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What Colleges Offer Courses That Don’t Require Tuition Upfront or At All?

4 min read

By ActiveBeat Author

Do you wish to pursue a degree in your desired field, but excessively high tuition rates are holding you back? You are not alone. Despite a solid jobs report, student loan debt exceeded $1.7 trillion with more than 45 million borrowers across the United States. With high-interest rates, an average undergraduate accrues $27,000 in student debt.

Completing a college degree is a costly endeavor, and tuition payments typically make up the more significant part of the fee. Fortunately, many educational institutes today offer deferred tuition fee plans, making it easier for you to achieve your academic goals successfully.

By reducing or deferring the burden of upfront payment, colleges can lower the barriers to entry and encourage more students to learn. This makes it easy for many young men and women to find courses that interest them without worrying about student loan debt.

Unlike the four-year college program, many of these opportunities don’t require you to pay until you find work within a specified salary criterion and period. This, in turn, allows students to utilize this opportunity and enhance their academic futures optimally.

Lambda School

Programs at Lambda School include:

  • A six-month course for computer science that teaches significant programming languages, and;
  • A seven-month course for data science that prepares the students for a career specifically in machine learning.

All classes take place virtually.

Lambda School doesn’t ask for tuition. Instead, they require students to pay for their education when they get a job that pays a $50,000 salary on an annual basis. Once students receive a job that meets these minimum salary criteria, they must pay back 17 percent of their salary over two years (with $30,000 as the maximum payment cap).

If students don’t find a job that meets these income criteria, they aren’t required to pay a cent. And if they lose their job or their monthly payment drops below $4, 166.66, they can pause the compensation for that particular month.

App Academy

App Academy has a 12-week course where students get training on the skills they need to become software developers. They can attend classes in either New York or San Francisco, or enroll in a 24-week online course.

Students who sign up for the New York or San Francisco campus courses can defer their payment until post-graduation. In return, the institute collects a portion of their first-year salary once they earn $50,000 in total compensation.

App Academy doesn’t charge any additional tuition if students don’t find a job in one year of graduating.


Thinkful offers a full-time virtual course that educates and trains students to become software engineers in as little as 5-months. Other options include monthly weekend and night programs. Moreover, students can avail themselves of one-on-one mentorship from a personal career coach and an industry expert.

Students don’t have to pay any tuition until they are able to earn over $40,000 on an annual basis. At that point, they need to pay back 15-percent of their salary for three years. If students switch jobs and their income drops below $40,000, they can pause their payment for 24 months.

University of the People

University of the People (UoPeople) offers four-year bachelor’s and two-year associate degree programs in computer science, health science, and business administration. Recently, UoPeople has launched an online Master of Education (M.Ed.) tuition-free.

UoPeople is tuition-free and doesn’t charge for instruction or teaching. The university charges students only an assessment fee and application fee per course completed. For those individuals who cannot afford the application and assessment fees, the UoPeople offers scholarships that aim to help and support students with their studies.

Columbia University

Columbia University facilitates students by helping them pay for their courses without incurring student debt loans. It’s possible to find several need-based and need-blind applications. These financial aids ensure that learners get the maximum benefit from enrolling in Columbia University irrespective of their economic class.

Furthermore, the university offers concessions to students whose calculated families’ income is less than $60,000. In total, Columbia spends over $150 million each year on grants and scholarships.


MIT helps both domestic and international undergraduate students receive the necessary education. In fact, the average fee for undergraduates who receive financial aid was $21,917 during the 2019-2020 year. For students who have family incomes below $90,000 annually, the institute makes sure that they can avail scholarship funding to attend MIT tuition-free.⁠

Furthermore, MIT offers OpenCourseWare (OCW) that facilitates students with free course content and materials online. OCW is a web-based publication that consists of all course content from MIT. It is available and accessible to all, which empowers learners and helps them improve by providing additional resources free of cost.

Wrapping Up

No student deserves to be weighted down under backbreaking debt when they’re just starting their professional lives. Chances are that with a little bit of due diligence, you can find tuition-free college programs that interest you. This way, you can get the education you need to build a promising career without paying for it for the rest of your life.

Tuition-free courses are a practical way to mitigate the system’s existing inequities, helping students from a lower-income background achieve their academic goals. If you are looking for low-cost options instead, Grad School Hub offers a list of the top 30 masters programs arranged by tuition costs so you can easily find more affordable options.

ActiveBeat Author


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