Wednesday’s Parent: Avoiding Student Loans


Student loansAs students begin applying to colleges, and juniors begin narrowing down their college choices, consider that there are many options available that allow your student to attend college for free (or almost free), excluding expenses like books, fees, and possibly room and board. But free tuition is nothing to scoff at. Many of these colleges cost upwards of $100,000 for four years.

Student loans are certainly one option, although I would argue that the best gift you can give your student is to graduate with little or no debt.

Here are 10 ways your student might be able to attend college for free:

1. Get good grades and score well on the SAT

Many colleges offer free rides to valedictorians, top 10 percent, and other academic distinctions. High SAT scores help as well—where many colleges offer merit-based free tuition.

Students at Macaulay Honors College, part of the City University of New York system, don’t stress about the high price of tuition. That’s because theirs is free. At Macaulay and a handful of other service academies, work colleges, single-subject schools and conservatories, every student receives a full merit-based tuition scholarship for all four years. Macaulay students also receive a laptop and $7,500 in “opportunities funds” to pursue research, service experiences, study abroad programs and internships.

2. Be a PSAT Merit Finalist

Scoring high enough on the PSAT to become a Scholar, a Finalist or a Semi-Finalist can equal big money at some schools-public and private. That means your student may only need to score high enough to make it to the last round; he or she doesn’t even have to be the last one standing.

This list of colleges was compiled a few years ago and may have some changes; but use it as a guide when you are researching the colleges.

3. Win Scholarships

With work and a tested method (How 2 Win Scholarships) your student can cruise into college with multiple scholarships. Start early with the research, register on scholarship search sites, and look locally.

4. Work while you attend

There are several colleges that let you work while you attend and pay your tuition. In exchange for free tuition, students at the College of the Ozarks work on campus 15 hours a week. Possible jobs at this Missouri college include dairy farming and custodial work.

5. Pursue a specific career path

Colleges offer free tuition to students who pursue specific career paths or areas of interest. For instance, prospective students must audition for enrollment into Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music. Those accepted receive full-tuition scholarships.

6. Use your location

A number of cities, counties, and states offer free tuition to students who either excel in their studies, or demonstrate a serious need.

7. Go overseas

Believe it or not, there are colleges overseas that offer free tuition to international students. For instance, students at KTH Royal Institute of Technology can get a free technological education at the Royal Institute of Technology. At Lund University in Sweden, you will not have to pay tuition fees.

8. Attend college online

Get free tuition from these online colleges and you’ll truly get a good deal. You won’t even need to pay for room and board! Andrew Jackson University,  Trinity College of Biblical Studies and The DiUlus Institute allow you to attend college online for free.

9. Demonstrate need

Students who come from low income families can get free admission from numerous colleges and universities. Surprisingly, many colleges consider low income to be above the poverty level, so don’t think you won’t qualify. Check out each college’s income levels.

10. Serve your country

With a commitment to serve after graduation and acceptance to one of the nation’s military academies and some military colleges, you can attend college for free (and even get paid while you attend). And if you join the military before college, you can attend using the GI Bill after you are honorably discharged.

Following are some additional resources:

For an extensive list of colleges that offer free tuition, follow the link below:

To read a recent article about free tuition at Antioch College, follow the link below:

The College Solution listed colleges that provide 100 percent of need:

Read Wendy’s Post: Cost-Loan: Fearsome 4-Letter College Words


Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Wendy and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

The bonus is on the fourth Wednesday of each month when Wendy and I will host Twitter chat #CampusChat at 9pm ET/6pm PT. We will feature an expert on a topic of interest for parents of the college-bound.

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from parentscountdowntocollegecoach to and vice versa.

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One Response to “Wednesday’s Parent: Avoiding Student Loans”

  1. Katie says:

    #4 is a great way to save AND gain valuable work experience – thanks for sharing