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Hidden Gems: Tuition-Free Colleges

hidden gems: tuition-free colleges
Marina Zaretskiy Educational Finance Expert

Written by Marina Zaretskiyon June 6th, 2024

I was born in Ukraine and attended UC Irvine, graduating with a degree in Criminology, Law and Society. I began my career in higher education finance at ICDC College in California, where I assisted students in completing the FAFSA and prepared financial aid award packages. After ICDC, I worked as an assistant director at Pepperdine University in the Office of Financial Assistance. I was responsible for a caseload of 800+ undergraduate and graduate students for whom I assisted with all aspects of the financial aid process, including special circumstance appeals.
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When families plan for future college expenses, they assume that all schools operate in the same manner and charge tuition as part of the cost of attendance. Let’s look beyond the norm to learn about colleges that provide free tuition to all enrolled students. Antioch College (OH) If a student is eligible for a full Pell Grant, they may be able to attend tuition-free thanks to Antioch’s College Work Program. Students spend a third of their undergraduate career committed to work or research on campus. Barclay College (KS) This private Christian college provides free tuition to students who live on campus. Berea College (KY) The impressive Tuition Promise Scholarship pays the remaining cost of tuition after state, federal and institutional aid are awarded. Students have a work commitment of 10 hours per week but may use those funds for other educational expenses, such as room and board. College of the Ozarks (MO) Although part-time students may have a minimal per credit fee, full-time students at this college pay no tuition. The school requires a work commitment throughout the school year which consists of 15 hours a week plus two 40-hour weeks during the academic year. United States Air Force Academy (CO) For those interested in becoming a cadet and serving a minimum of eight years in the U.S. Air Force or U.S. Space Force, this academy, which covers the cost of tuition, housing, and meals, may be the ideal institution. The Apprentice School (VA) Graduates gain valuable skills and a certificate in the shipbuilding trades tuition-free. All students are required to complete an apprenticeship of four to five years upon graduation. Additional colleges that offer free tuition to eligible students:Another category of schools where a student may be eligible for free tuition are institutions that meet 100% of family’s calculated need. At these schools, aid is based on the calculated financial need of families. If a family demonstrates 100% need, they will receive financial assistance that covers tuition. Families must complete all required financial aid applications and provide necessary supporting documents to the college. Do your research! Schools that meet 100% of calculated may not offer merit scholarships (non-need-based awards) to students. As a reminder, read the fine print as free tuition may come with certain on-campus requirements, commitments after graduation, or financial aid eligibility criteria.

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