How would you like to go to college for free? No, I’m not talking about getting a full ride athletic or academic scholarship. I’m also not talking about college being free to you thanks to mom and dad’s 529 college savings plan. I’m most definitely not talking about college being free today thanks to student loan debts tomorrow. I’m talking about going to a four year accredited university completely tuition free.
It sounds mythical, almost like a fairy tale doesn’t it? Unicorns, leprechaun’s gold, big-foot, cold fusion, free college. The words free and college shouldn’t even be able to coexist in the same sentence. But, with the cost of a college education rising at over twice the rate of inflation, it’s seems like a pretty reasonable thing to look into.
As a side note I will be sharing how to find a leprechaun’s pot of gold in a future post.
Back to getting a free college education. Although it sounds too good to be true, there are a few accredited colleges that are completely free to students. Really, there are. For example the College of the Ozarks offers a four year education at no cost to their students. This excerpt from their site explains it pretty well.
“Each student participates in the on-campus work program for 15 hours per week and two forty-hour work weeks. Earnings from participation in the work program, plus any federal and/or state aid for which students qualify, plus a College of the Ozarks Cost of Education Scholarship combine to meet each student’s full tuition charge.”
Or if you’re a visual person, it breaks down like this:
Cost of Education: $17,900
College of Ozark Work program: -$4,116
College of Ozark Cost of Education Scholarship: -$13,784
Total Cost to Student: $0.00
Another college, the Curtis Institutes of Music also comes at no cost to the student. Here is what they have to say:
“Since 1928 Curtis has maintained an all-scholarship policy. The Curtis Institute of Music provides merit-based full-tuition scholarships to all undergraduate and graduate, students, regardless of their financial situation. For the 2013-14 school year, the annual value of this scholarship was $37,600 for undergraduate students and $50,100 for graduate students. These scholarships are renewed each year of a student’s enrollment. No financial aid application is required for the full-tuition scholarship.”
Berea is yet another example of a college offering a free education. All individuals admitted to Berea get a full four year tuition scholarship. According to their website, for most students, the 4-year tuition scholarship amounts to nearly $100,000. How do they do it?
“We are able to provide this level of financial assistance due to the generous support of alumni, friends, organizations, and others who believe, as we do, that a student’s income should not dictate their outcome. So when you enroll at Berea, your scholarship will be provided by people you don’t even know who believe in your potential—and who know that Berea is well-positioned to help you realize that potential.”
These colleges are not alone. There are others that offer similar deals to their students. Is this the norm? Definitely not! To be honest, it can be very difficult to get into some of these colleges. Curtis is an exceptionally elite school. Berea and Ozarks also have very limited availability. But there are other options available for a free education.
West Point and other military academies offer tuition free education; however, you do have a required period of service following graduation. Here are some other examples of tuition free colleges:
College doesn’t have to be a massive financial burden to you. There are ways to go to college without taking on a ton of student loan debt. Time spent looking into alternatives is not time wasted.