According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people with a bachelor’s degree earn 67% more than those with only a high school degree.
However, the fear of student debt discourages many people from investing in themselves.
One way to avoid education's high price is to get your degree online for free. Most online degrees are flexible, and you can keep your job.
Online education is even more affordable because it means you don’t have to move to or live near campus. You don’t even have to pay transportation costs when you get a degree online.
We also have a few more ideas you can try, such as work programs, tuition-free online universities, and scholarships.
Many people don’t realize that you can get scholarships to pay for your tuition and living expenses while earning an online degree.
When you get online college free and use our other ideas to save money while in college, you can graduate without debt.
Find out how to enjoy free online college courses for free and start making more money in your dream career!
Online Colleges Free Tuition Degrees
There are only two online colleges that offer truly tuition-free degrees.
We are only counting accredited degrees because if a university or college is not accredited, it probably won’t help you advance in your career.
Even tuition-free degrees and courses are not free, because of the small fees you have to pay. It is worth applying for scholarships to see if you can get a completely free online education.
University of the People
This university is 100% online and accommodates busy people.
They offer Associate, Bachelor’s, and Master’s degrees in three profitable areas:
Business Administration, Health Science, and Computer Science.
University of the People is accredited, and although it is truly tuition-free, you have to pay a small fee to enroll and each time you take an exam. You can apply for a waiver if you can’t afford to pay these fees.
Be aware that you can’t get federal financial aid to cover your other expenses while attending UOP. However, you may be able to get other scholarships to cover living expenses and textbooks.
This university is also 100% online, fully accredited in the United States and 100% tuition free. IICSE is a liberal arts college and they offer 23 Bachelor’s degrees in the following areas:
- Bachelor of Arts
- Bachelor of Science
- Bachelor of Legal Science
- Bachelor of Education
IICSE charges a small one time application fee and a small exam fee but they provide all textbooks and lecture materials which makes this University a very affordable option.
Their bachelor’s degree only takes 3 years full-time instead of the usual four, and their master’s degree only takes one year, so you can get a master’s degree in the time it would usually take to get a Bachelor’s degree. They also offer Associate degrees and certificate courses.
Online Colleges Free with Financial Aid
The first port of call for any student, even if you are going to take a 100% online degree, is the FASFA or federal student aid application. Check their website for rules and conditions.
You should check with your course to ensure they accept federal financial aid. Apply as early as you can because many states and schools run out of money, and it is first come first serve.
When you have chosen the online course you want to take, contact the school’s financial aid office and make a note of all their deadlines and requirements for financial aid.
Over 70% of scholarships come directly from the school itself. The financial aid office is paid to help you get all the financial help that is available. The financial aid office might know of scholarships you are unaware of.
How to Get a Scholarship to Enjoy Online Colleges Free
You may think that scholarships are only for people who have excelled in high school either through academics or sports.
However, there are millions of scholarships that cover just about every type of person in any situation.
Think about what makes you different from other students and search for scholarships by these differentiating factors.
For example, if you are a Star Trek fan there is a Starfleet Scholarship. If you or your family is involved in the fence-building industry, you can get a $4000 scholarship from the American Fence Association.
Search for scholarships by your age, sex, ethnicity, nationality, major, and desired career to start off.
You cannot possibly search all the possible scholarships on your own, so using an online database is highly recommended. It will save you time and help you find opportunities you would otherwise miss.
When applying for scholarships, seek as many as you can to apply for. You are not restricted to earning only one. Look to private and public scholarships to get a free education.
Fastweb is one of the biggest online portals for finding scholarships and they have over 1.5 million they can match you up with. So take your time and fill out all your details so they can match you up with every possibility.
You fill out an application with all your details and hobbies. However, you do have to register for a free account with FASTWEB to enjoy their quick matching service.
3. Scholarship America
Scholarship America has been around for over 60 years and has handed out 5.9 Billion in scholarships, which are well worth checking out. They are dedicated to removing the financial barriers to college.
They have an American Dream Award that you can get three years in a row, which awards between $5000 and $15000 per year.
4. Sallie Mae’s Scholarship Search
Sallie Mae is in the business of student loans, but they really provide value to students with their easy to use scholarship database. Their Scholarship Search boasts over 6 million available scholarships. When you register for a free account you are entered into a draw to win $1000 and they have a great system for alerting you when new opportunities that might suit you pop up.
Other Ways to get a free online education:
If you cannot get a scholarship or student aid, you can consider getting a job at the university or college you want your degree from. Most educational institutions give scholarships to the people who work for them.
Work programs to get a free degree are an unusual but valid method to get a free online degree. Colleges need everything from janitors to cooks, so give it a go if you can’t find another way.
If you are in an underrepresented group, you may be able to get free tuition.
For example, if you are a Native American and a resident of California, you don’t have to pay tuition for any of the University of California State Schools. This program is called the Native American Opportunity Plan, for undergraduate and graduate school levels.
Many states offer free tuition to Native Americans, so check your, state and see if you qualify.
How to Choose an Online College
Choosing an online degree is a big decision. Most people studying online are already busy and have other responsibilities, including work and family.
On average, getting a degree will increase your earnings enough to make an effort and investment worthwhile. However, while some courses are worth millions, other degrees can cost you money over your lifetime.
New research that rates college courses as investments has revealed some valuable information. Each degree has an ROI or return on investment that you can use to consider whether a course is worthwhile.
Over 30,000 degree programs from US colleges were analyzed by the Foundation for Research on Equal opportunity. They assessed the cost of tuition alone and then the costs of tuition along with all the other expenses that come with a degree course.
They also adjust the figure for the course dropout rate, which you can choose to consider or not.
Other Things to Look For in an Online College Free Course
1. Make sure the program is accredited.
This is probably the most important thing to look for in an online degree program. Accreditation means that the program has been vetted by an outside organization and meets certain standards. This is important because it means that your degree will be recognized by employers and other institutions.
2. Look for a program that offers internships or other real-world experience.
While classroom learning is important, there's no substitute for real-world experience. Many online degree programs now offer internships or other opportunities for students to get hands-on experience in their field of study. This can be a great way to make sure you're prepared for the workforce after you graduate.
3. Make sure the program fits your schedule.
This is especially important if you're working full-time or have other commitments outside of school. Many online degree programs offer flexible scheduling options that allow you to study on your own time. This can make it much easier to fit school into your busy life.
Why Consider ROI to Choose Your Degree
The report reveals that some courses will give you a probable return on your investment of over 3 million dollars, and other courses will probably cause you to lose over a million dollars on your investment.
Using the report to help you decide which course to take can determine whether your investment in time and money pays off.
For example, if you wanted to study philosophy and chose the University of Connecticut, you could expect to lose, on average, over half a million dollars on your investment.
If you studied Philosophy at Dartmouth, you could expect a return on your investment of 1.8 million dollars over your lifetime.
The cost of your degree should not be your first concern, especially if you are getting scholarships and financial aid. Only consider the price if you can’t afford to pay for it or get scholarships.
For example, Stanford University in California is dedicated to ensuring that anyone accepted at their college can get the financial aid they need. So, if you were interested in studying philosophy, you could choose their Cognitive Science degree.
This course combines philosophy, psychology, linguistics, and computer modeling. Stanford’s Cognitive Science degree has an ROI of just under 3 million dollars.
Which Types of Degrees are the Most Rewarding?
On average, STEM or science, technology, engineering, and math degrees are the most rewarding financially. However, some bachelor’s degrees that don’t pay much such as in the social sciences, can become well-paying if a master's degree is obtained.
Don’t just consider starting salary; look at lifetime earnings for a career and balance your choice with your interests and talents to find the most rewarding degree.
Avoid courses with a negative or low ROI unless you know the degree will pay off for you.
For example, degrees in Dance are notoriously unprofitable. Still, if your employer were willing to promote you from a part-time assistant to a full-time teacher if you obtained a BA in dance, then it would be profitable for you.
The Cost of Getting a Degree
According to the Education Data Initiative, the average cost of attending a 4 year in-state institution is $102,828, and the cost of a private nonprofit 4 year degree is $218,000 over four years.
USNews recently reported that average online bachelor’s programs cost $40,000 to $ 60,000 over 4 years.
Is an Online Degree Right for You?
In recent years, online degrees have become more and more popular. And it's no wonder why! They offer a flexible, convenient way to get a degree without uprooting your life and moving to a new city or state.
You can choose a self-paced online program that offers flexibility if you have a busy schedule.
On the downside, there is less social interaction than you will get from a traditional degree experience. You also may have to deal with technical difficulties. Finally, if you are in a more conventional field or have a conservative employer, they may not give your online degree as much weight.
Other Online Colleges Free Courses
If your main goal is to learn or improve your opportunities for more pay and advancement at work, then a free online certificate program might be the best option.
There are incredible courses offered by the finest educational institutions in the world, free of charge.
Many courses can give you credit towards a degree, but most are short courses, tasters, and boot camps.
The universities work with online providers and usually offer free and paid courses.
The top providers for online college free courses are:
- LinkedIn Learning
Some examples of the courses you can enjoy are:
- Organizational Analysis
- Introduction to Statistics
- Writing in the Sciences
University Of London-
- Brand Management
University of Michigan-
- Successful Negotiation
- Agile with Atlassian Jira
- Technology Bootcamp
Other Universities with full courses are MIT, Yale, and Georgia Tech. The list of courses is exciting and endless.
Other Costs for Getting an Online Degree or certificate
When considering the cost of an online degree, even if it is tuition-free, it is vital to consider the cost of other needs. For example, textbooks cost much more than regular books, and the average yearly price is $1,226.
Save Money on Textbooks to make Online Colleges Free
Over half of all students skip buying a textbook at some point because of cost. Don’t let the quality of your education slide because you can’t afford a book.
We have gathered together some ways you can avoid paying for your textbooks.
Use Free Open Source Textbooks
Check for open source materials, also known as OERs or OEMs. Many universities are now allowing their students to use these free materials.
Open source means that learning resources are made available to everyone with the permission of their creators.
Here are a few options for you:
This internet nonprofit also hosts the Wayback machine. You can search for millions of free books, audio, and movies on this open-source platform.
A famous high-quality resource, Project Gutenberg has over 60,000 books in its literary archive and is well worth looking for textbooks.
This resource is provided free of cost by Rice University, and they offer peer-reviewed open texts for undergraduates.
BC Open Ed
This Canadian open source portal is dedicated to helping students afford post-secondary education.
Their open textbooks are available online in shareable formats to be used by anyone who wants to use them.
You can find even more open-source options on the Texas A and M University Library webpage.
There are also other ways you can get less expensive or even free books.
Buy older editions. Quite often, new additions have very little new information, and you can ask your instructor if the older edition will be sufficient.
Look for international editions. As long as they are in English or a language, you are fluent in. International editions are usually 60% less expensive than the US versions.
Ask other students in the year ahead of you if you can buy their used books or buy used books online.
Get an American Opportunity Tax Credit for the amount of money you spend on textbooks up to $2,500 per year. Fill out and submit an IRS Form 8863 with your annual taxes.
Choosing the Best Online Colleges From the Free Options
Congratulations on deciding to continue your education!
Whether you’re looking into online colleges free with financial aid or trying to find scholarships to make your education free, there are almost infinite choices.
To choose the best option for you, consider your goals, look at how much time you have, and estimate how much financial aid you can expect. Then, look for options that give you the best return on your investment.
Good luck on your journey toward higher education!
From Getting Your GED to a Master's Degree - Our Comprehensive Guide to a FREE Education Online
Did you know you can get a GED all the way up to a Master's degree online for free? Our complete guide shows you how to get a free education including how to apply for scholarships and grants.
We even cover topics such as how to save money on textbooks and other school essentials.
Take Charge of Your Future, "The Ultimate Guide to Online Classes for Adults: Get a Free Education Online".