Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Eight Tuition-Free Colleges Help Make College Dreams Come True

Getting a college education is still a wise choice. On average, college graduates make 41% more money than high school grads and the unemployment rate for those with a college degree is exactly half the rate for high school graduates.

The bad news is that CNN Money reports the average 2011 college graduate finished undergraduate school carrying $25,250 in student loan debt.

To help make college dreams come true for students who otherwise could not afford it, free college is available from eight very unique colleges.

Deep Springs College, http://www.deepsprings.edu/home, is a two-year liberal arts college located on a cattle ranch in California’s high desert. An alumnus quoted in The New Yorker said: “Deep Springs does its own thing in its own time even when it not politically expedient or even relevant.” Founded in 1917 on the three pillars of academics, labor, and self-governance, it will open enrollment to women for the first time in 2012.

Deep Springs’ students work each day on the college’s ranch and help administer the college as a self-governing student body. All students receive a full scholarship, but only 10 to 15 students are admitted each year.

Despite its extreme small size (a student body of 26 and a faculty of 20), its alumni have gone on to Congress, become ambassadors and Deep Springs even boasts two winners of MacArthur “Genius” Grants.

The Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades, http://www.williamson.edu/, in Media, Pennsylvania has Associate Degree courses of study in carpentry, masonry, horticulture, machine technology, and power plant operation. The Williamson student-athletes compete within the National Junior College Athletic Association.

Williamson provides all of its 250 students with complete “full-ride” scholarships, with an education described on its website as “based on the Judeo-Christian perspective that fosters the values of faith, integrity, diligence, excellence, and service.”

The 1500 students who attend the College of the Ozarks, http://www.cofo.edu/, at its 1000-acre campus in Branson, Missouri, get an entirely free education with a mandatory work-study program at the college’s hotel, restaurant, dairy, crafts center, gift shops, greenhouses, newspaper, theatre, and radio and television stations.

Two other colleges were founded with a mission of providing mountain folks with a tuition-free higher education: Alice Lloyd College (http://www.alc.edu/) and Berea College (http://www.berea.edu/), both of which are in the Appalachian areas of Kentucky. These schools do charge for room and board, but 68% of the students from Alice Lloyd College owe nothing upon graduation. The remaining 32% had an average debt of $3,108. The average student debt at Berea College is only $5,836.

The big city has free colleges, too.

The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City, http://www.cooper.edu/, is the only full-scholarship college in the U.S. dedicated exclusively to preparing students for the professions of art, architecture and engineering.

Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music, http://www.curtis.edu/ , is the only major music conservatory to provide merit-based full-tuition scholarships to all students regardless of their financial situation. Admission is by live audition but only 5% of applicants are admitted. Enrollment is limited to about 160 musicians-in-training.

The students at the tuition-free Webb Institute on Long Island Sound, http://www.webb-institute.edu/, are all studying the college’s only major: Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering.

Webb Institute students take fall and spring academic courses, but every January and February they have a paid internship experience in the marine industry.

Regardless of a student’s financial situation, one of these eight schools can help transform their college dreams into reality.

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