Yes, parents, there is such thing as free college tuition. No, this isn’t a scam, and not all of the “free” colleges require service to your country.
The colleges that offer free tuition or even free tuition as well as free room and board range in selectivity, size, location and academic focus.
Probably the most interesting of the free colleges is Deep Springs College (www.deepsprings.edu) in Deep Springs, Calif. It has a total undergrad enrollment of 26 students; all male and all exceptionally bright with average SAT Critical Reading scores of 750-800.
The two-year college accepts just 7 percent of its applicants, all of whom are required to visit the 50,000-acre working ranch in the California desert for several days, during which time they have personal interviews. All students work at least 20 hours each week on the ranch and receive free tuition and room and board. According to the 2010 Fiske Guide to Colleges: “Almost all Deep Springs students transfer to the Ivies or other prestigious universities after their two-year program, and 70 percent eventually earn a Ph.D. or law degree.”
Deep Springs was created in 1917. Its education is founded on three basic principles: labor, academics and self-governance. In essence, students run the college; they help choose the faculty, determine course offerings and play a role in admissions’ decisions. Two students even sit on the Board of Trustees with full voting privileges. Students are not allowed to leave the ranch/campus during the semester, except for emergencies, and the nearest town of only 950 people is 28 miles away.
Kentucky is the home of two tuition-free colleges: Alice Lloyd College (www.alc.edu) in Pippa Passes and Berea College (www.berea.edu) located in Berea.
At Alice Lloyd College, students within a 108 county-area that includes most of eastern Kentucky and parts of Ohio, Tennessee, West Virginia and Virginia are covered by the Appalachian Leaders College Scholarship, which covers the full cost of tuition. Room and board costs run just over $4,000 annually. All 550-600 students are required to work at least 10 hours each week.
Berea College was established in 1855 by the Rev. John Fee as the first coed and interracial college in the South. Berea only accepts applicants from low-income families, and all students are required to work 10-15 hours weekly. “You can literally come to Berea with nothing but what you can carry, and graduate debt-free,” a Berea college official says. “We call it the best education money can’t buy.”
While this small liberal-arts college doesn’t offer football, sororities or fraternities the 1,500 students have over 75 clubs, organizations and honor societies to choose from.