• Beth & Tim Manners

Work Colleges: Earning a ‘Free’ Education

Updated: Sep 18, 2019

USA Today: “Berea College is called a ‘work college,’ meaning students must work as part of the learning experience toward a degree. There are nine official four-year work colleges, but only three offer free tuition, including Berea. Most free tuition programs are funded through a mix of endowments, alumni gifts and grants. Sometimes students’ earnings are applied to help cover tuition, but other times they keep their wages. Students usually pay for fees, room and board, books and supplies. These additional costs may be covered by federal aid like Pell Grants along with scholarships and loans.”


“While free tuition is sometimes offered at community colleges, it’s rare at four-year schools. The average undergraduate annual tuition and fees across all undergraduate institutions is $12,600, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Students at private nonprofit schools pay the most: $33,800 annually, on average.”


“Over 3,400 colleges and universities participate in the Federal Work-Study Program. To qualify, students must submit the Federal Application for Federal Student Aid and have demonstrated financial need. It’s a first-come, first-served program where jobs are not guaranteed. Among those who did work-study in 2017-18, average earnings were $1,693, according to a 2018 survey by the private lender Sallie Mae.”

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