By Katherine J. Zumpano
Attending college can be expensive: while most students at a community college like SVC may only pay for tuition, books, and supplies, students enrolled at larger universities may also be required to pay food and lodging expenses. However, a handful of colleges across the country offer their students free education and, in some cases, room and board.
The College Board publishes an annual report titled Trends In College Pricing. Their most recent report, from 2017, shows the differences between the 2016-2017 and the 2017-2018 school years. Average tuition and fees at public two-year colleges rose from $3,470 in 2016-2017 to $3,570 in 2017-2018, a $100 increase. The report also states that more than 70% of students received financial aid in 2017.
Tuition and other fees contribute to the money it takes to run a college. At tuition-free institutions, that money comes from other places; donations from alumni and local businesses can help schools with different expenses, and some have student work programs that allow students to work and pay for their own expenses.
Deep Springs College, in Big Pine, California, relies heavily on contributions from “ alumni, friends, family and foundations” to pay staff and faculty salaries, student housing, utilities, and maintenance. The campus is on a cattle ranch out in the country, and students work on the ranch in addition to attending the college.
Since it admitted its first class in 1917, Deep Springs has been an all-male institution. In July 2018, the institution will admit its first co-ed class. However, Deep Springs selects only about fifteen students annually out of over 180 applications, which is a much smaller student body than SVC.
Michael Leger, on the Deep Springs Communication Committee, says “Deep Springs is definitely an interesting example to look at.” Currently, only 30 students attend the college. This is one of the reasons the college has been able to provide tuition-free education for so long.
Webb Institute, in Glen Cove, New York, is another institution that offers its students tuition-free education. Taylor Adamczyk, Webb Institute’s Assistant Director of Media Relations, attributes their success to having a student body of around 100, as well as only offering one dual major in naval architecture and marine engineering.“Because we are so small and specialized…the full tuition thing works for us,” she says. “Our students are usually top of their class in high school [and] score extremely highly on [standardized tests]…which makes our pool and classes very small, making it possible for us to have full-tuition scholarships.”
R. Keith Michel, President of Webb Institute, says the college has provided every student with a 100% full tuition scholarship since it opened in the late 1800s. “The Board’s commitment to the full tuition scholarships is in part due to the fact that it creates a meritocracy, where everyone is treated equally,” Michel notes. “We believe this is one factor leading to the strong support from our alumni…Over 70% of Webb’s living alumni contribute to