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Top 25 Tuition-Free Colleges & Universities

Will a Finance Degree Make You Rich

If there is one thing on almost everyone’s mind when deciding to pursue a higher education it’s the cost. It’s no secret that the cost of colleges and universities have been on the rise. For many students, some colleges and universities are just far too cost-prohibitive to even consider. While online colleges have grown as a popular option for students hoping to control costs, many students are looking for even more help when it comes to funding their education. Fortunately, some of colleges and universities have realized that the rising cost of tuition has boxed many students out of pursuing a higher education. To help combat this, certain universities and colleges have developed free tuition programs. That’s right. Depending on your financial situation, you can graduate debt-free.

While these programs come in different varieties, they all have the same aim: to help students graduate without debt. Some schools have been able to accomplish this by establishing work programs on campus. In exchange for tuition relief, students are asked to work a certain amount of hours each semester in some kind of job on-campus. Other schools have figured out how to more effectively tap into their endowments and their alumni for donations in order to generate money that can go towards paying for low-income students. That way, students who get an education debt-free and then find themselves in a position of wealth can then choose to give back to the institution that gave them a break in the first place.

By providing students with options to get a tuition-free college education, these universities and colleges are attracting people from all different backgrounds which ultimately is a major selling point of the college experience. While college can be about academics, it is also about learning how to challenge your own viewpoints and learn about people that come from different backgrounds and cultures. By removing the financial barriers, everybody benefits from a more diverse college experience.

To celebrate this move towards making college affordable for everyone, we’ve compiled a list of twenty-five colleges and universities that are on the forefront of the movement to provide students with free tuition.

*in alphabetical order

1. Alice Lloyd College

Cofounded by Alice Spencer Geddes Lloyd and June Buchanan, Alice Lloyd College was founded in 1923 as the Caney Junior College. Originally, Alice Lloyd College was founded to provide leaders in the Appalachia area with a higher education in order to help them better grow their local communities. By the 1980s, Alice Lloyd College had grown to provide students with a full program of Bachelor’s degrees. Today, Alice Lloyd College offers students eighteen different majors to choose from along with an additional eight pre-professional programs to choose from as well. Alice Lloyd College is located in Pippa Passes, Kentucky, a scenic and remote area of the Appalachia region. Due to its unique location, Alice Lloyd College employs a boarding school-style system in which students all live on campus in dormitories allowing the school to operate as a miniature community.

To offer its students tuition-free college, Alice Lloyd College employs a work-study program. All students enrolled at Alice Lloyd College are required to participate in the school’s work-study program. Throughout the semester, students must accumulate at least 160 hours of total work while maintaining their studies. Students are assigned jobs rating from janitorial staff to resident advisor. Alice Lloyd College believes that by having students participate in a work-study, students will build a strong sense of work ethic while also becoming invested in the well-being and upkeep of their campus and the community at Alice Lloyd College. Upon graduating from Alice Lloyd College students will have learned that education also happens outside of the classroom.

2. Barclay College

Founded in 1917, Barclay College was established in Haviland, Kansas.  Originally known as the Kansas Central Bible Training School, Barclay College has a rich history as a private Christian college. Maintaining its focus on a Christian-focused education, students at Barclay College were able to pursue standard academic degrees while also pursuing degrees in ministry studies and other Christian-related topics of education. In its early history, Barclay College also operated junior colleges but those were soon shut down in order to facilitate the growth of the increasingly popular Barclay College. Today, Barclay College is home to a student body of approximately tw0 hundred students. Students at Barclay College are asked to live on campus for the most part in the dormitories provided by Barclay College.

A tuition-free college, Barclay College offers free tuition to students who choose to enroll full-time and live in the residence halls. Sourcing funding from its alumni and other outside donors, Barclay College is able to provide full scholarships to any and all students who are willing to enroll in the college full-time and also choose to live on-campus. Barclay College does not offer a work-study program to its students, the only form of compensation that they seek from the student body in regards to their scholarship is money to pay for their room and board on-campus. Removing the burden of tuition from the students, students only have to focus on paying for their housing which is often a fraction of the overall costs of a college education.

3. Berea College

Located in the city of Berea, Kentucky, Berea College opened its doors to its first class of students in the year 1855. Founded by abolitionist John Gregg Fee, Berea College was one of the first school to have a fully integrated curriculum. While schools and colleges were segregated across the South, Berea College led the integration charge by offering enrollment to students of all races and genders. With its rich history as a pioneer in the advancement of education accessibility, Berea College still honors that heritage to this day by being at the forefront of the free tuition movement for colleges. Home to just over 1,600 students, Berea College offers its students thirty-two different majors to choose from.

Offering tuition free college, Berea College is able to achieve this through a combination of donations and a work program for its students. When admitted to Berea College, students are also granted a full-tuition scholarship equivalent to $97,200 for four years. While enrolled at Berea College, all students are required to work at least 10 hours a week on either on-campus or service jobs near by. Primarily, the service jobs at Berea College service the nearby Southern Appalachia region. While being enrolled at Berea College, students are not only gaining a strong academic education, but they are also learning the value of work ethic as well as gaining a sense of civic duty as they work to better the community and areas that surround Berea College.

4. Blackburn College

Located in Carlinville, Illinois, Blackburn College was established in 1837. Originally founded as a private Presbyterian college, Blackburn College was established by Reverend Gideon Blackburn, for which the school was named after. Known for its incredibly scenic campus, Blackburn College has done much to ensure that the quality of life for its students is high on campus. Currently, Blackburn College boasts a faculty to student ratio of 12:1. Pioneering an on-campus work program, many of the buildings built on Blackburn College’s campus were constructed by students as a result of those programs. Through its work program, Blackburn College has managed to be the least expensive private school in the state of Illinois. Today, Blackburn College boasts a student body of just under six hundred students and offers thirty different majors for students to choose from.

Committed to making Blackburn College an affordable experience for their students, Blackburn College was a pioneer in instituting a work program for its students. Started in 1913, Blackburn College’s work program was established to allow those with high academic ability who did not have the financial means to attend the university. By instituting this work program, students are able to gain valuable work experience while also gaining a higher education. Today, the work program is entirely student-led which means that students are also able to gain valuable leadership and management experience while running the work program. All students at Blackburn College are required to work at least 160 hours each semester. Through this work program, students are able to earn discounts on their tuition all the way up to a full 100% discounted tuition.

5. College of the Ozarks

Founded in 1906, the College of the Ozarks is located in Point Lookout, Missouri.  A private liberal arts college with a Christian background, the school’s mission is to provide students with a Christian education who would otherwise not be able to afford that level of higher education. Located just outside of Springfield, Missouri, the College of the Ozarks campus is home to to a student body of just under 1,500 students.  Students enrolled at the College of the Ozarks are able to enroll in over thirty different academic majors.

Students at the College of the Ozarks are required to pay absolutely no tuition. In order to achieve this, the College of the Ozarks employs a student work program as well as donations from alumni. In order to fund their tuition, students are required to work fifteen hour works weeks on-campus as well as an additional two forty hour work weeks during school breaks. The College of the Ozarks has found that this work program has helped students to learn how to prioritize their schedules and to teach students the value of work experience when it comes to a well-rounded education. With this focus on work and education, the College of the Ozarks refers to itself as “Hard Work U”.

6. Cooper Union

In the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art has been providing students with high-quality educations since the year 1859. Founded by American industrialist Peter Cooper, the Cooper Union was founded to remedy the one thing that Peter Cooper found lacking in his own upbringing: a formal education. Coming from a poor family, Peter Cooper was not afforded the opportunities for a higher education. After making it big himself, Peter Cooper wanted to make sure that there would be an institution that would serve those who didn’t have the financial resources to enroll in other colleges. In order to achieve this goal, Cooper left all of his remaining wealth to the school and created a tuition-free model for which the school to operate from. Today, Cooper Union enroll just under 1,000 students.

Today, Cooper Union is a mostly tuition-free institution. All students who are admitted to Cooper Union receive a scholarship that covers at least half of their tuition. From there, students receive further aid on a sliding scale depending on their financial situation. This scale can cover the remaining 50% of the tuition and most students that are enrolled at Cooper Union qualify for a full tuition scholarship. The money for tuition is currently generated through donations from alumni of Cooper Union. Since Cooper Union does not require students be a part of a work program, student are able to focus entirely on their education while also not having to worry about the crushing debt that is often associated with college degrees.

7. Cornell University

One of the United State’s preeminent Ivy League universities, Cornell University was founded in 1865. Located in Ithaca, New York, Cornell University is well-known among research universities.  Founded by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White, Cornell University was founded with the motto “I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study”. Created with the goal of providing education to those of all walks of life in any subject matter imaginable, Cornell University has grown immensely since its inception. Today, Cornell University’s main campus has grown greatly in size and has also added additional satellite campuses located in New York City and Qatar.  Currently, Cornell University offers students a large catalog of both undergraduate and graduate courses of studies. Today, just over 23,000 students are enrolled at Cornell University across its many campuses.

Committed to providing inexpensive education to those in need, Cornell University has a free tuition program that it operates for its undergraduate students. For those who come from families that earn less than $60,000/year, Cornell University will offer that student a full-ride scholarship to the school. This sliding scale tuition assistance remains in effect for all students providing them with financial assistance that is in step with their families financial situation. Cornell University uses personal donations as well as money from its endowment in order to pay for students who are using this program. As many Ivy League universities can be quite cost-prohibitive, Cornell University has started this tuition assistance program to ensure that students of all backgrounds are able to attend the university. Through instituting this policy, Cornell University has been able to open the door to students who would otherwise not be able to attend such a prestigious institution.

8. CUNY Macaulay Honors College

Part of the City University of New York system in New York City, the William E. Macaulay Honors College is a select college program for honors students. Established in 2001, the William E. Macaulay Honors College was dreamed up by Chancellor Matthew Goldstein. Originally, Matthew Goldstein hoped that this honors college would help raise the academic standards of the other City University of New York Schools. As a shining example of the academic excellence possible within the City University of New York system, the William E. Macaulay Honors College would increase the quality of education across the entire system. Securing a massive donation of $30,000,000 dollars from former student and CEO of the First Reserve Corporation, William E. Macaulay Honors College, William E. Macalay Honors College was named in his honor. Today, the William E. Macaulay Honors College is home to a student body of just over 2,000 students.

An entirely tuition-free college, William E. Macaulay Honors College is an incredibly competitive program. Through the massive donation left by William E. Macaulay as well as donations received from other alumni, the William E. Macaulay Honors College has amassed a massive endowment that is used to pay for the tuition and other related expenses for students enrolled in the program. By being accepted into the William E. Macaulay Honors College, students are also granted a full scholarship to the program. An incredibly rigorous and challenging program, the school hopes that by alleviating the pressure of having to worry about funding their education, students will be able to focus more closely on their studies and in doing so have a higher chance of success in the program.

9. Curtis Institute of Music

An incredibly competitive, but top of it’s class music conservatory, the Curtis Institute of Music is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1924, the Curtis Institute of Music was established by Mary Louise Curtis Bok. Naming the school to honor her father, Cyrus Curtis, the Curtis Institute of Music opened in Rittenhouse Square inside three newly-adjoined mansions. With its entire curriculum focused on music, students are able to earn a Bachelor of Music, Master of Music in Opera, or a Professional Studies Certificate in Opera. Currently, the Curtis Institute of Music is home to a student body of just over 160 students. Designed to be a smaller school, the Curtis Institute of Music has an incredibly competitive admissions process.

The Curtis Institute of Music operates as a tuition-free school for its students. After establishing the school, Mary Louise Curtis Bok left an endowment equal to $169,000,000 in current US dollars. With this money and competitive admissions, those that are admitted to the Curtis Institute of Music are admitted with a full scholarship. Each year, the Curtis Institute of Music opens up enough spots to fill the roles in a single orchestra or opera company, along with spots for composers, conductors, pianists, and guitarists. The program at Curtis Institute of Music is quite intense, which is why the school focuses so heavily on finding the best of the best students and offering them a full scholarship so they do not need to focus on anything other than their education. While the admissions are quite competitive, those students who are admitted will receive the musical education of a lifetime at the low cost of zero dollars.

10. Deep Springs College

A small liberal arts school in Deep Springs, California, Deep Springs College opened in 1917. Uniquely located in Deep Springs Valley, Deep Springs College is completely remote. Due to its location, the school enrolls a few number of students and requires them to become part of the school’s local self-sustaining community. Students at Deep Springs College focus their studies on three pillars: academics, labor, and self-government. Located in the middle of the desert, students are given roles on campus that are required to help maintain the operation of Deep Springs College.  Founded by L. L. Nunn, founded Deep Springs College around a small hydroelectric power station. Students at the school learn self-sufficiency while learning electrical engineering knowledge needed to maintain the station.

A fully tuition-free school, students at Deep Springs College earn an education in exchange for labor and stewardship of the nearby lands surrounding Deep Springs College. Because of the remote nature of the campus, students are not only required to work on campus to pay for their tuition, but also to just maintain safe and smooth operations of the school. It’s believed due to the isolation brought about by the school that students will learn how to become more self-reliant on themselves and in doing so become smarter and stronger students.

11. Duke University

Located in the heart of Durham, North Carolina, Duke University is one of the south’s premier research universities. Established in 1838, Duke University was founded by a group of Methodists and Quakers. Initially located in what is now Trinity, North Carolina, Duke University was relocated to Durham, North Carolina in 1892. Just over thirty years later, James Buchanan Duke established the Duke Endowment which then prompted the school to be renamed to Duke University in honor of James Buchanan Duke’s father, Washington Duke. A private research university, Duke University has become the cornerstone of Durham’s downtown area. One of the premier universities in North Carolina, Duke University currently enrolls just under 15,000 students. Currently, Duke University offers students forty-six different undergraduate majors, fifty-two different minors, and a large catalog of doctorate and master’s programs from which students can enroll.

In order to make Duke University more accessible to students from different economic backgrounds, Duke University has implemented a tuition assistance program. Operating on a sliding scale, Duke University provides students with tuition assistance that is set up to provide different measures of help to families based on their economic needs. For students who come from a family that makes under $60,000 annually, Duke University covers the entirety of the student’s tuition expenses as well as other expenses. This is incredibly helpful to many families as a typical year of tuition and expenses at Duke University is just shy of $60,000/year. Duke University has remained committed to providing students of all socioeconomic backgrounds with an opportunity to study at the university. Through this tuition assistance program, Duke University is able to offer students in need with a tuition-free college experience.

12. Harvard University

Arguably one of the nation’s most notable Ivy League schools, Harvard University was founded in 1636. Originally established by the Massachusetts legislature, Harvard University was named for clergyman John Harvard who acted as the school’s first benefactor.  Founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University is the United State’s oldest institution of higher learning. The Harvard Corporation is also the first chartered corporation in the United States. Over the centuries, Harvard University has become synonymous with academic excellence. Some of the world’s most notable people have attended Harvard University including Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and President Barack Obama. Today, Harvard University is home to a student body of just over 21,000 students. Harvard University offers its students a wide array of undergraduate and graduate programs from which to study.

Dedicated to making higher education accessible to people of all background and economic standings, Harvard University has instituted a variety of different tuition assistance programs that are designed to alleviate the potential financial burden of pursuing a higher education. In order to help facilitate more affordable tuition prices for families with lower socioeconomic standings, Harvard University offers a sliding scale tuition system that awards families higher percentages of tuition assistance depending upon their yearly income. For families that make less than $65,000/annually, Harvard University offers complete tuition assistance. For families making between $65,000 to $150,000 each year, Harvard University asks for anywhere between zero to 10 percent of their income.  For many, these programs have made it so they can enroll in Harvard University without too much financial burden and stress.

13. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Another one of the United State’s most well-known universities, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was founded in 1861. Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has become well-known for its endeavors as a research institution. Originally, Massachusetts Institute of Technology was founded as a response to the rapid industrialization happening throughout the United States. In order to educate young people on the needs of the Industrial Age, Massachusetts Institute of Technology adopted the polytechnic university model widely-used amongst European universities. From the very outset, Massachusetts Institute of Technology cemented its place as a leader in engineering and scientific research. It wasn’t before long that Massachusetts Institute of Technology was topping many lists of the best universities in the world. Today, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology still remains in Cambridge, Massachusetts and is home to a student body of just over 11,000 students.

Committed to providing students from different economic backgrounds with an opportunity for a higher education, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has implemented a variety of different tuition assistance programs designed to provide students with much needed financial assistance. As one of the world’s best universities, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s tuition can be quite high. In order to help those who would normally be unable to afford that, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers students a variety of different brackets of tuition assistance based upon their financial standing. For all students who come from a home that makes less than $80,000 annually, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will cover the entirety of that student’s tuition and expenses for their education. With this level of tuition assistance, students from all types of backgrounds can apply to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology without worry that if they are admitted that they would not be able to afford it.

14. Princeton University

Among the United State’s Ivy League schools, Princeton University is one of the country’s oldest institutions of higher education. Founded in 1746, Princeton University is located in Princeton, New Jersey. The fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States, Princeton University was originally located in Elizabeth, New Jersey and was known as the College of New Jersey.  Eventually, the school was moved to Newark, New Jersey and then finally to its current location in Princeton University for which it was renamed in 1896. Over the years, Princeton University has gained a reputation for being at the height of academic excellence. Many notable people have graduated from Princeton including the CEO of Amazon and founder Jeff Bezos, as well as the Chairman of Google Eric Schmidt. Today, Princeton University is home to a student body of approximately 8,100 students.

Wanting to ensure that an education at Princeton University is affordable for people from all walks of life, Princeton University has gone to great lengths to provide systems that help students pay for their education. In order to help students and families pay for their education, Princeton University has instituted a variety of tuition and financial assistance programs. For students who come from families that make less than $60,000 a year, their education is entirely covered by the Princeton University endowment. That means that those students are not required to pay for their tuition or their room and board. For families that make less than $140,000 a year, those students are not required to pay for tuition. These two financial assistance programs cover a lot of students and help to alleviate the financial concerns and burdens that might have once been associated with a higher education.

15. Stanford University

One of the West Coast’s greatest research universities, Stanford University was founded in 1891. Located in Stanford, California, Stanford University was established by Leland and Jane Stanford. The couple named the school to honor their child, Leland Stanford Jr., who had tragically passed away due to typhoid fever. Funded by the Stanford family’s earnings as railroad tycoons. Stanford University opened its doors to its first class of students on October 1st, 1891. From the beginning, Stanford University was coeducational and non-denominational. After the passing of founder Leland Stanford, Stanford University was forced to reinvent itself in order to survive. It was during this reinvention that it had invented in the nearby technology industry creating what would later become Silicon Valley. Today, Stanford University is still located in Stanford, California and is home to a student body of just over 16,000 students.

To help ensure that a Stanford University education is accessible to people from all walks of life, Stanford University has gone to great lengths to create a variety of tuition and financial assistance programs designed to provide aid to those who might otherwise not be able to afford to attend the school. Through an institutional formula they’ve created known as The Parent Contribution, Stanford University is able to calculate just how much financial aid Stanford University needs to provide in order to help its students. Through this calculation, Stanford University is able to provide students with different levels of financial assistance. For those who are from families that make less than $65,000 a year, Stanford University covers all tuition and expenses for those students. For students who come from families that earn less than $125,000 year, Stanford University covers all of the student’s tuition. With these programs, Stanford University is able to be more financially accessible to different students.

16. Texas A&M University

One of the South’s most notable research universities, Texas A&M University was established in 1876.  Established under the Morrill Land-Grant Act, Texas A&M University was originally established as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas. Over the coming decades, Texas A&M University would grow to become one of the best engineering and scientific research universities in the state of Texas. As Texas A&M University grew, it also began to add on additional colleges and campuses eventually creating the Texas A&M system of universities. Today, Texas A&M University is currently located in College Station, Texas and enrolls a student body of almost 69,000 students. With almost 69,000 students, Texas A&M University is the largest university in Texas and the second-largest in the entire United States. Students at Texas A&M University are able to enroll in over 150 different courses of study.

Dedicated to making sure that an education at Texas A&M University is affordable for people of all backgrounds, Texas A&M University has implemented a variety of financial and tuition assistance programs. Through the Aggie Assurance program, Texas A&M University uses a variety of metrics to determine the different levels of tuition assistance and financial aid that a potential Texas A&M University student may need. For students that come from families that earn less than $60,000 a year, Texas A&M University provides them with complete tuition assistance. In order to maintain eligibility for this program, students must earn at least a 2.5 GPA or higher. Through the Aggie Assurance program, Texas A&M University is able to help students who would otherwise not be able to enroll in Texas A&M University due to financial concerns.

17. U.S. Air Force Academy

Located just north of Colorado Springs, Colorado, the United States Air Force Academy was established in 1954. Established by the United States Air Force, the United States Air Force Academy is an institution designed to educate and train those who are interested in serving in the United States Air Force. Through their training at the United States Air Force Academy, students will work to earn a four-year Bachelor’s of Science degree and will also become second lieutenants in the United States Air Force. Currently, the United States Air Force Academy is home to a student body of just over 4,200 cadets. A highly competitive school, students applying at the United States Air Force Academy are competing for a position to study at one of the United States’ elite military academies. Through this education, students will be prepared to enter into the United States Air Force in leadership roles and will learn what it takes to be a trusted pilot and servicemen.

A tuition-free program, the United States Air Force Academy pays for its cadets’ tuitions as well as its room and board. Students at the United States Air Force Academy also receive a monthly stipend from the United States government in order to help them pay for personal items. In exchange for this free tuition and financial assistance, students are required to commit to a certain amount of years of military service upon graduation. Typically, those applying to the United States Air Force Academy have ambitions of working in the military anyway, so trading tuition cost for service in the military is not that big of a trade-off. Once students complete their required service they can choose to remain in the service or take their education to another field of work.

18. U.S. Merchant Marine Academy


Established in 1943, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy is located in Kings Point, New York.  One of the five United States service academies, students enrolled at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy will receive the training needed to become officers of the United States Merchant Marine. For those unfamiliar, the United State Merchant Marine is the organizations of civilian mariners in the United States who are tasked with being officers of merchant’s vessels for the safe passage of both cargo and passengers.  At the United States Merchant Marine Academy, students are trained in marine engineering, navigation, maritime law, personnel management, international law, and much more. Through this curriculum, midshipmen will become ready to be responsible for the running of a large ship. In times of war, those who are part of the United States Merchant Marine may be asked to participate in wartime activities.

As part of the federal government, the United States Merchant Marine Academy tuition is paid for by the United States government. Students are required to spend a “Sea Year” in which they work upon a naval vessel. By committing to this year at sea, students are not required to pay for their tuition. This is a great way for students to not only get a high-quality education for free, but it will allow them to get on-the-job training as well as the ability to travel abroad and see the world. While all of these colleges on this list provide students with free tuition, this is one of the few that also provides students with the ability to travel the world.

19. United States Coast Guard Academy

One of the United State’s military service academies, the United States Coast Guard Academy opened in 1876. Established in New London, Connecticut, the United States Coast Guard Academy was created to prepare students for roles in the United States Coast Guard. Through enrollment at the United States Coast Guard Academy, students will be able to study to earn eight different majors including civil engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, naval architecture, operations research, marine and environmental sciences, government, and management. All of these programs are earned as a Bachelor of Science degree. While being enrolled at the United States Coast Guard Academy, students will develop a deeper understanding of what it will take to be a member of the Coast Guard military branch.

As a tuition-free program, the United States Coast Guard Academy does not require its students to pay tuition for an education at the school. In exchange for free tuition, students must pledge to enlist in the military for a set amount of time following the completion of their degree program. Not only does the United States Coast Guard Academy pay for students tuition they also pay for the students’ room and board while also offering them a small monthly stipend for them to pay for personal purchases. For most students interested in enrolling in the United States Coast Guard Academy, the goal would be to gain a position in the Coast Guard so trading off tuition for time served in the military is actually a very attractive deal.

20. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

One of North Carolina’s best universities, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was founded in 1789.  A public research university, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was established in the town of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Due to its date of establishment, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the third oldest public university in the United States and was the first public institution of higher education in the state of North Carolina. Chartered by the North Carolina General Assembly, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was the first of the eventual seventeen different campuses that would go on to make up the University of North Carolina system. The centerpiece of the University of North Carolina system, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has become synonymous with academic excellence within the state of North Carolina. Currently, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is home to just shy of 30,000 students.

Committed to offering students of different economic backgrounds and financial standings an ability to enroll, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has developed a tuition assistance and financial assistance program aimed at helping financially-vulnerable students to pay for their education at the University. Through the Carolina Covenant program, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill establishes an agreement with low-income students to pay for all or part of their education in exchange for some certain criteria. Based upon the level of income of the family of the student, the University will pay for all or part of their education. In exchange, students must be making steady progress towards their degree while also remaining a full-time student. This ensures that students are graduating on-time and that the minimum amount of money is being spent on the education, no matter who is actually footing the bill.

21. Vanderbilt University

Established in 1873, Vanderbilt University was founded in Nashville, Tennessee. The university was established by Cornelius Vanderbilt, a shipping and rail magnate who had never actually been to the South. Vanderbilt donated a $1 million endowment as a gift to the South after the Civil War in an effort to try to mend the wounds that were created during the war. With this generous gift, Vanderbilt University was able to begin its history as one of the South’s most prestigious universities. With a massive endowment, Vanderbilt University was able to use this money to invest in its students and facilities to create a university the state of Tennessee could be proud of. Today, Vanderbilt University is still located in Nashville, Tennessee with much of the original campus remaining. The school is currently home to just over 12,500 students.

In order to ensure that everyone can have access to an education at Vanderbilt University, the University has gone to great lengths to establish financial assistance programs to make the school as affordable as possible. For students interested in enrolling at Vanderbilt University but are from low-income families, Vanderbilt University has established a need-based system that awards the student with different levels of financial aid depending on the severity of their financial situation. Through its Opportunity Vanderbilt program, students whose family make under a certain amount of money each year have 100% of their financial needs covered by Vanderbilt University. Opportunity Vanderbilt also offers students different degrees of financial assistance for those with different ranges of financial abilities.

22. Warren Wilson College

Located in Swannanoa Valley, just outside of Asheville, North Carolina, Warren Wilson College was established in 1894. Originally founded as at the Asheville Farm School, the school went on to become a fully coeducational junior college by 1924. After merging with the Dorland-Bell School in 1942, the school was renamed to Warren H. Wilson Vocational Junior College after the late Warren H. Wilson. Warren H. Wilson was the superintendent of the Presbyterian Church’s Department of Church and Country Life and was a fixture in the local community. To this day, the school is still named in honor of Warren Wilson’s legacy. Today, Warren Wilson College is committed to instilling a multidisciplinary work ethics in its students. Known as “The Triad”, all students are expected to earn 128 academic credits, work 10-15 hours per week for the school, and also take part in Community Engagement Programs as well.

To ensure that all students interested in attending Warren Wilson College can do so no matter their financial situation, Warren Wilson College has established a variety of different programs in order to meet the financial needs of those students. Starting this year, Warren Wilson College is taking part in the North Carolina Free Tuition Plan. For students who receive federal or state aid are eligible to have the rest of their tuition covered by Warren Wilson College. Through this program, students are able to use a combination of federal and state aid, and aid from Warren Wilson College itself in order to have enough money to attend the school. Using money from Warren Wilson College’s endowment and personal donations from alumni, Warren Wilson College is now able to allow students from all financial backgrounds to attend the school without the worry of massive amounts of debt upon graduation.

 23. Webb Institute

On Long Island, New York, founded in Glen Cove, Webb Institute has operated as a private undergraduate engineering college since 1889. Founded by philanthropist William Henry Webb, Webb Institute was originally known s the Webb Institute of Naval Architecture. A major shipbuilder, William Henry Webb wanted to create a school that he could use to teach students the science and engineering skills needed for a career in ship design. Originally seen as an art form, William Henry Webb believed that he could teach a standardized version of shipbuilding that was focused on the disciplines of science and mechanical engineering. Originally located in the Bronx, the school was eventually moved to Glen Cove. Today, Webb Institute enrolls a student body of just under one-hundred students. All students enrolled at Webb Institute graduate with both Bachelor of Science in Naval Architecture and a Bachelor of Science in Marine Engineering.

A completely tuition-free college, Webb Institute is very selective in its admissions process. A very small school, Webb Institute employs a very rigorous admissions process as those who are admitted are not only given access to the school but are also given a complete scholarship as well. Through a very large endowment left by William Henry Webb and a large number of donations from alumni, Webb Institute is able to maintain its tuition-free experience. Students at Webb Institute are only required to pay for their room and board, books, and other related fees. This results in an incredibly inexpensive college experience. If you are somebody who is interested in a career in marine engineering should set their sights on earning a spot at Webb Institute for a tuition-free college experience.

24. Williamson College of the Trades

Located in Middletown Township near Media, Pennsylvania, Williamson College of the Trades is an all men’s vocational school.  Founded by Isaiah Vansant Williamson, Williamson College of the Trades was originally named Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades. As a vocational school, students spend time learning a variety of trades in order to prepare themselves to enter into a career in the trades. Students are able to study the following trades: carpentry, machine tool technology, power plant technology, horticulture, masonry, landscaping, and painting. Through these trades, students will be prepared with real-world career experience. Williamson College of the Trades prides itself on providing free tuition to all of its students in order to create a new generation of students that are skilled in a variety of different trades that are oftentimes overlooked by traditional college programs.

A completely tuition-free college experience, Williamson College of Trades covers all student costs. Students that are accepted into the Williamson College of Trades are not expected to pay for their tuition, room and board, or textbooks. The entire experience is free. Williamson College of Trades is able to manage this by paying for two-thirds of the tuition through its endowment and the remaining third with sizable donations from alumni as well as fundraising. Students at Williamson College of Trades receive absolutely no federal financial aids. Through being accepted to Williamson College of Trades, students will be ready to receive an education in the trades that will prepare them for work at the absolute lowest price of zero dollars.

25. Yale University


One of the most prestigious Ivy League universities in the country, Yale University was founded in 1701. Originally founded in Saybrook Colony, the school was moved in 1716 to its current location in New Haven, Connecticut. The school was also renamed at this point from Collegiate School to Yale College to honor Elihu Yale, governor of the British East India Company. Originally, Yale College only covered theology and sacred languages in their curriculum. However, by the time of the American Revolution, Yale College had begun to incorporate more traditional college topics of study. Yale College was also the first school in the United States to award a Ph. D. Today, Yale University has become one of the United State’s most treasured institutes of higher-learning. Still located in New Haven, Connecticut, Yale University has become a fixture within the community. Today, Yale University enrolls a student body of just over 12,300 students.

As one of the United States’ most prestigious universities, it would come as no surprise that tuition at Yale University would be very expensive. To ensure that Yale University is not cost-prohibitive to those who are from low-income backgrounds, Yale University has instituted systems and policies designed to provide students with the much needed financial aid to ensure they are able to attend the university. Awarding differing levels of scholarship to almost all of its students, Yale University ensures that all students whose families make less than $65,000 a year don’t have to contribute any money towards their education. Yale University continues to provide financial aid on a sliding scale for those that make more than $65,000 a year. This level of financial assistance is integral to ensuring that students from all backgrounds are able to enroll and attend Yale University.

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