16 States with Free College Tuition

Badge for our ranking of colleges with free tuitionThere has recently been a strong trend around the country of college tuition rates increasing.  Because of this, debt is now being regarded as an inevitable part of education. The good news is that at the same time, there is also a movement toward free college tuition.  Many are seeing the need for an affordable college education to be an attainable goal.  As a result of this push towards affordable education, there are many community colleges that are finding ways to offer a tuition free education.

The question of whether or not college tuition should be free is widely debated. There are quite a number of opinions circulating about whether or not states should offer a free college education to their residents. But tuition free college is being pursued by many states as they attempt to give their residents the opportunity to receive an education that will raise their employment prospects. The majority of these programs are considered to be “last-dollar” scholarships.  This means that after the student has completed their FAFSA form and gotten any federal aid that may be available to them, the scholarship will pay the remainder of the tuition.

We’ve compiled a list of states that have developed tuition free college programs. Check the list below to see if your state offers any type of free community college.  If so, you can find more information and learn what the stipulations are. The tuition free college states are listed here in alphabetical order.  If your state isn’t listed below, don’t lose hope.  The push is continuing for more affordable education options, and it is likely that as time goes on, more and more opportunities will be available for affordable education. This will ultimately lead to more qualified workers.


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The Arkansas Future Grant provides a last-dollar scholarship for Arkansas residents. This is limited to residents who are pursuing a two-year program in a STEM or a regional high demand field. They must choose from an approved list of Arkansas State Schools and community colleges. Depending on the degree programs that each college offers online, this results in a limited, yet useful set of tuition free online associates degrees for Arkansas residents.

See Also: Top 10 Affordable Human Resources Associates Degree Online


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Students in the state of California at any of the many state community colleges may be eligible to have their tuition waived through the California Promise Grant. This free community college grant is intended for students with a financial need.  This need is assessed based on their parents’ income as well as  household size.


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Delaware’s Student Excellence Equals Degree (SEED) program allows students to attend Delaware Tech Community College for two years with absolutely no tuition cost. Students must have attended high school in Delaware.  Additionally, they must maintain a GPA of at least 2.5. Another option for tuition free education made available by the SEED program is the opportunity to enroll in the Associate in Arts program at the University of Delaware.   Delaware high school graduates with a minimum GPA of 2.75 also are eligible for the Inspire Program.  This is a last-dollar scholarship towards Delaware State University.


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Residents of Hawai’i who are enrolled in at least 6 credits at a UH community college are eligible for the Hawai’i Promise Program. This “last dollar” program will cover the direct education costs for all eligible students. In addition, the community colleges in Hawai’i are making an effort to eliminate textbook costs for students by 2021.  They are doing this by using all open-source textbooks.


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The Workforce Ready Grant in Indiana pays the tuition and mandatory fees for two years of a certificate program at either Ivy Tech Community College or Vincennes University. This free community college grant is available to Indiana residents who do not have a college degree and are pursuing a program that aligns with Indiana’s highest demand sectors.  These high demand sectors include advanced manufacturing, building & construction, health sciences, IT & business services, or transportation & logistics.


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Kentucky’s Work Ready Scholarship Program is available to state residents who have not earned a college degree and are enrolled at any one of 16 colleges across Kentucky. To access free community college in Indiana, a student must be enrolled in a program of study in specific areas.  These areas include healthcare, advanced manufacturing, construction/ trades, IT/business, or logistics. The Kentucky Community and Technical College System has more than 350 programs that meet these requirements for interested students.


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Resident students applying to one of Maryland’s 16 public community colleges are eligible to apply for the Maryland Community College Promise Scholarship. This scholarship provides up to $5,000 to cover any tuition and mandatory fees after other grants and scholarships take affect. Recipients of the scholarship must sign an agreement to work full-time in Maryland for one year for each year of the scholarship.


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The A+ Scholarship program in Missouri will reimburse students the unpaid balance of their tuition after all federal assistance has been applied. To be eligible for free college, students must have earned at least a 2.5 GPA at a designated A+ high school and must be enrolled full-time at a Missouri community college. In addition, students accessing free community college must perform at least 50 hours of unpaid tutoring or mentoring and achieve a score of proficient or better at the end of course Algebra I exam. If you are willing to mentor and earn decent grades in math, Missouri offers an attractive package among states with free college.


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Montana resident students at Montana’s two-year and tribal community colleges are eligible to apply for the Montana Promise Act. This is a need-based last dollar grant for tuition and living expenses. The free community college program will cover the gap between tuition and all other federal and state aid for Montana students. Low-income students will receive priority for receiving the grant for free college tuition.


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The Nevada Promise Scholarship provides last dollar funding for students enrolled at any of the 4 community colleges in Nevada. It will cover up to three years of free college tuition, as well as all mandatory fees.  This is done in an effort to make college more widely available to residents. There’s no minimum GPA or SAT score to receive the scholarship, and students of every income level can access free community college. Nevada has a standout offer among states with free college options.

New Jersey

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New Jersey students enrolled in at least 6 credits and who have an adjusted gross income of $0-$65,000 will be considered for the New Jersey Community College Opportunity Grant. This free community college award will pay the tuition and other approved fees at any of New Jersey’s 18 county community colleges for eligible applicants.

New York

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Tuition free college in New York is now a possibility. Students who are pursuing an undergraduate degree at a SUNY or CUNY college, including community colleges and the statutory colleges at Cornell University and Alfred University, may be eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship. In order to receive this scholarship, they must be residents of New York. The scholarship awards up to $5,500 to cover the cost of tuition.  This money is awarded after other financial aid has been applied. Recipients remain eligible for the scholarship for 2, 4, or 5 years, depending on the degree program they enroll in. Those who receive this New York free college tuition scholarship are then required to live and work in New York for the same number of years that they received the scholarship.


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Oklahoma’s Promise will pay the tuition at an Oklahoma public two-year college or four-year university for resident students who meet the requirements. Applicants must currently be enrolled  in 8th grade, 9th grade, or 10th grade at an Oklahoma high school.  They also must be part of a family that makes $55,000 or less per year. For this particular program, it is important to plan ahead.  While still in high school, the applicant must also complete a prescribed set of 17 units to help them prepare for college. Oklahoma has an attractive package among states with free college.

Rhode Island

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All Rhode Islanders coming right out of high school are eligible to pursue a tuition-free associate’s degree at The Community College of Rhode Island through the Rhode Island Promise scholarship. To maintain this free college tuition scholarship, recipients must enroll full-time and earn a minimum of a 2.5 GPA.


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Tennessee Promise places the Volunteer State among our top states with free college tuition. This program is a last dollar scholarship for Tennessee residents working toward an associate’s degree at any of the state’s 40 eligible community and technical colleges. In addition to providing tuition-free college, Tennessee Promise is also a mentoring program for new college students. Recipients of the free community college scholarship must attend meetings with a college mentor and complete eight hours of community service for every term that they receive the tuition free college scholarship.


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The College Bound Scholarship in Washington State covers the cost of tuition and some other expenses for low-income students who are enrolled at a participating university. To access the scholarship, students must first apply during their 7th or 8th grade year and then meet the College Bound Pledge requirements by their senior year of high school. This early commitment of financial aid is intended to inspire and encourage these students in their academic careers.

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