In short, yes, some colleges offer free tuition. However, to receive free tuition, there are usually prerequisites that need to be met. Some common requirements to qualify for free tuition are: being a resident of a particular state, having a low-income background, or even committing to on-campus service or work after graduation.
Unfortunately, free tuition isn’t offered at all colleges, but there are some amazing schools you can attend tuition-free.
Colleges that offer free tuition
Alice Lloyd College offers free tuition to students living in the Central Appalachian area in Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. Students must accept jobs through the student-work program, which includes maintenance, community service, and other on-campus duties.
Apprentice School has a unique approach to tuition-free schooling. Students attending this school start an apprenticeship in shipbuilding from the first day they arrive.
The school does not charge tuition as students learn through on-the-job training and begin earning wages ranging from $17 to almost $30 per hour depending on where they are in the program. When students graduate, they receive a certificate of completion.
The College of the Ozarks uses information on your FAFSA® as an admissions requirement for students that demonstrate financial need. Full-Time students have the option to waive tuition by working 15 hours per week with two 40-hour weeks during the school year.
Students will still have to pay health, technology, and services fees, but they can use money received from financial aid to help cover those costs.
That’s right, here is a major player in the world of college education that offers free education to students — Stanford. Every student attending this school is receiving some form of assistance through scholarships, grants, and other non-loan aid to meet their needs.
There are full scholarships to attend Stanford for students who come from families making under $65,000 per year. In fact, a large number of students at this school earn their degrees without paying a dime.
If you’re considering joining The Air Force, this might be the perfect college for you. Located in Colorado, the United States Air Force Academy has no tuition fees for any student. The only requirement is that cadets need to serve as an officer in the Air Force for at least 8 years, 5 in active duty and the remainder as an inactive reserve.
For those interested in pursuing a career in the Coast Guard, there is a no-cost academy just for you. With two-thirds of their graduates acquiring degrees in civil engineering, mechanical engineering, naval architecture, and an array of other technical majors, the only requirement is to complete 5 years of service upon graduation.
It’s not an easy school to get into, with only around 300 cadets admitted each year, you’ll really have to bring your “A-Game” to get in.
If you are interested in a year of travel, students enrolled at the Merchant Marine Academy must complete a Sea Year Experience. This year gives hands-on training working on commercial or military vessels sailing to different ports around the world. There is a service obligation which offers 2 options for graduates:
- 5 years of service in the U.S. Maritime industry with 8 years of service as an officer in any Armed Forces reserve unit
- 5 years of active duty in any branch of the nation’s Armed Forces
One of the most recognizable and prestigious military schools in the world is the United States Military Academy West Point. With a reputation and history such as this school, it draws in a large applicant pool, so many that it’s almost an unofficial requirement that you’ll need the support of a U.S. Congressman/woman to get in.
There is no tuition for cadets, but they must play on a sports team each semester. After graduation, they have a service requirement of 5 years in active duty and 3 years in the reserves. They will also need to attend Basic Officer Leader Course for additional training.
Located in Annapolis, MD, the United States Naval Academy has been developing leaders for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps since 1845. This school is the Navy’s version of West Point, which means you’ll likely need an endorsement from a Congressman/woman to get in.
It’s also considered a national landmark and is nearby Washington, D.C. Tuition is free, but you will need to fulfill a service obligation of 5 years of active duty.
Following the example of other Ivy League Schools, the University of Pennsylvania adheres to a need-blind admission policy. This means they ignore income and financial needs during the admissions process. This school was the first to become a “University” in America and attracts talented students because they offer a lot of financial aid. All aid is provided through grants and work-study programs.
Students falling into low-income brackets may even receive their education at no cost. Most students graduating from Penn will do so without any debt at all. The only request from the school is to complete your degree in 4 years or 8 semesters to receive financial aid.
Whether you come from a small town, are interested in developing a trade, want to serve your country, or even get an Ivy League Level education, there are schools out there that will support your needs. You don’t need to get buried in debt to earn a degree; you just need to know what options are available.
When you find your school of choice, make sure you file your FAFSA®. If you decide to attend a tuition-free school, make sure you’ve weighed the cost before committing.