It sounds like something too good to be true. Is there really such thing as a free college education? Yes there is. In this article we are going to look at a number of ways to go to college for free or at a reduced rate. Graduating from college without debt means you will be able to start on your career without the financial burdens most people deal with right after graduation. You can start saving for retirement while other people are busy trying to pay off school loans.
Tuition Free Colleges
There are a number of colleges that have been established specifically to provide a tuition free education. Free college doesn't mean there are no expenses. You still may be required to pay room and board. Each free college may have a different set of requirements. Here is a list of some of the free colleges in the United States:
- Alice Llyod Colllege in Kentucky
- Berea College in Kentucky
- Teacher Academy at City University of New York
- College of the Ozarks in Missouri
- Cooper Union in New York
- Curtis Institute of Music in Pennsylvania
- Deep Springs College in California
- Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts
- Westpoint in New York
- US Air Force Academy in Colorado
- US Naval Academy in Maryland
- US Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut
- US Merchant Marine Academy in New York
- Webb Institute in New York
Ivy League Free Colleges
Many Ivy League schools have huge endowments. They also usually have very expensive tuition. Congress has been putting some pressure on these schools to use their endowments to let students attend who couldn't afford the cost of the education.
Several Ivy League schools have responded by offering a free college education to students who can gain admission, but wouldn't be able to come due to finances. For example, students who are admitted to Harvard, will pay no tuition if their family income is less than $60,000 per year. Stanford (which isn't technically Ivy League, but is in a similar class) has the same free college tuition as Harvard. Yale, MIT, Princeton, Dartmouth, Brown, University of Pennsylvania and other schools offer similar free college programs.
Scholarships for a free college education
Another way to go to college for free is with scholarships. Most schools give out academic scholarships to qualified students, but there are often many other departmental scholarships available. The music department usually has scholarship funds to help fill out the orchestra. Athletic departments often have scholarship programs and many other department have scholarship dollars aimed at retaining great students.
Many times you won't find a single scholarship that will give you complete free college tuition, but they can add up quickly. Also don't overlook local scholarships. The local Elk's club, Wal-mart, etc. probably have some type of scholarship program. They may not be large amounts, but a few $500 and $1000 scholarships can add up quickly.
Free college education (without the degree)
If your goal is to get the education from college and you aren't necessarily worried about the degree, be aware that there is a growing collection of classes available for free online. MIT's Open Courseware initiative is putting video and class resources from hundreds of classes online. You can pretty much follow through with the existing class studying the topic. You don't have the same level of support as a real class and won't take tests, but it can give you a very good education at no cost.