So you’re looking for a deal like no other on college – the best possible value. Well, how do you feel about free? I’m sure you have many questions – is free tuition really free? Can a free college really work for me?
There are many available options for students who are seeking free college tuition for their post-secondary studies or opportunities to study for a degree offered by college tuition for free. However, it is essential to note that college tuition for free does not necessarily mean that your education will be without cost. This is because many schools that offer free college tuition or free tuition for college will still charge fees for incidentals as well as room/board costs.
Yes, there are some colleges and universities you can attend for free! There are some limitations to these tuition free colleges, though: some are highly specialized, and the Ivy League schools are need-based. The military institutions require years of service, and some of the small institutions require labor or some other form of service in exchange for tuition. But, if you’re willing work, or have financial need, or just want to study something very, very specific, here are 25 tuition free colleges and universities in the United States!
Note: College are arranged simply in alphabetical order.
1. Alice Lloyd College – Pippa Passes, KY
Alice Lloyd College (ALC) is one of the few colleges that are free for students in the country. Alice Lloyd College offers college for free for eligible students in the school’s service area of central Appalachia – parts of Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Virginia. Alice Lloyd College holds the distinction of being one of the free colleges with students that graduate with the least amount of debt. Degree candidates agree to ALC’s work-study program, allowing students to earn a college degree while paying their way by working on campus and in the nearby communities.
Alice Lloyd College was established in 1923. Alice Lloyd College students work in the school for a minimum of 160 hours each semester. Alice Lloyd College has a student enrollment of about 600 students studying for one of the school’s 18-degree programs.
Highlight – Forbes recognizes Alice Lloyd College among the most financially fit colleges in the nation.
2. Antioch College – Yellow Springs, OH
Antioch College offers guaranteed full-tuition scholarships that enable eligible/accepted students to attend a college for free. Students who enroll in Antioch College’s Works program attend one of the available free colleges that offer free tuition in exchange for the student gaining real-world experience by working for the school and the school’s academic partners. Antioch College’s mission is to be one of the American colleges that are free to students who commit to working in lieu of paying full tuition for a college education and academic degree.
Antioch College (Ohio) was established in 1852 and reopened in 2011 after a group of alumni bought the school that closed in 2008. Antioch College’s rural campus is home to more than 130 students who also commit to working while studying for their degrees.
Highlight – The first president of Antioch College, was education master Horace Mann.
3. Barclay College – Haviland, KS
Barclay College offers a full-tuition scholarship and is one of the colleges that are free for any Kansas resident who is accepted into the school as a student. Students attending Barclay College for free to earn their baccalaureate degree can attend on the central Kansas, Haviland campus, or through the school’s distance learning platform. The undergraduate programs available at one of the best free colleges in the midwestern United States include Pastoral or Youth Ministry, Bible/Theology, Family Studies, Psychology, Elementary Education, Business, or Sports & Recreation, among others. Barclay College has received accreditation by the HLC – the Higher Learning Commission.
Barclay College was established as a private institution of higher education in 1917. The school is affiliated with the Quakers. The school’s rural campus covers more than 20 acres and serves more than 200 residential students.
Highlight – Barclay College boasts an impressive student-to-faculty ratio of 8 to 1.
4. Berea College – Berea, KY
Berea College offers students college for free. Berea also remits to each student an average of $1,000 that can be applied toward books, fees, housing, and meals, to name a few. As one of the country’s leading free colleges, Forbes recognizes them as one of the top five best colleges that are free (in the best value category) to students studying for academic degrees. Berea College offers more than 30 majors as baccalaureate programs.
Berea College was established in 1855 and is a nondenominational, unaffiliated tuition free Christian school. Berea’s campus is home to more than 1,600 students studying for baccalaureate degrees offered in 30+ majors.
Highlight – Berea College holds the distinction of being the first school in the southern portion of the United States to offer racially integrated classes for co-ed students.
5. Blackburn College – Carlinville, IL
Blackburn College is one of the country’s colleges that are free for students who are residents of Illinois and who demonstrate the greatest financial need. Blackburn College’s promise of no tuition is the first kind of program to be offered throughout the state of Illinois. As a college for free tuition, Blackburn College offers the possibility of the college of education to many students who would not be otherwise able to attend. To qualify for one of the programs offered by one of the country’s free colleges, students must receive a Pell Grant and be eligible for the Illinois MPA – Monetary Awards Program.
Blackburn College is a private institution of higher learning that is affiliated with the US Presbyterian Church. The school’s small-town campus serves nearly 600 students, who receive a tuition rebate for hours worked.
Highlight – Blackburn College is considered a work college, of which there are only nine in the United States.
6. The Central Christian College of the Bible – Moberly, MO
CCCB – The Central Christian College of the Bible, is one of the nation’s free colleges for students who meet the school’s eligibility criteria. The programs offered by this college for free tuition include Christian Education & Counseling, Ministries, Bible, Worship Ministry, and Youth Ministry, to name a few. As one of the country’s colleges that are free to students, the Central Christian College of the Bible also provides degrees in accounting, technology, business, criminal justice, education, healthcare, hospitality, marketing, information technology, nursing, occupational therapy, and addiction counseling, among others.
The Central Christian College of the Bible was established in 1957. The Central Christian College of the Bible’s campus is home to approximately 300 students. The Association for Biblical Higher Education accredits the school.
Highlight – The Central Christian College of the Bible offers more than 25 baccalaureate degree programs for ministry-related subjects.
7. The College of the Ozarks – Point Lookout, MO
The College of the Ozarks (which is also known as the C of O) is one of the country’s free colleges that require students to apply for certain grants and to work 15 hours per week on-campus. College for free at the College of the Ozarks with the application of the school’s Cost of Education Scholarship. Among the colleges that are free, the College of the Ozarks discourages students from the act of borrowing. It encourages the creation of a student’s solid work ethic that aligns with the school’s mission and criteria.
The College of the Ozarks was established by the Presbyterian Church in 1906. Students enrolled in the College of the Ozarks are required to work part-time during the school semester and full-time for two weeks on holiday. The school’s student enrollment exceeds 1,500.
Highlight – The College of the Ozarks boasts a faculty-to-student ratio of 1 to 16.
8. The City University of New York (CUNY) Macaulay Honors College – New York, NY
The City University of New York (CUNY) Macaulay Honors College offers eligible incoming freshmen that are New York State residents an opportunity to attend one of the city’s tuition-free colleges. CUNY Macaulay College’s college for free program finances four years or eight semesters of academic work. Additionally, for students attending one of the colleges that are free to students, CUNY Macaulay Honors College offers free tuition for those students who choose to study abroad through one of the school’s international study programs. CUNY Macaulay Honors College also provides a new Mac laptop and 1st-day privileges during registration.
The City University of New York (CUNY) Macaulay Honors College was established in 2001. The school’s campus is home to more than 2,000 students who generally receive a scholarship equal to full tuition.
Highlight – Only income freshmen (graduating from high school) may apply to CUNY Macaulay Honors College for admission.
9. The Curtis Institute of Music – Philadelphia, PA
The Curtis Institute of Music (CIM) is one of the free colleges in the country that offers full tuition by way of scholarships given to those students who demonstrate a merit-based need and/or a financial need. Students attending the Curtis Institute of Music who attend college for free are required to work and generate as much income as time and studies allow. CIM requires students to submit all forms to attend one of the country’s colleges that are free by March 1.
The Curtis Institute of Music was established as a private school in 1924. The conservatory offers a music baccalaureate and master’s in opera. The school was initially one of the few training schools for orchestra musicians for the Philadelphia Orchestra. The school’s student enrollment is approximately 165.
Highlight – The Curtis Institute of Music holds the distinction of being one of the most selective schools across the globe.
10. Deep Springs College – Deep Springs, CA
Deep Springs College is proud to offer a college for free to students who are eligible for admission. Although unusual, Deep Springs College offers no majors for students to attend one of the nation’s free colleges. Students graduate and generally complete their degrees in a four-year university. Coursework for one of the few colleges that are free includes Ethics, Mathematics in Political Life, and Dickinson Poetry. Deep Spring’s scholarships include expenses for tuition, room & board.
Deep Springs College was established in 1917. The school’s remote campus in Deep Springs California, is home to only 26 students, is a working cattle ranch/alfalfa farm, and is 20+ miles from the nearest town. The school operates from three principles – self-governance, labor, and academia.
Highlight – Deep Springs College holds the distinction of being one of the smallest colleges in the nation.
11. Duke University – Durham, NC
Duke University offers the Robertson Scholars Leadership scholarships that offer college for free to eligible selected students. Students who receive the Robertson Scholars Leadership scholarships attend one of the nation’s best colleges that are free for eight semesters with no tuition required and have the option of studying abroad for two of the scholarships eight semesters. Free colleges, like Duke University’s Robertson Scholars Leadership scholarship opportunities, foster the future’s scholars and leaders. This program encourages intellectual freedom through the application of personal integrity.
Duke University was established in 1838. Duke University is an affiliate of the United Methodist Church. The school’s main campus covers more than 8,500 acres and serves nearly 16,000 students. Duke also operates a marine lab in Beaufort, NC.
Highlight – Duke University consistently ranks among the country’s top twenty institutions of higher education.
12. Ecclesia College – Springdale, AR
Ecclesia College (EC) is one of the country’s colleges that are free to students who commit to the school’s work-study program. Ecclesia College holds the distinction of being the only college for free in the state of Arkansas. As one of only seven free colleges with a work-learning program in the nation, Ecclesia College offsets tuition costs for students by applying money earned by the student through the work-study program to outstanding expenses and tuition. Students are also required to finish twelve hours dedicated to Christian-based service.
Ecclesia College was established in 1975. Ecclesia College is a Christian work school that has received accreditation from the ABHE – the Association for Biblical Higher Education. Ecclesia College is a private college with a student enrollment of approximately 175.
Highlight – Ecclesia College participates in these ministries -Bibles for the Nations, Ecclesia Children’s Ministries, and Strategic Missions for Strategic Nations.
13. Haskell Indian Nations University – Lawrence, KS
Haskell Indian Nations University offers college for free to students of Alaska Native or Native-American heritage. Students attending Haskell Indian Nations University as one of the country’s only free colleges graduate with little to no debt, which bucks a national trend of increasing student debt. Haskell Indian Nations University students attending colleges that are free have the opportunity to interact with members of more than 100 federally recognized Indigenous Tribes. Students have the option to enroll in different indigenous language classes.
Haskell Indian Nations University was established in 1884 as a service to those members of the Native American Tribes located in the U.S. the school’s campus in Kansas serves more than 1,000 students. Several buildings on campus are listed as US landmarks.
Highlight – Haskell Indian Nations University is a recognized residential tribal university that is operated by the federal government.
14. MIT – Cambridge, MA
Would you like to get a Nobel Prize someday? A MacArthur genius grant? Maybe you’d like to be a Rhodes scholar? Well, MIT would be a place to start – their students, graduates, and faculty have an exceptionally high proportion of honors. And incredibly, because they are committed to getting the highest quality of students regardless of background, MIT is free for most students.
This polytechnic institute, located in Cambridge, MA, is legendary for its excellence. That’s because they only accept the very best students in science and engineering, of course. And if you qualify, and your family makes less than $75,000 a year, you can go for free.
15. Sterling College – Craftsbury, VT
Sterling College offers college for free to students who demonstrate a need by offering grants that defray college costs and allow students to graduate with a reasonable amount of debt. As one of the nation’s free colleges and premier ecological education providers, Sterling College prepares graduates in green technology and sustainable farming to give back to their communities. Among colleges that are free, Sterling boasts an impressive student-to-faculty ratio of only 6 to 1. Sterling College’s campus kitchen is recognized as the first in the country for local food that is offered through humane, fair trade.
Sterling College (Vermont) was established in 158 as a young man’s prep school. Sterling College offers students ecologically minded degrees in food systems, ecology, and sustainable agriculture. Sterling College is home to approximately 120 students.
Highlight – Sterling College in Vermont is a member school of the eight school Work College Consortium.
16. The University of the People – Pasadena, CA
The University of the People is the first nonprofit college for free for students who want to finish their degrees online. As one of the few free colleges in the United States, the University of the People offers degrees in computer science, education, health science, and business administration. While the U of P is ranked among the few colleges that are free in the United States, they do charge nominal fees to help defray expenses. However, students who do not have the resources to pay these fees can apply for scholarships.
The University of the People was established in 2009 as a school that offers online education exclusively. The university’s online virtual campus is home to more than 27,000 students. U of P’s motto is the education revolution.
Highlight – Bill Gates awarded the school more than $600,000 to help secure accreditation, which occurred in 2014.
17. The United States Air Force Academy – Air Force Academy, CO
The United States Air Force Academy is recognized among the colleges that are free if the student commits to serving the country for a specified amount of time. Graduates from the US Air Force Academy serve as officers in the USAF as compensation for the education they receive from the US military’s free colleges. Those who receive pilot training while earning a degree from college for free commit to ten years of service upon completion of training. Rather than using the traditional names for freshman, sophomore, etc., the USAF labels classes as fourth class = freshman, and third-class = sophomores, and so on.
The United States Air Force Academy was established in 1954. The USAFA’s campus is located north of Colorado Springs and is home to more than 4,200 cadets. Graduates of USAFA’s baccalaureate program serve as US Air Force 2nd Lieutenants.
Highlight – The United States Air Force Academy is the youngest of the military academies in the United States.
18. The United States Coast Guard Academy – London, CT
The United States Coast Guard Academy (USCGA) is recognized among the best free colleges in the country. Those who receive an education and a degree from a college for free from the USCG make a commitment to serve in the US Coast Guard for a specified number of years. Admission to one of the best colleges that are free is considered very competitive and is based strictly on merit as a congressional nomination is not a part of the USCG admission process. The US Coast Guard Academy selects only several hundred students from many thousands of applications.
The United States Coast Guard Academy was established in 1876. Degree candidates graduate as ensigns with a commitment to a five-year service term. Student enrollment at the US Coast Guard Academy exceeds 1,000 cadets.
Highlight – The United States Coast Guard Academy is the next to smallest service academy in the United States.
19. The United States Merchant Marine Academy – Kings Point, NY
The United States Merchant Marine Academy is one of the free colleges that offer a college degree and education for those students who commit to serving in the Merchant Marines for a specified number of years. The expenses for attending this college for free require students to pay for their personal expenses – such as laundry, tailor, and barber expenses as midshipmen. The USMMA is recognized among colleges that are free but require students to spend a minimum of 300 days at sea on various types of vessels.
The United States Merchant Marine Academy was established in 1943. The school’s suburban campus in Kings Point NY is home to more than 1,000 mid-shipment who generally move on to careers in the branches of the military.
Highlight – The US Merchant Marine Academy offers degrees in maritime law, customs, and international law, among others.
20. The United States Military Academy – West Point, NY
The United States Military Academy (USMA) is one of the free colleges that offer academic degrees for students who agree to serve in the United States military for a predetermined number of years. Cadets attending this military college for free become part of the long-standing tradition of this oldest among military colleges that are free. Applicants for entry into the US Military Academy must meet academic, physical, and leadership requirements set forth by the academy staff. Candidates must be 17 (but not older than 22 years of age) when entering the US Military Academy at West Point.
The United States Military Academy was established in 1802. The US Military Academy’s campus covers more than 16,000 acres along the Hudson River an hour or so to the north of New York City. Currently, the Military Academy’s student enrollment exceeds 4,200 cadets.
Highlight – Candidates of the US Military Academy must usually have a congressional nomination.
21. The United States Naval Academy – Annapolis, MD
The USNA – the United States Naval Academy is one of the five military colleges that are free for students earning their degrees in exchange for a commitment to serve in the naval forces for a minimum of five years. Students enrolled as midshipmen in one of the free colleges for training military leaders receive a stipend each month, which increases over time. The USNA, as a military college for free, includes tuition, room board, and medical insurance premiums. The USNA is considered the #1 public institution of higher learning in the country, according to US News.
The United States Naval Academy was chartered in 1845. The Naval Academy’s 325+ acre campus is home to more than 4,500 midshipmen who will likely be commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the marines or an ensign in the navy.
Highlight -The United States Naval Academy is the next to the oldest of the country’s military service academies.
22. Vanderbilt University – Nashville, TN
Vanderbilt University offers students education from a top college for free through the Ingram Scholars Program. Ingram Scholars attending Vanderbilt University as one of the colleges that are free must demonstrate personal motivation in solving society’s problems while building a successful professional/business career. Enrolling in Vanderbilt as one of the free colleges in the nation as an Ingram Scholar prepares students to become future leaders offering contributions to society for the betterment of all. Vanderbilt University serves as a model school for diversity and inclusion in residential academics.
Vanderbilt University was established in 1873. Vanderbilt University’s campus covers more than 300 acres and serves about 12,000 students. US News recognizes Vanderbilt University among the top fifteen national universities.
Highlight – Vanderbilt University’s library system holds more than 8 million items and is ranked among the top research facilities in the country.
23. Warren Wilson College – Swannanoa, NC
Warren Wilson College (WWC) offers two different programs that actually allow students to attend Warren Wilson College for free. The NC Free Tuition plan allows full-time undergraduate students and NC residents to attend one of the few colleges that are free. WWC’s Milepost One is another of the programs that offer students the opportunity to attend one of the country’s free colleges. Milepost One candidate must be from a family whose income does not exceed $125,000 and agree to participate in the Warren Wilson College established work program.
Warren Wilson College was established in 1894 and is affiliated with the USA Presbyterian Church. Warren Wilson College is one of the member schools of the Work Colleges Consortium and home to approximately 700 students.
Highlight – Warren Wilson College is best known for its curriculum, which integrates service, academics, and work.
24. The Webb Institute – Glen Cove, NY
The Webb Institute (NY) offers US citizens an opportunity to partake in one of the colleges that are free still operating in the country. Each student accepted into the Webb Institute attends this college for free but must submit documents to receive Pell Grants, etc. to be eligible. The Webb Institute, as one of the free colleges still offering academic degrees at no cost, also provides scholarships that are awarded based on a student’s demonstrated need.
The Webb Institute (NY) is a private school dedicated to the field of engineering that was established in 1889. Graduates earn a baccalaureate degree in either marine engineering or naval architecture. The school’s 25+ acres in suburban Glen Cove, Long Island, is home to approximately 100 students.
Highlight – William Webb chartered the school after his illustrious career as a naval ship designer.
25. Williamson College of the Trades – Middletown, PA
The Williamson College of the Trades (WCT) offers students an opportunity to attend college for free. As one of the few colleges that are free, WCT prepares students to become future leaders of industry and trade. While anyone can apply to the Williamson College of the Trades, preference is given to students with demonstrated financial need. WCT, like all free colleges, seeks to offer a college education to someone who would otherwise be unable to attend.
The Williamson College of the Trades is a junior college for men that was established in 1888. The school’s campus covers more than 200 acres and is situated in a Philadelphia suburb and home to about 250 undergraduate students. The school is accredited by the Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology.
Highlight – Williamson College of the Trades was originally opened for underprivileged boys in need of vocational training.
How can you get Free College Tuition?
Tuition free colleges aren’t necessarily free of tuition. Tuition free may just mean that you don’t pay the tuition. Ivy League schools are an example – they have tuition, but only those who can afford it pay it. They offer a free tuition program for those who cannot as a form of financial aid. Many institutions of higher education offer free tuition for college that requires the student to work in one of the school’s departments or stores. Additionally, the following United States military academies provide free tuition for university studies by requiring students to serve in the military. These free college tuition institutions for undergraduate students include the following–
- The U.S. Military Academy
- The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy
- The U.S. Naval Academy
The military academies offer a free tuition program to attract the best candidates. Still, other accredited schools offer free college tuition both on-campus and through distance learning platforms. The accredited schools that offer free tuition for college students include the following partial list –
- CUNY Macaulay Honors College in NY,
- Barclay College in K.S., and
- Curtis Institute of Music in P.A., among others.
Other accredited schools with free tuition for college include those free tuition for university students in USA online, check out the University of the People that provides free tuition for college students studying online.
Many additional sources provide coursework and academic classes with free tuition for college studies. These online sources for college tuition for free include these amazing universities – Stanford University, Yale University, Tufts University, and MIT.
We’ve seen a lot of news recently about making community college free, but currently community college is only free under certain circumstances.
Can International Students Go to College in the U.S. Tuition Free?
The Institute of International Education notes that there are almost 1 million international students who are studying in the United States. Many require financial aid, but there are opportunities for international students to go to college for free.
Are you an international student searching for –
- Free tuition universities in USA or free colleges in USA.
- Tuition free colleges for international students.
- Tuition Free College USA.
- Free Tuition Colleges in USA.
- Tuition free American Universities and colleges.
- Tuition free colleges and universities in USA that offer online courses.
First, it is essential to know that as an international student, you will need to apply to those tuition free colleges in the United States that offer programs that meet your education needs and career objectives. As an international student attending one of the free tuition colleges in USA, you will follow the traditional steps for students from the United States attending universities with free tuition in USA.
International students enrolled in one of the tuition-free colleges in the United States will likely need to take the TOEFL test if English is not your native language. However, those international students attending free tuition universities in USA who score above specific criteria on the SAT may find the free college USA will waive the TOEFL requirement.
Many schools offering free college tuition in USA are proactively seeking to create more globalized campuses. However, it is essential to note that there are only a limited number of spots available for international students looking for free tuition colleges in USA. Financial aid will be no concern.
Those universities with free tuition in USA tend to place relative importance on test scores. Still, the college application for free colleges in USA generally includes an emphasis on the applicant’s qualities, academic history, and participation in the school and surrounding community.