Some colleges talk about value as a way to justify the high cost of tuition. Here are fifteen schools where EVERY student gets a full-tuition scholarship. Some schools require work, military service, or demonstrated talent and few focus on students with financial need. The possibility of attending school for free and graduating without piles of student loans makes these schools attractive possibilities.
Antioch College (Yellow Springs, OH)
Antioch is working to reinvent itself in the new economy. With the campaign, “Rethinking American Higher Education at a 160-Year-Old Start-Up,” Antioch is working to rebuild after closing in 2008. Thirty-five new students represented the first new graduating class when the college reopened in 2011. Four-year full-tuition scholarships for all students entering in 2013 and 2014 should help draw the ambitious, visionary, hard working students Antioch wants. The campus has historic buildings mixed with modern elements such as the sustainable campus farm. Students considering liberal arts colleges who want an experience beyond the normal college scene should look into Antioch.
Deep Springs College (Big Pine, CA)
At Deep Springs 26 students live, work, and learn on a ranch in the high dessert on the California-Nevada border. Deep Springs is a two-year liberal arts college with an intense atmosphere. Students agree to two basic policies: 1. No drugs or alcohol and 2. No visitors or trips off-campus. Currently the school maintains the all-male policy established when the school was founded in 1917, but the policy comes up for discussion annually. Admission to Deep Springs is highly competitive with admissions rates similar to Ivy League schools (between 6-11% for the past few years.) Most graduates continue their educations at four-year universities.
The Cooper Union (New York, NY)
(At the time this article was published, Cooper Union did not charge tuition, but the school has since decided to charge tuition for the first time in 150 years.)
If you want to study art, architecture, or engineering in the middle of New York, Cooper Union is your school. It is top rated and located in the heart of Greenwich Village. The campus doesn’t include some of the amenities many students come to expect when visiting colleges such as fancy recreation center, but the academic challenge and location, coupled with no tuition, are plenty for Cooper Union students. The school has had a long history of not charging tuition to all students able to gain admission. Cooper Union has a sizable endowment and also makes a profit off its real estate holdings which include the Chrysler Building. Admission to Cooper Union is highly competitive; last year they admitted 7.7% of the students who applied.
College of the Ozarks (Point Lookout, MO)
College of the Ozarks, also known as “Work Hard U”, is a Christian school that looks to admit quality students who lack the financial resources to pay for their own education. 90% of entering students must demonstrate financial need and the primary focus is on students living in the Ozarks region (specific counties in Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Kansas), but they have students from other parts of the nation and world. College of the Ozarks is one of the 7 work colleges in the US. Students are expected to work 15 hours a week during the school year plus two 40-hour work weeks when school is out of session. By working students develop real world skills, a work ethic, and they help pay for the education they are receiving. For admission, students should be in the top half of their graduating class with a 20+ on the ACT or 950+ (R&M) on the SAT.
Curtis Institute of Music (Philadelphia, PA)
Curtis Institute of Music is one of the world’s leading conservatories for exceptionally gifted musicians and performing artists. The enrollment is small, about 165 students; just the number needed for a full symphony, opera department, and select other programs. Since 1928 Curtis has offered full-tuition scholarships for all admitted students regardless of need. Students are admitted based on talent and artistic promise and all students must audition. Competition is fierce and recently only 3.2% of applicants were admitted.
Webb Institute (Glen Cove, NY)
Webb Institute is an engineering school with one major: naval architecture & marine engineering. Webb is recognized as a top engineering school and its graduates have a 100% job placement rate as well as high acceptance rates to graduate schools. Webb’s 80 students enjoy a beautiful 26-acre campus, really a beach front estate, on Long Island Sound. Anyone interested in marine engineering should investigate the immersive program at Webb.
Air Force Academy (Colorado Springs, CO)
Naval Academy (Annapolis, MD)
US Military Academy West Point (West Point, NY)
Merchant Marine Academy (Kings Point, NY)
Coast Guard Academy (New London, CT)
All of the military academies are prestigious and offer students an opportunity to get a world-class education for no cost (tuition, housing, food, books, and fees are all paid for.) Students at the academies take traditional undergraduate classes, but also receive considerable training in their specific military area. Service academies are tough – mentally, physically, and emotionally, and each school seeks to admit students who are up for the challenge. All students agree to serve in their branch of the military for 5-8 years and graduates are guaranteed jobs as commissioned officers. Many service academy graduates continue to serve in the military once their initial service obligation is over, but other graduates move to the private sector where they find their academy educations are well regarded by employers.
Alice Lloyd College (Pippa Passes, KY)
Alice Lloyd, the school’s founder, believed educational opportunities were lacking in this part of Appalachia. The mission of Alice Lloyd College is to educate local students for positions of leadership while developing work ethic and Christian values. Like College of the Ozarks, Alice Lloyd is one of only 7 work colleges in the US. Tuition is guaranteed for full-time students who live in the 108 Appalachian county service area (Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia, Tennessee, West Virginia). Some students come from outside this area and may receive some scholarships.
Berea College (Berea, KY)
Berea is similar to Alice Lloyd and College of the Ozarks in that students have financial need and tend to live in Kentucky or surrounding areas. The college incorporates work ethic and every student works 10-15 hours a week to earn money for books, food, and expenses. Berea’s endowment funds 73% of the school’s operating expenses
Saint Louis Christian College (Florissant, MO)
SLCC is a small Bible college located in suburban Saint Louis that is dedicated to helping students prepare to share the gospel with others. Many students intend to enter the ministry upon graduation. All full-time students who live on campus receive 100% tuition scholarships.
Barclay College (Haviland, KS)
Barclay is another college dedicated to preparing students for lives of Christian service. Barclay was founded by Quakers, but welcomes all evangelical faiths. All full-time on-campus students (just over 200 of them) receive full-tuition scholarships. The campus is located in a small town and has a conservative feel, what you would expect from a Christian Bible College.
Of course, with free tuition, acceptance to most of these schools is very competitive. Students need talent, good grades, strong applications, and competitive test scores to get in. Check out my online SAT course if you need to improve your scores for these schools or any other colleges.