College is expensive. Here are the places you can attend for free



Myles Ma

Myles Ma

Senior Reporter

Myles Ma is a senior reporter at Policygenius, where he covers personal finance and insurance and writes the Easy Money newsletter. His expertise has been featured in The Washington Post, PBS, CNBC, CBS News, USA Today, HuffPost, Salon, Inc. Magazine, MarketWatch, and elsewhere.

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A house is the biggest investment most people make in their lives. Americans owe $8.88 trillion in mortgage debt, more than any other form of debt, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The second-biggest, for the past decade or so, has been education.

Americans owed $1.38 trillion in student loans as of Dec. 31, according to the New York Fed. Eleven percent of that debt was more than 90 days delinquent or in default, a figure that likely understates the student debt problem, since it doesn't include loans in deferment, in grace periods or forbearance. And it could get worse. The average annual cost of attending a four-year school reached more than $25,000 in 2014-15, and shows no signs of slowing down.

In response, many states and colleges have moved to make tuition free. Many of programs are for community college, which was already a cost-effective way to knock out general education requirements. A handful of non-community colleges offer free tuition to all students. Here is where you can attend college tuition-free.


Arkansas Future Grant

The basics: A state grant program for students attending Arkansas public institutions.

Who qualifies: Students in certificate or associate degree programs at Arkansas public institutions who are studying science, technology, engineering, math or other "high-demand" subjects. Applicants must have graduated from an Arkansas school or received a high school equivalency diploma or lived in Arkansas for three years before applying.

What you get: Money for tuition, fees and other charges, minus any money received from other scholarships for two years.

Other requirements: Recipients must receive monthly mentoring from an organization approved by the state department of higher education, complete 15 hours of community service each semester and, after graduating, live in the state at least three years and have a job within six months.


Deep Springs College

The basics: A two-year college with 24 to 30 students, located on a farm in a desert in California. All accepted students receive a full scholarship.

Who qualifies: Anyone who is accepted. Applicants must be 23 or under. The application includes what the school describes as "weird" essay questions. Here’s one from 2013: "Have a difficult conversation with someone you interact with regularly. What compelled you to have that particular conversation?"

What you get: A full scholarship valued at more than $50,000, including tuition, room and board.

Other requirements: In addition to academics, students must participate in 20 hours of labor each week, which includes farm work.


Student Excellence Equals Degree (SEED)

The basics: SEED pays tuition for Delaware students to attend Delaware Technical Community College or the Associate in Arts program at University of Delaware.

Who qualifies: Students must be Delaware residents who graduate from a state high school with a GPA of 2.5 or higher.

What you get: Tuition, minus any other financial aid. Fees and books aren't covered.

Other requirements: Students must enroll in 24 credits each year and maintain a 2.5 GPA to stay eligible.


Hawaii's Promise

The basics: A scholarship providing aid for any financial needs not covered by other forms of aid.

Who qualifies: Hawaii residents or anyone who qualifies for in-state tuition.

What you get: A scholarship to cover any costs not met by other aid, including tuition, fees, books, supplies and transportation. The average scholarship is $1,416.

Other requirements: Must be enrolled in six credits per semester.


Workforce Ready Grant

The basics: Financial aid for tuition and fees at Ivy Tech Community College or Vincennes University.

Who qualifies: Indiana residents working toward a "high-value" certificate. That means advanced manufacturing, building and construction, health sciences, information technology and business technology, and transportation and logistics.

What you get: Tuition and mandatory fees for two years. The grant doesn't cover courses that don't apply to the certificate program or pay for equipment.

Other requirements: None


Barclay College

The basics: A college for students looking for an education with a "biblical foundation." All students receive $15,000 full scholarship if accepted.

Who qualifies: Full-time, on-campus students. Students are admitted based on academic record and "Christian commitment."

What you get: A full scholarship valued at $15,000.

Other requirements: None.


Work Ready Kentucky

The basics: A scholarship for Kentucky residents getting an associate degree.

Who qualifies: Kentucky residents enrolled or accepted for enrollment in a certificate in a "high-demand workforce sector," including health care, advanced manufacturing and transportation and logistics.

What you get: Tuition and fees up to $4,080 a year, minus other aid.

Other requirements: Must earn a GPA of 2.0 or higher.

Alice Lloyd College

The basics: Tuition is free for students from the Alice Lloyd "service area."

Who qualifies: Accepted students who live in a 108-county area in central Appalachia, including parts of Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

What you get: All tuition costs after accounting for other financial aid. Other aid for room, board and other fees is based on need.

Other requirements: Students must work a minimum of 10 hours a week and 160 hours a semester at an on- or off-campus job.

Berea College

The basics: Students pay no tuition.

Who qualifies: All accepted students receive a scholarship.

What you get: Combined with other financial aid, the Tuition Promise Scholarship covers all tuition costs. This amounts to more than $155,000 in aid over four years.

Other requirements: All students must work 10 to 15 hours a week in approved jobs on campus or in the community.


College of the Ozarks

The basics: Students pay no tuition.

Who qualifies: Full-time students. The college admits students who have a financial need and are looking for a Christian education.

What you get: A scholarship combined with federal and state grants to reduce the cost of tuition to zero. This does not include room and board, books or fees.

Other requirements: Students must participate in an on-campus work program for 15 hours a week, plus two 40-hour work weeks each year. They must also refrain from drinking, partying and "unwholesome attire."


Nevada Promise Scholarship

The basics: Helps students attend Nevada community colleges tuition-free.

Who qualifies: Nevada residents under the age of 20.

What you get: A scholarship for the cost of all fees not covered by other financial aid for up to three years.

Other requirements: Students must perform 20 hours of community service before applying.

New York

Excelsior Scholarship

The basics: Allows students to attend a State University of New York or City University of New York college tuition-free.

Who qualifies: New York high school graduates with a combined federal adjusted gross income of $110,000 or less.

What you get: Up to $5,500 after other financial awards and assistance. Annual tuition at SUNY schools is $6,470. Students will receive a credit for any tuition expenses not covered by the scholarship.

Other requirements: Students must enroll in 12 credits each term and complete 30 each year. They must also sign a contract agreeing to live and work in New York for as long as they receive the scholarship.

Macaulay Honors College

The basics: Students receive a scholarship that covers tuition and a laptop.

Who qualifies: Students who meet the requirements for in-state tuition.

What you get: Four years of undergraduate study, excluding fees.

Other requirements: None.

Webb Institute

The basics: All enrolled students receive full-tuition scholarships.

Who qualifies: U.S. citizens and permanent residents. The only course of study is a double major in naval architecture and marine engineering.

What you get: Full tuition, valued at $48,350. Excludes room and board, fees and books.

Other requirements: None.


Oregon Promise

The basics: A state grant that covers tuition costs at any Oregon community college for recent high school graduates or GED recipients.

Who qualifies: Oregon residents who had a 2.5 cumulative high school GPA or GED score of 145 or higher.

What you get: Up to $3,540 a year, the average cost of tuition charged by Oregon community colleges, depending on other financial aid received and the number of credits taken.

Other requirements: Students must enroll in at least six credits per term and are responsible for a $50 co-pay each term.


Curtis Institute of Music

The basics: The institute provides full-tuition scholarships to all undergraduate and graduate students.

Who qualifies: All students, regardless of financial situation. Admission is based solely on musical talent.

What you get: A scholarship valued at $42,320 a year for undergraduate students. Students may also receive financial assistance for living expenses.

Other requirements: None for the full-tuition scholarship. Students who receive financial assistance for living expenses may have to work on-campus or perform in student ensembles.

Williamson College of the Trades

The basics: All students attend on full scholarships covering tuition, room, board and textbooks.

Who qualifies: Admission is open to men only, especially those from needy families.

What you get: A scholarship for tuition, room, board and textbooks.

Other requirements: Students must maintain personal health insurance.

Rhode Island

RI Promise

The basics: Provides two years of tuition at Rhode Island public colleges.

Who qualifies: Students must be Rhode Island residents enrolled in college full-time.

What you get: A scholarship paying two years tuition and mandatory fees at Rhode Island public colleges, after other aid.

Other requirements: None.


Tennessee Promise

The basics: A scholarship and mentoring program covering college tuition and fees.

Who qualifies: High school seniors in Tennessee.

What you get: A scholarship for two years of tuition and mandatory fees not covered by federal and state aid. Students can use the scholarship at any of the state's 13 community colleges or 27 technical colleges. They also receive guidance from a mentor during the college admission process.

Other requirements: Recipients must perform eight hours of community service each term and maintain a 2.0 GPA.

Looking for help paying for school? Apply for the Policygenius Scholarship.

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