5 Colleges You Can Go to For Free

By Christina Couch

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It’s all too easy to be a victim of student debt. According to the College
Board, the average price of tuition, fees, room and board for an in-state
student at a public college or university is $17,860 for the 2012-13 school

For out-of-state students, average costs jump to $30,911 while
private nonprofit colleges charged $39,518 on average for a single year of education. With sticker prices skyrocketing, it’s no shock that student debt levels and loan default rates are up.

The good news is that you don’t have to be a victim. These tuition-free or tuition-reduced schools are easy on the wallet and high on value.


1. The Cooper Union

Location: New York City
college 1
Tuition price:
Free tuition for all students. Students do have to pay for housing, lab fees and
a $775 student fee per semester.

Value: $38,550 per year

How they do it: The Cooper Union eliminates nonessential student amenities and is funded partly through real estate income.
Students don’t have an on-campus gym or student activities building, but the school does own myriad real estate investments, including the Chrysler Building, a property that generates more than $7 million in rent each year. The school’s approximately $600 million endowment helps cover the rest.

2. College of the Ozarks

Location: Point Lookout, Mo.

college 2

Tuition price: Free, not including room and board

Value: $17,900 per year

How they do it: College of the Ozarks puts students to work. To reduce the cost of hiring outside labor, the College of the Ozarks requires all students to work 15 hours per week on campus and two 40-hour work weeks during the school year in positions ranging from landscaping to administrative jobs. Any grant or scholarship money students receive through other sources is also applied to tuition costs, and all remaining tuition is covered by the school’s more than $350 million endowment. Students may cover the cost of room and board out of pocket or work it off through the Summer Work Program.

Others like it
: The other four-year work colleges in the U.S. — Deep SpringsCollege, Alice Lloyd College, Berea College, Blackburn College, SterlingCollege, Ecclesia College and Warren Wilson College — have similar business models, though Alice Lloyd College and Berea College are the only others that offer totally free tuition. Deep Springs College in Inyo County, Calif., also offers free tuition as the country’s only two-year work college.


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