How to study in the USA for free (2024) – Tips & tricks

Expat life
04 May 2024
14 mins read
Written by Riona lye

In the dynamic realm of higher education, where dreams meet determination, one destination that stands out is the United States of America. While it is expensive to pursue an educational programme in the US, you can also study for free in the USA. From scholarships and grants to merit-based and need-based financial aid, you can access some of the best avenues to study simply for free!


In this blog, we will discuss how to study in the USA for free in 2024, using simple tips for international students to access financial aid. So, let us get started right away!

How to Study in the USA for Free: Key Points

Some of the top tuition-free universities in the USA:


  • Berea College
  • College of the Ozarks
  • Deep Springs College
  • Webb Institute
  • Macaulay Honors College at City University of New York


Tips to increase your chances of studying in the USA for free


  • Take advantage of grants.
  • Apply for scholarships for international students from the university, non-profit and private organisations.
  • Get employed in the Work-Study Programmes for international students.
  • Apply for financial aid for international students offered by a specific university or educational institution.
  • Benefit from the financial aid programmes by the federal government.

Top 5 Tuition-Free Universities In The USA

1. Berea College 

Berea College is a private liberal arts college that offers four-year degree programmes in 28 fields. The college aligns with an 11-to-1 student-faculty ratio consisting of about 1600 undergraduate students.


Grants or scholarships, loans, and earnings from work while studying cover the education costs and provide opportunities for study in the USA for international students for free.


A Berea Tuition Scholarship is a benefit provided to pay for the expenses remaining after federal, institutional, and other private scholarships and grants have been considered.

2. College of the Ozarks

College of the Ozarks is a private Christian liberal arts college. It provides a diverse range of over 30 majors across various disciplines. The college aligns with a 16-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio consisting of nearly 1500 students.


Every student receives a tuition assurance scholarship at the College of the Ozarks. The students participate in the on-campus word education programme, which is 15 hours per week and two 40-hour work weeks during the school year.


The federal or state financial aid for international students, work credit earned from the work education programme, and the College of the Ozarks tuition assurance scholarship covers the entire tuition fee.

3. Deep Springs College 

Deep Springs College, founded in 1917, is a liberal arts college offering a two-year full scholarship.


At Deep Springs College, all the selected applicants are not required to pay tuition fees. Every student receives a full scholarship of $50,000 to pay for tuition, room, and board fees.


Students are mandated to provide a minimal damage deposit for books, medical, travel, or incidental expenses. If the students are found to have a significant financial need and seek to study for free in the USA, these costs will be covered under the scholarship.


Note: Prices are taken from Deep Springs College on 04/04/2024 at 10:00 HRS IST.

4. Webb Institute 

Webb Institute, founded in 1889, is a popular institution devoted to Naval and Marine engineering.


It comprises 92 undergraduate students and offers educational programmes in several engineering disciplines, including marine engineering, ship design and systems engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical and civil engineering.


The renowned Webb Institute offers financial assistance in the form of need-based full tuition scholarships to all candidates in need are offered upon filing the Federal Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

5. Macaulay Honors College at City University of New York

Macaulay Honors College, founded in 2001, offers a liberal arts education and enrols over 2000 students in its honours program. The students are introduced to innovative teaching methods and engage in internships with some of the top-notch companies in New York City.


Candidates who meet the CUNY’s eligibility requirements for in-state tuition can benefit from the Macaulay Tuition Scholarship. This scholarship for international students, among others, covers eight semesters of full-time undergraduate tuition, excluding fees and expenses. The benefit is also applicable to a limited number of summer and winter sessions.

Tips To Increase Your Chances Of Studying In The USA For Free 

1. Fee waiver in application fees 

On average, applying for admission to a university in the USA can cost up to $70 – $100 for an undergraduate or postgraduate programme per university. It can accumulate to a staggering $1000 – $1500 or even more when you apply across various universities.


However, you can benefit from fee waiver options when you choose to apply to multiple universities through platforms such as the Common App. Although there are a few conditions that you need to fulfil, the benefits are widely accessible.


Note: Prices are taken LEAP SCHOLAR on 04/04/2024 at 11:00 HRS IST.

2. Fee Waivers in Entrance Exams

The next up after the application is the entrance exam for which you may need to pay. You can either find colleges that go with optional tests, which means the tests are not mandatory for the admission process or seek fee waivers for standardised tests such as the SAT.


These fee waivers are usually provided at the CollegeBoard’s official web portal which links to third-party websites that issue fee waivers. Buddy4Study is one such common website for aspiring Indian students.


Prospective graduate students can also avail of a GRE test waiver based on merit at the individual university if they have a high GPA.

3. Fee Waiver in English Proficiency Tests 

When applying for a US university, you might also incur the fees for English proficiency tests such as the TOEFL, IELTS, etc.


To get a waiver against such fee payments, you can look out for the information on the admissions detailed at the official website of the university.


Moreover, if you are a high school senior in the US, you can get access to the TOEFL Fee Waiver Reduction Service upon fulfilling the eligibility criteria. The fee reduction service is designed to provide financial support as it covers 50% of the regular test fee.

4. Financial Aid Applications

Financial aid applications are generally processed based on the CSS Profile, which is not free. The expenses get added for every new college application.


To refrain from incurring such expenses, you can look out for the IFSAA (International Student Financial Aid Application) form. Although you need to fill out this form every time you apply for a new college, it comes at absolutely no cost! If the IFSAA option isn’t available, you can ask for the waiver on the CSS Profile.

5. Scholarships and Financial Aid 

While the application and entrance exams are a small portion of the overall expenses, a great deal of money is spent on paying the tuition fees for the undergraduate or postgraduate programme. However, by combining the options for scholarships and financial aid for international students, you can skip across that as well.


Scholarships are provided based on the student profile, including academics and extracurricular activities and financial need, which includes your family’s income and expenses. Graduates applying for a Master’s degree can also seek need-based financial aid, although the options may be limited. PhD students can find fully-funded programmes that can also consist of stipends, fellowships and assistantships for international students.


You can find information regarding scholarships for international students and financial aid at the official website of the university or the institution providing the educational programme. You can also find a host of information about financial aid at the Education USA website.

6. Grants 

Grants are a form of financial aid that does not mandate repayment. They can help you cover the education expenses. Some of the common grants provided are the Pell Grant and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG).

7. Prepare an Exceptional Application Form

When applying to any university in the US, it is important to showcase your student profile, capturing the essential details with clarity and precision. Your academic achievements, extracurricular activities, and future goals must be detailed well on the application form to improve your chances of winning the scholarship advantage to study for free in the USA.

8. MOOCs for Free Education

MOOCs or Massive Online Open Courses are online courses available at no cost for everyone to enrol and advance in their career. It offers Accounting Courses, Business & Management Courses, Chemistry Courses, and Computer Programming Courses online to learn in the comfort of being anywhere while being free of cost. If you want to study in a USA university for free online, the MOOC is certainly a viable option.

Part-time jobs in USA for Students

If you are an international student in the USA, you can seek opportunities to work part-time. It is restricted by a few regulations and guidelines issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) but offers a good platform to earn while studying.


Students holding an F1 visa can work part-time and either opt for on-campus or off-campus employment. Based on the type of employment, you can work up to 20 hours a week while the school is in session and full-time up to 40 hours per week during vacations.


The total work-study award offered will depend on when you apply, your educational institution’s funding level, and your level of financial need.


Here is how you can find the 10 highest-paying part-time jobs for students in the USA in 2024.

How to get a Student Visa for the USA?

If you are a foreign citizen planning to study for free in the USA, you need to obtain a student visa. It can be a nonimmigrant visa (temporary stay) or an immigrant visa (permanent visa).


There are two different visa categories for the student visa based on the type of school you want to study:


  • F Visa – For University or college, Private elementary school, High school, Seminary, Conservatory, or another academic institution, including a language training program.
  • M Visa – For vocational or other recognised nonacademic institutions.


You can apply for the student visa offline by visiting the US Embassy or Consulate in your home country or apply online if it is applicable.

Steps To Apply For The Student Visa 
  1. Apply to a SEVP-approved School—Find a SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program)– -approved school and apply for enrolment. If the enrolment is accepted, you will be registered under the Student and apply for enrolment. If the enrolment is accepted, you will be registered under the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System and are mandated to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee. 

  2. Exchange Visitor Information System and are mandated to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee.

  3. Receive Form 1-20 – Upon successful registration, you will receive Form I-20, with which you can apply for an F or M visa at the US Embassy or Consulate office.

  4. Fill out the online visa application form—Fill out the nonimmigrant visa application form, Form DS-160. Complete the form by providing the details and print it to secure it for the interview. Upload your photo by fulfilling the requirements.

  5. Schedule an interview – If you are between the age group of 14 and 79, a visa interview is necessary, and it can be scheduled at the US Embassy or Consulate of your country.

  6. Pay the non-refundable application fee – Based on your nationality, pay the applicable fees. Click here to learn more about the fee details.

  7. Gather the necessary documents – Before attending the interview, gather the necessary documents. The documents can vary for individual profiles. Some of the most important documents are:
    1. Passport with at least a six-month validity
    2. Form DS-160 confirmation page
    3. Fee payment receipt
    4. Photographs
    5. Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant F-1 or M-1 visa, Form I-20.

  8. Prepare and attend the interview – Prepare for and attend the interview. Be clear about the purpose of your visit and stay, and ensure that you meet the requirements under US law to obtain the visa.

  9. Pay visa issuance fees – Upon approval, pay the applicable visa issuance fees to receive the passport and the visa to venture into your dream education journey.


Useful Link:



Why is Instarem the Best option for International students?

When you have started your education journey in the US, money transfer may become an integral part of your life. If you are working part-time as an international student, chances are you want to send money from the US to your home country. Alternatively, your loved ones back home may transfer money to the US to cover your living or any other expenses that may not be covered under your scholarships.


Hence, choosing the right money transfer platform like Instarem becomes imperative.

Instarem, with its advanced and innovative technology, affordability@, quick transfer* facilities and transparent processes, is regarded as one of the best money transfer options for international students.



*rates are for display purposes only.


Try Instarem for your next transfer.


Download the app or sign up here.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How to study MBBS in the USA for free?

To seek free medical education in the US, you can benefit from scholarships and grants that cover education expenses.


For example, the Harvard Medical School (HMS) Scholarships offer scholarships to candidates who opt for the HMS medical courses and cover tuition fees and mandatory fees. The National Health Service (NHS) Corps is a scholarship offered by the US Government to MBBS candidates. Also, check out the eligibility for non-US citizens for federal student aid and Education USA for more information.

How to study for a Master’s in the USA for free?

The US is a popular destination for doing a Master’s degree, although it is expensive. To apply for financial aid, you may be required to fill out the CSS Profile, International Student Financial Aid Application (IFSAA), or Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Moreover, many universities offer valuable scholarships to international students.


You can also seek the Federal Work-Study Program to earn and pay for your education by working part-time.

How do I apply for financial aid as an international student in the USA?

To apply for financial aid, you have to find the requirements of the scholarships or grants specific to the university. However, you may be mandated to fill out the CSS Profile, International Student Financial Aid Application (IFSAA), or Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Can an Indian study in the USA for free?

Yes, Indians can study in the USA for free by applying for financial aid at their respective universities, including full tuition scholarships and grants to fund their education.

Are there free universities in the USA?

Yes, universities do offer full-tuition scholarships to study in the USA university for free. Some of the top tuition-free universities in the USA:

  • Berea College
  • College of the Ozarks
  • Deep Springs College
  • Webb Institute
  • Macaulay Honors College at City University of New York
Can I study and move to the US for free?

Yes, financial aid opportunities such as grants and scholarships can help you study and move to the US for free. You can also seek work-study programmes for international students to earn while studying to pay for their education expenses.

Is the USA cheap to study?

The cost of studying in the USA varies based on factors such as the institution, educational programme, and location. However, universities offer scholarships, grants, and other financial aid opportunities to make education affordable and accessible to students worldwide.

In which country study is totally free?

Many countries worldwide offer tuition-free education to eligible candidates, such as Germany, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.

What types of scholarships are available for international students?

Different types of merit-based and need-based scholarships are offered to international students. The Education USA website details the various scholarships for international students seeking education across various disciplines. You can also access it at the official website of the corresponding university.




This article is intended for informational purposes only. All details are accurate at the time of publishing. Instarem has no affiliation or relationship with the products or vendors mentioned.


*Fast meaning 75% of our transactions are completed in 15 minutes. Depending on the funding method.


@ When it comes to affordable exchange rates and fees, it’s worth noting that the cost will vary depending on how you choose to fund your transactions. Credit card funding and bank transfer fees can differ significantly.

About Instarem

Instarem stands at the forefront of international money transfer services, facilitating fast and secure transactions for both individuals and businesses. Our platform offers competitive exchange rates for popular currency pairs like USD to INR, SGD to INR, and AUD to INR. If you're looking to send money to India or transfer funds to any of 60+ global destinations, Instarem makes it easy for you. We are dedicated to simplifying cross-border payments, providing cutting-edge technology that support individuals and businesses alike in overcoming traditional fiscal barriers normally associated with banks. As a trusted and regulated brand under the umbrella of the Fintech Unicorn Nium Pte. Ltd., and its international subsidiaries, Instarem is your go-to for reliable global financial exchanges. Learn more about Instarem.