15 Colleges Where Every Student Gets a Full-Tuition Scholarship

FREESome colleges talk about value as a way to justify the high cost of tuition.  Here are fifteen schools where EVERY student gets a full-tuition scholarship.  Some schools require work, military service, or demonstrated talent and few focus on students with financial need. The possibility of attending school for free and graduating without piles of student loans makes these schools attractive possibilities.

Antioch College (Yellow Springs, OH)

Antioch is working to reinvent itself in the new economy.  With the campaign, “Rethinking American Higher Education at a 160-Year-Old Start-Up,” Antioch is working to rebuild after closing in 2008.  Thirty-five new students represented the first new graduating class when the college reopened in 2011. Four-year full-tuition scholarships for all students entering in 2013 and 2014 should help draw the ambitious, visionary, hard working students Antioch wants.   The campus has historic buildings mixed with modern elements such as the sustainable campus farm.  Students considering liberal arts colleges who want an experience beyond the normal college scene should look into Antioch.

Deep Springs College (Big Pine, CA)

At Deep Springs 26 students live, work, and learn on a ranch in the high dessert on the California-Nevada border.  Deep Springs is a two-year liberal arts college with an intense atmosphere.  Students agree to two basic policies:  1.  No drugs or alcohol and 2.  No visitors or trips off-campus.  Currently the school maintains the all-male policy established when the school was founded in 1917, but the policy comes up for discussion annually.  Admission to Deep Springs is highly competitive with admissions rates similar to Ivy League schools (between 6-11% for the past few years.)  Most graduates continue their educations at four-year universities.

The Cooper Union (New York, NY)

(At the time this article was published, Cooper Union did not charge tuition, but the school has since decided to charge tuition for the first time in 150 years.)

If you want to study art, architecture, or engineering in the middle of New York, Cooper Union is your school.  It is top rated and located in the heart of Greenwich Village. The campus doesn’t include some of the amenities many students come to expect when visiting colleges such as fancy recreation center, but the academic challenge and location, coupled with no tuition, are plenty for Cooper Union students.  The school has had a long history of not charging tuition to all students able to gain admission.  Cooper Union has a sizable endowment and also makes a profit off its real estate holdings which include the Chrysler Building.  Admission to Cooper Union is highly competitive; last year they admitted 7.7% of the students who applied.

College of the Ozarks (Point Lookout, MO)

College of the Ozarks, also known as “Work Hard U”, is a Christian school that looks to admit quality students who lack the financial resources to pay for their own education. 90% of entering students must demonstrate financial need and the primary focus is on students living in the Ozarks region (specific counties in Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Kansas), but they have students from other parts of the nation and world.  College of the Ozarks is one of the 7 work colleges in the US.  Students are expected to work 15 hours a week during the school year plus two 40-hour work weeks when school is out of session.  By working students develop real world skills, a work ethic, and they help pay for the education they are receiving.  For admission, students should be in the top half of their graduating class with a 20+ on the ACT or 950+ (R&M) on the SAT.

Curtis Institute of Music (Philadelphia, PA)

Curtis Institute of Music is one of the world’s leading conservatories for exceptionally gifted musicians and performing artists.  The enrollment is small, about 165 students; just the number needed for a full symphony, opera department, and select other programs.  Since 1928 Curtis has offered full-tuition scholarships for all admitted students regardless of need.  Students are admitted based on talent and artistic promise and all students must audition.  Competition is fierce and recently only 3.2% of applicants were admitted.

Webb Institute  (Glen Cove, NY)

Webb Institute is an engineering school with one major: naval architecture & marine engineering.  Webb is recognized as a top engineering school and its graduates have a 100% job placement rate as well as high acceptance rates to graduate schools.  Webb’s 80 students enjoy a beautiful 26-acre campus, really a beach front estate, on Long Island Sound.  Anyone interested in marine engineering should investigate the immersive program at Webb.

Military Academies

Air Force Academy (Colorado Springs, CO)

Naval Academy (Annapolis, MD)

US Military Academy West Point (West Point, NY)

Merchant Marine Academy (Kings Point, NY)

Coast Guard Academy (New London, CT)

All of the military academies are prestigious and offer students an opportunity to get a world-class education for no cost (tuition, housing, food, books, and fees are all paid for.)  Students at the academies take traditional undergraduate classes, but also receive considerable training in their specific military area.  Service academies are tough – mentally, physically, and emotionally, and each school seeks to admit students who are up for the challenge.  All students agree to serve in their branch of the military for 5-8 years and graduates are guaranteed jobs as commissioned officers.  Many service academy graduates continue to serve in the military once their initial service obligation is over, but other graduates move to the private sector where they find their academy educations are well regarded by employers.

Alice Lloyd College (Pippa Passes, KY)

Alice Lloyd, the school’s founder, believed educational opportunities were lacking in this part of Appalachia.  The mission of Alice Lloyd College is to educate local students for positions of leadership while developing work ethic and Christian values.  Like College of the Ozarks, Alice Lloyd is one of only 7 work colleges in the US.  Tuition is guaranteed for full-time students who live in the 108 Appalachian county service area (Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia, Tennessee, West Virginia). Some students come from outside this area and may receive some scholarships.

Berea College (Berea, KY)

Berea is similar to Alice Lloyd and College of the Ozarks in that students have financial need and tend to live in Kentucky or surrounding areas.  The college incorporates work ethic and every student works 10-15 hours a week to earn money for books, food, and expenses. Berea’s endowment funds 73% of the school’s operating expenses

Saint Louis Christian College (Florissant, MO)

SLCC is a small Bible college located in suburban Saint Louis that is dedicated to helping students prepare to share the gospel with others.  Many students intend to enter the ministry upon graduation.  All full-time students who live on campus receive 100% tuition scholarships.

Barclay College (Haviland, KS)

Barclay is another college dedicated to preparing students for lives of Christian service.  Barclay was founded by Quakers, but welcomes all evangelical faiths. All full-time on-campus students (just over 200 of them) receive full-tuition scholarships.  The campus is located in a small town and has a conservative feel, what you would expect from a Christian Bible College.

Of course, with free tuition, acceptance to most of these schools is very competitive.  Students need talent, good grades, strong applications, and competitive test scores to get in.  Check out my online SAT course if you need to improve your scores for these schools or any other colleges.

College Financial Aid and Why There’s No Such Thing As a Free Lunch

We’ve all heard the old adage —there’s no such thing as a free lunch.  In other words, we can’t expect to get something for nothing.  Unfortunately, popular media can lead families to believe that college financial aid is a way to get an education for free if they can just figure out the system.  Thousands of families are shocked to receive their financial aid letters and see the most popular form of financial aid – student loans.

Before I explain more about financial aid, let me make an important clarification – merit scholarships are NOT financial aid.  When I’m referring to aid, I mean the money a college allocates to cover the gap between what a family is expected to pay and the cost of attending a particular school.  I know some colleges offer “scholarships” as part of a college financial aid package, but these are really a method for the school to discount the cost.

Merit scholarships can help with the cost of a college education, but shouldn’t be considered financial aid because these scholarships are given based on a student’s talent – not financial need.  Athletes may receive merit scholarships that cover part or all the cost of their education.  I have a number of students who have been offered academic scholarships because their grades and SAT scores make them desirable candidates for a particular university.  Then there are countless other programs offering large and small scholarships for any number of talents or circumstances – making a prom dress out of duct tape, tall Texans, students with asthma, etc.

Financial aid is based on numbers not ability.  With the rising cost of a four-year education aid is not limited to low-income families.  Many middle class families qualify for some type of assistance. Financial aid is intended to cover demonstrated financial need—the difference between what it costs to attend a particular school and the amount it has been determined that the student and his or her family can afford to pay.

Too many people hear the words “financial aid” and think “free money.”  In some cases, college financial aid packages may include funds that do not need to be repaid. But if your family qualifies for financial aid, you have not just won the lottery; you should expect to see work-study and some loans as part of your award.  Yes, colleges are trying to make a four-year education accessible and they are sensitive to the growing debt-load many graduates face, but financial aid doesn’t mean free.

As my dad liked to say, “Ed McMahon isn’t coming!”  (I guess this dates those of us who remember Ed McMahon on TV delivering giant checks to the doors of Publisher’s Clearinghouse winners.)  So start thinking about how your family will pay for the cost of a college education.  Your plan may include savings, selecting a less expensive college, working summers, and maybe financial aid.  But you won’t be mislead into thinking that if you can only get the right financial plan, or hide your assets, or discover the secret system you will get four-years for free.


How To Prioritize Saving For College

Guest post by Andrea Travillian

As parents we want the best for our kids.  We want to give them what we did not have growing up, set them up for success and basically give them the world.  Including letting them go to the best college they can get into.  It’s just part of being a parent that you want the best for them.

Yet when we give too much and do not focus on the right things we end up not only hurting our kids, but ourselves.

How can we be hurting our kids by giving them all we can?  When we don’t prioritize our savings and financial health over the things we think our children need we are not setting a good example on how to manage money.  Additionally when not taking care of our finances we hamper our ability to help them with extra money when they actually reach college.

How are we hurting ourselves?  By making sure that our kids have all the money and resources they need, we forget to take care of our own finances.  We end up with not enough money to retire, too much debt to manage and limited options to achieve our financial goals.

When it comes to saving for your child’s education you want to make sure you are doing things in the proper order to ensure that you and your kids are taken care of.  Following is the order that best takes care of you so that you can take care of your kids.

Live On Less than You Make

This is the number one most important thing you need to do with your money, even if you are not planning on paying for your child’s college tuition.  If you are not spending less than you make then you are creating debt continually.  When you constantly create debt it becomes harder and harder to live on less, because those credit card payments keep getting bigger.  Eventually the equation ends in bankruptcy.  So before you can do any type of saving you need to make sure you are not spending everything that you have.  It is not possible to be financially stable without this happening.

Clear up Credit Card Debt

Debt eats up your cash that you should be using to save money. By reducing debt you can redirect those funds to begin investing.  I mainly point out credit card debt as this is one of the most detrimental types of debt.  This is because it is typically a sign that we are overspending on things we cannot pay for today!  Plus the rates are typically really bad, and they do not make sense to carry a balance.  When you have learned to live on a budget and can pay your credit card every month in full, then it is not a drain.

Once you have eliminated the credit card debt, then you can begin to tackle car debt, and all the other debts.  Look at debt as a monster eating your investing money.  If you eliminate the monster, finding the money to achieve your goals becomes easier.

Save for Retirement

The most important part of saving for retirement is to start and start as early as you can.  You may be thinking that you will begin saving after the kids are gone, but you will have to save much more money if you start later than if you had started to save early.  Plus, kids can always borrow, get scholarships or work their way through college, you cannot do that same with retirement.  No one is going to loan you money to retire, it would be a bad loan.

Save for College

Once you have cleaned up your expenses, reduced debt and started your retirement savings you can now begin to save for your child’s education! This is the right time to put aside money for your kids to use in college, anything before this will put a damper on your ability to lead a financially healthy life.

Work the Steps at the Same Time?

Can you do all this at one time: save for retirement, pay off debt and save for college?  Well that all depends on your budget and extra cash.

If you only have $30 extra a month then it does not make sense to put $10 on debt, $10 in retirement and $10 in college savings.  Instead it is better to work on reducing the debt.  Remember that eliminating the debt creates more cash that you can then either put towards savings or even paying cash for college.  If you have $600 extra a month, then it might make sense to do debt and retirement at the same time, because you can make progress on each with $300 a month.  Take the time to create a budget and a plan that works for you and your money.

Ultimately the thing you have to do the entire time is spend less than you make.  I would recommend doing both the retirement and debt payment at the same time, and add college to the mix only when you have eliminated the debt.

Remember by cleaning up your finances now you have placed yourself in a position to teach your kids about money management today, help them later in life by having extra cash and to not be a hindrance on your kids later in life when you don’t have retirement money.  It turns into a win-win for all when you put your finances first.


Andrea Travillian has her MBA and BBA in finance and works to help people understand their money and how to achieve more with it!  Andrea is the author of “Healthy Money Healthy You” and “Little Kids Big Money: Tools for Kid Friendly Finance”.  For additional information on personal finance and investing visit Andrea’s Site

Merit Scholarships for International Students

Article originally published as a guest blog for Strictly English USA.


International students face additional financial challenges when applying to American universities.  Before the U.S. consul will grant a visa, students must document their ability to pay tuition, room, board, and fees.  While many American students are counting on money from grants, loans, scholarship, and work, international students find many financial alternatives closed.

International students are not eligible for some types of financial aid including federally subsidized student loans, grants, and some scholarships.  While the opportunities are limited, there are chances to qualify for merit scholarships, awards based on talent and ability rather than need.

I recommend my international clients take two approaches to finding merit aid:

  1. Research individual scholarship programs and apply for as many scholarships as you qualify.
  2. Seek specific colleges and universities offering scholarships for international students and add some potential scholarship schools to your list.

By applying both strategies, you can maximize your chances of receiving merit aid.


Individual Scholarships

There are a number of independent programs offering scholarships to international students.  Corporations sponsor some of these scholarships to support students from a particular region or to encourage study in a specific field.  There is no single source for finding this type of scholarship, but you may try using the search features provided by organizations such as IEFA and

Before you spend hours working on an application, check with the program directly to make sure they are still offering awards.  In the past, some groups have discontinued scholarships due to lack of funds.

Additionally, take care to avoid fraudulent businesses that guarantee to help you find scholarships – for a fee.  You should never have to pay to apply or accept scholarships and no organization can guarantee results.


School-based Scholarships

Often the best sources of scholarships for international students are the colleges and universities themselves.  First, school-based scholarships can cover a large portion of annual tuition and are often renewable each year providing students meet the set academic standards (often a set GPA and number of hours completed.)  Second, aid from your college or university is automatically added to the calculations of your financial status, making it one less thing you need to provide as documentation.  Finally, competition for school-based merit aid can be less competitive than that for large, independent scholarships, which draw applicants from around the world.

Some international students initially become discouraged when they see how many scholarships for which they cannot apply.  Understand you will not be considered for National Merit, ROTC, and a variety of other programs, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t scholarships specifically for international students.

Many colleges and universities offer a limited number of scholarships for highly qualified or talented international applicants.  In some cases you will need to demonstrate your talent in athletics, music, or art, but most often your academic abilities will be evaluated based on the information you submitted for admission.

Schools Offering Scholarships for International Students

Not every school offers money for international applicants, but many do.  Here is a preliminary list to show you the range of school-based scholarships available. This is by no means a complete list.  It is meant to illustrate the variety of schools offering merit scholarships.

Boston University

California State Long Beach





Iowa State

Johnson & Wales



St. Edwards


University of Chicago

University of Houston

University of Richmond

University of Rochester

University of Vermont


Start with the schools you’ve already considered and see what scholarships are offered.  Often you can find information on the admissions websites under the “international applicants” page.


Private Schools Versus State Universities

In many ways international applicants will find private colleges and universities offer more scholarship opportunities.  But this doesn’t mean you should overlook state universities if you are currently living in the U.S.  If you meet requirements for in-state tuition where you live, a state-university could be your least expensive option.

I live in Texas where it is possible for some non-citizens to qualify as in-state residents. Residency is significant in admissions because the state legislature limits the number of non-residents to 11% of the student body, so international and out-of-state applicants are competing for a restricted number of spaces.

Beyond the issue of competitive admission, you should learn more about your residency status because it will affect your tuition.  Most international students are charged the out-of-state tuition rate, which can be double or triple what residents are asked to pay.  You may find some schools will offer in-state tuition to non-citizens based on the domicile requirements of that state.  In Texas, undocumented students can qualify as residents; the University of Vermont distinguishes between resident and non-resident international applicants.  If you can qualify for in-state tuition where you live, it is effectively the same as earning a tuition scholarship from that school.


Level of Competition

Because international applicants have fewer options for financial assistance, competition for available scholarships is fierce.   Don’t let this deter you, but do set realistic expectations.  If it is a reach for you to simply gain admission to Rice or Vanderbilt, you are unlikely to meet scholarship consideration.  However, you may be more competitive at a school such as St. Edward’s or University of Rochester.  To improve your odds of earning scholarships, look for schools where your qualifications are above average and you will stand out as a top applicant.

Merit scholarships for international students may be limited, but they are available.  Take time to research your options, improve your credentials (TOEFL, SAT, etc.), and apply for a variety of scholarships.