Cost of an Education: Priceless
Tuition-Free Institutions Offer Cheaper Alternative for Students
Tuition costs continue to rise and funding is at an all-time low, but students continue to look for ways to get their education.
But what if there was a tuition-free alternative? A place a student could receive a degree without the high expenses? Impossible right? Wrong.
According to the USA Today article written by Jack Gillum on April 6, 2010 titled “Tuition-Free Colleges Stand Their Ground Against Costs,” most colleges that offer the free tuition are schools such as military academies, engineering schools, and fields where there is a short supply of graduates and a growing demand.
For the most part, these colleges have seemed to stay under the radar, even when tuition costs at other institutions seem to increase steadily.
Under the Radar
Amy Barton, a mother and student working on her associates degree, said she would be surprised by the option, but she would need answers to several questions before applying.
“I’d be like: Where do I sign up? How much time does it take to get a degree? Does it transfer in case my degree is more extensive than what they offer? And does it work with my schedule,” she asked.
Depending on different aspects of an individual institution, including its accreditation, she said she would strongly consider it.
“It would have to be online so I could attend in the middle of the night when my family is sleeping, or when they are not home with me,” Barton said. “As of right now, if it didn’t work into my schedule, then I wouldn’t be able to attend. I have a strict schedule with my family, and they are my top priority; I’m living life around them, not a college!”
Some may wonder if this is a new trend, but the schools have been around for years. According to FinAid!, there are more than a dozen colleges across the nation that do not charge tuition. Some of these colleges include Berea College, College of the Ozarks, the Webb Institute, William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, and the University of the People.
In an article written by Scott Allen for the Wall Street Journal on May 12, 2009 titled “8 Tuition-Free Colleges,” a large endowment allows students at the Berea College to receive full-tuition scholarships. In return, students work at least 10 hours a week in one of many departments across campus.
In September 2009, 180 students from almost 50 countries attended their first day of classes at the University of the People, according to a Bloomberg Businessweek article written on Jan. 21, 2010 by Alison Damast titled “Tuition-Free University Gains a Following.”
Shai Reshef, the founder of the UotP told Damast that many students could no longer afford to get an education.
Reshef said: “In some parts of the world it just doesn’t exist or there isn’t a big enough supply…I thought: What can be done better with the Internet than helping people get an online education for free?”
What Do Students Pay For?
Even though students get a free ride on tuition, they are still responsible for things such as application fees, room and board, as well as some books, possible exam fees, and regular costs of living. However, it is still possible to receive additional funding, whether it is federal or from the institution, to help offset these costs.
The UotP, for example, charges students an exam processing fees that range from $10 to $100 depending on the country the student is residing in. Berea College charges $750 per year for books and supplies, $1,276 for personal expenses, and $426 for transportation. The Webb Institute has a total of $20,670 in expenses with the free tuition.
Each institute will vary in expenses, but most of the tuition-free colleges and universities will still require students to pay something toward their education.
Is It Accredited?
According to the UotP, they offer both an associates and bachelor’s degree in computer science and business administration. At this time this institute is not accredited, but it is in the process of applying for accreditation from the U.S. Department of Education. The Webb Institute finished its re-accreditation process in 2010 through its regional accreditor and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and it is not up for review for another four years, according to the President’s message.
If students want to see if the institute is accredited, they can easily search accreditation on the institute’s website, call the institution, or search the list of national accreditation through the U.S. Department of Education.