States with Free College Tuition for Residents

Students jumping for joy for free college

You may be wondering what states in the US offer free college tuition? There are a few states that offer scholarships or grants for residents to attend college virtually free.

The US allows anyone to be able to have the opportunity to go to college and to get a loan for college.

You can get a degree but you will have loans or debt if the scholarships you apply for does not pay it all.

Rising cost of college tuition is getting to be a problem for students in the United States.

There are many ways to get around college tuition and lessen the amount of loans you need to take out.

The best thing is to apply for as many scholarships as you possibly. If you can get a bunch of scholarships and grants this will lower the number of loans that are needed.

Some states have different opportunities where you can get free college tuition if you are a resident in that state.

This is a great way to go to college for free or at a discounted rate.

However, there really are some states that are working towards tuition-free college and we’re going to talk a little bit more about that.

Colleges with free tuition

It is no secret that over the last decade, college tuition has risen over 26%. Tuition has climbed over 35% in this decade for public colleges.

The increase in tuition, many colleges are giving what is known as the “last dollar” scholarship.

This is a program that will pay for whatever tuition and fees are left after financial aid and grants.

Last Dollar Scholarship

The Last Dollar scholarship is typically offered for two years of schooling. You would need to use it at a community college, associate degree program, vocational school, or technical school.

The reason for this is that this type of schooling usually has a lower cost of tuition.

The states that have already implemented these programs include:

  • Nevada
  • Arkansas
  • Oregon
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Tennessee
  • Maryland
  • Delaware
  • Rhode Island
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky

Excelsior Scholarship

The Excelsior scholarship can cover four years of tuition and is in New York. You do not have to keep a certain GPA or be involved in other activities to receive this scholarship.

The scholarship can be given to any student at Schools as a city University of New York and the State University of New York.

Somewhere around 940,000 families and individuals will qualify when this program is completed in the next year.

To qualify for the program you must:

  • Be a resident of NY state for last 12 months before starting classes
  • US citizen
  • Need a High School diploma
  • Cannot be in default on any student loans
  • Your federal adjusted gross income needs to be $125,000 or less

The program does not cover the cost of books and also does not cover room and board.

Out of state tuition

The cost of tuition for students who go out of state can be very excessive.

How out of state tuition works, is that if you go to a state school when you’re not a resident, you will have to pay more tuition.

Private colleges have the same tuition for everyone in-state or out-of-state.

For instance, I go to a state school that is public and my cost of tuition is around $25,000 per year.

I have a friend who goes to a private college and in-state or out-of-state they still pay between $36,000-$40,000.

This means that they are basically paying the same amount to go to a private school as an out-of-state student would be paying to go to my school.

The differences in costs and tuition is definitely a lot.

In the United States, the average cost for a student to go to a public college for tuition only is around $10,000.

As I said before this is just for tuition and not for books, fees, or room and board.

As for an out-of-state student, the average cost for tuition is $26,000. This is a $16,000 difference per year.

Take $16,000 multiplied by four years and you would be spending $64,000 more on tuition.

One good way to lower cost is to go to a community college in the state that you are a resident. Take two years of the elective coursework then transfer to a 4-year college.

Free college in Georgia

In Georgia, the people in charge of higher education realized the effect that the rising cost of higher education was having on it, students.

They decided to revamp an order program which was known as the strategic industries workforce development grant.

They revamped it and it is now called the Hope Career grant.

Basically, the whole career Grant is going to provide free tuition for any students from Georgia enrolling in 12 programs of study.

To be eligible you obviously have to be a resident of Georgia. Here are the 12 eligible program areas.

  • Health sciences
  • Early childhood care
  • Education
  • Computer technology
  • Computer programming
  • Diesel equipment technology
  • Commercial truck Drivin
  • Certified engineer assistant
  • Practical nursing
  • Movie production set design
  • Industrial maintenance
  • Precision manufacturing
  • Welding in joining technology

The reason that these 12 industries were chosen is that the governor’s office decided that they were the industries that were most in-demand trades in the state of Georgia.

You would be able to get free tuition to go to school for these jobs and then hopefully get a job in the workforce.

The eligibility to apply for this type of grant is that:

  • you have to be a US citizen
  • A legal resident of Georgia
  • You need to be in good compliance with the Georgia drug-free post-secondary education act of 1990
  • Student loans payments in good standings
  • Be in good standing of other financial aid programs
  • Academic achievement standards which is staying at a 2.0 GPA
  • You cannot exceed the maximum award limits for any other program

Students have two options when applying for the HOPE Grant:

  1. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or,
  2. Complete the online Georgia Student Finance Application (GSFAPPS) or printable paper GSFAPPS application.

It is always a good idea to look into what programs are offered in your state, city, town, etc.

Free Community College Tuition

There are several states that are providing free tuition to community colleges.

The California College Promise program allows first-time students that go full-time in California the chance to go to community college for free.

There are other states that have promise programs and we listed each state below.


There are many different programs involving free tuition that many people do not even know much about. They are not advertised as much as they should be.

Your best bet is to always fill out the FAFSA form so that you can apply for as many scholarships and grants as possible.

Lastly, do your research to see what opportunities are available to you.

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