Saving Money on College Through Tuition-Free Schools


The cost of a college education is rising faster than the consumer price index, leading families to search for creative ways to lower the cost of a college education. For the 2016-17 school year, the average cost of a year at a private university is $33,480. In-state colleges charge local students an average of $9,650 and out of state students an average of $24,930. Add the growing cost of fees, books, room and board and obtaining an in-state college degree can easily surpass $100,000 per student.

One effective way to cut the cost of attending a university is by eliminating the price of tuition. There are a surprising number of schools offering free tuition vouchers or scholarships students never need to pay back, reducing or eliminating the need for student loans. The best news is that not all schools offering tuition assistance evaluate students based on financial need.

Schools Providing Students with Free Tuition Without Income Based Consideration

Most schools focused on waiving the costs of tuition for students are small, private entities that have a mission to provide a top-quality education without burdening students with large student loan debt. Many schools have competitive admissions and rank high on lists such as the US News and World Report, Forbes, and Huffington Posts lists of top ranked schools. They are not the only affordable options on the market but can save students up to $60,000 per year in the cost of attending college.

The following is a list of schools with general study programs open to all students. Some tuition-free programs have citizen or geographic restrictions and most only address the cost of tuition for undergraduate students.

Alice Lloyd College, a four-year liberal arts Christian school, located in Kentucky, offers free tuition for those within the regional Appalachia area. Students who live in qualifying counties within the states of Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee, do not pay tuition and can receive additional financial assistance for fees, books, and room and broad.

Brea College
, also located in Kentucky, requires students to work 10 hours per week in exchange for a College scholarship which covers the cost of tuition for four years of school. While students can receive additional aid to pay for other costs associated with attending school, 25% of students graduate from Brea College with no debt.

Barclay College is a Christian school located in Kansas with only 250 students. They offer free tuition in the form of a scholarship along with additional financial aid for the remaining cost of attendance.

College of The Ozarks, located in Missouri is a Christian Liberal Arts school with approximately 1,500 students. The university program combines a work program, state and federal grants, and a tuition assistance scholarship to pay any remaining difference. The school requires every student to work 15 hours each week in on-campus employment along with two forty hour weeks, as the student’s contribution to the tuition-free program. Each student may also work during the summer to assist with the room and board expenses, lowering the amount of outside assistance needed to pay for school.

Macaulay Honors College at City University of New York is a liberal arts school with approximately 1,400 students. Those with in-state residency status can receive free tuition in exchange for 10 hours of on-campus work per week. Students also have access to a study abroad program which includes a research-based grant of up to $7,500 for the learning opportunity. While students pay for the cost of fees, room and board, 87% of students graduate from the university free of debt.

Deep Springs College in Deep Springs California is a small college which provides students with free tuition, but require all students to work 20 hours each week. Jobs might include working on campus, in the community or on the farm. This two-year college pays for the cost of tuition and room and board in the form of a full scholarship for every student. The only costs students must pay for include books, travel, and incidentals.

Specialty Schools Offering All Students Free Tuition

Specialty programs which waive tuition tend to be highly competitive and narrow in scope. The following three schools work with students who contain special talents in marine engineering, trade programs, and music.

Webb Institute in Glen Cove New York focuses on the majors of Marine Engineering and Naval Architecture. Along with free tuition, students can receive paid internships during the winter term as a form of job training. The only costs students pay for are room, board, books, and software. The school has 100% job placement upon graduation, and they have a very competitive admission process.

Williamson School of Mechanical Trades is the only trade school on the list and offers students free tuition throughout the three-year program. Located in Pennsylvania, the school includes those wanting to major in masonry, carpentry, painting, horticulture or landscaping, machine tool technology or power plant technology. The all-male school houses 100 students and covers all the costs of attendance including room, board, and books. The only expenses students must cover includes health insurance, personal expenses, and up to $1,800 in tools required for work after graduation.

Curtis Institute of Music is a very competitive music school that turns out graduates who go on to win Grammy awards and participate in professional orchestras around the world. Located in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, The Curtis Institute of Music is one of the few schools which covers the price of tuition for both undergraduate and graduate students and accept applicants based on musical talent. With only 165 students, they have a very competitive application process, which includes a live audition. Students can cover the price of room and board along with other costs of attending through financial aid. However, the school does not turn away students who are financially unable to pay for their education and can turn to private donors for students with higher levels of financial need.

While tuition is only one of the costs of attending a university, free tuition programs reduce the overall cost of earning a degree and can leave the student with minimum or no student loans at the end of the road.