20 Tuition-Free Colleges - Affordable Schools (2023)

If you’re a student, the only thing possibly better than attending a college with high return is to attend college for free — and there might be more tuition free college education choices than you think, including amongst highly respected institutions.

Since we first published this list in 2014, there are many more free tuition schools than ever before. In particular, several states now have free community college — either unconditional free tuition or options based on family income. However, that only covers two years of a four-year college degree.

Fortunately, there are now many institutions of higher education with free-tuition options for a four-year bachelor’s degree. This article covers 20 such free-tuition colleges, with additional colleges in the Frequently Asked Questions section. The categories covered in this list of free tuition universities are as follows:

The main list includes some free tuition universities for international students. As well, all eight Ivy League universities also have free-tuition options and are covered in the “Frequently Asked Questions” section later in this article.

This is a partial list of terminology and acronyms used in this article.

1. Alice Lloyd College

Pippa Passes, Kentucky

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Website

Alice Lloyd College (ALC, est. 1923) is a private, nonprofit institution offering bachelor’s degree programs. The college was cofounded by Alice Spencer Geddes Lloyd and Dr. June Buchanan and provides a Christian-focused, liberal arts educational experience. Students have 18 majors and 11 minors to choose from. Of these, the most popular bachelor’s degrees (by number awarded in 2017) include: General Biological Sciences; Sociology; Kinesiology and Exercise Science.

Alice Lloyd College has a free tuition option for all accepted students residing in the 100+ Appalachian counties (across multiple states), and is based on a work-study agreement. In return for free tuition, students must work 160 hours or more each semester (about 10 hours/ week), either on campus or in the Pippa Passes community. Students not completing their work-hour quotas may not be allowed to graduate. Work opportunities may vary each semester, and there may be options for students to choose based on their own experience. Students who work 15+ hours per week are potentially also eligible for free room and board. Note: Graduates of Alice Lloyd College that seek a master’s degree may also be qualified for financial assistance through the Caney Scholars Program.

The funds for tuition are part of the Appalachian Leaders College Scholarship, which is contributed to by donors, and partly from ALC’s endowment (valued at nearly $41M at 2017 FY-end). The scholarship fund means that many Alice Lloyd College students have graduated without debt, which has earned the college a regular top ranking on U.S. News & World Report’s list of Top Colleges for Graduating Students with the Least Amount of Debt.

Datausa data indicates that the college’s 2017 acceptance rate was nearly 26% (1,437 of 5,599 applicants). In addition to 100% of Alice Lloyd College students receiving grants, 65% of undergrads also received federal loans (2017). Alice Lloyd College accepts students who receive state or federal government financial aid but does not itself accept direct aid from said agencies.

Additional Rankings for ALC:

  • U.S. News & World Report
    • 2021 Best Colleges
    • #4 Best Value Schools
    • #12 Top Performers on Social Mobility
    • Best Regional Colleges South
    • #1 Selectivity – Best Regional Colleges/ Universities
  • Washington Monthly
    • Top 50 Bachelor Colleges 2020
    • Top 50 Best Bang for the Buck – general and South region

Additional Information

  • #students: 575
  • #undergrads: 575
  • Student/ faculty ratio: 21 to 1
  • Has housing: Yes
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

2. Antioch College

Yellow Springs, Ohio

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Website

Antioch College (AC, est. 1850) is a private, nonprofit institution offering bachelor’s degree programs in 17 majors. Its most popular bachelor’s degrees include:

  • Other Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • General Studies
  • Humanities
  • Digital Arts
  • General Biomedical Sciences

AC’s approach to post-secondary education instills a sense of activism and social justice, combining courses, work experience and community governance – something that has been in effect since the early 1920s. Antioch College is one of a handful of mandatory work-study/ co-op liberal arts colleges in the country, with all students receiving need- and/or merit-based financial aid.

The free-tuition program is carried by AC’s endowment of nearly $44M (end of 2017 FY). Antioch College students who are qualified for the Federal Pell Grant receive the full-tuition scholarship. In return for free tuition, graduation criteria requires that students complete co-op work experiences across several quarters – experience that contributes to their careers. While it has had some temporary closures in the recent past, the program is currently active although not necessarily applicable to all students. The college had a 2017 acceptance rate of nearly 97% (147 of 152 applications) – a significant increase over recent previous years. Based on 2017 Datausa data, only 99% of Antioch College undergrads received grants while 37% received federal loans.

The college has a history of diversity, being one of the first American institutions to admit African-American students, and as such, it has attracted activists amongst its student body. Notable Antioch College alumni include:

  • human rights activist Coretta Scott King (wife of Martin Luther King, Jr.)
  • suffragette/ activist Olympia Brown
  • actor Leonard Nimoy (Spock on the original Star Trek TV series)
  • Twilight Zone series creator Rod Serling
  • author Lawrence Block

Additional Information

  • #students: 95
  • #undergrads: 95
  • Student/ faculty ratio: 4 to 1
  • Has housing: Yes
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

3. Barclay College

Haviland, Kansas

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Website

Barclay College (BC, est. 1917) is a private, nonprofit institution offering associates through master’s degrees, plus certificate programs. Barclay College provides a faith-based, Bible-centered, evangelical Friends education. Subject areas include:

  • Business
  • Management
  • Education
  • General studies
  • Psychology
  • Bible and theology studies

Popular bachelor’s degrees at Barclay College (based on number awarded) include:

  • Biblical Studies
  • Other Theology and Religious Vocations
  • General Business Administration
  • Management

The college provides a Full Tuition Scholarship (currently valued at $17K per year) to students residing in on-campus dormitories – which includes international students. Fees, room and board costs are covered by students. Off-campus, full-time, qualified students receive a partial yearly tuition scholarship (currently $7,110). Students with federal financial aid may be accepted. An online scholarship may also be available.

While BC’s acceptance rate is fairly high ( 67% : 73 of 109 applicants, as per Datausa 2017 data), this is a small school and seats are limited. It has a new active campaign to increase its endowment, which has reached $12.6M of its $20M goal — compared to its end of 2017 FY value of just over $5.8M. Additional 2017 data indicates that 100% of undergrads accepted grants from BC, while 87% received federal loans.

Additional Information

  • #students: 225
  • #undergrads: 189
  • Student/ faculty ratio: 12 to 1
  • Religious affiliation: Quakers
  • Has housing: Yes
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

4. Berea College

Berea, Kentucky

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Website

Berea College (BC, est. 1855) is a private, nonprofit institution offering bachelor’s degree programs. Milestones for Berea College include being one of the first U.S. colleges to be Co-ed, and to promote racial integration. BC’s liberal arts programs covers over 60 areas of study. Its three most popular bachelor’s degrees by number of awards are:

  • General Biological Sciences
  • General Computer and Information Sciences
  • General Psychology

Experiences to supplement course work include funded internships and study abroad opportunities.

Historically, Berea is one of the first colleges to offer a four-year tuition scholarship to all of their undergrads – a value of $176K at time of writing – although they currently show preference to students with demonstrated financial need. BC’s Tuition Promise Scholarship program is backed by its endowment, which was valued at nearly $1.15B at the end of 2017 FY. Students receiving free tuition will work on campus at least 10 hours per week as part of the agreement, which gives students income to cover some of their other non-tuition college costs (fees, books, room, board, etc.) Berea’s website indicates that the average such non-tuition cost is $1,000, with assistance available for books.

Datausa data shows Berea’s 2017 acceptance rate was just over 35% (600 of 1,710 applicants), and that only 98% of their undergrads received grants in 2017, and 16% received federal loans. Still, the 2017 average net price after financial aid was around $1,680 per student. Note: International students get full tuition for their first year, but are required to pay a small amount in each subsequent academic year.

Rankings for Berea College:

  • Forbes Magazine: Best Value Colleges
  • Kiplinger’s Personal Finance
    • Best College Values
    • #1 Best College Values with the Lowest Average Graduating Debt
  • Money Magazine: Best Colleges 2020
  • Princeton Review
    • Green Colleges
    • Tuition-Free Colleges
    • Best Value Colleges
    • Best Colleges Southeast
  • U.S. News & World Report
    • #1 Service Learning
    • #2 Most Innovative Schools
    • #6 Co-ops/ Internships
    • #7 First-Year Experiences
    • #9 Top Performers on Social Mobility
    • #11 Best Undergraduate Teaching
    • National Liberal Arts Colleges
  • Washington Monthly
    • #1 Best Bang for Your Buck Southern
    • #3 Best National Liberal Arts College

Additional Information

  • #students: 1,688
  • #undergrads: 1,688
  • Student/ faculty ratio: 10 to 1
  • Has housing: Yes
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

5. College of the Ozarks

Point Lookout, Missouri

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Website

College of the Ozarks (COFO, est. 1906) is a private, nonprofit institution offering bachelor’s degree programs. College of the Ozarks, a Christian, liberal arts college, has a self-appointed nickname of “Hard Work U(r),” and has a reputation as a very conservative institution with strict rules of conduct for students, including no partying and drinking, and a dress code.

Its “Cost of Education” tuition scholarship is conditionally provided to all accepted full-time students, although a financial need criteria is applied to 90% of each entering class. In return, students participate in the campus work-study program, which requires 15 hours/week (and two 40-hour weeks per academic year, typically between semesters). The CoE scholarship, work earnings, and federal/ state aid typically cover tuition and most fees but not books, room and board. Additional scholarships may be available to cover these other costs. An acceptance fee of $330, a Health/ Technology/ Service fee of $230 (1st semester), and residence hall security deposit must be paid. Room and board costs for 2020-21 are $3,950/ semester. The cost of tuition for part-time students is $310/credit hour.

Datausa data shows a 2017 College of the Ozarks acceptance rate of 13.5% (438 of 3,250 applicants), and a 2017 FY-end endowment of $459M – which is supported by alumni and other donors. The college offers nearly 30 majors and minors, and its most popular bachelor’s degrees (by awards granted for 2017) include:

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  • General Business Administration and Management
  • Public Relations
  • Advertising
  • Applied Communication
  • General Agriculture Management

Rankings for College of the Ozarks:

  • Forbes Magazine: #1 Least Student Debt for America’s Best Value Colleges)
  • Princeton Review
    • #1 LGBTQ-Unfriendly
    • #1 Most Conservative Students
    • #2 Future Rotarians and DAR
    • #4 Most Religious Students
    • Tuition-Free Schools
    • Best Value Colleges
    • Best Midwestern Colleges
  • U.S. News & World Report
    • #1 Most Innovative Schools
    • #1 Top Performers on Social Mobility
    • #1 Best Undergraduate Teaching
    • #2 Best Value Schools
    • #4 Regional Colleges Midwest
    • #21 Service Learning
  • Washington Monthly
    • #1 Bachelor’s Colleges
    • #1 social mobility
    • Best Bang for the Buck Midwest Colleges

Additional Information

  • #students: 1,546
  • #undergrads: 1,546
  • Student/ faculty ratio: 15 to 1
  • Religious affiliation: Presbyterian Church USA
  • Has housing: Yes
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

6. Curtis Institute of Music

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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Website

Curtis Institute of Music (CIM, est. 1924) is a private, nonprofit institution offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees, plus certificate programs. As the name of this private conservatory would suggest, educational programs are entirely focused on music. Its history includes the training of musicians for the Philadelphia Orchestra. Enrolment is very limited, and students participate in Curtis Institute of Music’s programs for symphony orchestra, opera, chamber music, solo and other opportunities. Its most common bachelors programs by number awarded include: General Music Performance; Music Theory and Composition. In addition to coursework, Curtis Institute of Music students participate in over 100 musical performances yearly.

While Curtis Institute of Music’s full-tuition scholarship is merit-based, they have had a tuition-free policy since 1928 – currently extended to both grads and undergrads, particularly for those in financial need. (International students included.) Admission requires an audition, and there is no minimum or maximum age requirement. Curtis Institute of Music accepts qualified students regardless of background. Students have to cover a number of related costs and annual or semester-based fees that include:

  • Annual comprehensive ($1,750)
  • Annual health services ($1,265)
  • 12-month health care insurance ($4,180)
  • Residential and dining fees (compulsory, depending on age)
  • However, these and other valid living expenses qualify for need-based financial aid.

Curtis Institute of Music indicates that the scholarship value for 2020-21 Academic Year is just over $47K for undergrads. On-campus employment is available to students in financial need, and CIM also accepts students receiving loans.

Datausa 2017 data shows a Curtis acceptance rate of 3.3% (15 of 454 applicants), with 82% of undergrads receiving CIM grants and 26% receiving federal loans. The school’s 2017 FY-end endowment was valued at about $150M.

Curtis alumni include winners of Tony Awards, Grammy Awards and Guggenheim Fellowships, and often become part of the country’s top orchestras. Some notable alumni include accomplished composers Leonard Bernstein and Samuel Barber.

Additional Information

7. Webb Institute

Glen Cove, New York

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Website

Webb Institute (Webb, est. 1889) is a private, nonprofit institution offering bachelor’s degree programs. It is a college of engineering specifically focused on naval architecture, marine engineering – from which students earn a dual bachelor’s degree with an emphasis in ship design). In fact, it is the country’s oldest such college, and is classified as an SFI (Special Focus Institution). The campus is home to a 90-foot long model ship, which is used for experiments and research.

Webb has an all-inclusive tuition policy, providing a full-tuition scholarship to all admitted U.S. citizens and permanent residents. In addition, there are need-based aid options to cover other college costs. Students will need to fill out and submit the FAFSA form to be eligible for Webb’s tuition scholarship. Typically, Webb gives 100% of admitted students a full-tuition scholarship, which includes citizens and permanent residents. Students also get eight months total (two months per academic year) of paid internships in the marine industry. There may also be additional need-based funding for students to help them cover other college costs.

Seats are extremely limited. Datausa data shows a 2017 acceptance rate by Webb of just under 35% (37 of 106 applicants). The full-tuition policy is backed by Webb’s endowment, which had a 2017 FY-end value of just over $66M. Around 32% of undergrads also received federal loans in 2017. Webb has had consistent 100% job placement rates yearly for graduates.

The institute ranked on PayScale College Salary Report‘s 2019 Best Universities for a Bachelor’s Degree list.

Additional Information

  • #students: 102
  • #undergrads: 102
  • Student/ faculty ratio: 9 to 1
  • Has housing: Yes
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

8. United States Air Force Academy

USAF Academy, Colorado

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Website

United States Air Force Academy (USAFA, est. 1954) is a public institution offering bachelor’s degree programs. USAFA, situated on an air force base, has nearly 30 undergrad majors, with its most popular bachelor’s degrees including:

  • General Business Administration and Management
  • General Economics
  • Systems Engineering

USAFA students do not pay tuition. Instead, they will have to serve duty in the US Air Force or Space Force, as relevant to their career. Admitted students receive a full-ride, which covers:

  • Tuition
  • Room and board
  • Medical and dental benefits
  • Other relevant living expenses

The current estimated value of the tuition package is $416K in total, across four years. In return, upon graduation, students serve in either the Air Force or Space Force for eight years (including five years of active duty). International students, who must be nominated by their country of origin, may be eligible for this offer. Datausa data shows a 2017 acceptance rate at the academy of nearly 12% (1,216 of 10,202 applicants). The aid is partly backed by USAFA’s endowment was valued at 2017 FY-end at over $96M.

As with other military academies, the admissions process is rigorous and has several requirements, some of which are:

  • Must be over 17 and under 24
  • Cannot have dependent children while in the academy. Students with children will have to show a court order indicating relinquishing of parental rights.
  • Cannot have a spouse while in the academy
  • Must meet several high standards, including medical and physical
  • Special religious requirements will require approval by commanders

Some of these requirements are because students spend four years in the dorms and follow a very demanding lifestyle.

Rankings for USAFA:

  • Forbes Magazine
    • #6 Top STEM Colleges
    • #6 Top Public Colleges

Additional Information

  • #students: 4,304
  • #undergrads: 4,304
  • Student/ faculty ratio: 7 to 1
  • Has housing: Yes
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

9. United States Coast Guard Academy

New London, Connecticut

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Website

United States Coast Guard Academy (USCGA, est. 1876) is a public institution offering bachelor’s degree programs. Originally a male institution, female cadets are admitted starting in 1976, and the first international student attended in 1980. USCGA has nine engineering and professional majors, although over 60% of its awarded degrees are in a STEM major. In addition to learning in their chosen field, Cadets also gain skills in leadership, communication, critical thinking and more.

The academy offers a full-ride for admitted students. This package includes tuition, room and board, with a current value across four years of $280K. In addition, a salary is paid out to student cadets during their time in the academy. In return for this financial aid package, cadet graduates will spend five years serving actively as a commissioned Coast Guard officer (Ensign). According to academy data, around 85% of cadet grads serve longer than that.

Admission to USCGA is very competitive. Datausa data shows that the academy had a 2017 acceptance rate of 15% (304 of 2,021 applicants). The scholarships are partially backed by USCGA’s endowment, valued at 2017 FY-end to be nearly $3.5M.

USCGA’s alumni include many Admirals, Rear Admirals and Vice Admirals across U.S. history, and a number of Commanders and astronauts. Particularly notable is Captain Scott Langum, a hero who as a helicopter pilot helped save nearly 170 lives during Hurricane Katrina.

Additional Information

  • #students: 1,069
  • #undergrads: 1,069
  • Student/ faculty ratio: 7 to 1
  • Has housing: Yes
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education

10. United States Merchant Marine Academy

Kings Point, New York

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Website

United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA, est. 1943) is a public institution offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees. The academy offers bachelor’s degrees in three areas:

  • Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering
  • Systems Engineering
  • Marine Science/ Merchant Marine Officer

Bachelor’s degrees at USMMA require more credits for completion than at other federal service academies. In addition to coursework, academy students (midshipmen) spend a year (Sea Year) on commercial or military vessels around the world, gaining hands-on experience for the skills to run a ship. Graduation outcomes besides a bachelor of science degree include a Coast Guard license and an officer’s commission.

The academy’s Office of Financial Aid has a goal of making sure all admitted students attend despite any financial need. The aid package covers students for their tuition, room and board, uniforms and books. Fees and other related costs of attending as academy midshipmen are covered by students and include personal services, computer, passport, transportation, supplies, health insurance, etc. Students may also accept any FSA funds (Pell Grants), loans and any outside grants and scholarships. In return for admission, upon graduation, midshipmen must serve as a commissioned officer — either five years active duty in any of the Armed Forces, or five years in the US maritime industry and additional time in a reserve unit (eight years total).

Admission to USMMA is competitive. Datausa data shows an academy acceptance rate in 2017 of 22.2% (411 of 1,855 applicants). For that year, 10% of midshipmen received grants, while 13% received federal loans. Students must pass a candidate fitness assessment and medical exam, as well as meet other criteria for admission.

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Notable alumni of USMMA include:

  • personal finance guru Robert Kiyosaki (author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad)
  • author/ novelist Theodore Taylor
  • Emmy Award-winning producer Alex Bonner (radio and TV)
  • NFL linebacker Joe Rizzo
  • actor Sean Marshall

Additional Information

  • #students: 1,025
  • #undergrads: 1,007
  • Student/ faculty ratio: 13 to 1
  • Has housing: Yes
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

11. United States Military Academy, West Point

West Point, New York

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Website

United States Military Academy, West Point (USMA, est. 1802) is a public institution offering bachelor’s degree programs. This prestigious military academy has a long history and has become a tourist attraction. Cadets can choose from 37 majors and 15 minors in science and arts, including cutting edge topics such as cyber security, cyber science, robotics, interdisciplinary network science and more. The academy’s most popular degree programs include:

  • General Business Administration and Management
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Systems Engineering

In addition to coursework, cadets gain skills in up to four leadership areas, including:

  • Character
  • Academic
  • Physical
  • Military

The academy lives up to their commitment to leadership, a fact that has earned it a #1 ranking on Princeton Review‘s list of colleges with the Most Accessible Professors.

All admitted cadets receive a full scholarship to attend West Point. This covers tuition, room, board, and insurance (medical and dental). Cadets also earn a monthly stipend. In return, cadets serve in the military upon graduation: at least five years active duty as a 2nd lieutenant, and three years inactive reserve duty (if leaving after five years).

Competition for admission is high. Good grades, critical thinking skills, physical fitness and other criteria determine eligibility. Datausa data indicates USMA had a 2017 acceptance rate of just over 9.5% (1,240 of 12,973 applicants). Admission requires the passing of physical and leadership requirements, amongst other criteria. As well, applicants must be at least 17 and under 23, a U.S. citizen, unmarried, not pregnant nor legally responsible for child support.

West Point alumni include Medal of Honor recipients, Rhodes Scholars, Olympians, astronauts, presidents, top military personnel, politicians, historical figures and more. Some notable alumni of West Point include:

  • astronaut Buzz Aldrin
  • President Dwight Eisenhower
  • Major General George Custer
  • General Robert E. Lee
  • President Ulysses S. Grant
  • Major General George Pickett
  • General George Patton
  • General Alexander Haig
  • General Douglas MacArthur
  • General David Petraeus

and many more.

Additional Information

  • #students: 4,457
  • #undergrads: 4,457
  • Student/ faculty ratio: 7 to 1
  • Has housing: Yes
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

12. United States Naval Academy

Annapolis, Maryland

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Website

United States Naval Academy (USNA, est. 1845) is a public institution offering bachelor’s degree programs. The academy is open to both men and women (the latter since 1976), both domestic and international. In addition to course work, midshipmen (students) undergo character, physical and leadership development, and have access to study-abroad opportunities. Bachelor’s degree programs are delivered through three schools and two divisions. Midshipmen can choose majors from some the following:

  • Computer science
  • Information technology
  • Engineering
    • Ocean
    • Naval architecture
    • Marine
  • History
  • Math/statistics
  • Cyber/electronic operations and warfare
  • Phsyical sciences
  • Social sciences
  • General studies
  • Languages/literature
    • English
    • Arabic
    • Chinese

The academy provides a full-ride scholarship to admitted midshipmen. This includes 100% of tuition, room and board, medical and dental care. Midshipmen also earn a stipend currently valued at $1,087.80/ month. From this stipend, some academy-related costs and service charges are deducted. Midshipmen receive cash pay of $100/month for the first academic year, increasing thereafter. In return for the scholarship, graduates of USNA must serve five years of active duty in the Navy or Marine Corps, and three years of inactive/ reserve duty. This includes benefits such as “commercial transportation and lodging discounts and the ability to fly space-available in military aircraft around the world.”

As with other military academies, competition for admission is high. Datausa data shows UNSA had a 2017 acceptance rate of just over 8.4% (1,376 of 16,299 applicants). The scholarship is partly backend by USNA’s endowment, valued at over $260M at 2017 FY-end. Some of the requirements for admission include:

  • U.S. citizen by July 1st of entry year
  • 17 and above but below 23 by July 1st of entry year
  • Unmarried
  • Not pregnant; no dependents
  • Have an SSN

Applicants will undergo a medical exam and a candidate fitness assessment.

Rankings for USNA:

  • Forbes Magazine (#1 Public College 2017)
  • U.S. News & World Report
    • #1 Top Public Schools
    • #5 Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs (schools with no doctorate)
      • #5 Aerospace /Aeronautical / Astronautical
      • #9 Mechanical
      • #10 Electrical / Electronic / Communications
    • #6 National Liberal Arts Colleges
    • Best Undergraduate Teaching

USNA alumni include:

  • 50+ American astronauts
  • 70+ Medal of Honor recipients
  • various Scholars
    • Rhodes
    • Marshall
    • Churchill
    • Olmstead
    • Fitzgerald
    • White House
  • Nobel laureates
  • Ambassadors
  • Members of congress
  • Notable alumni include:
    • former U.S. President Jimmy Carter
    • engineer and science fiction author Robert Heinlein
    • astronauts Walter Schirra, Jr., James Lovell, Jr., James Irwin and Wendy Lawrence
    • U.S. presidential hopefuls John McCain and Ross Perot
    • Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North
    • personality/ TV host Montel Williams

Additional Information

13. Arizona State University

Tempe, Arizona

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Website

Arizona State University (ASU, est. 1885) is a public institution offering bachelor’s through doctorate degrees, plus certificate programs. ASU serves students through the Tempe main campus, four primary campuses, and several learning centers. Combining majors, minors and concentrations, students have over 380 bachelor’s degree options. The most popular bachelors degree programs include:

  • Business
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Related Support Services
  • General Biological Sciences
  • General Psychology

ASU has a commitment to low-income families and making college affordable. Through its College Attainment Grant Program (CAGP), eligible students will receive financial aid for up to four years. The aid covers tuition and fees, and is currently open to “qualifying Arizona high school graduates.” This grant program has some strict guidelines, including:

  • be an Arizona resident
  • file FAFSA
  • be eligible to receive the Federal Pell Grant
  • be a full-time freshman
  • enroll in ASU in the Fall semester immediately after completing high school

Failure to do the latter results in full forfeiture of eligibility for this program. Note: Native American students who are non-resident in Arizona but meet state residence requirements for ASU tuition are eligible. The grant is not guaranteed for all four years of an undergrad’s time at ASU. Renewal criteria includes a minimum of 24 credits completed per academic year, and a cumulative GPA of 2.5 at the end of Spring semesters, amongst other criteria.

Datausa data shows an ASU-Tempe acceptance rate for 2017 of just over 84% (20,302 of 10,432 applicants). The CAGP is partly backed by ASU’s Foundation endowment, valued at over $992M at 2019 FY-end. Around 75% of 2017 undergrads received grants, while 39% received federal loans.

Rankings for ASU:
ASU is a top college for producing Fulbright Scholars

  • Forbes Magazine: America’s Top Colleges
  • Money Magazine: Best Colleges for Your Money 2020
  • Princeton Review: Most Sustainable Schools
  • Sierra Club: Cool Schools
  • U.S. News & World Report
    • #1 Most Innovative Schools
    • #9 First-Year Experience
    • #16 Best Undergraduate Teaching
    • #19 Senior Capstone
    • Top Public Schools
    • Best Colleges for Veterans
    • National Universities
    • Best Value Schools
    • Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs (schools with a doctorate)
  • Washington Monthly: Top National Universities

ASU’s accomplished faculty includes MacArthur Fellows, Nobel Laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, Sloan Research Fellows, amongst others. Notable ASU alumni include:

  • Silver Star military personnel Pat Tillman (also an NFL football player)
  • fashion designer Kate Spade
  • comedian/ TV personality Steve Allen
  • actress Lynda Carter
  • actors Nick Nolte, David Spade, Tyler Hoechlin
  • comedian/ TV host Jimmy Kimmel
  • singer/ musician Linda Ronstadt
  • autism activist/ animal behavior expert Temple Grandin

Additional Information

  • #students: 45,073
  • #undergrads: 34,540
  • Student/ faculty ratio: 25 to 1
  • Has housing: Yes
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

14. Duke University

Durham, North Carolina

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Website

Duke University (Duke, est. 1838) is a private, nonprofit institution offering bachelor’s through doctorate degrees, plus certificate programs. Undergrad programs are delivered through one college, three schools, and a partnership with Duke Kunshan University (China). Students have a choice of 50+ majors and 50+ minors, as well as 20+ certificates. Students are allowed to pick three choices, allowing for over 400 thousand academic combinations. Its most popular bachelors (by number awarded for 2017) include: Econometrics and Quantitative Economics; Computer Science; General Public Policy Analysis.

Duke’s admissions policy is need-blind, and covers “U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and undocumented students.” The university covers 100% of the demonstrated financial need of admitted students (over and above the expected family contribution). The aid package includes some combination of “grants, work study, and limited student loans.” About 52% of undergrads receive some financial aid, and 64% graduate debt-free.

The aid program is full-ride (tuition, room and board) for students with family incomes under $60K/year, with typical assets. It is partly backed by Duke’s endowment, which was valued at 2017 FY-end at nearly $8B. Admission is competitive, with a 2017 acceptance rate of just under 9.9% (3,261 of 33,077 applicants). See site for details for other income ranges.

Rankings for Duke:

  • Money Magazine: #5 Best Colleges 2020
  • Princeton Review
    • The Best 386 Colleges
    • Best Southeastern
    • Best Value Colleges
    • Colleges That Create Futures
    • #19 Top 75 – Best Value Colleges
    • #12 Best Career Placement
  • U.S. News & World Report
    • #4 Senior Capstone
    • #8 Co-ops/Internships
    • #8 Undergraduate Research/Creative Projects
    • #9 Best Undergraduate Teaching
    • #10 Study Abroad
    • #12 National Universities
    • #13 Best Value Schools
    • #14 Most Innovative Schools
    • #14 Learning Communities
    • First-Year Experiences
    • #22 in Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs (schools with a doctorate)
  • Washington Monthly: #6 National Universities 2020

Faculty and alumni have collectively earned the Nobel prize. Alumni include Turing Award winners, Rhodes Scholars, Churchill Scholars, over a dozen billionaires, and many others. Some notable alumni include:

  • U.S. President Richard Nixon
  • TV journalist/ host Charlie Rose
  • Apple CEO Tim Cook
  • heart surgeon William DeVries, a Time Magazine cover subject
  • Senator Elizabeth Dole
  • Congressman Ron Paul
  • Philanthropist Melinda Gates (married to billionaire Bill Gates)
  • NBA basketball stars Kryie Irving and Grant Hill
  • actress Annabeth Gish (The West Wing)
  • actor Jared Harris (Mad Men)
  • physician/actor Ken Jeong (The Hangover)
  • screenwriter/director Randall Wallace (Braveheart)

and numerous others.

Additional Information

  • #students: 16,766
  • #undergrads: 6,649
  • Student/ faculty ratio: 6 to 1
  • Religious affiliation: United Methodist Church
  • Has housing: Yes
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

15. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cambridge, Massachusetts

20 Tuition-Free Colleges - Affordable Schools (15)

Website

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT, est. 1861) is a private, nonprofit institution offering bachelor’s through doctorate degrees. The university consists of five schools (Architecture and Planning; Engineering; Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences; Sloan School of Management; Science) and one college (Schwarzman College of Computing). MIT undergrad education programs lean to STEM topics, with its most popular bachelor’s degrees (by number awarded for 2017) include: Computer Science; Mechanical Engineering; General Mathematics.

MIT has a policy of need-blind admissions, offered once a qualified student is admitted. They meet 100% of undergrad demonstrated need. Thirty-three percent of undergrad students received an average need-based scholarship of just over $50K for AY 2019-20. Typically, families earning under $75K/year do not pay MIT tuition. In addition to awarding MIT aid, they “coordinate the receipt of aid from other sources” for students. On-campus jobs are available to students.

Datausa data shows that MIT had a 2017 acceptance rate of just over 7% (1,452 of 20,247 applicants). Furthermore, 68% of undergrads received grants in 2017, while 14% received loans. MIT’s free-tuition options are partly backed by an endowment valued at nearly $15B as of 2017 FY-end.

Rankings for MIT:

  • Money Magazine: #1 Best Colleges 2020
  • Princeton Review
    • #2 Best Career Placement
    • #2 Best Value Colleges
    • #3 Best Value Colleges w/o Aid
    • Green Colleges; Best Northeastern
    • Top 50 Game Design: Undergraduate
  • U.S. News & World Report
    • #1 Undergraduate Research/Creative Projects
    • #2 Most Innovative Schools
    • #4 Co-ops/ Internships
    • #4 National Universities
    • #5 in Best Value Schools
    • #6 Senior Capstone
    • #18 Best Undergraduate Teaching
    • #1 Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs (schools with doctorate) – plus top-7 scores for multiple subtopics
    • #1 Computer Science – plus top-4 scores for multiple subtopics
    • #2 Business Programs – plus top-10 scores for multiple subtopics

As with many prestigious institutions of higher learning, MIT has a long list of notable alumni, including administrators, heads of state, business executives. Amongst them are:

  • Nobel laureates Richard Feynman (Physics), Esther Duflo and Paul Krugman in Economics, Robert Burns Woodward (Chemistry)
  • astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Ronald McNair, Mike Massimino
  • Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
  • Virgilio Barco Vargas, former President of Colombia
  • architect I.M. Pei
  • Tom Scholz, guitarist of rock band Boston

and many more.

Additional Information

  • #students: 11,520
  • #undergrads: 4,530
  • Student/ faculty ratio: 3 to 1
  • Has housing: Yes
  • Accreditation: New England Commission on Higher Education
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16. Northwestern University

Evanston, Illinois

20 Tuition-Free Colleges - Affordable Schools (16)

Website

Northwestern University (NU, est. 1851) is a private, nonprofit institution offering bachelor’s through doctorate degrees, plus certificate programs. The university serves students at three campuses, through 12 schools and colleges, for all study levels combined. NU has several notable undergrad and graduate schools, which include:

  • Beinen (Music)
  • Weinberg (Arts and Scienes)
  • McCormick (Engineering)
  • Feinberg (Medicine)
  • Kellogg (Management)
  • Medill (Journalism)
  • Pritzker (Law)

NU students have study-abroad opportunities across all continents.

The university has a need-aware admission process that meets 100% of demonstrated financial need. Its financial aid packages are loan-free and include a combination of scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study. Over 60% of undergrads receive some financial aid ($195M awarded for 2019-20 AY, and over $205M budgeted for 2020-21 AY). Any students participating in work-study tend to commit 8-10 hours/week to their job.

Aid eligibility is dependent on family yearly AGI (Adjusted Gross Income), and students must reapply each year. According to NU’s own AGI table, students from four income bands from $0 to $119,999 received aid at a rate of 94-98% (varied by band). Whereas only 90% of families in the $120K to under $150K band received aid, and only 34% of families with an AGI of $150K or more received aid. Across the six bands, the average aid package ranged from $29,902 (highest AGI band) to $71,927 (lowest AGI band). Families with multiple college students may still qualify at higher incomes. NU may also meet 100% of an international student’s demonstrated financial need (loan- and work-free).

Programs are partly backed by Northwestern’s endowment, which is estimated at $11B at present ($7.95B at 2017 FY-end). The university’s 2017 acceptance rate was just over 9% (3,442 of 37,259 applicants). Around 54% of its 2017 undergrads received grants, while 24% received federal loans. The grants rate grew to 64% of undergrads for FY20, and the average 1st year scholarship was over $53K.

Rankings for Northwestern:

  • Money Magazine: Best Colleges 2020
  • Princeton Review
    • Green Colleges; Best Value Colleges
    • Best Midwestern
  • Social Mobility Index
  • U.S. News & World Report
    • #9 National Universities
    • #13 Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs (schools with a doctorate)
      • #5 Materials
      • #8 Industrial Manufacturing
      • #11 Biomedical
      • #12 Mechanical
    • #15 Best Value Schools
    • Most Innovative Schools

Notable alumni include:

  • late night TV show host Stephen Colbert
  • actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Seinfeld, New Adventures of Old Christine, Veep)
  • comedian/ actor Seth Meyers (Saturday Night Live)
  • novelist George R.R. Martin (Game of Thrones series)
  • actress/duchess Meghan Markle (married to Prince Harry, son of Prince Charles and Princess Diana)

Additional Information

  • #students: 22,448
  • #undergrads: 8,682
  • Student/ faculty ratio: 6 to 1
  • Has housing: Yes
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

17. Stanford University

Stanford, California

20 Tuition-Free Colleges - Affordable Schools (17)

Website

Stanford University (Stanford, est. 1891) is a private, nonprofit institution offering bachelor’s through doctorate degrees, plus certificate programs. Founded by Leland and Jane Stanford, and named after their son, the official institution name is Leland Stanford Junior University. Stanford consists of seven schools for all levels of study:

  • School of Engineering
  • School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences
  • School of Humanities and Sciences
  • School of Law
  • School of Medicine
  • Graduate School of Business
  • Graduate School of Education

It offers over 65 majors for undergrads, and its top-three most popular bachelor’s degrees are:

  • Computer Science
  • Human Biology
  • Other Engineering.

Stanford has an admissions policy that considers full demonstrated need. The university typically covers tuition for admitted students with family incomes under $150K. Families earning under $65K will be full-ride (tuition, room and board). Families earning above $150K may be qualified for partial tuition coverage. The scholarship program is backed by Stanford’s endowment, which was valued at nearly $25B at 2017 FY-end. Datausa data shows a Stanford acceptance rate of just over 4.7% in 2017 (2,085 of 44,073 applicants). Around 60% of 2017 Stanford students received grants, while 10% received federal loans.

Rankings for Stanford:

  • Money Magazine: #2 Best Colleges 2020
  • Princeton Review
    • Best Western
    • Colleges That Create Futures
    • #3 Best Career Placement
    • #4 Best Value Colleges
    • #5 Best Values Colleges w/o Aid
    • #12 Green Colleges
    • #15 Best Financial Aid
  • U.S. News & World Report
    • #1 Best Colleges for Veterans
    • #6 National Universities
    • #6 Most Innovative Schools
    • #7 Best Value Schools
    • #7 Undergraduate Research/ Creative Projects
    • #8 Co-ops/ Internships
    • #8 Senior Capstone
    • #9 Best Undergraduate Teaching
    • #21 Study Abroad
    • #2 Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs (schools with a doctorate) – plus top-8 scores for multiple subtopics
    • #2 Computer Science – plus top-8 scores for multiple subtopics
  • Washington Monthly: #1 National Universities 2020

Amongst Stanford’s faculty (past and present) are just under 50 Nobel laureates. Alumni also include Nobel Prize winners as well as heads of state, politicians, billionaires, academics and others. Some notable alumni are:

  • U.S. Presidents Herbert Hoover and John F. Kennedy
  • politicians: Senator Cory Booker, Senator Diane Feinstein, Senator/Governor Mitt Romney
  • company (co-)founders:
    • Reid Hastings of Netflix
    • David Filo of Yahoo!
    • Andrew Grove of Intel
    • Ray Dolby of Dolby Labs
    • Tim Westergren of Pandora Media
    • Brian Acton of WhatsApp
    • Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Google
    • Jawed Karim of YouTube
    • Kevin Systrom of Instagram
    • Michael Arrington of TechCrunch
  • Venture Capitalist Peter Thiel (co-founder of PayPal)
  • astronaut Sally Ride
  • actors Ted Danson, Jack Palance, and brothers Ben Savage and Fred Savage
  • actresses Sigourney Weaver and Reese Witherspoon
  • film producer Roger Corman
  • journalists Rachel Maddow and Daniel Pearl

and many more.

Additional Information

  • #students: 17,249
  • #undergrads: 6,996
  • Student/ faculty ratio: 5 to 1
  • Has housing: Yes
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

18. Texas A & M University-College Station

College Station, Texas

20 Tuition-Free Colleges - Affordable Schools (18)

Website

Texas A&M University-College Station (TAMU, est. 1876) is a public institution offering bachelor’s through doctorate degrees, plus certificate programs. TAMU is home to the George Bush Presidential Library, and is one of the country’s six senior military colleges. The university – one of the largest student bodies in the U.S. – offers nearly 300 majors, of which the three most popular bachelor’s are:

  • Multidisciplinary Studies
  • General Psychology
  • General Health and Wellness.

Its Aggie Assurance plan is part of the university’s commitment to students from low- or middle-income backgrounds. Through this AA plan, admitted students with adjusted gross family incomes of $60K or under receive a combination of scholarships and grants to cover tuition (subject to fund availability). Fees and other related costs are still the responsibility of each student, although other financial aid, waivers and/or on-campus jobs may be available in that regard. There is a list of requirements to qualify for AA besides the income level, including being a Texas resident, being either a freshman or undergrad transfer student seeking a degree, taking at least 12 credit hours per semester, and maintaining a GPA of 2.5, amongst other criteria.

Datausa data indicates a 2017 acceptance rate for TAMU of 70.5% (25,866 of 36,669 applicants), and a 2017 FY-end endowment value of nearly $11B. In 2017, around 54% of undergrads received grants, while 32% received federal loans. Some students may qualify for additional financial aid, waivers and/or on-campus jobs.

Rankings for TAMU:

  • Money Magazine: #11 Best Colleges 2020
  • Princeton Review
    • Best Western
    • Best Value Colleges
    • Green Colleges
    • #22 Entrepreneurship: Undergrad
  • U.S. News & World Report
    • #25 Most Innovative Schools
    • Top Public Schools
    • Best Colleges for Veterans
    • Best Undergraduate Teaching
    • National Universities
    • Best Value Schools
    • Top Performers on Social Mobility
    • #13 Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs (schools with doctorate)
  • Washington Monthly (#12 National Universities 2020

Notable alumni of TAMU make up a lengthy list that includes Nobel laureates, politicians, astronauts, athletes/ Olympians, architects and more. Some notables are:

  • Rick Perry, former Governor of Texas
  • Robert Gates, former US Secty of Defense
  • Hollywood property developer Charles Toberman (Hollywood Bowl, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre

and many more.

Additional Information

  • #students: 68,726
  • #undergrads: 53,791
  • Student/ faculty ratio: 21 to 1
  • Affiliation: Texas A&M University System
  • Has housing: Yes
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

19. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

20 Tuition-Free Colleges - Affordable Schools (19)

Website

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC, est. 1789) is a public institution offering bachelor’s through doctorate degrees, plus certificate programs. Its quality of education has earned it the moniker of being a “Public Ivy” in Richard Moll’s book The Public Ivies: A Guide to America’s Best Public Undergraduate Colleges and Universities,” as well in other similar college guides. Part of the UNC System, it is one of the country’s oldest public institutions of higher learning. It has had a hospital since the early 1950s and currently specializes in cancer care. Amongst its notable schools are:

(Video) Tuition Free American Accredited Online University!!

  • Kenan-Flagler (Business)
  • Hussman (Journalism and Media)
  • Gillings (Global Public Health)
  • Eshelman (Pharmacy)
  • Adams (Dentistry)

UNC offers over 70 bachelor’s programs through one college (Arts and Science) and several professional schools. Some of the most popular bachelors degrees include:

  • General Biological Sciences
  • General Psychology
  • General Economics
  • Several hundred study-abroad opportunities are also available to undergrads.

The university’s student aid office has a mission “to make sure that qualified students have the opportunity to study at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill regardless of their ability to pay.” This includes a number of scholarships (need-based and merit-based), as well as grants. Work-study options are also available, allowing qualified students to work part-time on campus (or community service agencies) to earn funds to cover other college expenses. This is all in addition to older full-ride UNC merit-based scholarships, including Morehead-Cain Scholarship, the Music department’s Kenan Music Scholarship, and the Creative Writing department’s Thomas Wolfe Scholarship. (Note: the UNC System has free-tuition options for all member institutions. See specific UNC campus websites for more details.)

For need-based tuition aid, there is the Carolina Covenant, launched in 2003, which provides a debt-free education to accepted students with low-income backgrounds. UNC claims the milestone of being the first public university in the country with such a program (and 2nd after Princeton, when including private institutions). Students who qualify will be those “families with an adjusted gross income (AGI) that is 200% below the federal poverty guideline.” Covenant students are assessed yearly for this aid, and funds may be supplemented with work-study as well. Maximum AGI to qualify varies based on family size, currently ranging from $32,920/year for a family of two, to $67,480/year for a family of six (plus $8,640 per additional family members.) Independent state-resident students may also qualify.

Datausa data shows a 2017 acceptance rate at UNC of just over 24% (9,673 of 39,650 applicants). Free tuition is partly backed by UNC’s endowment, which had a 2017 FY-end value of nearly $3B. Around 52% of undergrads received grants for 2017 AY, while 30% received federal loans.

Rankings for UNC:

  • Forbes Magazine
  • Kiplinger’s Personal Finance: Best Value Public Colleges
  • Money Magazine: Best Colleges 2020
  • Princeton Review
    • #10 Best Value Colleges without Aid
    • #21 Best Value Colleges
    • Green Colleges
    • Best Southeastern
  • U.S. News & World Report
    • #5 Top Public Schools
    • #12 Best Colleges for Veterans
    • #14 Best Value Schools
    • #25 Undergraduate Research/Creative Projects (tie)
    • National Universities (tie)
    • First-Year Experiences (tie)
    • Best Undergraduate Teaching (tie)
    • #50 Most Innovative Schools (tie)
    • #7 Business Programs – plus top-9 scores in several subtopics
    • Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs (schools with a doctorate)

UNC alumni include Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners, Rhodes Scholars (all of whom received the older Morehead-Cain full-ride, merit-based UNC scholarship), heads of state, astronomers, entertainers and more. Some notable alumni include:

  • U.S. President James Polk
  • actors Andy Griffith and John Forsythe
  • comedian Lewis Black
  • writers/ novelists Thomas Wolfe and Armistead Maupin Jr.
  • TV journalist Charles Kuralt

Additional Information

  • #students: 29,877
  • #undergrads: 19,154
  • Student/ faculty ratio: 13 to 1
  • Affiliation: University of North Carolina System
  • Has housing: Yes
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

20. Vanderbilt University

Nashville, Tennessee

20 Tuition-Free Colleges - Affordable Schools (20)

Website

Vanderbilt University (Vandy, est. 1873) is a private, nonprofit institution offering bachelor’s through doctorate degrees, plus certificate programs. Vandy, a prestigious doctoral university, is amongst the oldest institutions of higher learning in the USA and welcomes students from all over the country, as well internationally from over 100 countries. It consists of two colleges and eight schools, including for graduate-only programs. These divisions cover:

  • Arts and Science
  • Music
  • Divinity
  • Engineering,
  • Law
  • Medicine
  • Nursing
  • Management
  • Education and Human Development
  • Graduate school.

Vandy offers 70 undergrad degree programs, with its most popular including:

  • General Economics
  • General Social Sciences
  • Other Multidisciplinary Studies

The university has a need-blind admissions process and has a policy of meeting 100% of demonstrated financial need without loans, for both “U.S. citizens and eligible non-citizens” (including international students), through their Opportunity Vanderbilt program. Income bands do not apply. Nearly 95% of the gift assistance that Vandy undergrads received for the 2020-21 AY is from Vanderbilt Scholarhips, the rest is from federal/ state grants and other source. Students must maintain at least a 2.00 GPA for assistance renewal after freshman year. Vanderbilt also has merit-based scholarships, including:

  • Ingram Scholars Program
  • Cornelius Vanderbilt Scholarship
  • Chancellor’s Scholarship

Datausa data shows a 2017 acceptance rate of just under 11% (3,415 of 31,462 applicants). The tuition assistance options are partly backed by an endowment valued at over $4.1B (2017 FY-end). About 65% of 2017 undergrads received grants, while 14% received federal loans.

Rankings for Vanderbilt:

  • Money Magazine: #3 Best Colleges 2020
  • Princeton Review
    • Best Southeastern
    • #1 Great Financial Aid
    • #1 Their Students Love These Colleges
    • #2 Happiest Students
    • #2 Most Beautiful Campus
    • #2 Best Quality of Life
    • #2 Best-Run Colleges
    • #3 Best Counseling Services
    • #3 Best Financial Aid
    • #4 Best Athletic Facilities
    • #6 Best Campus Food
    • #12 Most Engaged in Community Service
    • #13 Best Value Colleges
    • #16 Best College Library
    • #17 Best College Dorms
    • #20 Green Colleges
    • #22 Best Schools for Internships
  • US News & World Report
    • #9 Best Value Schools
    • #12 Best Undergraduate Teaching
    • #14 National Universities
    • #23 Most Innovative Schools
    • Undergraduate Research/Creative Projects
    • First-Year Experiences
    • Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs (schools with a doctorate)

Vanderbilt has a considerably lengthy list of successful alumni that includes Pulitzer Prize winners, heads of state/political figures, business leaders/executives, academics/educators, pop culture icons, professional athletes, astronauts, poets/ writers/ journalists, and many more. Some notables include:

  • Nobel Prize winner and former U.S. VP Al Gore
  • Nobel Prize winner and microfinance expert Muhammad Yunnus
  • newscaster David Brinkley

Additional Information

  • #students: 13,131
  • #undergrads: 6,886
  • Student/ faculty ratio: 7 to 1
  • Has housing: Yes
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Frequently Asked Questions

What does free college tuition mean?

Tuition typically refers to the per-course or per-credit-hour fee that students pay to take a course. In the context of free tuition, however, it could mean tuition and (some) fees, or even “full-ride,” which also includes room and board, possibly health and dental insurance, and possibly books or other expenses. The meaning of free college tuition varies from institution to institution.

Can you go to college without paying tuition?

In short, yes. The main body of this article covers 20 institutions of higher education that are no tuition colleges. Elsewhere in this FAQs section, we also summarize the free tuition options at all eight Ivy League colleges.

Is free tuition really free?

What is covered under free tuition?

As mentioned above, the definition of “free tuition” varies by institution. At the very least, it covers course tuition but may cover more, including being a full-ride scholarship.

Can I get other expenses covered other than tuition?

Yes. Some institutions also cover any or all of the following: fees, medical and dental care, room and board, books, relevant services and supplies (particularly at the military academies). Military academies may even pay a monthly stipend and offer additional benefits at no cost. Students attending institutions with mandatory work-study can use their earnings to cover some non-tuition costs.

Why we need tuition free college

According to Forbes Magazine, CNBC and others, the amount of college student debt in the U.S. reached $1.6 Trillion somewhere in the first Quarter of 2020, and has since surpasssed that figure — growing steadily from reaching $1T some time in 2013-14, and being called a crisis by CNBC and other news media.

Aside from the runaway student debt total for the United States, there are many pro (and some con) arguments for free tuition college options, not the least of which is that educating everyone is beneficial to the entire country. Rejecting potential students due to lack of family income could mean less contribution to society. According to some sources, there are jobs going unfilled in this country due to a lack of qualified people, especially in the trades but not limited to them. More education typically means higher earnings, which leads to a better economy when some of those earnings are spent. Higher earnings overall likely means less government aid for society, at least on a per-capita basis. There are of course the arguments against, which are worth seeking out and reviewing – the foremost of which is the premise that affordable college is not the same as free college, and that the former is the actual problem, while the latter leads to other economic issues.

What are the pros and cons of tuition free college?

The pros are fairly obvious: low chance of having a large student debt, and the possibility of free tuition, which likely leads to better career opportunities and an overall better quality of life that results. There are some cons, not everyone will find a particular issue to be a problem for themself. Some issues include:

  1. Have to attend on campus, as most programs require that – though some online courses may be available.
  2. May have to be part of a work-study program, possibly minimum wage.
  3. May have to take mandatory religious education courses, or be a practitioner of a specific faith
  4. May have to commit to several years of military service after graduation
  5. Parents may not be able to claim a tuition tax credit for grant funds awarded to their children attending certain private colleges.
  6. Senior citizens usually must wait until other students have selected courses. So there’s a chance that desired courses may not be available in a given semester.

What states offer free tuition?

According to a March 2019 article by CNBC, there are nearly 20 U.S. states that offer free college tuition options. An Aug 2019 CollegeVine article lists 19 U.S. states with free college tuition options. Combining those with other sources results in the list below. Note that not all of the financial aid packages in these states are full-tuition. Some programs offer tuition discounts. States with free tuition for financial need may require students to reapply yearly for their aid program(s). Some programs have residency restrictions and are in states with free college tuition for residents only. Finally, some of these programs are for states with free community college tuition only. Find your state of interest and do your own research.

  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Nevada
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Texas

This list is organic, as additional states are working on legislation to pass similar free tuition options, whether for all students or those in demonstrated financial need. Some of these states may offer options for tuition free graduate programs as well.

Do I qualify for a tuition free college?

The short simple answer is “possibly”. Some colleges cover tuition and maybe other education expenses for all admitted students, regardless of financial background. However, these are often small colleges with very limited seats. Military academies cover more than tuition, and may offer a monthly stipend. But while typically larger than the first group of colleges, require 5-8 years of military service in return. Larger colleges that offer free tuition (and sometimes cover other costs) usually do so based on financial need. Some have free tuition for senior citizens.

Alternately, if you are employed, it’s possible that your employer may have an internal program to cover some or all of your college expenses. For example, Starbucks and Disney are just two employers that do this. Disney’s plan applies to around 90,000 of their employees and cast members. The company has agreements with specific colleges, known as the Disney Aspire colleges or network. This currently includes University of Arizona, University of Florida, University of Central Florida, and may include others.

How do I apply for a tuition free college?

The short answer is that it depends on the college and the free tuition category it falls into. For example, colleges that award all admitted students typically have no special application process steps to gain the tuition aid. Colleges that offer need-based financial aid packages typically require official proof in the form of tax documents. Some colleges may require that students also fill out a FAFSA.

Do senior citizens get free college tuition?

According FinAid.org, as of July 2018, the following states/districts had some sort of free tuition for seniors:

  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington DC
  • However, this is not a comprehensive list, missing out some states including at least California.

In fact, senior citizens have options for either or both of tuition-free courses or degrees in all 50 states. Usually, the programs apply to people 60+, but in some cases it applies to 55+ or 62+ individuals. However, not all such programs lead to college credits/ degrees, only audited courses. The downside in some cases is that seniors must wait until regular students have finished registering for courses, so there may not always be open seats.

Are there any tuition free online colleges?

There are very few options for free tuition towards an online bachelor’s degree, although some listed colleges in this article may allow students to register in a limited number of online courses each semester. However, there is at least one option for free tuition online degrees: University of the People (UPeople), an accredited, tuition free online college based in California that has two charges: an application fee and a relatively affordable per-course assessment fee (for exam results). However, those in financial need may be eligible for scholarships to cover fees. UPeople has the following associates and bachelor’s degrees topics: business administration, computer science, health sciences. Its tuition free online master’s degree choices currently are in business administration (MBA) or advanced teaching (MEd). Proof of English proficiency (proof by birth or assessment test) is required for admission. Cost of operations for UPeople is covered by donors and fees. These are 100% online degrees offered by UPeople.

Alternately, online learning platforms such as Coursera and edX offer some free online courses that use materials from actual college courses, in dozens of topics, sourced from universities worldwide. For edX, typically each participating college has their own “edX” website set up. Coursera is centralized, offering courses on one site. While courses taken on these platforms are generally not for credit, some institutions are offering an option to upgrade from a paid certificate of completion for a sequence of related courses up to something more official, such as an institutional certificate, possibly with credit. A few special programs could also lead to admission in an official college degree program, typically at the master’s level.

Do highly respected schools have free tuition?

Yes. In fact, several prestigious institutions are discussed elsewhere in this article. As well, in recent years, all eight Ivy League universities have collectively reached the milestone of all offering need-based financial aid options that may cover full tuition or more. Each Ivy League school’s free tuition offering is summarized below. Note that some top non-Ivy League colleges may offer full-ride or half-ride merit-based scholarships.

1. Brown University

Providence, Rhode Island
est. 1764
Website

Brown is amongst the oldest universities in the country, and the first to accept students of any religious affiliation. Its Brown Promise is an admissions policy that provides a need-based financial aid package consisting of scholarship funds. This is partly backed by their endowment, which was valued at nearly $3.25B (2017 FY-end). The university’s overall undergrad acceptance rate in 2017 was nearly 8.5% (2,779 of 32,723 applicants). Approximately 46% of undergrads (2017) received grants, while 21% received federal loans. For the Class of 2022, about 43% received need-based scholarships. Brown expects students to contribute some of their earnings from summer jobs and campus work-study jobs. Currently, students of families earning under $60K annually may be eligible for a full-ride scholarship that covers not just tuition but room and board. international students may qualify for some aid.

2. Columbia University

New York, New York
est. 1754
Website

Columbia, aka Columbia University in the City of New York, has a need-blind admissions policy that covers U.S. citizens and eligible non-citizens. For freshmen and transfer students, Columbia covers 100% of demonstrated need through a financial aid package that may combine scholarship, grants and work-study. Students of families earning under $60K/ year and no assets are typically qualified for this tuition aid (and possibly room and board costs). Around 58% of Columbia undergrads (2017) recieved grants, and 23% received federal loans.

3. Cornell University

Ithaca, New York
est. 1865
Website

While Cornell is a private university, three of its undergraduate colleges are either “state-supported statutory or contract colleges through the State University of New York (SUNY) system. (Note: New York’s SUNY and CUNY university systems both have free-tuition options for all member institutions.) It has a long-standing commitement to access and affordability, based on demonstrated financial need and has tripled grant aid over 20 years, making a Cornell education now more affordable for such students. The financial aid is partly backed by the university’s endowment, valued at nearly $6.25B (2017 FY-end). Around 53% of undergrads (2017) received grants, while 30% received federal loans. Cornell’s undergrad acceptance rate (2017) was nearly 13% (5,962 of 47,039 applicants).

4. Dartmouth College

Hanover, New Hampshire
est. 1769
Website

Like other Ivy League colleges, Dartmouth has a need-blind admissions policy. As such, 100% of admitted students with demonstrated financial need will have those needs met, regardless of where the student is from. Currently, students from families with a total income of $100K/year or less (and typical assets) will receive free tuition. Aid “travels” with such students, if they participate in study-abroad programs. The average aid package scholarship for 2020-21 AY is over $60K. Dartmouth’s 2017 undergrad acceptance rate was over 10% (2,093 of 20,035 applicants), and 54% of them received grants, with 25% receiving federal loans.

5. Harvard University

Cambridge, Massachusetts
est. 1636
Website

Harvard is the United States’ oldest college/university, and has a reputation of prestige worldwide amongst institutions of higher learning. It has a need-based policy, and funds it partly from its endowment, valued at over $37B (2017 FY-end). The university covers 100% of demonstrated financial need. Harvard’s 2017 undergrad acceptance rate was an extremely competitive 5.16% (2,037 of 39,506 applicants). In that academic year, 43% of undergrads received grants, while 2% received federal loans. More recently, 55% of students received need-based scholarships, and 20% paid nothing to attend Harvard.

6. Princeton University

Princeton, New Jersey
est. 1746
Website

Princeton, a top-ranking college with a name synonymous with a prestigious education, claims the milestone of being the first university to replace loans in financial aid to every recipient with grants. It meets 100% of tuition for admitted students with demonstrated financial need. Currently, students from families earning $65K/ year or less are eligible for a grant-based aid package that covers full tuition, some fees, and room and board. The average grant for the Class of 2023 is about $56.5K. Around 61% of students qualify for financial aid from Princeton. The university’s 2017 undergrad acceptance rate was a very competitive 6.41% (1,990 of 31,056 applicants). Aid is partly backed by Princeton’s endowment, valued at 2017 FY-end to be over $23B.

7. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
est. 1740
Website

UPenn has a needs-based admissions policy that covers 100% of demonstrated financial need, using a financial aid package that combines grants and work-study funds. This aid program is limited to first-time undergrads in the following UPenn schools and colleges: College of Arts and Science, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the Wharton School, and the School of Nursing (in case you’re looking for nursing programs with free tuition options). Around 45% of UPenn undergrads recieved grant-based aid (2018-19 AY) averaging just over $54K each. UPenn’s 2017 undergrad acceptance rate was competitive at just over 9% (3,757 of 40,413 applicants). The aid program is partly backed by the university’s endowment, valued at over $12B (2017 FY-end).

8. Yale University

New Haven, Connecticut
est. 1701
Website

In prestigious Yale’s long history, it has claimed many milestones, including having awarded the first PhD in the U.S. (1861). As with the other Ivy League colleges, it has a need-blind admissions policy that meets 100% of demonstrated financial need, regardless of citizenship or immigration status. Students from families earning under $75K gross yearly (with typical assests) will not be expected to have a parental contribution. Families earning between $75K and $200K are expected to contribute between 1% and 20% to their child’s education at Yale. There is no income cutoff point, so even families with over $200K annual income may be eligible for need-based aid. Yale’s 2017 undergrad acceptance rate was a very competitive 6.93% (2,277 of 32,879 applicants). Its aid program is partly backed by its endowment, valued at over $27B (2017 FY-end). Around 52% of 2017 undergrads received grants, while 10% received federal loans.

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FAQs

What are the free tuition universities Philippines? ›

10 State Universities in Metro Manila you can apply to after Senior High School:
  • Eulogio 'Amang' Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology (EARIST) ...
  • Philippine Normal University (PNU) ...
  • Philippine State College of Aeronautics (PhilSCA) ...
  • Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) ...
  • Rizal Technological University (RTU)
29 May 2019

What college has the cheapest tuition? ›

Cheapest Public Colleges in the US
#InstitutionNet Price per Year
1Indian River State College$588
2South Texas College$1,610
3Sitting Bull College$3,060
4Palm Beach State College$3,064
11 more rows
8 Jan 2021

Who qualifies for free college in New Mexico? ›

The Promise. Qualified first-time freshmen who have graduated from a New Mexico high school and have an annual family income of $50,000—roughly the state's median family income—or less will have base tuition and fees for full-time enrollment covered for the 2022-23 academic year.

Are there any free colleges in the US? ›

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.

Is UP law school free? ›

Tuition fee is Php 15,000 (approximately USD 295) per unit. Miscellaneous fees amount to Php 2,400 (approximately USD 47) .

Is tuition in UP FREE? ›

What is UP's tuition rate? As the national university, UP is funded by the Philippine government. With this, the tuition fees of UP students are minimal. Added to this, UP students are also able to access other support services which would further defray the cost of their education.

What college has a 100% acceptance rate? ›

Located in North Dakota's capital city, Bismarck State College tops the list of colleges with the highest acceptance rates. The third-largest institution in the state's public university system, BSC serves approximately 4,000 students each year. The school accepts 100% of applicants.

What state is cheapest for college? ›

Which States Have the Cheapest College Tuition?
  • Montana.
  • Utah.
  • North Carolina.
  • Idaho.
  • New Mexico*
  • South Dakota*
  • North Dakota*
  • Nevada*
26 Aug 2022

Which university has lowest fees in USA? ›

Here is a list of some of the cheap universities in USA.
  • California State University, San Bernardino.
  • Southeast Missouri State University.
  • Arkansas State University.
  • University of Wisconsin.
  • Brooklyn College.
  • University of Louisiana–Monroe.
  • Southwest Minnesota State University.
  • Northwest Missouri State University.

Who passed the free tuition in Philippines? ›

620, sponsored and authored by Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, called on government to start implementing RA 10931, "by administering and affording the students free tuition and other school fees at the start of the second semester of academic year 2017-2018." Apart from Aquino, the resolution was co-authored by ...

Is UP free tuition 2022? ›

UP as the National University also takes affirmative steps in its admission process to enhance the access of disadvantaged students to high quality education. Tuition is free in UP.

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