Mar 5, 2009

Tuition Free? Test Optional?

Not too long ago, I wrote about "best values" among private/public colleges and universities. Suppose I told you that beyond best values, there are colleges that are actually tuition free? Although the most obvious examples are the various military academies, a number of other schools offer options that provide virtually free postsecondary educational opportunities. A list of "100 Free College Rides You Don't Need Daddy to Pay For" was recently compiled by AdvantageEDU:

While some of these schools may not be of particular interest to you, there are other opportunities for receiving substantial support that may be more appealing and should probably be considered during your search for a college that fits both your academic and financial aid requirements. Although still in the testing stage, a website is being developed by Cappex which provides very detailed information on the vast array of merit scholarships offered by schools throughout the country. Before clicking on the student start button, I recommend searching this site through its directory:

Yes, for the most part, grades count. But you know this already! That's why I keep nagging about GPA's and other annoying numbers related to academic performance.

Now after you've thought about how much money you can save by looking for schools with great financial aid or merit scholarship programs, you might also want to consider those schools offering test optional college admissions. FairTest, the national center for fair and open testing, recently released a list of 818 colleges and universities requiring neither the SAT nor the ACT in their admissions processes:

Be aware! Many of these schools substitute outstanding academic performance (those pesky GPA's again) or ask for other evidence of academic ability (extra essays, portfolios, etc.) in place of test scores. While offering some relief to those for whom testing is a problem, these options hardly represent a free pass to college. In fact, it's sometimes easier just to take the test(s) and submit the scores.

Ms. G.

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