5 Ways to Attend College for FreeAugust 11, 2023
Attending college can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. It is possible to get free money for college so you can avoid taking out student loans or even having to draw from your savings.
Only some people can figure out how to go to college for free, but most can get some financial help they don’t have to repay. And, for those who work at it, it may be possible to get enough free money for college so that you can earn a degree without student debt.
If you want a free college education, check out these five options to cover your tuition.
1. Take advantage of scholarships and grants
Scholarships and grants provide free money for college that you do not have to repay. You can use scholarship search engines to find available funds. Some search engines for scholarships include:
You may qualify for a scholarship or grant based on your membership in a particular group or organization; your chosen field of study; financial need; or other personal characteristics you exhibit. Search these sites and check with your school’s financial aid office and the groups you are a member of to see what opportunities are available.
Many scholarships and grants require you to complete applications by a specific deadline, and you may have to fulfill requirements such as writing an essay. So start looking early and apply for as many scholarships as you can to maximize the chances you’ll get enough money that you can land a free college education.
2. Join the military
If you are interested in military service, the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program operates at more than 1,700 colleges and universities. You can get your college education paid for but must serve in the military once you have earned your degree.
If you have already served in the military or are currently on active duty, you may also be able to qualify for free college at an in-state university through the Post-9/11 GI Bill. You can cover your tuition and a stipend for living expenses and educational supplies.
3. Work for an employer that pays for college
Many employers provide tuition assistance for eligible workers. Tuition assistance can include companies that will pay for you to earn a degree related to the field you are working in. But, it also includes businesses like Starbucks that provide up to 100% tuition reimbursement for many different areas of study.
Suppose you are trying to learn how to attend college for free. In that case, it’s worth researching what companies offer tuition reimbursement or asking your current employer if they operate a program that can help to pay for your college education.
4. Get a job at a college or university
Colleges and universities often provide free tuition to staff members and children of staff members. If you or your parents can find work at a school you want to attend, it’s worth looking into this option to earn a free college degree. Be sure you understand the requirements to qualify that you may need to be a full-time employee to get free tuition.
5. Attend a tuition-free degree program
Some community colleges and some online universities offer tuition-free degree programs. These usually come with requirements, such as living in the community college’s location, attending full-time, and even agreeing to remain in the area for some time after graduation. But they can be worth looking into when trying to get free money for college.
What if you can’t get enough free money for college?
While it would be nice if everyone could figure out how to go to college for free, the unfortunate reality is that this is only an option for some people.
If you cannot get a 100% free college education, you can still use the steps above to reduce the tuition you must pay. The more scholarships or grants you qualify for, the less money you will have to find from other sources.
Once you have exhausted accessible sources of financial aid, you can also look into different loan options to make paying for school as affordable as possible. Federal student loans come with affordable fixed rates and are available no matter your credit score. You should exhaust eligibility for them first because they offer borrower-friendly terms and provide flexibility in monthly payment plans and options for loan forgiveness.
Private student loans are another option that you can explore after you have exhausted free money for college and federal student loans. Private loans can cover up to the school-certified cost of attendance. Your credit and income affect your eligibility and the rates you will be charged for private loans so you may try applying with a cosigner. You can use the Find My Rate tool to see what options you can have with ELFI.*
Private student loans can also be refinanced, often to lower rates, which can reduce the amount of student debt you have to pay back. This can make private loans a great solution when you need extra cash to earn the degree at your chosen school. Try refinancing your student loans with ELFI and see if it is the right option for you.