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States That Offer Free Community College or Tuition Reimbursement for Community College

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A college degree can help your child get a good start to their professional life. However, attending a high-cost four-year school isn't the only path to success. A two-year associate degree provides strong job training, and many states are offering options for tuition-free community college. 

Across the country, free community college programs can be a smart way to help your teen pursue higher education without costing you a fortune. Especially during difficult economic circumstances, using these programs to put your child through school can mean that you'll face minimal financial cost. Instead of investing money, your student will invest time to learn the skills they need for their future. 

Free community college programs vary by state, and the logistics aren't always straightforward. In the state-by-state list below, we'll break down available programs and how they can help your child succeed. 

Associate Degrees Are a Good Value

Community colleges are re-emerging as a training program that's a good value. The data shows that higher education can lead to higher earnings and more job satisfaction.   

There are four primary reasons driving interest in Associate's degrees:

  1. Many high-demand occupations only require a two-year degree. Fields such as health care, manufacturing and technology have an increasing number of job openings, and not enough skilled workers to meet the demand. By training in a high-demand industry, students can gain the qualifications to get hired in these industries. 
  2. Many associate degrees lead to high-paying jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage difference between those with an associate degree and those with no college is $6,348 per year. Some community college degrees can even lead to jobs that pay $50,000 to $65,000 per year. 
  3. An associate degree can be completed in just two years. This short training period makes it possible to fast-track a high-quality education and enter the workforce quickly.
  4. With the available free tuition programs, you could have little to no up-front cost for your child's college education. The result is that families can see an even bigger return on their investment by attending community college. 

With the available free tuition programs, you could have little to no up-front cost for your child's college education. The result is that families can see an even bigger return on their investment by attending community college. 

Community College Can Help You Save Money on a Bachelor's Degree

Even if your child plans to pursue a bachelor's degree, community colleges can also play a role in lowering the total cost of education. 

By attending a community college before pursuing a bachelor's degree, families can:

  • Reduce the total tuition costs of a four-year degree.
  • Postpone large tuition bills and have an additional two years to earn, save and invest.
  • Reduce the debt burden students would face after graduation.
  • Save thousands of dollars per year when students live at home.

The ultimate cost-savings measure is when a student attends a free or low-cost community college for the first two years of college before transferring to a four-year school. While attending community college, students can take prerequisites and required introductory courses. 

When choosing this pathway to a bachelor's degree, be sure to review the credit transfer policies of both schools so you understand any course restrictions or grade requirements. For example, students may need to earn a C or higher for their community college credits to apply to a bachelor's degree. 

Which States Offer Free Community College?

Some politicians are proposing free public college programs at the federal level, which could make education freely available for students across the country. Yet some states or local communities are leading the charge by enacting programs that allow residents to attend community college for free. 

Where you live can determine how much it costs to attend community college. Programs vary, and in order to be eligible, states may have income requirements or restrictions on the fields of study. Students may also have access to a free associate degree at a four-year school. 

The following states have tuition-free community college:

Arkansas California Connecticut
Delaware Georgia Hawaii
Indiana Iowa Kansas
Kentucky Louisiana Maryland
Mississippi Missouri Montana
Nevada New Jersey New York
Oklahoma Rhode Island South Carolina
South Dakota Tennessee Utah
Washington West Virginia

Some states have alternative programs for tuition-free associate degrees:

Arizona Colorado Florida
Illinois Kansas Maine
Massachusetts Minnesota New Hampshire
North Carolina North Dakota Ohio
Pennsylvania Texas Wyoming

There are no free community college tuition programs in:

Alabama Alaska Idaho (Legislation expected to be introduced in 2020)
Michigan (Legislation introduced in 2019) Nebraska New Mexico (The proposed NM Opportunity Scholarship Act died in 2020)
Vermont (Legislation introduced in 2019 and 2020) Virginia (Proposal made in 2019)

What Are the Community College Tuition Costs in Each State?

At the federal level, those who demonstrate financial need can receive up to $6,195 per year toward costs via a Federal Pell Grant. This has the potential to cover all of your costs; however, the actual amount you receive will be determined by your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). 

Your financial aid application may determine the exact cost of attending a community college. It may also determine your eligibility for tuition waivers, tuition reimbursement or need-based financial aid programs. 
Below, we'll break down what free community college programs are available in each state. 

Alabama: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

In Alabama, there are no universal programs that offer free community college for all residents. However, there are many need-based scholarship and grant programs available. 

For households that meet financial requirements, the Alabama Student Assistance Program (ASAP) can provide funding that ranges from $300 to $5,000 per year. When combined with other types of financial aid, this has the potential to cover tuition costs to attend community college. 

Alaska: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

Alaska does not offer a state-wide program for free community college. The Alaska Education Grant

does offer some need-based financial assistance. This can be used in tandem with other grants and scholarships to lower or eliminate tuition costs. 

Free tuition programs are available at the tribal school, I?isa?vik College, where tuition waivers are offered to local residents, Alaska Natives, or American Indian students.

Arizona: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

In Arizona, there are two notable programs by which students can attend college for free.

The first program specifically applies to Mesa Community College. Earlier this year, the city mayor announced the Mesa College Promise, which says that eligible students who graduate from local high schools can go on to attend the local community college for free.
The other program is statewide, and it applies to low-income families. Through the ASU College Attainment Grant Program, students are eligible for free tuition for up to four years of school at Arizona State University. All households who are eligible for the Federal Pell Grant can qualify for this program.

Arkansas: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

Students in Arkansas can attend community college for free because of the Arkansas Future Grant.

The grant covers tuition and fees that are not covered by other financial aid programs. It's available for both associates degrees and certification programs, but the fields of study are limited. To be eligible, students need to study STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) or other high demand fields. Awards are first come, first served.

Eligible programs can include nursing, welding, HVAC and much more. For example, at Black River Technical College, the free college program applies to students studying law enforcement, web design, EMT, machining, education, information technology, nursing and more.

California: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

For California residents, two programs that can help students to attend community college tuition-free. Both cover two years of school. 

The California College Promise Grant is an income-based program that provides low-income households with free access to community college. Students can attend part time or full time to quality. 

The second option does not depend on income. The California College Promise Program provides free community college to students who are attending full time or who are going to college for the first time. The program only covers tuition, so there will still be additional costs for fees and books. However, these expenses can be offset with scholarships, grants and loans. 

Each California community college can choose how they want to implement the California College Promise Program. This can lead to different tuition costs at nearby community colleges. For example, at Glendale Community College, near Pasadena, students could pay $1,140 per year in tuition and fees.

Colorado: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

Colorado is taking a different approach to providing free college. All students, regardless of income, can qualify for the College Opportunity Fund (COF).

In the 2019-20 school year, the COF provided students with $2,820 toward the cost of their community college tuition based on 30 credits per year. Depending on your financial aid package, that may be enough to cover tuition. The funds can also be applied to tuition at a four-year school. 

Other need-based funding programs include the Colorado Student Grant, which can be up to $3,000 per year.

There are also free college programs at some four-year schools. At both Fort Lewis College, a public school, and Colorado College, a private school, free tuition is available to families who make less than $60,000 per year. 

Connecticut: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

Starting fall 2020, tuition and fees for Connecticut's community colleges will be free for residents.  

Known as Pledge to Advance Connecticut (PACT), the program is available to students who graduated from a CT high school, have not previously attended college, and are enrolling in community college full time. Half of the schools in the state were already offering free tuition, and this expands access to the remaining community colleges. 

For example, in the 2019-20 school year, students paid $4,536 per year to attend Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport, and tuition will be reduced to $0 starting in the fall of 2020. Eligibility is not dependent on income. However, students do need to complete the FAFSA to qualify. 

Delaware: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

In Delaware, the SEED Scholarship stands for Delaware Student Excellence Equals Degree. The program provides free tuition at the state's community college, technical college, and two-year associate degrees at the University of Delaware.

To qualify, students need to graduate from a Delaware high school with a GPA of at least 2.5 on a 4.0 scale. That's an 80 percent average. Students must also attend college in the fall semester immediately following high school and complete the traditional admissions and financial aid applications. 

Florida: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

In Florida, there is statewide legislation being put forth to provide free community college tuition to families who make less than $50,000 per year. Called the Sunshine Scholarship, it's designed as a "last-dollar scholarship" to fill the gap that's left after a student receives other grants, scholarships and financial aid. As of March 2018, the Sunshine Scholarship Program died in the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee. 

However, there's already a program in place for free or reduced college based on academic achievement. The Florida Bright Futures Scholarship is funded by the lottery and offers two tiers of scholarships. 

The first tier is called Florida Academic Scholars, and it covers 100 percent of tuition. For the 2020-21 school year, it requires a high school GPA of 3.5, an SAT score of 1330, and 100 hours of community service. The second tier is the Florida Medallion Scholars, which covers 75 percent of tuition. It requires a 3.0 GPA, an SAT score of 1210, and 75 hours of community service. 

Georgia: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

The HOPE Career Grant provides tuition-free education for students who study 17 in-demand fields at the technical colleges in Georgia. These programs include automotive, aviation, engineer assistant, truck driving, computer programming, computer technology, construction, diesel equipment, early childhood education, electrical lineman, health science, industrial maintenance, logistics/ transportation, set design, nursing, manufacturing and welding. 

Additionally, the Zell Miller Grant provides 100 percent of the total cost of in-state tuition at many technical schools and some of the state's public colleges. To maintain eligibility, students must earn a 3.3 GPA during college.

Another program for four-year students is the HOPE Scholarship. In the 2019-20 school year, the program covered 82 percent of tuition at the state's public universities.

Hawaii: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

Community colleges in Hawaii are free for students with financial needs. The Hawaii Promise Program is a "last-dollar" scholarship that covers the financial gap that can be left by other types of financial aid. In recent years, the average award was $1,200. In addition to covering tuition, the scholarship also covers books, supplies and transportation. 

Reducing textbook costs has had an especially big impact on students' ability to attend higher education as many students said that the high cost of books was affecting whether they could stay in school. 

Zero-cost textbooks were adopted by Leeward Community College, Honolulu Community College, and Kapiolani Community College. 

Idaho: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

Currently, Idaho does not offer free community college. However, in 2019, state lawmakers were researching possible plans to introduce legislation in 2020. It's unclear how the coronavirus pandemic will affect these plans. 

Illinois: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

In 2020, an Illinois bill was proposed that would provide two years of free college tuition for Illinois residents. This would cover associate degrees, certificates or diplomas at public colleges, including community colleges. If the bill is passed, it could start in 2021.

The state already has a free tuition program for families who make less than $67,100 per year and have less than $50,000 in assets. Called the Illinois Commitment, the program can only be used at the University of Illinois-Urbana.

Indiana: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

With the Workforce Ready Grant of Indiana, students can go to college for free if they study high-demand fields. Free-tuition programs include Advanced Manufacturing, Building & Construction, Health Sciences, IT & Business Services, and Transportation & Logistics. 

The program covers tuition and mandatory fees for two-year programs at either Ivy Tech Community College or Vincennes University. Program-specific fees, such as lab fees, are not covered, nor are courses that are not directly related to the approved program. 

Iowa: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

Iowa is also offering free community college for students who are studying high-demand fields. 

Included in the Future Ready Iowa program is the last-dollar scholarship. The scholarship is designed to cover the remaining tuition costs after students have received other types of financial aid such as Pell Grants. 

The program applies to new high school graduates as well as adult learners, and all of Iowa's community colleges are included. The list of eligible programs varies by school, and fields of study can include automotive, construction, green energy, nursing, technology and business.

Kansas: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

Since 2012, Kansas has been offering free college for approved technical classes. The program is known as Excel in Career Technical Education, or CTE. Each year, more than 10,000 students use the program to attend Kansas community colleges. 

Additionally, a town in southeastern Kansas has recently implemented the Neodesha Promise program where Neodesha residents who graduated from the local high school will be eligible for up to four years of college tuition. That's up to $44,000 per student. The program was funded by a wealthy businessman who grew up in the Kansas town. 

Kentucky: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

Kentucky residents can get tuition-free community college through the Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship program. WRKS covers tuition costs for five fields that are considered both high-wage and high-demand in the state. 

There are a total of 350 eligible programs in the areas of health care, advanced manufacturing, transportation/logistics, business services/information technology, and construction/trades. The program covers 60 credit hours of college, which is the equivalent of a two-year associate degree. 

Louisiana: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

In Louisiana, there is a state-wide scholarship program for residents to attend one of the state public colleges tuition-free. Eligible schools include community colleges, technical colleges, and approved proprietary and cosmetology schools.

Known as TOPS (Taylor Opportunity Program for Students), there are four different types of programs with options for merit and opportunity. Each of the four programs has a different award amount, and each of the schools is funded differently. This means that in some cases, tuition is free to very low cost. For example, at Bossier Parish Community College, annual tuition for a full-time student is $3,335, and the TOPS scholarship award ranges from $3,214 to $4,015. 

Maine: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

About one in four Maine college students are attending school tuition-free, and many programs are available. 

Many four-year degrees can be obtained tuition-free through the University of Maine. At the UoM-Presque Isle campus, the Free For Four Award provides free tuition and fees for Pell grant-eligible students. Free tuition is also available for Pell-eligible students at the UoM-Augusta through the Pine Tree State Pledge.  

Plus, the state of Maine has a program that zeros out any student loan payments. The Educational Opportunity Tax Credit lets you reduce your annual income tax by the amount of your annual student loan payments. The net effect is that even if you take out a loan because you don't get enough financial aid, the state of Maine will pay you back later for your education investment. 

Maryland: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

A program that went into effect in 2019 makes Maryland community college free for families who earn less than $125,000 per year or individuals who earn less than $90,000. 

The Maryland Community College Promise Scholarship Program is considered "last-dollar" funding and covers any tuition gap that is left after Pell grants and other financial aid has been awarded. 

The free tuition program includes all community college majors. To quality, students need to enroll within two years of finishing high school or obtaining a GED. Students' high school GPAs need to be at least 2.3, and students need to enroll in community college full time, taking at least 12 credits. 

Massachusetts: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

Boston’s Tuition-Free Community College Plan covers the cost for the city's residents to attend community college. Families must meet income qualifications, and for 2020, the limits were $62,450 for a one-person household and $89,200 for a four-person household. Students must have earned at least a 2.0 GPA in high school, and they must enroll in community college within one year of high school graduation or GED certification. 

Across the state, there are college tuition waivers for many different types of students including valedictorians, veterans, Native Americans, senior citizens, 9/11 victim families, public school teachers and more. 

In 2019, there was a state bill that proposed free community college for low and moderate-income families across the state. As of 2020, the bill is still in process. 

Michigan: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

In 2019, Michigan introduced a plan for tuition-free community college. If the Michigan Opportunity Initiative Act passes, it would start in 2021. The program is currently in review by the committee on appropriations.

Minnesota: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

There are strong financial aid options to attend Minnesota's community colleges

For low-income families, a combination of federal Pell grants and state grants usually covers tuition and fees. For example, among families with incomes less than $45,000, dependent students attending any of Minnesota's public colleges had 100 percent of tuition and fees covered by financial aid. 

Minnesota’s free college plans are designed to target middle-income families rather than low-income families. With the College Occupational Scholarship Pilot Program that expired in 2018, families that made less than $90,000 per year were offered last-dollar scholarships at Minnesota's two-year community colleges. Students had to study select fields such as computers, education, engineering or health.

Since the program's expiration, several new pieces of legislation have been introduced as potential solutions to providing more students access to higher education. 

Mississippi: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

Mississippi currently has a program that offers free tuition to community college students who are majoring in specific fields of study. The Mississippi Works Career-Tech Scholars (MWCTS) Program was enacted in 2018 as last-dollar funding to cover any tuition gap that's remaining after other financial aid. Eligible programs vary by school and can include, nursing, welding, agribusiness, manufacturing and technology. 

Additionally, several local communities have developed funding solutions for nearby community colleges. For example, Meridian Community College and Itawamba Community College both have grant programs that offer free tuition to local residents. 

Missouri: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

Students in Missouri can attend vocational school or community college for free through the A+ Scholarship Program

To qualify, high school students need to have a GPA of at least 2.5 on a 4.0 scale, have a 95 percent attendance record, and perform at least 50 hours of unpaid tutoring or mentoring. Good grades are also needed to keep the scholarship eligibility and enrolled students need to have a 2.0 GPA to qualify for free community college the next year.

Montana: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

Montana residents can get four semesters of tuition-free community college through the Montana Promise Program. Low-income students have top priority when distributing grant funding, and sometimes funding can go beyond tuition to include living expenses. High school students also need to have a GPA of at least 2.5.

Nebraska: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

Nebraska does not currently have a program for free college tuition. 

Nevada: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

In 2017, Nevada signed into law the Nevada Promise Scholarship, which provides free community college to the state's residents. It's a last-dollar scholarship program, which means it will cover any remaining tuition and fees that are left after a student has applied for other types of financial aid such as Federal Pell Grants. 

It's only available for recent high school grads, and each community college can decide if they want to participate, so you may find that funding varies among the schools near you. There are no grade requirements to receive funding for the first year. However, students must maintain a 2.5 GPA to continue funding. 

There's also a program for low-income families to get free fruition at a four-year school. With the Nevada Guarantee, students whose families earn less than $50,000 per year can get free tuition, fees and books when they attend the University of Nevada - Reno. Each year, about 30 percent of high school students qualify for the program.

New Hampshire: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

There are several pathways that New Hampshire residents can get a free associate degree.

Through the community college system of New Hampshire, there are tuition waiver programs for several categories of students including valedictorians, National Guard members, New Hampshire Scholars, and senior citizens. There's also a program for those studying Early Childhood Education that provides free tuition for ECE courses. 

Additionally, at the University of New Hampshire, the Granite Guarantee covers four years of tuition costs for families who qualify for Pell Grants. Enrollment is automatic so there's no additional application other than your FAFSA. The program doesn't cover fees, books, or room and board. 

Starting in the fall of 2020, a new program will be available that provides a free associate degree while also creating a direct pathway from a high school diploma to local job needs. Called the New Hampshire Career Academy, the public-private partnership works with community colleges around the state to help train students in the skills that are needed by local employers. Fields of study can include marine technology, cybersecurity, robotics, engineering, physical therapy and more. 

New Jersey: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

With the New Jersey Community College Opportunity Grant, students can get free tuition to attend any of the state's community colleges. To be eligible students must enroll in at least six credits and have an adjusted gross income of less than $65,000. The program covers up to three years of schooling. 

Also, NJ residents may be able to get a free associate degree at the state's four-year public colleges. If approved, the Garden State Guarantee would cover two years of tuition for families who make less than $65,000. Introduced in 2020 for the 2021 school year, Governor Murphy said he was inspired by Maine's higher education program. “I was so sick of seeing their billboard that said, ‘Our out-of-state tuition is cheaper than your in-state tuition,’” he said.

New Mexico: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

The New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship Act would have covered tuition and fees for qualifying community colleges and four-year schools. However, it died in the New Mexico legislature in February 2020. 

New York: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

The Excelsior Scholarship offers free tuition at the state's community colleges, city colleges and state universities. Launched in 2017, the scholarship finding applies to degree-seeking students who are residents of NY State. Both low and middle-income households are eligible, and to qualify, household income must be less than $125,000.

Students must take 30 credits per calendar year and enroll in at least 12 credits per term. To continue to receive funding, students must maintain a 2.0 GPA while in college. After graduation, students must live and work in NY for the same number of years they receive scholarship funding. 

North Carolina: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

There are a few different ways that students in North Carolina can earn an associate degree for free or very low cost. 

First, high school-aged students can attend community college for free through the Career and College Promise (CCP) program. This is a type of dual enrollment where students sign up for college classes through their high school and can transfer the credits toward their college degree after high school graduation. 

There's also a program at UNC-Chapel Hill called Carolina Covenant. For families that have an adjusted gross income of 200 percent of the poverty line, which comes out to $52,400 for a family of four, students can attend debt-free through a combination of grants, scholarships and work-study. Out-of-state dependents are also eligible for this program. 

Three public schools in the state also participate in the NC Promise program which reduces tuition down to $500 per semester. 

North Dakota: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

The North Dakota Career Builders Scholarship and Loan Repayment program is a limited initiative that may provide some students with free tuition at community colleges. It's offered via a combination of public and private funding, so scholarships may not be available at each school. The program also only applies to select fields of study. 

Ohio: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

Ohio does not yet have a state-wide program for free community college. The Ohio College Opportunity Grant (OCOG) can provide some funding for students earning an associate or bachelor's degree at a four-year school, but the program has little to no benefit for community college students. 

However, many local programs are helping students to attend Ohio community colleges for free. 

In the Cleveland area, families with income below $75,000 are eligible to receive the Say Yes Scholarship, which covers all tuition costs for two -year community colleges, job certificate programs, or four-year schools. For local families who have income above $75,000, students are still eligible for the scholarship, but the award amount is capped at $5,000. 

Another local program at Marion Technical College offers free tuition for eligible students' second year of college after they pay for the first year. Called the Get to Next Scholars Program, students need to achieve at least a 2.5 GPA during their first year of college. 

In Toledo, a businessman pledged to support the graduating seniors by paying their college tuition, room, board and fees via H.O.P.E. Toledo.

The Montgomery County, Ohio College Promise program takes a unique approach by selecting students in poverty who are attending eighth grade. The program then mentors students throughout high school, and if qualifications are met, students can attend college at little to no cost. 

Oklahoma: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

With the Oklahoma Promise program, families with incomes of $55,000 or less can receive free tuition to attend Oklahoma's community colleges or public four-year universities. To receive funding, students must earn a cumulative high school GPA of 2.5 or higher. 

Applications to the program must be completed during a student's eighth, ninth or tenth-grade years. Additionally, students must start taking college classes within three years after high school graduation, and funding covers a maximum of five years of tuition. 

Oregon: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

Through the Oregon Promise grant, residents can attend community college for free. Students must have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.5 during high school. Additionally, students must apply during their senior year of high school or after completing the GED. 

Unlike many other states, Oregon's free tuition program allows students to attend community college part time. Eligible students can receive funding for up to 90 credits, which is the equivalent of three years of full-time classes. Because the funding is based on credits and not years, part-time students can take a few classes per semester without risk of losing funding. 

Depending on the number of applicants received, high-income families may be expected to contribute to tuition costs. For new applicants expected to start attending Oregon's community college in the fall of 2020, final funding determinations will be determined in July 2020. 

Pennsylvania: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

There have been some initiatives to offer free community college tuition state-wide. In 2019, Pennsylvania lawmakers introduced the Pennsylvania Promise Act, which would provide free tuition for up to four years at a community college or public university. Eligible students must have a household income of $110,000 or less. The program also covers room and board for households that earn $28,000 or less. To date, the bill is still in the education committee and has not yet been passed into law. 

There are local programs that are providing free community college to some Pennsylvania residents.

For high school students in the Philadelphia area, the 50th Anniversary Scholars Program is helping students to attend the Community College of Philadelphia either tuition-free or debt-free. The last-dollar scholarship program does not have GPA requirements to be eligible. However, students need to maintain at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA to continue to receive funding. 

Philadelphia residents can also qualify for the USciences Opportunity Scholarship for tuition-free attendance for up to four years at the University of Sciences. 

In the Philadelphia suburbs, the Williamson College of the Trades provides free tuition, room, board and books to its students via the Williamson Scholarship. Each year about 100 students are accepted to the school with priority given to families who have financial needs. 

Rhode Island: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

Recent high school graduates or GED recipients can attend community college tuition-free through the Rhode Island Promise Scholar program. To be eligible, students must be Rhode Island residents and be younger than 19 years old. 

To continue to be eligible in future years, students must enroll in community college full time. It's required that students earn at least 30 credits per year and enroll in both fall and spring semesters. Plus, students enrolled in Rhode Island's community colleges must maintain at least a 2.5 GPA to maintain funding eligibility. 

South Carolina: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

Students can receive free tuition at the 16 technical colleges throughout South Carolina. This is possible through two financial aid programs. 

The South Carolina Lottery Tuition Assistance program provides tuition assistance for two-year technical schools and two-year regional campuses of the University of South Carolina. Funding is limited to $1,140 per term for full-time students or $95 per credit hour for part-time students. 

The SC Wins Scholarship program fills in the tuition gap that's left by other types of financial aid. To be eligible, students must be receiving the Lottery scholarship. Students must also have household income levels that qualify them for receiving free or reduced-priced meals. Plus, students must major in a program that's been designated by the state as a critical workforce area. 

South Dakota: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

A select number of students in South Dakota can earn a free associate degree through the Build Dakota scholarship program. The scholarships cover tuition, fees, textbooks and facilities costs for students studying high-demand fields at the state's four technical colleges. 

Eligible majors include health care, renewable energy, construction, agriculture, computers, manufacturing and more. For the 2019-20 school year, there were 1,170 applicants and 391 scholarships awarded. 

The Build Dakota program is in addition to the state's other scholarships for low-income households, free tuition programs for groups like veterans, the South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship, and other programs. 

Tennessee: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

Students in Tennessee get two years of tuition-free community college or technical school through the Tennessee Promise program. The "last-dollar" funding program doesn't have GPA requirements or income requirements. It simply covers the remaining costs that remain after other types of financial aid. 

Since 2014, Tennessee Promise has been covering tuition costs for recent high school graduates, regardless of income. Then in 2018, the program was expanded to adults who don't already have a degree or certificate. The adult program, called Tennessee Reconnect, attracted nearly 15,000 new students in its first year. 

Texas: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

Although there is not a state-wide program for free community college in Texas, there are tuition-free programs throughout the state. 

In Dallas, the Dallas Country Promise covers tuition for families who make less than $50,000 per year. Students can earn a free two-year degree at Dallas County Community College and then go on to get a free bachelor's degree at one of the participating colleges such as Texas A&M University, the University of North Texas, and Midwestern State University

At Texas State, the Bobcat Promise offers free tuition to families who make less than $35,00 per year.  Through the Texas Advance Commitment, the University of Texas system offers free tuition for in-state students who have a household income of less than $65,000. 

Utah: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

The newly enacted Utah Promise Scholarship Program provides tuition and fees for residents to attend two years of college. Both recent high school graduates and adult learners are eligible. Students can attend any of Utah's community colleges, public technical colleges, or public universities. Eligibility is based on financial need with income criteria adjusted yearly. 

Utah's statewide program for free associate degrees was modeled using the SLCC Promise program that offers free tuition to attend Salt Lake Community College. With this program, the income qualifications are met when a student is eligible to receive a federal Pell grant. 

Vermont: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

Currently, there are no state-wide programs that offer free tuition at Vermont's community colleges. 

A state bill was introduced in 2019 to offer free tuition at public four-year colleges, and it's currently still in committee. Another education bill was introduced in 2020 to offer free tuition at the state's community colleges, and this one is still in committee too. 

Using existing financial aid programs, 44 percent of in-state students have been receiving free tuition at the University of Vermont.

Virginia: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

In Virginia, a program was introduced to offer free community college tuition. Called "Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back," which is shortened to the G3 program, the initiative would apply to both low and middle-income families and cover auxiliary costs like transportation and food. 

Income qualifications are at 400 percent of the poverty line, which would be about $100,000 for a family of four. If approved the free tuition program will begin in the fall of 2020. 

Washington: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

Students in Washington state can receive free tuition through the Washington College Grant (WCG). For the 2020-21 school year, the program covers all tuition costs and fees for families who have a household income of $50,000 per year or less. Partial tuition costs can be covered for families who make up to $92,000 per year. 

Tuition funding applies to Washington state's community colleges, technical colleges and in-state public universities. A comparable level of funding can also be applied to private colleges or career training programs. 

West Virginia: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

Students can attend community college tuition-free through the West Virginia Invests grant program. 

The "last-dollar" funding program covers any remaining tuition costs after other types of financial aid has been awarded. To be eligible, students must study in high-demand fields at West Virginia's two or four-year schools. 

Recipients must commit to living in WV for at least two years after graduation. Unlike free college programs in other states, WV mandates that students pay for and pass a drug screening test before each academic term. 

Wisconsin: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

There isn't a free tuition program at Wisconsin's community colleges. However, the University of Wisconsin - Madison offers a relevant program called Bucky's Tuition Promise. Through this program, Wisconsin residents can receive up to four years of free tuition when household income is less than $60,000.

There are no limits to what field students can study, and with up to four years of free tuition, students can choose to pursue either an associate or bachelor's degree

Wyoming: Free Tuition for Community Colleges

There is no statewide program in Wyoming that offers free community college tuition. However, some local programs may be available. 

For example,  the state offers the Wyoming Hathaway Scholarship program, which awards between $800 and $1,600 per semester to students attending community colleges. This scholarship can reduce tuition to free or very low cost. 

At the local level, schools like Laramie Community College are offering innovative programs like Rediscover LCCC, which provides adults ages 25 or older with free tuition to study high-demand fields. 

If your scholarship funding depends on your GPA, discover how shared class notes on OneClass have helped 90 percent of users improve by at least one letter grade. 

image attribution: Monkey Business - stock.adobe.com








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