Apply to a Free or Cheap School
When you start researching or putting out applications to colleges, let me encourage you to include at least one or two free or cheap schools on your list.
Yes, you heard me right. Free or cheap. Even with massive ramp-ups in tuition inflation over recent years there exists a small pocket of colleges that don’t charge much tuition, if any. Though it sounds too good to be true, these institutions can afford not to charge typically because of a large endowment fund or by offsetting their costs through student labor agreements. Bucking the idea that “you only get what you pay for” many of these institutions’ programs are world-renowned and top-flight.
Researching them would take very little time given their relative rarity. And if you discover one or two to your liking why not take a chance and apply?
In my research I have discovered at least 15 colleges across the country which offer their degrees tuition-free. These include:
- All five military service academies:
- Berea College (KY)
- College of the Ozarks (MO)
- Deep Springs College (CA, 2-year, male only)
- Olin College of Engineering (MA)
- Cooper Union (NY) (Note: This is no longer the case but stay tuned as the trustees are working on it).
- The Curtis Institute of Music (PA)
- Alice Lloyd College (KY)
- Webb Institute (NY)
- City University of New York: New York City College of Technology (NY)
- Barclay College (KS, Quaker)
- Moody Bible Institute of Chicago (IL)
In addition, many of the more prominent colleges offer limited free educations despite their initially off-putting sticker price. For example, Stanford University, Washington, Washington State, and MIT do not charge tuition to students of certain income levels. Other big mainline institutions have similar policies that can make the education incredibly cheap if you pass the selection process. Use a net cost research service or the college’s online calculator to see what your cost would be after consideration of their policies and financial aid packages.
Also, the cheap schools. Several colleges across the country border on free. A student can still get an education in a select few locales for a fraction of the average. A good listing of these can be found here.
And if nothing stateside floats your boat, countries around the world offer free or cheap higher education opportunities… to citizen and foreigner alike. If you are open to studying abroad you may want to look into the many opportunities for American citizens to take advantage of low cost international educational possibilities.