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How to Attend College Tuition-Free

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How to Attend College Tuition-Free

Is it possible to attend college tuition-free apart from scholarships? For some students it is.

A handful of colleges are offering free tuition to admitted students. Stanford announced last week that it was offering free tuition to students whose families make less than $125,000 a year. But it’s not the first college to slash tuition for admitted students. The wealthiest schools have long covered nearly all costs for their poorest students. Harvard since 2004 has broadened the group of students to whom they give large amounts of financial aid, thus putting pressure on other colleges to do the same.

Bloomberg Business provided a list of 10 elite schools where middle class students don’t pay tuition:

1. Princeton

Tuition for 2015-16: $43,450
Acceptance rate for the Class of 2019: 6.99 percent
Policy: Families making less than $54,000 a year don't pay tuition, room, or board, and families making less than $120,000 a year don't pay tuition.

2. Brown

Tuition for 2015-16: $48,272
Acceptance rate for the Class of 2019: 8.5 percent
Policy: Families making less than $60,000 don't pay tuition, room, or board.

3. Cornell

Tuition for 2015-16: $48,880
Acceptance rate for the Class of 2019: 14.9 percent
Policy: Families making less than $60,000 don't pay tuition, room, or board.

4. Columbia

Tuition for 2014-15: $51,108
Acceptance rate for the Class of 2019: 6.1 percent
Policy: Families making less than $60,000 don't pay tuition, room, or board.

5. Duke

Tuition for 2015-16: $47,650
Acceptance rate for the Class of 2019: 11.3 percent
Policy: Families making less than $60,000 don't pay tuition, room, or board.

6. Harvard

Tuition for 2015-16: $45,278
Acceptance rate for the Class of 2019: 5.3 percent
Policy: Families making less than $65,000 a year don't pay tuition, room, or board.

7. Yale

Tuition for 2015-16: $47,600
Acceptance rate for the Class of 2019: 6.5 percent
Policy: Families making less than $65,000 a year don't pay tuition, room, or board.

8. Stanford

Tuition for 2015-16: $45,729
Acceptance rate for the Class of 2019: 5.05 percent
Policy: Families making less than $65,000 a year don't pay tuition, room, or board, and families making between $65,000 and $125,000 a year don't pay tuition.

9. MIT

Tuition for 2015-16: $46,704 (includes mandatory fees)
Acceptance rate for the Class of 2019: 8 percent
Policy: Families making less than $75,000 a year don't pay tuition.

10. Dartmouth

Tuition for 2015-16: $48,120
Acceptance rate for the Class of 2019: 10.3 percent
Policy: Families making less than $100,000 don't pay tuition.

Tuition is free, but what about all the other costs?

For those students whose families make more than $54,000-65,000 a year they will have to cover room and board. In addition to room and board, there are also incidental college costs: travel, meals and entertainment, books, fees and expenses. Granted, free tuition is a huge perk, but those added costs and fees can add up.

Are there other ways to attend college for free?

In addition to these colleges that offer free tuition to students whose families qualify, here are nine ways your student might be able to attend college for free:

1. Get Good Grades & Score Well on the SAT

Many colleges offer free rides to valedictorians, top 10 percent, and other academic distinctions. High SAT scores help as well—where many colleges offer merit-based free tuition.

Students at Macaulay Honors College, part of the City University of New York system, don’t stress about the high price of tuition. That’s because theirs is free. At Macaulay and a handful of other service academies, work colleges, single-subject schools and conservatories, every student receives a full merit-based tuition scholarship for all four years. Macaulay students also receive a laptop and $7,500 in “opportunities funds” to pursue research, service experiences, study abroad programs and internships.

2. Be a PSAT Merit Finalist

Scoring high enough on the PSAT to become a Scholar, a Finalist or a Semi-Finalist can equal big money at some schools-public and private. That means your student may only need to score high enough to make it to the last round; he or she doesn’t even have to be the last one standing. This list of colleges was compiled a few years ago and may have some changes; but use it as a guide when you are researching the colleges.

3. Win Scholarships

With work and a tested method your student can cruise into college with multiple scholarships. Start early with the research, register on scholarship search sites, and look locally.

4. Work While You Attend

There are several colleges that let you work while you attend and pay your tuition. In exchange for free tuition, students at the College of the Ozarks work on campus 15 hours a week. Possible jobs at this Missouri college include dairy farming and custodial work.

5. Pursue a Specific Career Path

Colleges offer free tuition to students who pursue specific career paths or areas of interest. For instance, prospective students must audition for enrollment into Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music. Those accepted receive full-tuition scholarships.

6. Use Your Location

A number of cities, counties, and states offer free tuition to students who either excel in their studies or demonstrate a serious need.

7. Go Overseas

Believe it or not, there are colleges overseas that offer free tuition to international students. For instance, students at KTH Royal Institute of Technology can get a free technological education at the Royal Institute of Technology. At Lund University in Sweden, you will not have to pay tuition fees.

8. Attend College Online

Get free tuition from these online colleges and you’ll truly get a good deal. You won’t even need to pay for room and board! Andrew Jackson University, Trinity College of Biblical Studies and The DiUlus Institute allow you to attend college online for free.

9. Serve Your Country

With a commitment to serve after graduation and acceptance to one of the nation’s military academies and some military colleges, you can attend college for free (and even get paid while you attend). And if you join the military before college, you can attend using the GI Bill after you are honorably discharged.

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