Tuition Free Community Colleges In USA

Last Updated on July 31, 2023 by Oluwajuwon Alvina

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Community Colleges In USA

Do tuition-free colleges actually exist? Yes. The words “free” and “college tuition” are normally not found in the same sentence, however, students looking for a college or even an Ivy League education with the option of either free tuition or other financial assistance can start their journey reviewing this informative article for some of the best colleges and universities offering this unique opportunity.

Over the last 30 years, tuition has increased 1,120 percent and according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), college tuition has risen three times as fast as the consumer-price index and twice as fast as medical care in the past decade.

The following information gives a brief glimpse at recent average tuition costs and fees:

The College Board reports the 2013–14 tuition and fees:

• Public, four-year, in-state students: $8,893

• Public, four-year, out-of-state students: $22,203

• Private, nonprofit, four-year: $30,094

• For-profit schools: $15,130

In addition to the rising cost of tuition, student debt is also a growing problem. According to CNN Money, “the average debt load for the class of 2012 was $29,400.

The list of tuition-free colleges below not only provides tuition-free private and state colleges but also Ivy League universities as well. Ivy League schools are some of the most prestigious and expensive schools in the U.S, however, this education can actually be affordable.

Many schools offer free tuition and other financial assistance for students from families with an income below a specific target. In addition, the Ivy League schools listed have a “no-loans” policy, meaning they provide grants instead of loans.

Tuition-free community college programs gain exposure at critical time

What Are Tuition-Free College Programs?

Tuition-free college programs, backed by both private and public sources depending on the program, fund in-state tuition for students that meet certain eligibility requirements. Usually these requirements include both significant financial need and strong academic performance, but the exact requirements vary. Application methods also vary–some you apply to directly, others you apply to automatically when you submit a financial aid application to a qualifying school. Most of these programs apply only to community colleges, but some are available at four-year degree programs as well. You will need to check the programs available in your state to find specific application requirements.

Most tuition-free programs follow a last dollar model, meaning that they themselves do not fund the student’s education entirely, but instead cover the remaining costs after all need-based federal, state and institutional grants are applied. Consequently, most of these programs are essentially a scholarship that covers the gap between the total aid awarded and the total tuition.

It’s important to note that these programs typically cover only tuition. That means that expenses like books, housing, and transportation are still the student’s responsibility. Students should keep in mind that these costs can add up–according to the CollegeBoard, students at two-year colleges paid an average of $1,440 for books and supplies and an additional $1,800 in transportation costs during the 2018-2019 school year.

Furthermore, many of these programs come with stringent requirements, including a minimum number of credits each year, a minimum GPA, or even residency requirements after graduation. For example, the Arkansas Future Grant Program requires students to find a job within half a year and stay in-state three years after graduation otherwise their scholarship will convert into a loan. Hence, you’ll want to think carefully about the program-specific commitments and requirements before applying.

States With Tuition-Free College Programs

Arkansas – Arkansas Future Grant

The Arkansas Future Grant is a last dollar grant that covers tuition and fees for qualifying certificate and Associate degree programs at public institutions for eligible students. The grant is available on a first come, first serve basis and to be eligible, students must be enrolled in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields or regional high demand areas of study.

Additional Requirements: Students must either have completed their high school education or equivalent in Arkansas or have resided in the state for three consecutive years.

California – California Promise

The California Promise Program provides tuition waivers for residents with financial need who attend in-state community colleges or public state universities. Under the program, students can only receive a tuition waiver for one academic year.

Additional Requirements: Students must be legal residents of California who commit to enter a four-year or two-year degree program. Students must meet with their advisors, develop an enrollment plan, and complete 30 semester units (or the quarter equivalent) within each academic year, including summer. Participating campuses may stipulate other requirements as well.

Delaware – SEED (Student Excellence Equals Degree)

This is a last dollar program that begins the fall semester immediately following a student’s high school graduation. It covers tuition only after other financial aid received is deducted from the total cost of tuition. Fees and books are not covered. Students must maintain a 2.5 SEED cumulative grade point average (GPA) at the end of each academic year.

Additional Requirements: Recipients must be high school graduates who are Delaware residents with a combined score of 1350 on the new SAT or a composite ACT score of at least 19. Full requirements are available here.

Hawaii – The Hawai’i Promise Scholarship

A last dollar program, the Hawaii Promise Scholarship provides free in-state tuition for qualified University of Hawai’i Community College students with financial need. The scholarship covers direct educational costs including tuition, fees, books, supplies and transportation for eligible students.

Additional Requirements: Students must qualify for resident tuition and be enrolled in a degree or certificate program at a community college for at least six credits per semester. Students would also be required to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine their unmet need and must maintain standards of academic progress as defined by the Federal Title IV programs.

Indiana – 21st Century Scholars Program

The 21st Century Scholarship provides students up to four years of undergraduate tuition at participating public schools in Indiana (this amount may be reduced based on availability of funds and a family’s ability to pay). For private colleges, the state will award an amount comparable to that of a four-year public college. When it comes to for-profit schools, the state will award a tuition scholarship equal to that of Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana.

Additional Requirements: All Scholars must earn a cumulative (overall) high school grade point average (GPA) of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale, complete the Scholar Success Program, and earn Indiana’s Core 40 Diploma.

Kentucky – Work First Kentucky Scholarship

Students in this program must enroll at eligible post-secondary institutions in approved programs of study leading to an industry recognized certificate, diploma, or Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in a high‐demand workforce sector. Qualifying areas for the 2019-2020 year include health care, advanced manufacturing, transportation/logistics, business services/IT, and construction

Additional Requirements: Students must be Kentucky residents who are U.S. citizens and have earned a high school or GED diploma. Students must complete the FAFSA and submit a WFKS application. While in school, students must maintain a 2.0 GPA or higher.

Maryland – Maryland Community College Scholarship

Qualifying students for this program receive up to $5,000 towards tuition at a two-year community college, registered apprenticeship program, or a sequence of credit or non-credit courses that leads to licensure or certification. Recipients of the Maryland Community College Promise Scholarship Program must sign an agreement to work full-time in the State within one year after earning the credit-bearing vocational certificate, credit-bearing certificate, or associate degree. Any recipient who received the award for more than one year must work full-time in Maryland for each year they received the award. If the student fails to fulfill the service obligation and secure employment within the State, the award will convert into a loan payable to the State.

Additional Requirements: Students must be Maryland residents who are from two-parent households that earn less than $150,000 a year; the income threshold for single-parent households is $100,000. Students must have graduated from high school or earned their GED within the last two years. Recipients must complete the FAFSA, meet in-state tuition requirements and earn at least a 2.3 high school GPA among other criteria.

Minnesota – MnSCU Two-Year Occupational Grant Pilot Program

This is a last dollar program that provides financial assistance to students enrolled in qualifying career and technical programs at MnSCU two-year colleges so that students can complete the program and find employment in a high-demand occupation. The award covers any remaining tuition and general fee charges after the student’s Federal Pell Grant and MN State Grant have been applied to the their account. Program-specific fees and equipment are not covered. The grant is available for up to 72 semester credits, including any required developmental courses taken after admission to the occupational program.

Additional Requirements: Students must hold a diploma from a Minnesota high school or have passed the GED exam as a Minnesotan. This program only covers qualifying occupations, so students must study in an approved field, such as nursing or accounting.

Best Colleges Providing Free Tuition

Alice Lloyd College

Established in 1923, Alice Lloyd College, a four-year, Christian-centered, liberal arts, offers pre-professional and bachelor’ degree programs. The college enrollment includes around 600 students. Alice Lloyd College has a 17:1 student/faculty ratio and accepts, on average, 18% of its applicants.

Additional Alice Lloyd College highlights include:

* Alice Lloyd College ranked #40 in the U.S. News & World Report 2014 edition of Best Colleges in Regional Colleges (South).

* SAT test scores (25th/75th percentile) are as follows: Critical reading: 460/590; math: 420/520; and writing: 440/480.

Students at the tuition-free college are required to work at least 160 hours per semester in an on-campus job or in the local community in the Student Work Program. The cost of living in a dormitory is about $1,900 annually.

Each of Alice Lloyd’s 2009 graduates carried an average debt of $6,500, which is well below the statewide average of $19,112 and the national average of $24,000.

Antioch College

Founded in 1850, Antioch College is a private liberal arts college in Yellow Springs, Ohio. The school has a commitment to social justice. Antioch College is the only institution in the nation, for the past 90 years, with a required co-op program for all students. Students work in a cooperative setting for four quarters during their enrollment. This practical work experience helps prepare students for future careers.

The Cost of Private vs. Public Colleges | Paying for College | US News

Additional Antioch College highlights include:

* In 2012, only around five percent of applicants received acceptance letters, making Antioch one of the more selective colleges in the U.S.

* Students enrolled in the class of 2017 have an average ACT score of 26, an SAT of 1160, and a GPA of 3.62.

* The Huffington Post recognized Antioch College in its “Top Non-Traditional Colleges” list alongside Brown University, the New School, Wesleyan and others.

Antioch College is extending its free tuition offer only one last time to students who are admitted for the 2014-2015 school year. They will receive the four-year, tuition-free package worth at least $121,000.

Barclay College

Barclay College, established in 1918, a four-year Quaker Bible school located in Haviland, Kansas, has an enrollment of about 250 students. The college does welcome students from all evangelical faiths.

The program provides bachelor’s degree programs in Pastoral Ministry, Youth Ministry, Sports and Recreational Leadership, Christian Elementary Education, Business Administration, and other programs. Barclay also offers Associate’s degrees in Biblical Studies and General Studies, a distance learning program as well as other certificates and degree programs.

Additional Barclay College highlights include:

* Barclay College has a 49% admission rate.

* The college received accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation, of the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE).

Students receiving full-tuition scholarship are required to live in on-campus housing. The scholarship is worth $11,000 per year and a student’s cost is $10,990. The scholarship, however, does not cover the cost of room, board and fees.

Berea College

Established in 1855, Berea College located in Berea Kentucky, a private liberal arts college, provides degrees in 28 fields. The college encompasses about 1,500 undergraduate students from all 50 states and about 60 countries; however, the majority of the students are from Appalachia.

Additional Berea College highlights include:

* Berea College has an 11:1 student/faculty ratio.

* The Princeton Review named the college as one of the best colleges in the Southeast.

* Berea College Ranked #76 in the U.S. News & World Report 2014 edition of Best Colleges in National Liberal Arts Colleges.

* The college has an 11% acceptance rate, and a 79.5% average freshman retention rate.

Berea College does not charge tuition and awards a four-year tuition scholarship to every admitted student (amounts to nearly $100,000). However, every student is required to work at least 10 hours per week in campus-approved jobs.

This scholarship also works in accordance with any other grants or scholarships students receive. The college may cover other costs such as room/board and fees; most students receive additional aid for these costs. About one in four students at the college are able to graduate debt-free.

College of the Ozarks

Founded in 1906, College of the Ozarks is a private, Christian liberal arts college located in Point Lookout, Missouri. The college has an enrollment of 1,500, a 16:1 student-to-faculty ratio and over 30 academic majors.

College of the Ozarks offers pre-professional programs and credentials and certificates as well as degrees in both Bachelors of Arts and Bachelors of Science.

Additional College of the Ozarks highlights include:

* The college ranked #10 in the 2014 U.S. News & World Report edition of the Best Colleges in Regional Colleges (Midwest).

* Forbes ranked the school #21 in the Midwest.

College of the Ozarks is a tuition-free college for full-time students. About ninety percent of applicants are required to show financial need to get accepted. Students are required to work 15 hours a week at an on-campus work station and a 40-hour work week during breaks. The school provides a summer work program to cover the cost of room and board.

Curtis Institute of Music

Established in 1924, Curtis Institute of Music located in Philadelphia, PA offers courses of study leading to a performance diploma. Such degrees include a Bachelor of Music, Master of Music in Opera or a Professional Studies Certificate in Opera. Curtis Institute of Music, known as one of the leading conservatories in the world, provides training and education to gifted musicians for careers as performing artists at the highest professional level.

With an enrollment of only 165 students and a low acceptance rate of 4%, the school’s trained instrumentalists hold 16% of the principal chairs of the top 25 U.S. orchestras.

Additional Curtis Institute of Music highlights include:

* Graduates have performed at the Metropolitan Opera.

* The school does not have minimum or maximum age requirements.

* Graduates have gone on to receive Tony and Grammy Awards and Guggenheim Fellowships.

* All applicants must audition in person, the school selects individuals based on artistic talent.

The Curtis Institute of Music provides merit-based full-tuition scholarships for all its students. The 2013-14 school year scholarship value was $37,600 for undergraduate students and $50,100 for graduate students. No financial aid application is required for the full-tuition scholarship. The school bases financial assistance for living expenses entirely on need.

Deep Springs College

Deep Springs College, a private, two-year alternative college in Deep Springs, California. With, has a student body of only 26 or lower. The students may elect to attain an associate’s degree, but many decide to complete their studies at some of the most prestigious universities in the world. Two-thirds of students eventually earn a graduate degree, half earn a doctorate.

This alternative institution, founded on the three pillars of academics, labor and self-governance, allows its students to have unprecedented decision making authority regarding curriculum, admissions and hiring of faculty.

Additional Deep Springs College highlights include:

* Admissions rate varies from 6% to 15%, year-to-year.

* Students accepted into the program have SAT scores averaging around 700 for math and in the upper 700 range for verbal.

* Essay and interviews are paramount in the admissions process.

* Once an all male college, females are now able to enroll (class of 2013).

Each student receives a full-scholarship of over $50,000 a year. Students are expected to work 20 hours per week (minimum) on the farm, or in college or community jobs.

Macaulay Honors College at City University of New York (CUNY)

Established in 2001, Macaulay Honors College, located in New York City, is a liberal arts college combining traditional and experiential teaching and learning. The school has tripled its enrollment since its beginning to about 1400 students.

Students have the option to enroll in one of eight CUNY colleges through the Advising Program and each student creates an individualized academic program which includes courses selected from more than 210 majors.

Additional Macaulay Honors College highlights include:

* Students have a combined SAT critical reading and math score of about 1400 and an A average in high school.

* Students can also attend a wide range of semester and year-long study-abroad programs at universities around the world.

* All students are required to complete 10 hours of community service in each of their first three years.

All students at Macaulay Honors College receive a full, undergraduate, free-tuition scholarship (not including fees). They also receive a $7,500 Opportunities Fund grant for global research and study service/learning opportunities, a MacBook Pro laptop computer and a Cultural Passport to New York City arts and cultural events. Housing support is also available. Students are required to meet CUNY residency requirements for in-state tuition in order to receive the full-tuition scholarship.

Webb Institute

Web Institute, established in 1889, is located in Glen Cove, New York. The Institute, known for its engineering education, offers only a single undergraduate degree option in naval architecture and marine engineering and is the only school in the nation devoted to ship-design engineering and systems engineering.

Additional Web Institute highlights include:

* The institute houses a 90-foot long model ship basin, frequently used by students and faculty for experiments and research.

* Students work in the maritime industry during a winter work term and receive a salary.

* The Webb Institute only enrolls around 90 students and has a student/faculty ratio of 7:1.

* Webb Institute has a 37% acceptance rate and an 87.2% average freshman retention rate.

* Graduates have a 100% job placement.

This tuition free school provides every student receives a four-year, full-tuition scholarship. Costs are limited to room and board, books and software. Room and board is estimated to be $13,750 and students can participate in internships to earn money.

Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades

Founded in 1888, Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades is a three-year, men’s only junior trade school located in Media, Pennsylvania. Most students come from the Southeastern and Central Pennsylvania regions.

The school has a living environment based on the Judeo-Christian perspective which fosters the values of faith, integrity, diligence, excellence, and service.

The school offers programs to students in carpentry, masonry, horticulture, landscaping, turf management, machine tools, painting, and power plant technology. Upon graduation, students receive an associate’s degree unless they decide to obtain a lower diploma in carpentry or masonry.

Additional Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades highlights include:

* Students must be unmarried and no more than 20 years of age to enroll in the program.

* Approximately 100 students are offered admission to Williamson each year.

* All students are required to live on-campus in a supervised dorm, attend a chapel service and follow a dress code.

Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades is the only trade college in the United States which gives all students full scholarships to cover textbooks, tuition and room and board.

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