Everyone I talk to wants to go to college for free. I mean, who wouldn’t? Living without the spectre of student loan debt sounds ideal. No matter where you go to school, it’s first imperative to know how much you are expected to pay. Make sure you understand the difference in tuition costs and figure out how much your family’s income bracket would be charged.

I help students in Indiana discover the American Honors program at Ivy Tech Community College (yes, the same Ivy Tech where the President spoke.) Most these students are looking for a way to get a great college experience without taking on too much debt. Luckily, I've found the best ways to go to college for free in Indiana.

1) Take dual credit classes.

Dual credit classes are classes that count for both high school and college credit. These courses are (typically) offered for free on your high school campus.

Beyond that, Ivy Tech Community College often has scholarships set aside for high school students to take college credits on their campus in the evening or weekends. If you play your cards right, you can probably take the equivalent of a year of college coursework for free.

Doing well in these classes can also lead to merit scholarships dollars wherever you transfer.

2) Check out the Independent Colleges Indiana scholarships.

This organization (found here) administers a few great full-ride scholarships. From the Dream scholarships for first generation college students to the Lilly Endowment Fund, there are great funding resources.

Look at your local community foundation as well, oftentimes they have dollars set aside for students who want to stay local.

And of course, you can always expand your scholarship search outside of Indiana.

3) The 21st Century Scholars Program.

After registering in the seventh grade, make sure to follow the steps outlined on the program’s website.

This program will only pay for tuition and fees, but it can be the answer for many families. If you are in this program, then Ivy Tech will be paid for.

4) The Pell Grant and other federal dollars.

The Pell grant will cover Ivy Tech’s full tuition with a little bit left over. You can earn an Associate’s Degree, then use some of the transfer scholarships to hopefully cover the difference for your junior and senior year.

Other federal dollars include veterans benefits. Here is a list of FAQs from the Dept. of Veterans Affairs that can show you what is included and not included depending on your service benefit. Be sure to attend an accredited institution to fully utilize your benefit.

5) Transfer scholarships.

In the past few years, funding models for colleges have changed to reward colleges for completion instead of enrollment. So, colleges need to strategically give financial aid dollars to students that they feel confident will complete, not just register.

As a transfer student, you are situated to do just that. Starting at Ivy Tech can help you benefit from a lower tuition (that is often covered with financial aid) and higher financial aid packages when you graduate with your Associate’s Degree. (Get the complete transfer checklist.)

Specifically, at IUPUI, there are special scholarships set aside just for students who graduate with their Associate’s Degree.

How are you paying for college? Tell us your best methods (or biggest questions) in the comments.


Authored by Kate Hunger

Kate helps students find their best fit school. She writes about the essential, surprising, and sometimes funny questions everyone has while applying to college.