If you're looking for a bargain education, don't count public colleges out of your search.
The University of Michigan is the latest institution to offer a tuition-free education for some students. The school announced Thursday that its "Go Blue Guarantee" program, starting in 2018, will cover tuition for up to four years for in-state students with family income of as much as $65,000 and who meet other eligibility criteria. Students can also apply for financial aid to cover housing and other costs.
"Today, our long-standing commitment to ensuring that qualified students from Michigan can afford a U-M education becomes a guarantee," University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel said in the announcement.
The Michigan program comes on the heels of New York state passing a free-tuition initiative as part of its state budget this spring.
The Excelsior Scholarship will supplement aid for in-state residents whose families earn $125,000 or less, providing tuition-free education at all New York public two- and four-year colleges. It phases in over three years, starting in the fall of 2017 for New Yorkers earning up to $100,000 and increasing to $110,000 in 2018.
Tennessee and Oregon also have programs offering free tuition at two-year community colleges.
Free tuition doesn't mean zero costs, however. New Yorkers eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship, for example, will still be on the hook for room and board and other expenses — and although the number of parents saving for college hit an all-time high last year, the median balance isn't enough to cover even a year of in-state expenses at a public, four-year college.
Among other requirements, students must also agree to live and work in New York for the same number of years after graduation as they received the scholarship.