5 Tuition-Free Colleges

Who says that quality always has to be expensive? You don’t have to study at the most expensive schools in the country to earn a good education, as community college alumni can confirm.

Technical courses under STEM can be earned at a community college, but if you really want a four-year education, you can always go to a state university.

But many of these state universities have a lot of students and offer a wide range of academic programs.

You might not know this, but there are colleges in the country that offer specialized degrees, quality education, and tuition-free education.

You read that right – these are colleges where you don’t have to pay tuition! It could be due to a scholarship, study-work program, or part of the college’s vision and mission.

5 Colleges That Don’t Require Tuition

Alice Lloyd College


Beautiful in the Kentucky forest Alice Lloyd College tuition free – photo source: alc.edu

Location: Pippa Passes, Kentucky

Type of College: Private liberal arts work college

Student Population: 619

Why it’s Tuition-Free:

Alice Lloyd College students don’t pay a single cent to get a degree. Instead, they work jobs around the campus through the student-work program.

The college considers this a service to students coming from the surrounding Appalachian mountain area (Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Virginia).

Those who are not from the 108 counties in those areas can still study at Alice Lloyd College. Even with tuition payment, though, the cost of attendance is significantly low.

In fact, students who take out loans pay $6,500 at most. That’s lower than a yearly tuition of many state or private universities!

It’s just a little bit more expensive than studying at a community college.

All students are part of the study-work program, regardless of financial situation. Students work as librarian, janitor, tutor, etc.  for a total of 160 hours every semester.

All students have to live in the college dorms (that cost $1,900 per year).

The college was founded in 1923 as “Caney Junior College” by Alice Spencer Geddes Lloyd and June Buchanan. It offers 18 programs of study.

College of the Ozarks


College Of The Ozarks right on the river in Missouri no tuition required – photo source: en.wikipedia.org

Location: Point Lookout, Missouri

Type of College: Private Christian, liberal arts college

Student Population:1,433

Why it’s Tuition-Free:

College of the Ozarks takes its Christian values very seriously.

Smoking and drinking are not allowed on campus, but those aren’t such deal breakers when you consider that C of O students who can’t afford college don’t pay tuition.

The rest of the cost of attendance can be lessened through the study-work program at the college.

Students must work 15 hours a week during the school year. When school is not in session, though, they are expected to render service for 40 hours a week twice.

Students also have federal grants, plus a College of Ozarks scholarships, which means that students only pay around $8,125 per year for other fees, materials, and board and lodging.

Although this could be waived if the student is awarded a summer work scholarship, bringing the total cost to just a little more than $1,300.

The college highly discourages its students to borrow money, and with the generous financial aid, students don’t have a reason to do so!

The college started out as a high school named the “School of the Ozarks” (referring to the Ozarks mountains in the area) in 1906 by a Presbyterian missionary James Forsythe.

Two junior college years were added to the school before the board of trustees decided to make the school a college. In 1990, it became the College of the Ozarks.

C of O is very selective – its acceptance rate had been around 10% to 13% in the recent years.

Berea College


Mandatory study-work program at Kentucky Berea College – photo source: berea.edu

Location: Berea, Kentucky

Type of College: Private liberal arts work college

Student Population: 1,593 (undergraduate)

Why it’s Tuition-Free:

Berea College, like Alice Lloyd, is one of the colleges in Kentucky that has a mandatory study-work program.

The cost of education is actually $24,300, but students don’t pay tuition with the aid of scholarships, grants, endowments, gifts, and funds raised by the college.

Other fees, board and lodging, and school materials amount to a total of $10,080 a year.

Students work for 10 hours a week every semester as part of the study-work program. Like Alice Lloyd, it offers free tuition to students in the Southern Appalachian area.

It was the first college in the south to be co-ed and racially integrated.

Built in 1855 by an abolitionist, John Gregg Fee, Berea College accepted both black and white, male and female students.

When a law in 1904 forced the college to segregate its black and white students, it set plans to build a Lincoln Institute for the black students.

Fortunately, segregation was abolished in 1950, and the college continued to function.

Berea College is one of the most selective colleges in the country since it only accepts students who come from low-income families. The college offers 32 majors.

Deep Springs College


Work for tuition (in the desert) at Deep Springs College – photo courtesy: deepsprings.edu

Location: Deep Springs Valley, California

Type of College: Alternative college (two years)

Student Population: 26 (at least 14 for each graduating class)

Why it’s Tuition-Free:

Deep Springs College is a unique school. It accepts very few students every year (10, 12, or 15), and admissions is decided by the student body, usually composed of 30 (or less) members.

Since the college is in the desert maybe that’s why there are only a few students in graduating classes? If you don’t mind working in the heat this may be a viable option for a tuition free college.

The college is dedicated to three core values: academics, self-government, and manual labor.

It’s a highly selective school since it only offers a few vacancies – but its scholarship already covers the tuition and room and board. Students only pay for the materials.

Each student is required to render 20 hours a week of service farming, cooking, cleaning, or doing maintenance work. Presently the college only accepts male students.

There are no specific majors or degrees to take, but students can join classes that can earn them credit so they can earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

Deep Springs College started in 1917 as “Deep Springs, Collegiate & Preparatory” by Lucien Lucius Nunn.

The work program in the college is not a substitute for the tuition, unlike the other liberal arts work colleges in the country.

Instead, it’s part of the college curriculum. Basically, every student is granted a “scholarship”.

Webb Institute


Webb Institute naval & marine engineering college (thats why its on the water) – photo source: webb.edu

Location: Glen Cove, New York

Type of College: Private undergraduate engineering college

Student Population: 94

Why it’s Tuition-Free:

The Webb Institute offers free tuition scholarship only to US citizens (or permanent residents in the United States), and these students earn a bachelor’s degree only in one program of study: Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering.

US students pay only the other fees and materials, costing around $20,350 a year (with financial aid this can be even lower). Non-US students have to pay the full price at $67,350 annually.

It’s a specialized school that requires all students to intern from January to February every year. The students work in shipyards, design offices, or manning merchant vessels.

The institute is heavy on the immersion of their students. Since there are only a few students, there are also only a few classrooms – just 4 of them.

Students spend 5 hours in lecture, then spend the rest of the time doing homework or projects every day.

Webb Institute believes in hands-on teaching and learning, so the students doing internship during January to February (called Winter Work program) experience 8 weeks as apprentices in the country, China, Denmark, Greece, and other countries.

The institute started as “Webb’s Academy and Home for Shipbuilders” in 1889 by shipbuilder William Henry Webb. It became a degree-awarding college in 1933.

The school is the oldest college dedicated to marine engineering and naval architecture in the country.

Rob Clark

SchoolCampus.org admin staff managing editor

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