As tuition costs skyrocket, the idea of a free education may seem too good to be true. But a number of states offer free tuition programs for those who qualify, and they’re worth checking out if you’re considering college or going back to school. Last week we looked at the free tuition programs of San Francisco, New York, Oregon and Rhode Island. In this part, we cover the rest on the list. Let’s start with Tennessee.


Tennessee is another state with a Promise Scholarship program. Their program started in 2014 and only covered recent high school graduates until the program expanded. Starting in the fall of 2018, adults not having an associate’s or bachelor’s degree can go to one of the state’s community colleges or technical school’s tuition free also.


The Taylor Opportunity Program has provided tuition-free funding for eligible students for decades, so their program is not new … but it has changed over time. Students qualify by meeting two requirements: graduating from a Louisiana high school and having at least a 2.5 GPA in core classes.

Due to an unexpected and unresolved funding shortfall, the state could not fund the program for the last academic year, but funding has since been restored for the 2017/2018 school year that just started a few weeks ago and will continue well into the foreseeable future.


Enacted last year, Minnesota’s MnSCU Two-Year Occupational Grant Pilot Program includes 1,200 high-demand career programs at 30 of its community colleges and technical schools. The program provides free tuition to high school graduates or GED recipients of families making less than $90,000 and who enroll in one or two-year programs.


Called the Arkansas Future Grant Program, it is a program like Minnesota, in that it pays tuition and mandatory fees for students pursuing high-demand training at any of its public two-year or technical schools. Students must be graduates from an Arkansas public, private or home school program or hold a GED; or if graduated from an outstate program, have resided in Arkansas for at least three years.

South Dakota

South Dakota’s Build Dakota Scholarship Fund is similar in nature to the programs in Arkansas and Minnesota in that it too provides funding for high-demand career and technical education (CTE) at the state’s four technical institutes. From engineering to agriculture, healthcare to computers, and including many of the technical trades, there are 71 eligible programs available for the 2018/2019 academic year.

Eligibility starts with a student already accepted into one of S.D. technical schools, be a U.S. citizen or National, and show a financial need as demonstrated through a FAFSA application. If approved, the student must maintain full-time student status, a GPA of at least 2.5 and agree to work in S.D. for three years after graduating.

Many of the above tuition-free programs are known as “final free” tuition programs, meaning the program pays the difference left after other financial aid sources of funding are applied towards tuition. Any of these programs can be a real financial boost to eligible students residing in these states and city who may have otherwise not been able to afford to go to school.

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Kness retired in November 2007 as a Senior Noncommissioned Officer after serving 36 years of service with the Minnesota Army National Guard of which 32 of those years were in a full-time status along with being a traditional guardsman. Kness takes pride in being able to still help veterans, military members, and families as they struggle through veteran and dependent education issues.