierce I will admit.

  9. couponkay

    My father will attend his 60th reunion at Berea College in June. This fantastic place plucked a smart kid from the hills of eastern Kentucky and blew his world wide open. When he started there in 1954, he had never seen a person of color or heard classical music. I guess he would have gone into coal mining without it. Berea College only admits students whose families earn below a certain amount, thus they don’t get many children of alumni. My dad is truly an inspiration. Places like Berea are more important than ever, IMHO.

  10. Mia Mae

    I believe Berry College in Rome, Ga also offers a work study program that provides free tuition.

  11. Michelle

    My daughter is still in high school but due to her high PSAT grades she had received a lot of different college info… Princeton sent her a packet to fill out and we did the online financial aid to see what she would get… if accepted she would receive $66,000 in aid per year since our income is less that $65,000… however they don’t offer a medical program so she wouldn’t go there… but here school offers duel credit so she will have an associates degree from IU when she graduates… that will save her quit a bit!

  12. Laurie m Villotta

    I would encourage kids and parents to look at the smaller private schools. Nothwestern is in Orange IA about2.5hrs from where we live. They have over 80 degrees you can choose from. My daughter is a gifted artist and this fall they are offering a degree in art therapy right up her alley. Like I said in my previous post tuition is $40,000 a year everything included. It has 1200 students and she is close enough to home that we can come visit or she can come home on some weekends.

  13. twizzdmob

    Blackburn College in Illinois is a work study where all students get a tuition reduction, and 10 are awarded full scholarships every year. This girl was #15 but still went there all 4 years of undergrad. Thanks to a half scholarship and a res life job 3 of those years, i graduated with only 12k in loans, much less than my state schooled husband who did 2 years of community college. It’s worth a look!!!

  14. Judy Trac

    i go to lipscomb for free lol

  15. Emily

    High achieving high school juniors and seniors in the state of Minnesota can enroll in Post Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) which is a concurrent enrollment program where credits counted both for high school graduation and for college. PSEO students attend actual college (as opposed to AP or College in the Schools where it’s high school classes with college credit), and it is paid for by the State. I was a full time PSEO for two years, and graduated with a no-debt associates degree at age 18. Although I have debt from going on to get my BA, it’s significantly less because of the PSEO program!

  16. Barbie

    College of the Ozarks is beautiful. I have several friends who have graduated from there and a friend who teaches there. The work program is great!

  17. Megan

    Running Start is available for high school juniors and seniors in Washington State. You just have to pass the entrance exam and then you can attend any community college in the state, earning your high school and college credit at the same time. I did runnning start and graduated high school and community college with my AA at the same time.

  18. Megan

    Running Start is available for high school juniors and seniors in Washington State. You just have to pass the entrance exam and then you can attend any community college in the state for free, earning your high school and college credit at the same time. I did runnning start and graduated high school and community college with my AA at the same time.

  19. Suzanne

    Just to clarify, the Ivy League consists of these eight schools: Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and Yale University. 🙂

  20. Angela

    Does anyone know of scholarships that may be available for returning students or moms. I graduated high school in 2009 and have been wanting to go to college for some time now but haven’t because of the cost. I’m in California. Any information helps!

  21. Shannon

    If anyone has tips on how to get accepted to an Ivy League school I would really appreciate that!

    • ang

      College Confidential has lots of great information and tips for almost every university possible. I have one daughter that is a sophomore and another starting this fall and another starting in 2019 😬😓We’ve done the research and tough competition for Ivy leagues. angsmiles@wnco.com if you have particular questions.

  22. Mandi

    I just took a quick look at Webb (listed) and while the tuition is covered/free, the room and board is FOURTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS each year and when coupled with the other fees, the FREE TUITION is actually more than 20K each year! SO misleading!

    • Crissy

      It states tuition. NOT room & board and other fees. Not misleading at all. Tuition is free.

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