Finding Colleges with Low Tuition

Bargain shopping is almost always a good idea.  After all, why pay more for something if you can get it cheaper somewhere else right?

But one thing you definitely don’t want to buy on the cheap is your child’s college education.

Going to college is expensive — you know that by now.  And looking for ways to save money through scholarships, financial aid and other grants is supremely important.

But choosing a school based solely on a low tuition cost is never a good idea.  Cost almost certainly needs to be a top consideration, but things like location, courses of study, athletic and social opportunities and career assistance should be the true deciders.

That’s not to say however that lower priced colleges don’t offer a good education and the opportunity for a full college experience.   You just may have to accept a few trade offs for that bargain basement price tag…

So here’s a brief look at some of the lower priced schools in America and what those low prices actually mean once you’re there…

Alice Lloyd College (Pippa Passes, KY)
Students attending this rural Appalachian school are charged nothing for tuition, but are required to participate in a work-study program regardless of their financial situation.  Jobs include janitorial staff, office assistant, tutor, craft maker, resident advisor, maintenance, grounds or working in the cafeteria.  160 hours of work is required each semester and room and board is not included (that’ll run you about $1,900 each year).

The College of the Ozarks (Point Lookout, MO)
Students attending College of the Ozarks must agree to work 15 hours a week on campus.  In exchange most of your college tuition is paid for… which saves you about $15,000 a year.  The majority of the student body is made up of children coming from families in financial need.   Books, room and board and other living costs however are still on your tab.



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Deep Springs College (Deep Springs, CA)
Tuition at Deep Springs is valued at $50,000 a year, but you’ll pay nothing if your child is okay with a few things.  First, Deep Springs is an all male school with only 30 students total at any given time, making admission highly competitive.  Second it’s only a two-year school.  And third, that free tuition is dependent on the student agreeing to help run Deep Spring’s cattle herd and alfalfa farm.   If all that’s okay, then it’s worth noting that many students go onto prestigious four year schools after graduating.

Berea College (Berea, KY)
Having a $1.1 billion endowment and a budget that doesn’t include anything outside of what’s absolutely necessary  allows Berea College to offer free tuition to any student in financial need.   Berea is however a strict Christian school which emphasizes community service as an integral part of every student’s curriculum.   If that fits your student’s personality, then great – you’ll save approximately $102,000 – the cost of 4 years at Berea.

Webb Institute (Long Island Sound, NY)
Tuition is free at Webb but only a select few get to enjoy this perk.  That’s because admission is highly selective, given that there’s only ONE major offered.  And it’s a double major at that!   If your student gets in, he or she will graduate with a degree in both Marine Engineering and Naval Architecture.  If that specialized career path is what they’re looking for then you’ll only pay for room and board, drafting supplies and books.

So as you can see, a free ride to college doesn’t come without strings attached.  Compromise is absolutely necessary whether it’s with a required work-study program, religious affiliation or specialized course of study.

These low priced schools aren’t for everybody naturally, but it’s good to know they’re out there and available to you if their programs fit your needs.

But the lesson remains – a low priced school still demands sacrifice, just not necessarily a financial one.

To your successful college search,

Scott Weingold

More Reading:

How To Save for Your Children’s College (2-part series)

4 of the Best College Bargains

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Editor's Note: Scott Weingold has been ranked the #1 “College Financial Aid Expert Worth Knowing About” in the entire country by  He has co-authored the book, “The Real Secret To Paying For College. The Insider’s Guide To Sending Your Child To College – Without Spending Your Life’s Savings.” Scott also publishes a popular free online newsletter, “College Funding Made Simple" which reveals insider’s tips, methods, and strategies for beating the high cost of college.

Scott is the co-founder and a principal of the widely renown College Planning Network, LLC – the nation’s largest and most reputable college admissions and financial aid planning firm. CPN is a proud member of the Better Business Bureau, the National Association of College Funding Advisors, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Scott, along with his college funding advisory team, helps thousands of families throughout the country with their college planning needs and offers a series of free educational webinars and workshops on “How To Pay For College Without Going Broke In The Process!” He's been featured or mentioned in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Yahoo News,, Voice America with Ron Adams, Crains Cleveland Business, and on Cleveland Connection with James McIntyre.  Scott has published numerous articles and is a professional speaker who has addressed thousands of audiences online and offline throughout the United States.  His actionable insights and candid, open approach have earned him & his team numerous media interviews, citations, and speaking opportunities, and his free online video workshop is one of the Internet’s most widely viewed pieces in the college funding space.