18 tuition-free colleges

Some schools don’t charge tuition.

Want to go to college but wish you could avoid paying tuition? It’s possible. Schools scattered across the country offer free tuition to admitted students. But read the fine print. You may have to hail from a certain state or region, or come from a low-income background. Some schools require on-campus work or service after graduation. See 18 of these tuition-free colleges, listed in alphabetical order, by clicking through this slideshow. This list does not include community colleges or those experimenting with tuition-free models for a small cohort of students. Note that many tuition-free colleges still charge for room and board, among other fees.

Alice Lloyd College (KY)

This small school in Kentucky guarantees free tuition to students who live in the Central Appalachian service area. Residents of 108 counties in Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia may qualify for Alice Lloyd College’s Appalachian Leaders Scholarship, which covers the cost of tuition for up to 10 semesters. All students take jobs through the student work program and work at least 10 hours a week in areas such as maintenance, food preparation and office administrative work.

U.S. News rank: 21 (tie), Regional Colleges (South)

Antioch College (OH)

At Antioch College, up to one-third of a student’s undergraduate experience is spent engaged in full-time work or research. As part of Antioch’s College Work program, all Pell-eligible new and returning students receive full tuition, last-dollar scholarships. The aid does not cover room and board costs, and to remain eligible students must maintain at least a 2.0 GPA.

U.S. News rank: Unranked, National Liberal Arts Colleges

The Apprentice School (VA)

With a 100-plus-year history, The Apprentice School provides students with classes and full-time employment in various shipbuilding trades. There is no tuition at the Virginia school. Instead, as of Feb. 7, 2022, students earn $21.26 an hour in the program’s first term and up to $30.77 an hour upon completing the final term, plus benefits. A typical apprenticeship lasts four to five years. Upon completion, students graduate with a certificate and an associate of applied science degree in their trade — for those who started their apprenticeship on or after July 27, 2020.

Since it is a trade school, U.S. News does not rank The Apprentice School.

Barclay College (KS)

Students at this private Christian college in Kansas attend tuition-free if they live on campus. All full-time students at Barclay College who live on campus qualify for the college’s full-tuition scholarship but are responsible for technology, room and board, and general fees. “It is the heart of Barclay College to see our students graduate with little to no debt,” the school’s website says.

U.S. News does not calculate overall rankings for faith-related schools, including Barclay College.

Berea College (KY)

At Kentucky’s Berea College, no student pays tuition. The Tuition Promise Scholarship pays off any remaining tuition costs for all admitted students after the use of state, federal and institutional aid. The scholarship can amount to more than $176,000 over four years. Students must work at least 10 hours per week on campus and typically earn $5.80 to $7 hourly — though higher wages are available for certain job classifications. Earnings can be used to pay for room, board and books, but students can use up to $1,000 in outside scholarships to pay for books.

U.S. News rank: 26, National Liberal Arts Colleges

College of the Ozarks (MO)

Full-time students at the College of the Ozarks in Missouri pay no tuition, but part-time students shell out $310 per credit hour. For those attending full time, the tuition waiver requires 15 hours a week of work plus two 40-hour weeks during the academic year. All students pay a $245 health/technology/services fee every semester. The college uses the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA, to determine financial need, an admissions requirement for all students.

U.S. News rank: 4 (tie), Regional Colleges (Midwest)

Curtis Institute of Music (PA)

Prospective students must audition for enrollment in Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music, which has offered full-tuition scholarships to every undergraduate and graduate student since 1928. The scholarship for the 2022-2023 school year is valued at $48,557 for undergraduate students and $60,291 for graduate students. While the music school does not charge tuition, it does have annual fees. New and returning students pay a $1,750 comprehensive fee, along with other charges for health services and health care insurance.

U.S. News does not calculate overall rankings for arts schools, including the Curtis Institute.

Deep Springs College (CA)

Students enrolled at California’s Deep Springs College don’t pay tuition, though they are expected to provide a damage deposit and pay for books, travel, health insurance and incidental expenses. In instances of demonstrated financial need, these additional costs can be subsidized as well. The college covers tuition and, unlike many of these tuition-free schools, includes room and board. Deep Springs accepts 14 students each year to receive a two-year liberal arts education while working on the school’s cattle ranch and alfalfa farm.

The small school is a two-year liberal arts institution, so it is not included in the U.S. News Best Colleges rankings.

Haskell Indian Nations University (KS)

The Kansas-based tribal university offers free tuition to American Indian and Alaska Native students from federally recognized tribes. Additional fees, such as those related to technology, housing, athletics and activities, are not included and range from $240 per semester for off-campus living to $715 for those on campus. Each tribe saves around $20,000 per year in tuition and fees for every member sent to Haskell Indian Nations University, according to the school’s website.

U.S. News does not calculate overall rankings for tribal colleges and universities, including Haskell Indian Nations University.

United States Air Force Academy (CO)

No tuition or room and board are charged at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado. After graduation, cadets are required to serve in the U.S. Air Force or U.S. Space Force for at least eight years, with some exceptions. Graduates with flight training, for example, are committed to a minimum of 10 years. Authorized international students are allowed to apply for admission.

U.S. News rank: 18 (tie) National Liberal Arts Colleges

United States Coast Guard Academy (CT)

Students are also known as cadets at the United States Coast Guard Academy, where tuition and room and board are free, and postgraduate service for five years is required. While saving money on college-related costs, enrolled cadets also earn a salary. Located in Connecticut, the academy overlooks the Thames River. The education is valued at more than $280,000.

U.S. News rank: 1, Regional Colleges (North)

United States Merchant Marine Academy (NY)

Students at the United States Merchant Marine Academy in New York, who are referred to as midshipmen, don’t pay tuition in exchange for service after graduation. The cost of textbooks, room and board, and uniforms are also covered. Midshipmen spend a “Sea Year” during college, visiting many countries aboard commercial vessels while receiving hands-on training.

U.S. News rank: 3, Regional Colleges (North)

United States Military Academy (NY)

Tuition and room and board are covered for students, also known as cadets, at the United States Military Academy in New York. In addition to required military service after graduation, cadets at West Point, as it’s known, must play on a sports team each semester. With the motto of “every cadet is an athlete,” West Point offers intramural, club and NCAA Division I and II teams.

U.S. News rank: 9 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges

United States Naval Academy (MD)

By pledging to serve in the U.S. Navy for five years after graduation, enrollees at the United States Naval Academy receive free tuition and room and board. Students at the Annapolis, Maryland, institution, who are known as midshipmen, receive $1,185 per month as a stipend budget to use toward additional costs like laundry, the barber, and activity and other service fees.

U.S. News rank: 6 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges

University of New Hampshire

Launched in 2017, the Granite Guarantee program at the University of New Hampshire provides full tuition to qualified state residents for up to four years. This is limited to full-time, first-year students who are eligible for the Pell Grant. Pell-eligible graduates from the Community College System of New Hampshire who immediately transfer to UNH also qualify.

U.S. News rank: 137 (tie), National Universities

Warren Wilson College (NC)

This North Carolina work college provides a tuition waiver in the form of a scholarship to all in-state residents who qualify for need-based aid and attend as first-time, full-time undergraduates. All students at Warren Wilson College are required to work eight to 16 hours per week, depending on their year in school, and develop a craft. The college also offers Milepost One, a full-tuition scholarship for up to 25 students with a family income of or below $125,000 per year, including international and Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program students.

U.S. News rank: 156-201, National Liberal Arts Colleges

Webb Institute (NY)

Webb Institute, a small engineering school on Long Island, gives full-tuition scholarships — valued at more than $200,000 over four years — to all incoming students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. For the 2022-2023 school year, Webb enrolled 103 students. The school offers one course of study: a dual bachelor’s degree in naval architecture and marine engineering. Students can apply for federal loans and grants to cover their room, board and other expenses.

U.S. News does not calculate overall rankings for specialty engineering schools, including Webb Institute.

Williamson College of the Trades (PA)

This faith-based, all-male career college grants associate degrees and offers six trade programs, including masonry, carpentry, landscaping, machinery, construction technology with an electrical emphasis and power plant technology. All students who qualify for need-based aid receive the Williamson scholarship, which could be as high as $36,500 in 2022-2023, exceeding the cost of the school’s tuition and room and board.

As a trade school, Williamson is not included in the U.S. News Best Colleges rankings.

Other ways to pay less for college

If one of these colleges isn’t the school for you, research our 2022-2023 Best Colleges rankings. Follow U.S. News Education on Facebook and Twitter to join the conversation and stay informed about the latest tips and advice on paying for college.

These institutions provide free college tuition.

— Alice Lloyd College

— Antioch College

— The Apprentice School

— Barclay College

— Berea College

— College of the Ozarks

— Curtis Institute of Music

— Deep Springs College

— Haskell Indian Nations University

— United States Air Force Academy

— United States Coast Guard Academy

— United States Merchant Marine Academy

— United States Military Academy

— United States Naval Academy

— University of New Hampshire

— Warren Wilson College

— Webb Institute

— Williamson College of the Trades

More from U.S. News

How to Find and Secure Scholarships for College

What You Need to Know About College Tuition Costs

14 Ways to Cut Your Textbook Costs

18 Tuition-Free Colleges originally appeared on usnews.com

Update 09/12/22: This slideshow has been updated with new information.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up