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Which States Offer Tuition-Free Community College?

By Cece Gilmore

Cece Gilmore is a Content Writer at Scholarships360. Cece earned her undergraduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from Arizona State University. While at ASU, she was the education editor as well as a published staff reporter at Downtown Devil. Cece was also the co-host of her own radio show on Blaze Radio ASU.

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Edited by Maria Geiger

Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Updated: April 18th, 2024
Which States Offer Tuition-Free Community College?

While tuition-free community colleges are not supported on the federal level, more and more states are offering tuition-free community college.  Learn more about which states offer free community college as well as the eligibility requirements!

What is tuition-free community college?

Tuition-free community colleges offer eligible students the opportunity to attend a two-year higher educational institution without paying tuition. It is important to recognize that some programs cover tuition only. There are typically other costs associated with attending community college that you might have to pay for. These charges might include enrollment and lab fees as well as books. In addition, general living expenses such as housing, transportation, and food are usually not covered. 

Don’t miss: How to transfer from community college to a four-year university

First dollar vs last dollar grants

Most community colleges utilize first or last dollar grants for their students. The most common type of scholarship or grant used by community colleges in the United States are last dollar grants. 

First dollar grant

First dollar funds are provided to eligible students and do not consider any additional funding or grants that students are eligible for. Therefore, first dollar grants typically cover day-to-day living costs associated with being a community college student, including transportation, textbooks, and other costs. 

Last dollar grant

Last dollar grants first consider any additional public funding or grants that the student is eligible for. The total amount of funds a student receives is used to cover the direct costs of being a student. 

Unlike first dollar grants, last dollar grants do not have the ability to reduce the associated costs that come with being a student (such as living expenses). 

Also see: How to find a roommate

What states offer tuition-free community college? 

Over 30 states currently offer tuition-free associate degrees. The eligibility and fine print associated with receiving a tuition-free community college experience differs from state to state, so do your research. Remember, this list is growing each year, so if you don’t see your state on it, check back!

Here is a current list of all of the states that offer tuition-free community college: 

  1. Arkansas
  2. California
  3. Connecticut
  4. Delaware
  5. Georgia
  6. Hawaii
  7. Indiana
  8. Iowa
  9. Kansas
  10. Kentucky
  11. Louisiana
  12. Maine 
  13. Maryland
  14. Michigan
  15. Missouri
  16. Montana
  17. Nevada
  18. New Jersey
  19. New Mexico
  20. New York
  21. North Carolina
  22. Oklahoma
  23. Oregon
  24. Rhode Island
  25. South Carolina
  26. Tennessee
  27. Vermont
  28. Virginia
  29. Washington
  30. West Virginia
  31. Wyoming

A breakdown of each state’s program for free community college tuition


Arkansas offers a grant called the AR Futures Grant. This educational grant provides last-dollar scholarships for two years of tuition and fees at community and technical colleges in Arkansas. 

This grant applies to students enrolled in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) or regional high demand areas of study. This grant is available on a first come, first serve basis.

  • Eligibility: Graduate of an Arkansas high school and enrolled part or full-time at an approved institution of higher education
  • Years of free-tuition offered: 2 years 


The California College Promise Program is a program that provides free tuition to students who attend California community colleges for the first two years of their education. 

This program isn’t available at all California community colleges. In addition, if you are eligible and choose to take part in this program, you will still have other costs to consider. These can include the cost of housing, textbooks, and/or food. 

  • Eligibility: California resident, low-income, and enrolled in an eligible major
  • Years of free-tuition offered: 2 years 


Pledge to Advance CT covers the tuition of first and full-time students at one of 12 community and technical colleges. PACT is open to Connecticut residents regardless of income level. 

  • Eligibility: Graduate of a Connecticut high school, first time student, and enrolled full-time (12 credits per semester) 
  • Years of free-tuition offered: 3 years 


The Student Excellence Equals Degree (SEED) scholarship is a last-dollar free-tuition program offered to Delawareans who are pursuing an academic degree or a workforce training certificate. 

The SEED scholarship can be applied to one of the following: 

  • Associate degree
  • Diploma
  • Credit certificate
  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Workforce training program at Delaware Tech

The SEED scholarship does not cover course and book fees. 

  • Eligibility: Graduate of a Delaware high school or Delaware resident over 25
  • Years of free-tuition offered: 5 years  (full associate degree and one additional year toward a bachelor’s degree) 


The Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally (HOPE) Grant and Zell Miller Grant are available for students pursuing a higher education in Georgia. 

  • Eligibility: Georgia residents who are working towards a certificate or diploma at an eligible Georgia college or university 
  • Years of free-tuition offered: Up to 127 hours


The Hawai’i Promise Program is a last-dollar scholarship that provides free in-state tuition for qualified University of Hawai’i Community College students. The Hawai’i Promise Program covers all direct education costs which includes tuition, fees, textbooks, and transportation. 

  • Eligibility: Demonstrate financial need and qualify for in-state tuition by residing in the state for at least a full calendar year prior to applying
  • Years of free-tuition offered: 4 years


The Next Level Jobs Workforce Ready Grant covers two years of tuition and fees to one of the five approved programs in Indiana. The grant does not cover program-specific fees and equipment. 

  • Eligibility: Indiana resident and enroll in a qualifying program at an eligible institution
  • Years of free-tuition offered: 2 years


The Future Ready Iowa Last-Dollar Scholarship is a last-dollar scholarship that covers the remaining amount of money a student owes after federal and state grants. 

  • Eligibility: Graduates of Iowa high schools who meet ongoing requirements
  • Years of free-tuition offered: 5 full-time semesters or 8 part-time semesters


The Kansas Promise Act Scholarship is a last-dollar grant that pays remaining tuition, fees, and textbook costs for Kansas community college students. 

Eligible areas of study include IT, healthcare, advanced manufacturing, and early childhood education. Other programs may be approved if they lead to a critical need for occupation.

  • Eligibility: Kansas residents, military members stationed in Kansas, need to graduate within 30 months, must be enrolled in eligible major
  • Years of free-tuition offered: 2 years


The Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship is a last-dollar scholarship available to Kentucky residents without any income or GPA restrictions.

  • Eligibility: Kentucky residents
  • Years of free-tuition offered: Up to 60 credits 


The Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) is a program that covers the tuition and fees of schools that are a part of the Louisiana Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.

There are four grants available:

  • TOPS Opportunity Award
  • The TOPS Performance Award
  • The TOPS Honors Award
  • TOPS Tech Award
  • Eligibility: You must enroll one year after graduating high school, SAT/ACT and GPA requirements
  • Years of free-tuition offered: 2 years


The Free College Scholarship is available to high school graduates. The grant program covers tuition and mandatory fees for up to two years at any of Maine’s seven community colleges.

  • Eligibility: You must be a high school graduate from the classes of 2020 through 2025
  • Years of free-tuition offered: 2 years


The Maryland Community College Promise Scholarship is a last-dollar program available to students attending a community college in Maryland. 

  • Eligibility: Graduate of a Maryland high school, enrolled as a full-time student at a Maryland community college
  • Amount offered: Award is limited to $5,000 per recipient


Michigan Reconnect is a last-dollar program that covers tuition and mandatory fees for adult learners. Students must attend a school where they are considered “in-district” in order to receive full tuition coverage. However, if a student attends a school that is considered out-of-district, then they will have to pay the difference between in-district and out-of-district tuition rates. 

  • Eligibility: Michigan residents ages 25 and over 
  • Years of free-tuition offered: 4 years


The A+ Scholarship Program provides last-dollar funding to Missouri students that participate in the A+ Schools Program framework. The program aims to improve educational graduation rates by encouraging students to work towards a postsecondary education. 

  • Eligibility: Must spend 2 years prior to high school graduation at an A+ designated high school, maintain a 95% attendance record, and provide 50 hours of unpaid mentoring. Students also must work in Missouri for three years post-graduation
  • Years of free-tuition offered: 2 years


The Montana Promise Grant is a last-dollar funding grant that prioritizes students with financial needs, students applying to high-demand labor markets and students who have recently graduated from high school. 

  • Eligibility: Students who have at least a 2.5 GPA in high school and completed at least 8 hours of community service per semester
  • Years of free-tuition offered: 2 years


The Nevada Promise is a last-dollar scholarship program that helps Nevada high school graduates afford community college. 

  • Eligibility: Nevada residents who have earned a Nevada high school diploma
  • Years of free-tuition offered: 3 years

New Jersey

The New Jersey Community College Opportunity Grant is a last-dollar grant program for New Jersey residents. This program is available at any of the 18 community colleges located in New Jersey. 

  • Eligibility: New Jersey residents with an AGI between $0 – $80,000, enrolled in at least 6 credits per semester at one of New Jersey’s community colleges, have not yet earned a degree
  • Years of free-tuition offered: 4 years

New Jersey also offers the NJ Stars program that provides high achieving New Jersey students with free tuition at their home county colleges. 

  • Eligibility: New Jersey resident who ranks in the top 15% of their high school class
  • Years of free-tuition offered: Up to 5 semesters

New Mexico

The New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship is a first dollar scholarship that covers 100% of the tuition and fees bill of twenty-nine 2 and 4-year New Mexico colleges.

  • Eligibility: Recent New Mexico high school graduates who take at least six credit hours per semester
  • Years of free-tuition offered: Until students receive either an associates or bachelor’s degree 

New York

The Excelsior Scholarship allows New York students to attend SUNY and CUNY schools on a last-dollar scholarship. The Excelsior Scholarship covers SUNY and CUNY schools as well as New York community colleges and the statutory colleges at both Cornell University and Alfred University. 

  • Eligibility: New York State residents in good standing with existing loans and eligible family income. After graduation, scholarship recipients must live and work in New York for the same number of years for which they received the award
  • Years of free-tuition offered: 4 years with a cap at $5,500 per award cycle

North Carolina

The North Carolina Longleaf Commitment Grant provides funding to low-income North Carolina Community College students taking at least six college credits per semester

  • Eligibility: North Carolina high school graduates with a Student Aid Index (SAI) lower than $15,000
  • Years of free-tuition offered: 2 years with a cap at $2,800 per year


The Oklahoma Promise Program offers qualified Oklahoma students the opportunity to have their public college tuition paid in full or private college tuition paid partially. 

  • Eligibility: Oklahoma students from families earning less than $60,000 per year who enroll in the program between the ages of 13 to 17
  • Years of free-tuition offered: As many as 5 years


The Oregon Promise Grant is a state grant that helps to cover tuition costs of students attending any Oregon community college. The award amount ranges anywhere from $2,000 to over $4,000

  • Eligibility: Oregon residents or Oregon high school graduates (students must apply during their senior year of high school)
  • Years of free-tuition offered: No time limit, but only covers up to 90 college credits

Rhode Island

Rhode Island’s Promise provides Rhode Islanders with up to two years of tuition-free education at the Community College of Rhode Island or the last two years at one of the state’s four-year colleges tuition-free. The Rhode Island’s Promise program is a last-dollar scholarship. 

  • Eligibility: Rhode Island resident who live and work in Rhode Island after graduation
  • Years of free-tuition offered: 2 years

South Carolina

The South Carolina Workforce Scholarship Program is a program that covers the tuition and fees of students who attend South Carolina technical colleges. This program was created to help improve the state’s labor shortage. 

  • Eligibility: South Carolina residents who are employed. Applicants must take a financial literacy course or complete 100 hours of volunteer work with a nonprofit or public service organization
  • Years of free-tuition offered: 2 years


The Tennessee Promise Scholarship is a last-dollar scholarship that covers two years of tuition at any of the state’s 13 community colleges and 27 technical colleges. 

  • Eligibility: Tennessee residents who received a high school diploma before their 19th birthday
  • Years of free-tuition offered: 2 years


The 802 Opportunity Grant covers last-dollar tuition expenses for Vermont residents with demonstrated financial need. Grant recipients are free to pursue any associate degree track — associate of arts (AA) or associate of science (AS) — offered by CCV.

  • Eligibility: Vermont residents whose families’ adjusted gross income is $75,000 or less as reflected on their FAFSA
  • Years of free-tuition offered: 2 years


The Virginia G3 Programs allows the 23 Virginia community colleges to be tuition-free for students in the high-demand fields of the following programs: 

  • IT
  • Public safety
  • Healthcare
  • Skilled trades
  • Construction
  • Early childhood education

Besides covering tuition, the program additionally provides grants of up to $900 per semester for full-time eligible students to help them afford transportation and childcare.

  • Eligibility: Virginia residents 
  • Years of free-tuition offered: 3 years 

Also see: Can you use student loans to pay for off campus housing?


The Washington College Grant provides Washington residents with the opportunity to attend public colleges tuition free or at a reduced price. The full tuition free award covers the cost of tuition at participating public, private, community, and technical colleges. 

  • Eligibility: Washington residents
  • Years of free-tuition offered: 4 years 

West Virginia

West Virginia Invests is a last-dollar program designed to cover the cost of tuition and fees for certificate or associate degree programs in specific high-demand fields. The West Virginia Department of Commerce determines eligible programs based on workforce needs. 

  • Eligibility: West Virginia residents with U.S. citizenship
  • Years of free-tuition offered: 2 years 


The Hathaway Scholarship helps Wyoming students by partially covering the tuition of either the University of Wyoming or at any of the Wyoming community colleges. It is a merit-based scholarship that has four award tiers that each have their own requirements and rules. 

  • Eligibility: Every Wyoming middle and high school student is automatically eligible. Recipients must maintain a certain GPA score and achieve certain class requirements
  • Years of free-tuition offered: 4 years 

Other ways to fund community college

Complete and submit the FAFSA

The Financial Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is a form you submit for every year you plan to attend college or university. The FAFSA allows you to apply for federal student aid including federal grants, work-study and loans. 

Many colleges and universities use FAFSA information to determine your eligibility status for specific school scholarships or grants they offer. The FAFSA provides a number of opportunities to receive assistance with funding your education. We can’t stress it enough–fill out the FAFSA!

Find a part or full-time job

Working, either part or full-time, provides you with additional funding and can help you offset some educational costs. Community colleges are typically designed around students who work. Therefore, there may be online or night classes you can attend to help successfully juggle a job and your education. 

Related: How to find an online job for college students

Participate in work-study if applicable

You may qualify for work-study after submitting your FAFSA. The Federal Work-Study program provides part-time jobs for undergraduate graduate students who demonstrate financial need. 

Typically, the job offered will be on campus and you will be given the opportunity to work for your school. However, it might be possible to  work off-campus for a private nonprofit organization or a public agency. 

Typically, you will earn the minimum wage in your state and your working hours cannot exceed your total Federal Work-Study award. 

Related: How to pay for housing

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Final thoughts

As shown, the majority of states offer some kind of tuition-free program for community college. Some states even offer stipends for living expenses (housing, food, and transportation) for community college students with demonstrated financial need. Tuition free community college might be the ideal place to start, so make sure you check out all of your options. Best of luck to you on your academic journey!

Also see: Can you get a bachelor’s from a community college?

Frequently asked questions

Do tuition-free community college programs cover additional costs such as textbooks, fees, and living expenses?

Some programs will cover additional expenses beyond tuition such as textbooks and fees while others may not. 

Why do some states offer tuition-free community college?

The primary purpose is to increase access to higher education and workforce training as well as to reduce any financial barriers for students.

Do these programs cover both in-state and out-of-state students?

Generally, tuition-free community college programs are designed for in-state residents, but each state’s policy may differ.

Can I transfer my credits to a four-year institution after completing my associates degree through a tuition-free program?

Yes! Most programs are designed to facilitate seamless credit transfer to four-year institutions to encourage further education.

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