Fortunately – due to the digital age and a desire for change – we are seeing alternative ways to pay for college. It's now possible to educate oneself via the internet through online courses offered for free. There are even come colleges and universities offering free tuition in exchange for work-study options or simply being within a certain socioeconomic status.
The following are some of the ways we've found you could attend college for free.
- Attend college in high school
I was never really smart enough in high school to qualify for this one (or so I thought) – but if you think ahead, you could attend part or most of college in your last years of high school – for free. Here in Minnesota, you can even start as a sophomore in high school. In theory, you may even be able to graduate high school as well as college at the same time – all at taxpayers expense!
- Join the military
This is harder to attain – but if you get appointed to the Air Force, Coast Guard, or Naval academies, you can get your education paid for after 5 years of service in your respective military arm. But you don't need an appointment to these prestigious academies to get a free ride. If you serve in many of the branches – you can qualify for tuition reimbursement or tuition forgiveness after so many years of service. For example, the Army offers a “Post 9/11 GI Bill” that provides 36 months of benefits that can go towards tuition, fees, a monthly living allowance, books and supplies for those who have 90 days or more of active duty.
- Various scholarships and grants
If you are a competitive speed texter, there is probably a scholarship for you. Don't neglect this search before you head off to college. Fastweb.com is a comprehensive scholarship search that can help you find a niche scholarship for an interest, or ability that you have. I wish they had such a directory around when I was looking for a school. There are even some colleges/universities that exchange tuition for work hours (like College of the Ozarks).
- Online self-study
There are countless stories of self-educated people becoming successful without having obtained an accredited college degree – just through their own self-study. The digital age is certainly making this much easier to accomplish today. Many colleges have begun offering some of their courses online, free of charge (Stanford, MIT, Yale, to name a few). Visit the OpenCourseWare Consortium to find classes that are available for free.
- Audit classes
There are many colleges and universities that allow you to sit in on selected classes for free as long as you aren't taking the class for credit. This is a great way to see if a certain course of study is something you wish to pursue or to find out how a college runs their classes.
- Get employer to pay
As a benefit, many employers today offer tuition reimbursements to employees. This is a great perk and if you are thinking about furthering your education (through a master's or doctorate degree) – a real no-brainer way to get your college costs paid for.
Are there other ways you've discovered OR know of for attending college for free?