8 colleges you can attend for free

A military academy student studies in a library at West Point.
Bob Krist | Getty Images

Americans have more student debt than ever beforee. Currently, over 44 million Americans hold a total of $1.4 trillion in student loan debt, and it takes the average student debt borrower 20 years to pay off their loans. For-profit colleges and private loans can be particularly treacherous traps that can tie students to mountains of student loans.

But some schools are demonstrating a commitment to accessibility and affordability. In fact, these eight schools charge absolutely nothing for tuition.

Roommates study in their dorm room at Berea College.
Chicago Tribune | Getty Images

Berea College

Berea, Kentucky

Room and board (2017-2018): $6,534

Total enrollment: 1,665

Free tuition program: "Our Tuition Promise Scholarship guarantees no student pays tuition. Berea students pay an average of $1,000 toward housing, meals and fees, with financial assistance for books available."

Curtis Institute of Music

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Room and board (2017-2018): $15,420

Total enrollment: 175

Free tuition program: "Since 1928 Curtis has maintained an all-scholarship policy. The Curtis Institute of Music provides merit-based, full-tuition scholarships to all undergraduate and graduate students, regardless of their financial situation."

Deep Springs College

Deep Springs, California

Room and board (2017-2018): $0

Total enrollment: 24-30

Free tuition program: "Deep Springs is fully committed to ensuring that all selected applicants who wish to attend are not burdened by financial considerations. For this reason, all students receive a full scholarship valued at over $50,000, which includes tuition, room and board."

United States Air Force Academy

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Room and board (2017-2018): $0

Total enrollment: 4,237

Free tuition program: "While a cadet at the Academy, you will be fully cared for and have no student loans to worry about. Your education, valued at more than $400,000, is an investment the Air Force is willing to make in you. You will receive: Fully paid tuition, cost-free room and board, cost-free Medical care, a monthly stipend, interest-free loans to cover emergency situations if necessary, access to a low-cost, government-sponsored life insurance program."

United States Coast Guard Academy

New London, Connecticut

Room and board (2017-2018): $0

Total enrollment: 988

Free tuition program: "Tuition, room and board at the Coast Guard Academy are paid for by the government. All cadets receive pay totaling approximately $12,000 per year. Cadet pay is furnished by the government for uniforms, military equipment, academic supplies including textbooks and personal expenses."

United States Military Academy

West Point, New York

Room and board (2017-2018): $0

Total enrollment: 4,389

Free tuition program: "Those who are selected to attend USMA receive a college education that is unparalleled in the world with tuition, room and board, and expenses fully paid."

United States Naval Academy

Annapolis, Maryland

Room and board (2017-2018): $0

Total enrollment: 4,526

Free tuition program: "There is no tuition or financial aid at the Naval Academy. The Navy pays 100% of the tuition, room and board, medical and dental care costs of Naval Academy midshipmen."

Webb Institute

Glen Cove, NY

Room and board (2017-2018): $14,750

Total enrollment: 92

Free tuition program: "Webb Institute provides all enrolled students full-tuition scholarships to U.S. citizens and permanent residents, valued at $48,350 for the 2017-2018 academic year. Webb Institute also offers need-based aid to help cover additional costs of attending."

Not only do these schools help students cut down on costs, but they also provide students with a high-quality education. For instance, Deep Springs College is one of the most selective schools in the country and only 10 percent of applicants are accepted. At Deep Springs, students work on a desert ranch and learn from a close-knit community of faculty. After two years, students often continue their studies at some of the most elite academic institutions in the world.

At Webb Institute, students receive a dual bachelor of science degree in naval architecture and marine engineering and guaranteed paid internships during all four years. Graduates have a 100 percent job placement rate and enjoy some of the highest starting salaries in the nation.

Schools affiliated with the armed forces, like the United States Military Academy, also rank highly on lists of schools whose graduates make the most money. Recent West Point graduates make $75,100 on average and have no student loans.

At some of these schools students still have to consider the cost of books, fees and room and board. But by cutting out tuition, they can save some serious cash and earn a valuable education at the same time.

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