Student News

States with Free Tuition, Plus Tuition Free Colleges

Find out if your state offers free college tuition to qualifying students.

Kathryn Knight Randolph

September 05, 2023

States with Free Tuition, Plus Tuition Free Colleges
Some states are offering free college tuition to qualifying students.
At some point in the college search, students start to wonder how to go to college for free. It’s typically after they’ve seen the cost of attendance or received financial aid estimates. While going to college for free is certainly “the dream,” it’s not a reality for very many students. However, there are a few states, as well as a number of colleges, who have programs to make it a possibility for qualifying students.

States with Free Tuition

Today, there are currently three states that offer free tuition to qualifying students. Each state has their own stipulations for which students the free tuition program covers.


Indiana offers its students free college tuition through the 21st Century Scholars program. To be eligible for this program, students must: • Be an Indiana resident. • Be automatically enrolled or apply in 7th or 8th grade. • Be a U.S. resident or eligible non-citizen. • Be a member of a family that meets income eligibility guidelines (typically a family that is at or below 370% of the Federal Poverty Level).
As high school students, qualified recipients must also: • Have at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA. • Complete the Scholar Success Program and keep the Scholar Pledge. • Earn a high school diploma. • Take at least 30 credits in college, file the FAFSA by April 15, and maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) each year.

New York

Like Indiana, New York state has stipulations that students must meet to qualify for free tuition through The Excelsior Scholarship: • Be a New York state resident and have resided in New York for 12 months prior to the beginning of the term. • Be a U.S. citizen or an eligible non-citizen. • Have graduated from a U.S. high school, earned a high school equivalency diploma, or passed a federally approved “Ability to Benefit” test. • Have a combined adjusted gross income of $125,000 or less. • Be pursuing an undergraduate degree at a SUNY or CUNY college, including community colleges as well as Cornell University and Alfred University. • Be enrolled in at least 12 credits per term and at least 30 credits per year. • Work in the state of New York after graduation for the same amount of time that the Excelsior Scholarship was disbursed (i.e., Students receiving the scholarship for four years will need to live and work in the state of New York for four years after graduation).


Finally, the state of Washington offers a free college tuition program through the College Bound Scholarship. Students are automatically enrolled in College Bound in 7th, 8th, and 9th grades if they attend public school and qualify for the free-and-reduced lunch program, or if they are in foster care at any point between 7th grade and high school graduation. Students that attend private school or are homeschooled are also welcome to apply; however, they must reach out to the College Bound program directly. To receive the scholarship, students must: • Be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen, or undocumented state who has resided in the state of Washington for at least a year prior to enrolling in college (special exceptions are made for tribal members, military veterans, and military service members and their families). • Graduate from a Washington high school with at least a 2.0 GPA (students who plan to attend a community college or technical school do not need to meet the GPA minimum requirement). • Get accepted to one of the 65 participating colleges and universities. • Have no felony convictions. • Complete the FAFSA and meet income requirements.

States with Free Community College

States around the country also offer free tuition at community colleges to qualifying students. Like the above programs, these opportunities have specific requirements students must meet to take advantage of free community college. Many of these programs are “last dollar” programs, which means that federal and state financial aid are applied toward a student’s tuition. Then, these programs close the gap between their financial aid package and what the school costs, enabling students to attend community college for free.


The state of California offers one year of free community college tuition to students who are enrolled full-time. Students must submit the FAFSA or California Dream Act to qualify.


Delaware provides free tuition for two-year programs at the University of Delaware as well as Delaware Technical Community College. Students must apply by April 1 of their senior year, be enrolled full-time, and fill out the FASFA to be eligible.


Hawaii residents can qualify for free tuition at University of Hawaii Community Colleges. They must submit a FAFSA and be enrolled in at least six credits per semester.


High school graduates or GED recipients are eligible to receive free tuition at vocational schools, community colleges, or apprenticeship programs. Students must complete the FAFSA and be eligible for in-state tuition.


Michigan offers free tuition to community colleges for adults that are 25 and older. They cannot have obtained a bachelor’s or associate degree prior. To remain eligible, students must be enrolled in at least six credits per semester for two semesters and maintain a 2.0 GPA.


Missouri students who meet GPA, attendance, volunteer, academic, and citizenship requirements can qualify for free community college or vocational school. To renew, students must have a 2.5 GPA, be enrolled full-time, and submit the FAFSA.


Residents of Montana can qualify for free tuition at a community college, tribal college, or two-year school in the Montana university system. To stay eligible, students must submit the FAFSA, maintain a 2.5 GPA, and be enrolled at least part-time.


Nevada residents under the age of 20 can qualify for free community college tuition at any of the following community colleges: College of Southern Nevada, Great Basin College, Truckee Meadows Community College, or Western Nevada College. To qualify, students must complete the Nevada Promise Scholarship application, file the FAFSA, and complete community service and mentoring requirements.

New Jersey

New Jersey’s Community College Grant is available to students who have not completed college, have submitted the FAFSA, and have a household income that is less than $65,000 per year. They must attend an in-district community college, take at least six credits per semester, and make SAP.

New Mexico

New Mexico differs from other states, in that it is a “first dollar” program, meaning any federal aid you receive can be added to free tuition and fees to cover any living expenses, books, or other costs. To qualify, students must be residents, enroll for 6 credits or more each semester, and maintain a 2.5 GPA.


Students in Oklahoma can qualify for free tuition at a public two-year or four-year university. They can also use the funds to pay for a portion of tuition at a private college. There are quite a few stipulations that students must meet to receive funding, like applying during middle school and high school, completing required courses during high school, having parents whose AGI is less than $100,000 per year, and more.


Oregon offers free community college tuition to all residents who graduated from high school or received a GED. Students must reside in Oregon for at least 12 months before enrollment and have a minimum GPA of 2.5.

Rhode Island

In exchange for free tuition at Rhode Island Community College, the state asks that recipients live and work in Rhode Island for a time after graduation. To maintain eligibility, students must attend school full-time and maintain at least a 2.5 GPA.


Finally, Tennessee offers free tuition to any of the state’s community colleges, applied technology colleges, and public or private universities that offer two-year programs. To qualify, students must commit to mentoring and community service, maintain at least a 2.0 GPA, and attend school in the fall immediately following high school graduation.

Colleges with Free Tuition

In addition to states that offer free tuition to four-year universities as well as two-year community colleges and technical schools, there are multiple colleges across the country that allow students to attend for free. These colleges include military academies and are located across the United States. Discover if these tuition free colleges are right for you.

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