For most families, affordability is one of, if not the biggest deciding factors for higher education — two-thirds of today's college students use some form of financial aid.

What are the best tuition-free colleges of 2020? Here are our top 5:

Rank School Location
1 Curtis Institute of Music Philadelphia, PA
2 Berea College Berea, KY
3 College of the Ozarks Point Lookout, MO
4 Blackburn College Carlinville, IL
5 Alice Lloyd College Pippa Passes, KY

What Are The Notable Tuition-Free Colleges?

Given the pressures of paying for school, students and parents will be happy to learn that there are a handful of schools offering complete financial aid packages in exchange for student work. Tuition may be totally or partially covered by these programs, depending on the school. Most require at least 15 hours of work each week in addition to a full load of classes, and student workers generally serve essential functions in the operation of the school.

Working your way through school is not for every student. Options are limited and often only available to specific student populations. Taking a heavy class load and working part-time can be challenging, particularly to college students who are not used to managing their own time. Even older students may struggle with this requirement when faced with more advanced class work and out-of-class demands like internships and practicums.

Our list details eight institutions that offer four-year degrees at reduced or free tuition in exchange for work. Military schools have been omitted, and graduation rates reflect those who completed their degree within four years of their start date. Acceptance, enrollment and graduation data were reported by the National Center for Education Statistics' College Navigator.

Rank School Location Description Toggle

Curtis Institute of Music

Philadelphia, PA

A tuition-free college for musicians, Curtis ensures that none of its students pay out-of-pocket tuition. The college achieves this feat by connecting degree-seekers with on-campus employment opportunities, institutional scholarships, and federal grants.

Curtis offers both a bachelor's and a master's in music. The bachelor's degree features coursework in post-tonal harmony, advanced dictation, and music history. Students also complete a robust general education curriculum.

Curtis alumni have gone on to find careers as musicians and conductors at some of the world's top orchestras. The institute also provides free recording time at its on-campus recording studio and gives students access to an extensive alumni network.


Berea College

Berea, KY

Berea offers a full-tuition scholarship to all learners and provides financial assistance for textbooks. Before awarding funding, the college assists students in researching and applying for outside aid, such as state and federal grants. Most students at this tuition-free college pay no more $1,000 per year on education-related expenses.

At Berea, learners in the education studies department can select from approximately 25 online courses. Current online courses include extended school experience, science for teachers, and integrated curriculum.

Berea provides its students with access to Handshake software, which details career opportunities and job-hunting best practices. The college also provides learners with internship opportunities and a career development program.


College of the Ozarks

Point Lookout, MO

C of O requires that each learner spend 15 hours per week working on campus to qualify for the Cost of Education Scholarship. Students at this tuition-free college take advantage of institutional and private financial aid resources to ensure that no student goes into debt to pay for a degree.

C of O offers 28 undergraduate majors, including child studies, culinary arts, and hotel and restaurant management. The college features multiple minors in Christian topics, such as theological studies and Christian mission. Additionally, the college's teaching programs prepare students for initial Missouri teaching licensure.

The college's career center offers one-on-one advising sessions, internship opportunities, and an annual career day. These services help approximately 75% of alumni find a job soon after graduation.


Blackburn College

Carlinville, IL

Illinois residents in Macoupin County who are interested in tuition-free college should consider Blackburn. The college's Macoupin Promise offers free tuition to eligible students who graduated from an in-county high school, can participate in a work-study program, and have a household income that is less than $60,000 per year. Blackburn also extends the Macoupin Promise to nontraditional learners.

Blackburn features dozens of undergraduate degrees, including programs in environmental biology, computer science, and political science. Additionally, the college's work-study program pairs students with a job that aligns with their academic major.

Blackburn helps students find jobs by providing interviewing guides, a graduate school application reference guide, and links to job sites.


Alice Lloyd College

Pippa Passes, KY

ALC's Tuition Guarantee covers all tuition costs for residents of 108 counties in Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. This tuition-free college also allows students who need more than four years to graduate to do so at no extra cost. However, ALC's students do pay for housing and fees.

ALC offers a variety of bachelor's programs, including biology, criminal justice, and an education degree that features 17 concentration options. With an average class size of 18 students, the college ensures that professors can give each learner a personalized educational experience.

The college offers incoming first-year students a four-year career success plan that emphasizes career exploration and career implementation. ALC also provides all learners with access to a job board.