Published On: Sun, May 26th, 2019

Is Tuition Free College Really A Thing?

Throw back… but it resonates.

When I attended SUNY College at Old Westbury in NYC, I was far from the perfect candidate. I was working in culinary / hospitality as a Sous Chef for Marriott International providing executive catering for Merrill Lynch Headquarters in The World Financial Center.

It was 1996, I was a 25 year old High School dropout, divorced, with two kids and had no real savings. My then girlfriend Myrna was in her senior year and one night during an Alianza Latina event on campus… I became very engaged in a conversation about the Young Lords Party and their impact on the civil rights movement. This was a topic I knew a little about having been mentored by one of the most respected Young Lord members, the late Richie Perez.

That night I felt I belonged… you see, my guidance counselor never spoke to me about college. I was encouraged to take city exams for the Transit Authority and Sanitation (both great jobs btw). I was also pushed to join the military, but nothing about college. Sad to say but this was my first experience seeing what college was like and I was surrounded by people that looked and spoke like me, that come from where I am from.

Myrna had a heart to heart with me, and told me that I could do it… that I can be a college student. It would not be easy but I was used to overcoming hardship. Fast forward, a year later I quit my job as an Executive Chef and SUNY Old Westbury’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) took a chance on a non-traditional student like me and my life changed forever. My experience was amazing but it came with a hefty price tag (that I am still paying for) but I have no regrets.

As a parent, my ex wife and I made incredible sacrifices to make sure our twins went to college and I am happy to say that they both have not only graduated from 4 year schools but are working in their chosen fields. Again, at a price that we were not prepared to pay.

In a conversation with a new friend (Hi ‘Nisha!), I mentioned that there are online MBA programs that you can take to learn everything you need to run a successful business (sans the degree and the tuition bill). I promised toget her a list of resources. In the process of looking up what I had bookmarked, I decided to verify that these links were still valid which led me to a long (and super productive) list of tuition free traditional colleges, online curriculum that you can review but I found something I did not expect. I found a ten year old, online university that is tuition free and accredited.

My point is, I think that this information should be made available to anyone willing to invest the time regardless of whether or not they choose to pursue a degree.

Feeling inspired by this exchange, I decided to take today and compile all this info in one place so that you can share it with your friends and family. I appreciate your support!

Tuition Free Traditional Colleges

(in alphabetical order)

Alice Lloyd College (KY) 

Free tuition extended to residents of Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. Students participate in a work-study program to qualify.

Barclay College (KS)

Theological college open to US and international students. Must live on campus full time to qualify.

Berea College (KY)

Upon admission, all students receive a “Promise Scholarship” valed at 100k to cover 4 years of tuition. Students are required to do work study to pay for room, board and books.

College of the Ozarks (MO)

Full time students pay no tuition if they opt for the work-study program (15 hours a week, one 40 hour week once a semester). Part tie students, however, pay $310 per credit hour.

Note: This school does not participate in state and federal loan programs.

Curtis Institute of Music (PA)

The music program at the Curtis Institute has been offering free tuition to their students since the 1920’s. The main school has annual fees that are approximately $2,000.

Deep Springs College (CA)

This 2 year liberal arts school was historically male only until 2018. A supreme court decision dismantled their male only admissions policy Students receive a free education while they work on the campus cattle ranch and alfalfa farm. Students are responsible for a book damage and medical insurance fees.

Warren Wilson College (NC)

In 2018, this North Carolina began offering in-state residents that can demonstrate financial need attending college as first year students a tuition waiver. Student must participate in work study and develop a craft.

Webb Institute (NY)

This small engineering focused college offers US citizens and permanent residents. Students can apply for federal loans and grants to cover their room, board & other expenses.

Williamson College of the Trades (PA)

Male only / faith based college focused on horticulture / masonry. Students who demonstrate financial need qualify for the Willamson scholarship that covers all tuition and fees.

Military Education

The following academies provide education tuition-free and require service to their designated military branch.

  • United States Air Force Academy
  • United States Coast Guard Academy
  • United States Merchant Marine Academy
  • United States Military Academy
  • United States Naval Academy

So in researching this list… I found a blog post by the University of the People, yes… this is really a thing.

Note: This is NOT a sponsored post.

OK… here is the blog post, it is full of options for courses you can take online and learn without committing to a timeline or tuition.

MBA courses don’t have to cost a fortune. We’ve gathered the best free online MBA courses in 2019 here! (Click Link)

If you’re thinking of getting an MBA, why not try for free first? With options for tuition-free online MBA degrees, employee funding, and full scholarships, you don’t need to spend a penny on your diploma. You can also piece together your own online MBA with free online MBA courses offered in subjects such as finance, marketing, management and more. Check out our list of the best free online MBA courses in 2019 here!


BONUS: Tuition-free college is now a reality in nearly 20 states

Oh before you leave…

Last but not least… I wanted you to know that Mama would always say to me…

“Papi, all you need is Love & Sofrito”

Those words inspired a movement 22 years ago, this Mothers day I honor her words with this special edition design.

You can buy it at (20% Off with Discount Code “WEPA”


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Is Tuition Free College Really A Thing?