While owning a home has long been considered part of the “American Dream,” getting a college education for free has quickly become the “American Fantasy.” Students across the country search eagerly (and sometimes frantically) each year for merit and grant aid to help pay their college bills. Many daydream of a “free ride,” and while it may be hard to find, it does indeed exist—and it’s not just for superstar students.
Check out these schools for a shot at turning your “American Fantasy” into reality.
Work for Your Degree
The seven member schools of the Work Colleges Consortium (WCC) put their students to work in exchange for their education, trading on-campus jobs for tuition.
If you live in the Appalachian region, check out Alice Lloyd College in Pippa Passes, Kentucky, or Berea College in Berea, Kentucky—these schools specifically serve students in your backyard. College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri, calls itself “Hard Work U” because all of its students work 15 hours per week, including jobs at the computer center, child development center, dairy barn, and museum.
Free Tuition…if You’re in the Right Field
Want to be a teacher? The City University of New York’s Teacher Academy offers free tuition for future science and mathematics teachers. Academy graduates receive teaching positions at New York City’s public middle and high schools.
The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City focuses on the areas of engineering, art, and architecture. The college admits students based on merit and provides all students with a full-tuition scholarship.
Are you a musician at heart? Check out Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Competition for admission is tough, as the institute enrolls only about 160 students. But if you make the cut, your tuition (valued at $33,500) is paid for each year by a full scholarship.
Calling all engineers: The Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering in Needham, Massachusetts, offers an outstanding education for its select student body of just over 300 students. You’ll need to have a strong background in math and science, but the college is looking for students with interests and passions beyond these areas as well to create a well-rounded student body.
Take to the seas at Webb Institute in Glen Cove, New York, where the focus is on naval architecture and marine engineering. Rigorous academics and loads of real-world experience help Webb graduates prepare for rewarding careers.
Follow Your Faith
Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois, funds the tuition of its students ($17,500 annually) through donations. Students are only responsible for room, board, medical insurance, and a few additional fees.
For Men Only
Deep Springs College in California enrolls a small all-male student body. Students here take thought-provoking classes and work at least 20 hours per week on the college’s alfalfa farm and cattle ranch. Students attend Deep Springs for two years on a full scholarship (valued at $50,000 per year) and go on to complete their degrees at four-year institutions across the nation.