This article focuses on how areas across the country have implemented tuition-free college programs. One of the best kept secrets is a list of those institutions that offer free tuition for attending their colleges and universities. The criteria are different, but all have the same focus. The article provides a list of schools that offer free tuition and discusses the stipulations that may apply. In addition, there is a review of a study that was conducted on tuition waivers for older adult students.
Keywords Associates Degree; Grade Point Average (GPA); Higher Education; Loan Forgiveness; No Child Left Behind Act; Peace Corps; Public Service; Teach for America
Education is seen as the tool to expand one's chances of earning more money. However, the cost of earning a degree has skyrocketed. However, "students from middle-class and working-class families have been forced to borrow huge sums of money, in recent years to pay for college, often saddling them with hefty loan payments long after graduation" (Schworm & Wertheimer, 2007, par. 1). Part of the American dream was not to be debt-ridden. According to Porter (2002):
The escalating cost of higher education is causing many to question the value of continuing education beyond high school. Many wonder whether the high cost of tuition, the opportunity cost of choosing college over full-time employment, and the accumulation of thousands of dollars of debt, is in the long run, worth the investment (p. 1).
There is a way to have the best of both worlds. Students do not have to forgo their dreams if they can tap into a source that is seldom used. There are colleges that will offer tuition for free, especially if you meet the required criteria. Before a student gives up, it may benefit him/her to search the internet to see if he/she qualifies for any of these programs.
"Going to college tuition free is an increasingly attractive option for students who don't want to begin their working lives owing money on loans" (Brandon, 2006, p. 2). One of the best kept secrets is a list of those institutions that offer free tuition for attending their colleges and universities. The criteria are different, but all have the same focus; attracting students to their campuses. Some of these programs include:
Tuition Free with a Stipulation: Koshzow (n.d.) provided a list of schools that provide free tuition with a stipulation. Some of the schools on the list were:
• Berea College in Berea, Kentucky; mandatory work study programs.
• College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri; mandatory work study and chapel requirements.
• Cooper Union in New York, New York; programs are focused on architecture, art and engineering focused.
• Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; only for those focused on music careers and studies.
• Deep Springs College in Deep Springs, California; all-male, liberal arts college in the desert.
• F.W. Olin College of Engineering in Needham, Massachusetts; only for those focused on studying engineering.
• U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York; five-year service requirement after graduation.
Tuition Free for Staying Home: Brandon (2006) provided a list of schools that offer free tuition to high school graduates if they elect to attend a college in their community. This approach is an effort to help build a high-quality homegrown workforce. Some of the programs include:
• The Kalamazoo Promise - Graduates of public high schools in Kalamazoo, Michigan can receive a scholarship that pays tuition for up to four years at any Michigan public university or community college if they make regular progress toward a degree or certification, maintain a 2.0 grade point average (GPA), and take a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester. The tuition benefit is graduated based on time spent in the Kalamazoo public schools, with students who attended grades k-12 getting 100 percent of their tuition paid. Students must have been enrolled in the school district for at least four years to qualify.
• Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program -Oklahoma residents with a family income of less than $50,000 at the time of enrollment who maintain a 2.5 high school GPA and take a set of required college-preparatory courses may receive free tuition at Oklahoma public institutions and partial tuition at Oklahoma private schools if they maintain a 1.7 GPA for their first 30 credit hours and a 2.0 GPA after that.
• Garrett County Commissioners Scholarship Program -One may qualify for this program if they have been a resident of Garrett County, Maryland for two or more years and graduated from a Garrett County high school as well as enroll full time at Garrett College and maintain a 2.0 GPA. This scholarship program will awarded the difference between the other forms of aid for which the students qualify and the full cost of tuition.
• Educate and Grow Scholarship -This program is for high school graduates of any Kingsport, Tennessee, city or Sullivan County high school whose parents have been residents for at least one year. These graduates may receive two years' free tuition to Northeast State Community College if they maintain a 2.0 GPA and work towards an associate's degree.
• J. F. Drake State Technical College -This college located in Huntsville, Alabama offers free summer-session tuition to recent high school graduates of Madison, Jackson, Bedford, Franklin, Giles, Lawrence, Lincoln, Marion, Marshall, and Moore counties who have at least a 2.5 high school GPA.
• The Newton Promise -In a program recently approved by voters and expected to begin in 2007, all students who graduate from a Newton, Iowa high school, reside in the district, and have been students there for four or more years will receive college tuition funding for four years at an Iowa university, two years at an Iowa community college, or an equivalent amount to apply toward tuition at a private college in Iowa. The amount of funding depends on a student's years of residency in the Newton district and attendance at its public schools (Brandon, 2006, p. 1).
Although it has been stated that many are concerned about the cost of higher education, there still is a desire to make sure that certain constituents have the opportunity to earn a college education. Two of those areas surround gifted students and students who are actively involved in public service. Two public officials have stepped up to the plate and offered their opinions on how special interest groups can earn a free education.
Governor Bill Richardson (New Mexico)
Governor Richardson is a 2008 Democratic presidential candidate, and has been making pledges in the event he becomes president. One of his proposals is to offer two years of loan forgiveness to pay for students' tuition costs at public universities in exchange for one year of public service (Loring, 2007). Positions that would be eligible for the "loan payment for service program" would include the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Teach for America, firefighters, police officers, public interest attorneys who earned less than $45,000 per year; National Health Service Corps, and...
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