9 Colleges That Offer Free Tuition So You Can Focus on Studying, Not Debt

Students sitting outside enjoying a mountain view
Berea College students enjoy the morning view from the east Pinnacle. O'Neil Arnold/Berea College

America currently has more than $1.3 trillion of student loan debt.

Louisiana’s Grambling State University tops the list of colleges where graduates have the most debt. The average there is more than $50,000! Who wants to start their work years with that kind of a burden?

A degree can be expensive! But help is here.

The Penny Hoarder has previously explained how Starbucks gives free college tuition to workers, and how to go to college free overseas. You also might be eligible for some of these 100 awesome scholarships.

What if none of those options fit your plans?

Fortunately, you can get a free college education without slinging coffee, leaving the country or applying for a Zombie Apocalypse Scholarship.

Here are nine colleges that will automatically cover your tuition once you enroll.

1. Berea College

Located in Kentucky, Berea College offers the Tuition Promise Scholarship to every student admitted.

The amount is adjusted according to other aid you receive, so that, “The actual cost to students and their families is $0.”

With tuition costing more than $25,000 per year, that saves you almost $100,000 over four years.

2. Deep Springs College

An accredited two-year liberal arts college located on a cattle ranch and alfalfa farm in the high desert of California is unusual enough.

But this financial arrangement is even more uncommon.

Every student accepted by Deep Springs College receives a full scholarship worth over $50,000, along with room and board. You’re required to do 20 hours of labor each week, and the school only accepts about a dozen new students each year.

3. Curtis Institute of Music

Located in Philadelphia, the Curtis Institute of Music “provides full-tuition scholarships to all of its students, ensuring that admissions are based solely on artistic promise.”

You’re expected to first apply for aid from other sources, and then Curtis covers the remaining tuition.

This scholarship is valued at more than $41,087 for undergraduate students and more than $51,924 for graduate students.

4. U.S. Service Academies

There are five U.S. service academies associated with the various military branches.

They all offer a bachelor of science and cover your tuition, TodaysMilitary.com explains, but with a catch: You have to serve at least five years in the military upon graduation.

Of course, not many other colleges offer free tuition and a guarantee of a job for five years.

5. Barclay College

Located in Kansas, Barclay College has undergraduate and graduate programs for Christian students from “all evangelical faith traditions.”

Resident students “automatically receive a $14,000 full-tuition scholarship upon acceptance.”

Most degrees are in Christian-related fields (example: master of arts in spiritual formation), but the school also offers business management and psychology degrees.

6. Webb Institute

A small New York college with about 90 students, the Webb Institute offers a bachelor of science program in naval architecture and marine engineering.

It also offers U.S. citizens and permanent residents full-tuition scholarships, valued at $48,350 as of this academic year.

7. College of the Ozarks

Missouri Christian liberal arts school College of the Ozarks advertises on its homepage, “Don’t Pay Tuition” and “Work for an Education.”

You have to put in 15 hours of weekly work, plus two 40-hour work weeks each school year.

You might be outdoors doing landscaping, or in the kitchen, or another of the “over 80 diverse and fulfilling work areas.”

8. Macaulay Honors College

Although the competition for admission is fierce, if you make it into Macaulay Honors College in New York City (part of CUNY), your tuition is covered — and it’ll even give you a laptop and some help with housing.

The college offers 475 majors across eight campuses. But you have to be a New York resident to qualify.

9. Alice Lloyd College

Alice Lloyd College guarantees it’ll cover your tuition if you live in one of the 108 counties it serves in the central Appalachian mountains (in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia) — and you’re a full-time student.

The school offers bachelor of arts and science degrees.

Steve Gillman is the author of “101 Weird Ways to Make Money” and creator of EveryWayToMakeMoney.com. He’s been a repo-man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror, and roulette croupier, but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far).