Colleges in America That Offer Free Tuition: Can Foreign Nationals Apply?

Colleges in America That Offer Free Tuition
Image credit: Adobe Stock

College tuition costs in the United States continue to rise, making higher education a significant financial burden for many students. However, several colleges and universities nationwide offer free tuition or tuition-free programs.

These institutions aim to make education more accessible to students, including those from low-income backgrounds.

But what about international students? Can they benefit from these programs as well? Let’s explore 15 colleges in America that offer free tuition and whether foreign nationals can apply.

Colleges in America That Offer Free Tuition: Can Foreign Nationals Apply?


18. Alice Lloyd College

Alice Lloyd College
Image Credit: ALC

Alice Lloyd College in Pippa Passes, Kentucky, offers free tuition to students from the Central Appalachian service area. The Appalachian Leaders Scholarship covers tuition for up to 10 semesters for residents of 108 counties in Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. Students participate in the student work program, working at least 10 hours weekly in maintenance, food preparation, and office administration.


17. Antioch College (OH)

Antioch College
Image credit: Antioch College

Up to one-third of a student’s undergraduate experience at Antioch College is engaged in full-time work or research. As part of Antioch’s College Work program, all Pell-eligible new and returning students receive full tuition and last-dollar scholarships. The aid does not cover room and board costs in some cases, and to remain eligible, students must maintain at least a 2.0 GPA.


16. The Apprentice School (VA)

The Apprentice school (VA)
The Apprentice School (VA)

The Apprentice School in Virginia, with a history spanning over 100 years, offers students classes and full-time employment in shipbuilding trades. There is no tuition; students earn an hourly wage plus benefits. Apprenticeships typically last four to five years. Upon completion, students graduate with a certificate and an associate of applied science degree in their trade (for those who started their apprenticeship on or after July 27, 2020).


15. Barclay College (KS)

Barclay College (KS)
Barclay College (KS)

Students at this private Christian college in Kansas attend tuition-free if they live on campus. All full-time students at Barclay College who live in the school’s residential facilities qualify for the college’s full-tuition scholarship but are responsible for technology, room and board, and general fees. It is the heart of Barclay College to see our students graduate with little to no debt,” the school’s website says.


14. Berea College (KY)

Berea College (KY)
Image Credit: Berea

At Kentucky’s Berea College, no student pays tuition. The Tuition Promise Scholarship pays off any remaining tuition costs for all admitted students after using state, federal and institutional aid. Students must work at least 10 hours per week on campus in one of more than 130 departments and typically earn between $6 and $8 hourly – though higher wages are available for certain job classifications. Earnings can be used to pay for room, board and other educational expenses.


13. College of the Ozarks (MO)

College of the Ozarks (MO)
Image Credit: Ozarks

Full-time students at the College of the Ozarks in Missouri pay no tuition, but part-time students pay $310 per credit hour. Full-time students receiving the tuition waiver must work 15 hours a week plus two 40-hour weeks during the academic year. Additionally, all students pay a $245 health/technology/services fee per semester. The college uses the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine financial need, an admissions requirement for all students.


12. Curtis Institute of Music (PA)

Curtis Institute of Music (PA)
Image: Curtis

Prospective students must audition for enrollment at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, which has offered full-tuition scholarships to every undergraduate and graduate student since 1928. While the music school does not charge tuition, it does have annual fees. New and returning students pay a $3,500 comprehensive fee, which covers the cost of textbooks, internet, recording fees, wellness services, facilities, and other health services and health care insurance charges.


11. Deep Springs College (CA)

Deep Springs College (CA)
Image Credit: Deep Springs College

Deep Springs College in California does not charge tuition to its students. However, students must provide a damage deposit and cover books, travel, health insurance, and incidental expenses. In cases of demonstrated financial need, these additional costs can be subsidized. The college also includes room and board in its coverage, which sets it apart from many other tuition-free schools. Deep Springs accepts between 12 and 15 students each year to receive a two-year liberal arts education while working on the school’s cattle ranch and alfalfa farm.


10. Haskell Indian Nations University (KS)

Haskell Indian Nations University (KS)
Image credit: Haskell

Haskell Indian Nations University in Kansas offers free tuition to American Indian and Alaska Native students from federally recognized tribes. However, additional fees related to technology, housing, athletics, and activities are not included. These fees range from $240 per semester for off-campus students to $715 for those living on campus. According to the school’s website, each tribe saves around $20,000 per year in tuition and fees for every member sent to Haskell Indian Nations University.


9. United States Air Force Academy (CO)

United States Air Force Academy (CO)
Image credit: Air Force Academy

At the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado, no tuition or room and board fees are charged to cadets. However, after graduation, cadets are required to serve in the U.S. Air Force or U.S. Space Force for at least eight years, with some exceptions. Graduates with flight training, for example, are committed to a minimum of 10 years of service. Authorized international students are allowed to apply for admission.


8. United States Coast Guard Academy (CT)

United States Coast Guard Academy (CT)
Image credit: USCGA

At the United States Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut, students, known as cadets, receive free tuition, room, and board. They must serve in the Coast Guard for five years after graduation, though 85% of graduates choose to serve longer, according to the school’s website. Cadets also earn a salary while enrolled, saving money on college-related costs. The academy overlooks the Thames River and provides an education valued at over $280,000.


7. United States Merchant Marine Academy (NY)

United States Merchant Marine Academy (NY)
Image Crddit: USMMA-NY

Students referred to as midshipmen at the United States Merchant Marine Academy in New York do not pay tuition in exchange for service after graduation. The academy also covers the cost of textbooks, room and board, and uniforms. Midshipmen participate in a “Sea Year” during college, where they travel to various countries aboard commercial vessels, gaining hands-on training in ship repair and maintenance, cargo loading, and navigation.


6. United States Military Academy (NY)

United States Military Academy (NY)
Image Credit: USMA-NY

Tuition and room and board are covered for students, also known as cadets, at the United States Military Academy in New York. In addition to required military service after graduation, cadets at West Point, as it’s known, must play on a sports team each semester. With the motto “every cadet is an athlete,” West Point offers intramural, club and NCAA Division I and II teams.


5. United States Naval Academy (MD)

Enrollees at the United States Naval Academy receive free tuition and room and board by pledging to serve in the U.S. Navy for five years after graduation. Students at the Annapolis, Maryland, institution, known as midshipmen, receive $1,273 monthly as a stipend for additional costs like laundry, haircuts, activity and other service fees.


4. University of New Hampshire

Launched in 2017, the Granite Guarantee program at the University of New Hampshire provides full tuition for the fall and spring semesters to qualified state residents for up to four years. This is limited to full-time, first-year students eligible for the Pell Grant. Pell-eligible graduates from the Community College System of New Hampshire who immediately transfer to UNH also qualify.


3. Warren Wilson College (NC)

Warren Wilson College in North Carolina offers a tuition waiver scholarship to all in-state residents who qualify for need-based aid and attend as first-time, full-time undergraduates. All students must work eight to 16 hours per week, depending on their year in school, and develop a craft. The college also provides Milepost One, a full-tuition scholarship for up to 25 students with a family income of or below $125,000 per year, including international and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program students.


2. Webb Institute (NY)

Webb Institute (NY)
Image credit: Webb Institute (NY)

Webb Institute, a small engineering school on Long Island, offers full-tuition scholarships valued at more than $200,000 over four years to all incoming U.S. citizens or permanent residents. The school, with a total enrollment of about 100 students, offers one course of study: a dual bachelor’s degree in naval architecture and marine engineering. Students can apply for federal loans and grants to cover their room, board, and other expenses.


1. Williamson College of the Trades (PA)

Williamson College of the Trades (PA)
Image Credit: Williamson

Williamson College of the Trades in Pennsylvania, a faith-based, all-male career college, grants associate degrees and offers six trade programs, including masonry, carpentry, landscaping, power plant technology, machinery, and construction technology with an electrical emphasis. All students who qualify for need-based aid receive the Williamson scholarship, which exceeds the cost of tuition, room, and board. However, students are responsible for additional fees and the cost of books and supplies.


These institutions provide free college tuition.

  1. Alice Lloyd College
  2. Antioch College
  3. The Apprentice School
  4. Barclay College
  5. Berea College
  6. College of the Ozarks
  7. Curtis Institute of Music
  8. Deep Springs College
  9. Haskell Indian Nations University
  10. United States Air Force Academy
  11. United States Coast Guard Academy
  12. United States Merchant Marine Academy
  13. United States Military Academy
  14. United States Naval Academy
  15. University of New Hampshire
  16. Warren Wilson College
  17. Webb Institute
  18. Williamson College of the Trades