Updated 9/10/13: This article has been updated to reflect information for the 2013-2014 school year.
A handful of colleges and universities don't add tuition to students' bills, which can add up to major cost savings for those who qualify or who are willing to work in return for their education.
Some of the schools that don't charge tuition are quite small, many require some form of service and a few have strict eligibility guidelines. Most still charge room, board and other fees, so they're not completely free, notes Pamela Rambo, founder of the education-focused Rambo Research and Consulting firm.
"It is a big savings, but it's not for everybody," she notes. "There are lots of ways to look at going to college for less money."
[Find other ways to pay for college.]
With that caveat, and bearing in mind that this list may not be exhaustive, here are 12 tuition-free schools you may want to check out.
• Alice Lloyd College, Pippa Passes, Ky.: Nestled in the Appalachian Mountains, this school offers a free tuition guarantee, but only to full-time students from one of the 108 counties in the Central Appalachian service area. The area encompasses districts in Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, and the college's home state of Kentucky. U.S. News rank: 40, Regional Colleges (South)
[Find out how to save money through regional tuition breaks.]
• Berea College, Berea, Ky.: Students do not pay tuition at this Christian college but must participate in the Student Labor Program. All full-time students work at least 10 hours a week on campus, and can receive additional, low wages ($4.10 to $7.25 an hour) for their hours. U.S. News rank: 76, National Liberal Arts Colleges
• College of the Ozarks, Point Lookout, Mo.: This Christian school foots the bill for students' tuition in exchange for 15 hours of on-campus work per week, plus two 40-hour work weeks each year during semester breaks. Nearly 94 percent of incoming students demonstrate financial need, and jobs range from custodial work to dairy farming. U.S. News rank: 10, Regional Colleges (Midwest)
• Cooper Union, New York City: Currently, all admitted students receive full-tuition scholarships to this urban institution known for art, architecture and engineering. This is the final year Cooper Union students are guaranteed a tuition-free education, though, as the school will switch to half-tuition scholarships starting fall 2014. The awards are merit-based, so students can apply for need-based financial aid to cover remaining tuition. U.S. News rank: 1, Regional Colleges (North)
• Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia: Students who apply to this small music school are evaluated on "artistic promise" alone, according to the institution's mission statement, and must audition for a spot on the roster. All accepted students receive full-tuition scholarships. U.S. News rank: Unranked
• Deep Springs College, Big Pine, Calif.: This two-year school only enrolls about 25 students at a time. Those students work on the school's cattle ranch and alfalfa farm to supplement their studies and receive scholarships to cover tuition and room and board for two years. Most students transfer to a four-year college to complete their degree. An all-male school, Deep Springs planned to admit female students in 2013, but a judge barred the school from doing so after alumni sued the institution. The school is appealing the court's decision. As a two-year institution, Deep Springs is not included in the U.S. News rankings.
•Webb Institute, Glen Cove, N.Y.: Students pay no tuition or fees at this school, which bills itself as "the only college in the country devoted to ship design engineering." The school is very small, enrolling fewer than 80 students. U.S. News rank: Unranked
• Service academies: Pledging to serve the country can mean major educational benefits. The five institutions below tend to have rigorous application processes – all but the Coast Guard Academy require a congressional nomination for acceptance – and require students to serve after graduation. Tuition and room and board are free.