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Top 10 Affordable or Tuition-Free Universities in the USA

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    In this article, we’ve compiled a list of the ten most cost-effective and tuition-free universities in the United States for individuals contemplating studying in the country. Many of our users have shared their challenges affording education for themselves or their children, and one such poignant message came from Sharon (real name withheld) in Lagos, Nigeria.

    Sharon’s story, along with others expressing the difficulty of obtaining an affordable education abroad, prompted us to investigate and create a list of ten tuition-free schools in the United States, including some institutions with low but not entirely free tuition fees (US Free and Cheap Tuition Universities).

    We were deeply moved by Sharon’s email and the shared concerns about the high costs of education abroad. Recognizing the scarcity of affordable degree programs, particularly in the United States, we aimed to provide options for students either with significantly reduced fees or entirely fee-free.

    Without further ado, here is a list of the most affordable and tuition-free universities in the USA under the category “Study Abroad: US Free and Cheap Tuition Universities”:

    1. Berea College:
    – Boasting zero tuition, Berea College is among the top colleges in America, making a no-tuition promise to all enrolled students. This commitment includes a scholarship promise, offering the possibility of graduating without accumulating debt. Despite the absence of tuition fees, Berea College maintains high academic standards and provides 49 major programs for degree-granting certificates annually.

    Entry Requirements:
    – Competitive admission criteria, including an ACT (or SAT equivalent) score between 20 and 30, a cumulative high school GPA of at least 3.0, participation in community service, leadership qualities, and specific coursework requirements.

    2. Washington State University:
    – With a local tuition of $11,584, Washington State University, founded in 1890, is the second-largest institution for higher education in Washington State. The university offers a diverse range of courses in an online format, delivered by world-renowned researchers and industry experts.

    Entry Requirements:
    – A 77% acceptance rate, with admission application requirements encompassing transcripts, proof of English language proficiency, certificate of finances, and identity verification.

    3. Alice Lloyd College:
    – Priced at $12,230, Alice Lloyd College, established in 1923, is a private non-profit institution with an 8% acceptance rate. Ranked #21 in the 2020 edition of best colleges in the regional colleges south category, the college does not appear to offer online degrees.

    Entry Requirements:
    – Standard entry requirements including GPA, testing (SAT and ACT), and application requirements.

    4. Curtis Institution of Music:
    – Boasting a tuition fee of $2,525, the Curtis Institution of Music, with a small student body of about 175, focuses on training exceptional young musicians to engage with local and global communities through high-level artistry.

    Entry Requirements:
    – Admission is based solely on talent and artistic promise, with critical considerations including GPA, testing (SAT and ACT), and application requirements.

    5. The City University of New York (CUNY):
    – CUNY offers varied tuition fees, including $6,930 per year for New York State residents at a full-time four-year college, $4,800 per year for full-time community college, and $18,600 per year for out-of-state residents at a full-time four-year college. Financial aid and scholarships are also available.

    Entry Requirements:
    – Standard entry requirements encompassing GPA, testing (SAT and ACT), and application requirements. CUNY aims to provide quality, accessible education irrespective of background or means, with a mission dating back to 1847.

    6. Alcon State University
    – Tuition: $7,084

    Alcorn State University, a historically black public university in Lorman, Mississippi, was established in 1871 as the first black land grant in the United States. Throughout the years, Alcon has served as a home for the black student community. If you are interested in pursuing studies in education, medicine, law, business, or aiming to become a professional athlete, Alcon State University could be the ideal fit for you.

    Entry Requirements:
    – To apply, provide information for all required fields, an accurate email address, social security number, and then click the submit application link.

    7. Minot State University
    – Tuition: $7,288

    Minot State University is currently ranked as the 32nd regional university in top public schools. Unlike some universities that hastily adopted online learning due to COVID-19, Minot has had a robust online/distance learning presence for over 22 years, offering an affordable online education similar to its on-site programs.

    Entry Requirements:
    – Prospective international freshmen and transfer international students may apply online at Alongside the online application, submit supporting documentation, including the application for form I-20, certification of financial responsibility, official entrance exam score, official records demonstrating prior academic achievement, international transfer student form (if applicable), a $35 non-refundable application fee, and biographic page of the passport.

    8. Webb Institute
    – Tuition: $50,175

    Webb Institute stands out as an unconventional engineering college where all students receive a full scholarship, but this is limited to citizens and permanent residents. While Webb is more affordable than most private schools, there is no information available on the institution’s online/distance learning courses.

    Entry Requirements:
    – The average GPA recognized by Webb Institute is 3.15. While a GPA is not required, aspiring students should be aware that schools often adjust other requirements to enhance their prestige. Aim for a GPA of 3.31 as a safe target.

    9. Franklin W Olin College of Engineering
    – Tuition: $52,844

    Established in 1917, Franklin W Olin College of Engineering is a private institution located on an isolated cattle ranch in deep Spring Valley, forty miles from Bishop, California. Admitted students receive a full scholarship covering accommodation, tuition, and board. Many students transfer to a four-year institution to complete their BA or BS after completing the two-year program at deep Spring.

    Entry Requirements:
    – Regular admissions application deadline is usually January 1, with a highly selective acceptance rate of 16%. Accepted students typically have an average SAT score between 1460 and 1550 or an average ACT score of 34-35.

    10. California State University
    – Tuition: Varies; Californian Residents $6,768, Out of state residents $18,648

    The California State University system, based in Long Beach, California, is the largest four-year public university system in the U.S., comprising 23 campuses.

    Entry Requirements:
    – Entry requirements vary by department and program, with application dates and deadlines ranging from June 1 to June 30 for Winter, August 1 to August 31 for Spring, and October 1 to November 30 for Fall. The online/distance learning program mirrors the on-site program, ensuring a comparable educational experience.

    While this list may not be exhaustive, it provides a selection of tuition-free and affordable universities in the USA that you may find worthwhile.

    See also:

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    Top 10 Universities Worldwide for Pursuing a Law Degree

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