20 Tuition Free Universities in the United States - Study Abroad Aide (2023)

The United States is one of the most popular student destinations in the world. With its overwhelming wealth of universities and colleges, higher education is among the biggest pro factors that this country offers to the world.

The efficiency and prestige of the US education system are common knowledge across the majority of people in the world. It is also home to most of the world’s top 10 universities and institutions of higher education as well.

Studying in this country offers more than just a prestigious academic experience; the many opportunities that are offered in terms of job security and employment are very high, which can really widen a student’s future.

Of course, it is understandable that the wealth in terms of what this country has to offer can raise the question of tuition and expenses of study. Tuition fees do tend to be higher in the United States as opposed to other countries.

Several of the most prominent universities are also located in major cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco where the cost of living can be high. However, it is also one of the few countries in the West that also offer numerous scholarships and financial aid for local and international students alike.

In addition to this, the United States has numerous universities that offer tuition-free education. In this article, we list some of the many universities, colleges, and institutions of higher education that offer studies on a tuition-free basis which will definitely help you to ease your mind when considering the financial side of higher education.

What are the admission requirements to US universities?

As most of the universities in the US are highly ranked, admission can be very competitive. Hundreds of thousands of students apply to the universities on an annual basis which only makes the competition tighter and tighter.

What really drives a candidate’s application is a combination of strong academics, good SAT/TOEFL scores as well as a strong extra-curricular track record.

This can be a complicated process, but we’ve prepared a guide to help you. If you need more info, you should visit How to Study in the USA for International Students.

Are there tuition-free universities in the US for domestic or international students?

Yes, indeed there are several tuition-free universities in the United States. Most of these universities offer free education primarily for domestic students but there are several options where international students can benefit as well, in addition to the numerous scholarship opportunities.

What is the cost of living for studying in the United States?

This will depend on the student based on their lifestyle and requirements as well as the location of study. Typically, when factoring in accommodation, living costs, and travel, students can expect to pay between $700 to $1000 a month.

How can I Afford to study in the USA?

There are thousands of international students who study in the United States and come from poor backgrounds. How are they able to do this financially? Some of the ways are attending affordable universities, getting scholarships, and working part-time while studying. Check out How to Study in the USA for Free (Complete Guide) for more information!

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If you are interested, check out some of these articles:

  • 15 Affordable Universities in Canada
  • 7 Free Universities in Europe
  • 18 Free Universities in Germany

Free Universities in the US

1. Alice Lloyd College

Based in the city of Pippa Passes in Kentucky, the Alice Lloyd College is a four-year liberal arts college that was founded in 1923. It was originally established as a one-year educational institution to provide further studies for the Appalachia region.

It only became a liberal arts institution in the 1980s and has grown into a superior college providing studies for over 600 students now.


Currently, the college offers 18 programs of study as well as 8 pre-professional courses.

This university is tuition-free for full-time students from specific counties in the Appalachian counties in the states of Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee for example, which is known as the Appalachian Leaders College Scholarship.

2. Berea College

The next tuition-free college in the United States for domestic and international students is Berea College, which is a private liberal arts college based in the city of Berea in Kentucky.

Its history dates back to 1855 for its inception. It is among the first institutions in the country to provide free education as well as follow a co-educational and racially integrated format.

The key feature is that every student who is admitted into the college studies on a tuition-free basis which is equivalent to a 4-year scholarship.

The college currently offers around 32 majors of study. Additionally, students are required to participate in the work-study program where they should participate in college employment for around 10 hours per week. Students come from across the United States as well as over 50 different countries in the world.

3. City University of New York

The City University of New York is a public university system located in New York City. This free university in the US was officially established in 1961 and is considered to be one of the largest university systems in the country with more than 26 campuses across the state.

More than 270,000 students currently study at the CUNY system. In addition to being committed to providing education for a diverse student population, the university system also focuses on providing tuition-free education across its courses.

Complete scholarships are offered at a high quality, tuition-free rate for students of low-income backgrounds as well as immigrant backgrounds in New York City.

4. College of the Ozarks

The College of the Ozarks is a liberal arts college located in the community of Point Lookout in Missouri. It was established as a Christian institution in 1906 and currently provides education for a student population of over 2000 students.

Collectively, this free college in the United States offers more than 30 different Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science programs for students. Similar to other specific colleges, the Ozarks also has a student work program.

This allows it to not charge students for studies and therefore operate on a tuition-free basis. Additionally, programs are offered to enable students to pay for their accommodation costs as well.

5. Curtis Institute of Music

The Curtis Institute of Music is a private college of music and conservatory located in the city of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania. Courses of study range across the degrees of Bachelors of Music and Master of Music.

The college is also among the most selective institutions of study in the world and accepts up to 5% of student applications. Annually, it has an enrolment of around 170 students who are provided some of the best education in music in the United States.

With its massive endowment, the institute also offers merit-based tuition-free scholarships for all of its students.

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6. Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering

Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, more commonly known as Olin College, is a private institution of higher education located in Needham, Massachusetts. It is a partner college to the prestigious Babson College and primarily focuses on providing education in the engineering field only for undergraduate students.

Additionally, it is reputed for its small student population, currently around 400 students. Several degree programs are offered across a variety of engineering fields.

Furthermore, courses are administered via a project-focused curriculum that increases students’ practical applications. All students’ tuition fees are covered by 50% via the Olin Scholarship.

7. Deep Springs College

Based in the Deep Springs community of California, the Deep Springs College, a free college in the United States, is a private liberal arts institution that was originally founded in 1917.

Interestingly, the college has only around 30 students per academic year, which makes it one of the smallest institutions of higher education in the country. Furthermore, it became co-educational and started accepting female students only in 2013. Several unique features surrounded this college.

It is an isolated college located deep in the Deep Springs valley, with the nearest town being an hour away. This isolation plays a central part in the student’s educational experience. They are required to work at a minimum of 20 hours per week in addition to their studies. Students are further not required to pay for their tuition and accommodation/lodging via a complete scholarship.

Numerous alumni have further gone on to achieve prestigious positions including the awards of the Rhodes and Truman Scholarship as well as the Pulitzer Prize and the Emmy awards. Typically, the college offers 2-year programs with the option of moving onto an associate degree.

8. Washington State University

Washington State University is a public research university based in the city of Pullman in Washington. Its history dates back to 1890 and is the second-largest university in the state with a student population exceeding 30,000.

More than 2000 international students are also currently studying at the university. Across 12 colleges of study, the university offers a diverse range of more than 200 courses with a primary focus on the liberal arts. More than 140 graduate programs are also offered by the university.

In addition to these, this free university in the United States also operates satellite campuses in Spokane and the WSU Tri-Cities. It also manages the WSU Global Campus which is an online, long-distance learning platform that currently has more than 3000 students taking online courses.

The WSU recently passed a bill to offer tuition-free education to students of low-income backgrounds.

9. Barclay College

Located in the city of Haviland in Kansas, Barclay College is a liberal arts institution that was originally founded in 1917. Established as a religious Quaker college, its initial goals were to provide education in biblical studies.

As of 2007, the college eventually moved into providing tuition-free education for all enrolled full-time students but students do have to pay accommodation fees. The college further has always maintained a relatively small student population and currently has an enrolment of around 200 students.

Students also have access to a wide range of extra-curricular activities including intercollegiate sports such as men’s soccer, basketball, and cross country.

10. Warren Wilson College

Warren Wilson College is a private liberal arts college that was founded in 1894 and is located in the community of Swannanoa in North Carolina. With more than 750 students enrolled in the institution, it is a member of the Work Colleges Consortium and requires its students to engage in on-campus employment as well as community service alongside their studies.

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These count as mandatory requirements that are needed for the students to complete their graduation. The salaries earned by this contribute towards their tuition fees, thus helping the college to provide tuition-free education.

11. University of the People

Next on our list of free tuition universities in the United States for both domestic and international students is the University of the People.

This is a private, online, and long-distance institution of higher education with its operational office based in Pasadena in California. Originally founded in 2009, it has become one of the largest long-distance learning campuses with more than 35,000 students currently registered to follow a variety of courses. It also has accreditation within the United States and has already been ranked among the top 5000 universities in the world.

Typically, the degrees that are offered fall under the fields of business administration, computer science, and health sciences (for undergraduate students). Additionally, a Masters of Education program is also offered along with different associate degrees.

The university operates on a tuition-free basis with no charges for teaching or instruction. Only application fees and minor assessment fees are a requirement. Additionally, scholarship opportunities are offered for students who cannot afford these fees as well.

12. Apprentice School, Virginia

Located in the city of Newport News in Virginia, the Apprentice School is a vocational training school and institution of higher education. Founded in 1919, the school was established to provide training in apprenticeship programs and is further operated by the Newport News Shipbuilding Company.

As such, the school’s student population mostly train for careers in the shipbuilding and marine engineering industries. It is not considered as a degree-awarding institution but students can pursue and elect for associate degrees through the Thomas Nelson Community College. Apprenticeships are offered in a wide range of skilled trades catered towards different parts of shipbuilding.

Admission is very competitive but students are also offered tuition-free education as well. Students also have access to several other facilities that complement the collegiate experience including intercollegiate sports and other extra-curricular activities.

13. United States Air Force Academy

One of the five United States Service Academies is the US Air Force Academy that provides military training and education for officer cadets of the United States Air Force and Space Force. Founded in 1954, the academy is based north of Colorado Springs.

Graduates of the academy’s four-year programs are further awarded a Bachelor of Science degree and are inducted as Second Lieutenants in the Air or Space Force. Student admissions at this free university in the US are known to be highly competitive, with high selectivity from each of the states.

Once matriculated, students will receive free tuition and accommodation fees as well as monthly stipends. Currently, more than 5000 officer cadets study at the academy. In addition to basic training, cadets have access to various degrees of study for their education as well.

14. United States Coast Guard Academy

The United States Coast Guard Academy is another member of the US Service Academies. Founded in 1876, the academy is based in New London, Connecticut, and focuses on providing education and training for prospective future members of the United States Coast Guard.

Similar to a few other service academies, this academy offers education in around nine fields of study and upon graduation, cadets are offered the Bachelor of Science degree as well as commissioned as official members of the Coast Guard.

With a cadet population of over 1100, approximately 200 are inducted into the academy on an annual basis. Similar to other academies, monthly stipends are awarded as well as monthly salary (from active duty) which count towards their education.

15. United States Merchant Marine Academy

The United States Merchant Marine Academy is a member of the service academies and is located in King’s Point, New York. Founded in 1943, the academy was established to train officers who are to serve in the United States Merchant Marines as well as other branches such as in the transportation industry.

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With over 1000 enrolled students, the officers have access to several fields such as marine engineering, maritime law, personnel management, and international law.

Within its membership in the service academies, it also offers tuition-free education for the enrolled students with full coverage by the United States government.

16. United States Military Academy

The United States Military Academy, commonly known as West Point & The Point, is a four-year training federal institution based in West Point, New York. It is the official training academy for the United States Military and its history dates back to the beginning of the 19th century.

The academy currently has more than 4500 cadets undergoing studies and rigorous training programs. It also confers a Bachelor of Science degree to enrolled cadets that encompass studies as well as military performance and other criteria.

Additionally, foreign cadets can be enrolled but they are reinstated in the military of their home countries.

17. United States Naval Academy

The United States Naval Academy is another federal service academy that is based in Annapolis in Maryland. Founded in 1845, it was established to provide education and training for officers to be commissioned in the US Navy and Marine Corps.

Similar to the other academies, admission requires a nomination from a member of congress in addition to the basic application. Officers-in-training also receives a tuition-free education that is fully funded by the US Navy.

Additionally, applicants are also recruited internationally from outside the US and are subject to the same training requirements.

18. Webb Institute, NY

Located in Glen Cove in New York, the Webb Institute was founded in 1889 as an institution of higher education that provides Bachelor of Science degrees in Marine Engineering and Naval Architecture.

With over 100 students currently enrolled, this free college in the US is especially noted for its emphasis on systems engineering, practical work training, and ship design expertise.

Upon admission, successful candidates will receive full tuition for the duration of their studies in the institute. In addition to the rigorous training and education that the students receive, the institute provides a well-rounded extra-curricular experience for the students as well.

19. Williamson College of the Trades

The Williamson College of the Trades is a vocational training institution based in the borough of Media in Pennsylvania. The college was founded in 1888 and currently has more than 250 students enrolled.

It provides educational courses primarily for male students across a range of trades, including masonry, landscaping, horticulture, carpentry, and power plant technology. Successful graduates will receive either a diploma or an associate degree.

Williamson is also considered the only trade-specialized college in the country providing complete scholarships for students that cover tuition, textbooks as well as accommodation fees.

20. William E. Macaulay Honors College

We end our list of free universities in the United States with Macaulay Honors College, which is a public honors institution based in New York City. It is affiliated with the City University of New York and provides degrees in collaboration with the university.


With a student population of over 2100 students, it has a very low acceptance rate of only around 5%. The college is also well known for the provision of full scholarships for all undergraduates who are enrolled in it, primarily those who are from inside the state.

Other conditions exist for out-of-state students. The college provides a range of educational courses for the students as well.

I hope that this article was helpful. If you are interested, visit theUSA Scholarships Page!


Is there any free University in USA for international students? ›

Columbia University is a suitable choice for you. Located in New York City, New York, Columbia University is a prestigious research-intensive institute that offers tuition-free online programmes for international students.

How can I get 100% study abroad scholarship? ›

' The true answer to this question is 'NO'. There are no fully funded scholarships for international students. Some scholarship awarding bodies may foot nearly 85% of the total costs, but these are limited in number. Not to mention, the competition for these scholarships will be very high.

How can I study in USA for free? ›

International students looking to study in USA for free can enrol themselves in fully-funded universities that do not charge fees for international students.
How to Study for Free in the USA?
  1. Prepare an Excellent Application.
  2. Attend Tuition-Free Universities.
  3. Apply for Scholarships.
  4. Look for Part-Time Job Opportunities.
16 Jun 2022

How can I go abroad for study for free? ›

5 Ways to Study Abroad for Free or Cheap
  • Choose a country with an affordable cost of living. You don't have to break the bank just to take your studies overseas. ...
  • Enroll directly in a foreign university or language school. ...
  • Complete a work-study. ...
  • Opt for a cheap study abroad program. ...
  • Apply for scholarships & grants.
25 Jan 2022

Which University is best for free international students? ›

Ranking the Best Free International Colleges for US Students
RankSchool Name
1Heidelberg University
2Technical University of Munich
3Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
4University of Oslo
46 more rows

Which is the cheapest college in USA for international students? ›

List of Cheapest Universities in USA for International students
  • San Mateo College of Silicon Valley San Mateo, California – USD 7,744 per year . ...
  • California State University San Bernardino, California – USD 8,320 per year . ...
  • Manhattanville College Harrison, New York – USD 8,415 per year.
28 Aug 2022

Which country gives full free scholarship? ›

Germany. A particularly popular country for admission among students from all over the world. No wonder: In Germany almost all universities are free of charge and the country's largest scholarship fund — DAAD — provides a scholarship to cover living expenses.

How can a poor student study abroad? ›

Apply for grants and scholarships

If you want to study abroad without the price tag, it pays to do some research around grants and scholarships. Universities, charities, foundations, and government organizations help thousands of international students each year with their tuition fees and living costs.

Which scholarships are easy to get? ›

Top easy scholarships in 2022
  • $10,000 “No Essay” Scholarship.
  • $2,000 Nitro College Scholarship – No Essay.
  • $40,000 BigFuture Scholarships.
  • $2,500 Christian Connector Scholarship.
  • $2,000 College Repayment Grant.
  • Annual Protestant Faith Based College Scholarship.
  • Annual Catholic College Scholarship.

What is the cheapest course to study in USA? ›

Cheap universities in America offering Bachelor's degrees
  • United States Military Academy at West Point, New York – Bachelors start at 0 USD/year.
  • Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia – Bachelors start at 0 USD/year.
  • South Dakota State University, South Dakota – Bachelors start at 351 USD/year.
12 Jan 2022

Where is the cheapest University for international students? ›

Based on data from the U.S. News, these are the most affordable American universities and colleges for international students:
  • Brigham Young University-Provo.
  • Eastern New Mexico University.
  • Nicholls State University.
  • Bridgewater State University.
  • Minnesota State University-Moorhead.
  • Mississippi University for Women.
12 Jan 2022

How can an international student get scholarship in USA? ›

Ask Your School. No matter where you live or attend school, your first step when searching for scholarships should be your school's financial aid office. Most colleges offer scholarship programs specifically for international students attending the institution.

How can I go to USA after 12th? ›

A minimum SAT score of 600-800 is required for admission to US universities. Candidates must have a well-written Statement of Purpose and letters of recommendation from relevant authorities in order to study in USA after 12th from India. The applicant must at least be 18 years of age.


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