States that Offer Programs for Free or Reduced Cost Community College

Did you know that several states offer free or reduced community college tuition to their students? Taking advantage of these programs can be a great way to start your education and save money! Below, we’ve outlined all of the states that currently have programs to make attending community colleges more affordable.

States That Offer Free Community College Programs

1. Arkansas

Arkansas recently introduced its Arkansas Future Grant (ArFuture). The grant is designed to help STEM students better afford college while attending school in the state. If won, it covers all tuition and fees for qualifying certificate and Associate degree programs at public institutions within Arkansas. 

To apply, students must also:

  • Submit their applications by July 1st for the fall semester or January 10th for the spring semester.
  • Have graduated from school in Arkansas or graduated from high school and lived in the state for at least 3 years.
  • Complete their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

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2. California

The California College Promise Grant program is for California students who have demonstrated financial need. A tuition waiver, it can be used for two or four-year degree programs. Applications are accepted through the participating community colleges.

3. Connecticut

CT State Community College’s Pledge to Advance Connecticut (PACT)  is designed to cover the gap in expenses that aren’t covered by other federal and state grants. Students interested in applying need to:

  • Have graduated from high school or received a GED in Connecticut.
  • Complete their FAFSA.
  • Be attending college for the first time.
  • Enroll in at least 6 credits per semester.
  • Be enrolled in a degree or credit-bearing certificate program.
  • Remain in good academic standing with the college.

4. Delaware

Delaware is home to the Student Excellence Equals Degree (SEED). It offers free tuition for qualifying students at Delaware Technical Community College (DTCC) or the University of Delaware’s Associate of Arts Program. The scholarship can be put towards an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, credit certificate, workforce training programs, and more, but it does not cover course fees and books. 

To apply, students must:

  • Complete their FAFSA.
  • Have graduated high school with a minimum GPA of 2.5.
  • Have a combined score of 1350 on the SAT or a 19 on the ACT or higher.

5. Georgia

The HOPE Career Grant is designed to help fill skills gaps in the state of Georgia. Qualifying majors and students can receive a fixed amount of money per term based on the number of credit hours the student enrolls in. The career paths and majors that qualify for the grant regularly change, but other requirements to qualify include:

  • Be a legal resident of Georgia.
  • Comply with Selective Service registration requirements and the Georgia Drug-Free Postsecondary Education Act of 1990.
  • Be in good standing with loans.
  • Meet academic achievement requirements.

6. Hawaii

The Promise Scholarship is for qualifying students who are attending participating community colleges in Hawaii. The program covers any gaps between current financial aid and the total cost of attending college. The average award amount in the 2020-21 school year was $1,629, but the total amount depends on the school, the student’s need, and enrollment level.

To be eligible, students must:

  • Complete their FAFSA.
  • Qualify for in-state tuition in Hawaii.
  • Be taking at least 6 credits per semester.
  • Be enrolled in a degree program at a participating school.

7. Indiana

In Indiana, there is the 21st Century Scholarship. This award pays all of the tuition at public colleges within the state and part of the tuition at private institutions. However, students interested in entering the program need to enroll by the end of 8th grade. Participating students also need to meet income eligibility guidelines, maintain good grades, and meet behavior expectations during high school.

8. Iowa

The Future Ready Iowa Last-Dollar Scholarship is another state grant that is designed to cover the gap between a student’s current financial aid and the cost of attending community college. Eligible students must:

  • Be working towards a postsecondary certificate, diploma, or associate degree.
  • Be enrolled at least part-time.
  • Complete their FAFSA.
  • Apply and accept all other federal and state grants and scholarships.
  • Have an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $20,000 or below.
  • Participate in college orientation, career advising sessions, and academic advising sessions.
  • Maintain good academic standing.

9. Kansas

Kansas also has a last-dollar scholarship known as the Kansas Promise Act Scholarship for students going to community colleges and technical colleges in specific areas of study such as IT and security, mental and physical healthcare, early childhood education, manufacturing, and others. To apply, students need to:

  • Complete their FAFSA and scholarship application.
  • Agree to the Kansas Promise Scholarship Agreement.
  • Have demonstrated financial need.
  • Be a Kansas resident.

10. Kentucky

The Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship is designed for students entering high-demand fields including IT, business services, healthcare, transportation, and others. Students interested in applying need to complete the FAFSA, be a Kentucky resident, and apply directly to the scholarship.

11. Louisiana

For those over the age of 21 years old, you might qualify for the M.J. Foster Promise Program in Louisiana to help pay for an associate degree. Students need to be entering a specific high-demand industry within the state and if they qualify can receive up to $3,200 per award year. In addition, students must:

  • Complete their FAFSA and scholarship application.
  • Not already have a degree.
  • Agree to reside and work full-time in the state for at least one year.

12. Maine

Students who graduated high school between 2020-2025 can qualify for the Free College Scholarship in Maine at community colleges. There are no income or age limits, but students do need to accept any state or federal aid they’re offered and remain in Maine while attending college. A FAFSA is required.

13. Maryland

Maryland is another state that hosts a last-dollar scholarship called the Maryland Community College Promise Scholarship. Eligible students will receive up to $5,000 to cover the gap in current financial aid and the cost of attending college. 

Interested students need to:

  • Complete the FAFSA or Maryland State Financial Aid Application (MSFAA).
  • Meet GPA requirements (2.3 GPA for high school and 2.5 in community college).
  • Demonstrate financial need.

14. Massachusetts

The state of Massachusetts just recently announced free community college for students who are 25 years of age or older who don’t have a degree already. Known as the MassReconnect program, the money is for associate degrees and certificates and can cover tuition and fees. To enroll, students must:

  • Have lived in the state for at least one year.
  • Take at least 6 credits.
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress.
  • Complete the FAFSA.
  • Talk to the community college about the enrollment process.

15. Michigan

Michigan Reconnect also is designed for students who are 25 years or older. Students who attend an in-district community college can have all of their tuition and college fees covered and may be eligible for a discount at an out-of-district community college. Like Massachusetts, students must have lived in the state for at least a year and not already have a degree.

16. Mississippi

The East Mississippi Community College offers a tuition assistance program to certain counties within the state. It’s a last-dollar grant that can cover the gap between applicable aid and the cost of attending the school. Qualified students must:

  • Have graduated within the last semester.
  • Complete the FAFSA and apply to other federal and state financial aid programs.
  • Take at least 15 credits every semester.
  • Maintain a 2.5 GPA (or a 2.0 for Calhoun County residents).

17. Missouri

Missouri is home to the A+ Scholarship Program which can help make attending public community colleges, public technical schools, and some private technical schools more affordable. Eligibility requirements depend on whether the student in question is a high school student, attending college for the first time but graduated from high school, or renewing participation in the program.

High school students interested in the A+ Scholarship Program need to:

  • Enter a written agreement with the high school.
  • Attend a designated A+ high school for at least 2 years.
  • Graduate high school with a 2.5 GPA or higher.
  • Have a 95% attendance rate during high school.
  • Participate in at least 50 hours of unpaid tutoring or mentoring which can include. some job shadowing.
  • Have a good record of citizenship.
  • Achieved a high enough score on end-of-year exams in Math.

18. Montana

The Montana Promise Grant Program is a need-based grant for students interested in attending community college within the state. Eligible participants can receive $75 or more per enrolled credit.

19. Nevada

The Nevada Promise Scholarship can be used at one of the four state’s community colleges as a last-dollar scholarship. It can cover up to three years of tuition. To apply, students need to:

  • Have not already received a degree.
  • Be a Nevada resident.
  • Graduated high school after 2020.
  • Take at least 12 credit hours per semester.
  • Complete their FAFSA.
  • Participate in school-required orientation and training programs.

20. New Jersey

For families who make less than $65,000 in income in New Jersey, there is the Community College Opportunity Grant. It covers all of the eligible students ‘ tuition costs and can be used at 18 different county colleges. Eligible students must:

  • Take at least 6 credits per year.
  • Complete the FAFSA or New Jersey Alternative Financial Aid Application.
  • Meet academic requirements.
  • Not have a college degree already.

21. New Mexico

The New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship covers all tuition and fees at public colleges and universities within the state and is open to those pursuing their associate’s, bachelor’s, or career training certificates. The state also hosts the Lottery Scholarship which can cover college costs for recent high school graduates.

22. New York

The Excelsior Scholarship Program in New York can cover tuition costs at eligible SUNY and CUNY schools up to $5,500. To qualify, students have to:

  • Be a New York resident and lived in the state for at least 12 years.
  • Demonstrate financial need.
  • Enroll in at least 12 credits per semester and at least 30 credits every year.
  • Agree to work in the state for a period of time after graduation.

23. North Carolina

North Carolina has a program designed for high school students who want to get a headstart on their college education. Eligible high schoolers can take advantage of the Career & College Promise (CCP) program which grants free classes.

24. Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s Promise can help students afford education within the state, but the student has to enroll during 8th through 11th grade to be eligible. Students also need to complete specific courses while in high school and demonstrate financial need.

25. Oregon

Oregon Promise is for high school seniors who need help paying for college. Eligible students can receive up to about $4,250. To apply, students need to:

  • Complete their FAFSA or the Oregon Student Aid Application (ORSAA).
  • Apply through the scholarship portal.
  • Have a 2.0 GPA or higher.
  • Have lived in the state for at least one year.
  • Have demonstrated financial need in some cases.

26. Rhode Island

Students attending the Community College of Rhode Island may be eligible for the Rhode Island Promise scholarship. Eligibility requirements include: 

  • Must be a Rhode Island resident.
  • Must be a recent high school graduate and younger than 19 years old.
  • Must enroll in college immediately following high school graduation or GED completion.
  • Complete the FAFSA.
  • Submit transcripts.

Students can also maintain the scholarship for two years if they: 

  • Continue to enroll each semester.
  • Enroll in college full-time.
  • Have at least a 2.5 GPA.
  • Earn 30 credits a year.

27. South Carolina

The Live to Chase Initiative is available to students attending the Spartanburg Community College in South Carolina. A last-dollar scholarship, students can apply to have their expenses covered by:

  • Completing the FAFSA.
  • Completing a SCC Financial Aid File.
  • Being a South Carolina resident.
  • Not being in default on federal student loans.

The reward can be renewed every semester if the student has a 2.2 GPA or higher.

28. South Dakota

South Dakota hosts the Build Dakota scholarship program, which is designed to help students pay for their work training education in select, high-demand areas of study and careers. However, it is important to note that this is designed for students attending technical colleges in the state, not necessarily community colleges. 

29. Tennessee

For students younger than 19 years old, Tennessee has the Tennessee Promise, which can cover tuition at community colleges, technical schools, and some two-year programs at universities within the state. Students must complete the FAFSA to apply, and it can be renewed by staying enrolled in college full-time and completing 8 hours of community service every semester.

30. Vermont

The 802 Opportunity is open to Vermont residents who make less than $75,000 and don’t currently have a bachelor’s degree. New and returning students can apply for this last-dollar scholarship, but a FAFSA is required.

31. Virginia

Virginia is home to the G3 program. It’s available to students pursuing a degree and career in early childhood education, information technology, public safety, skilled trades, construction, and manufacturing. Participating students must be state residents, show demonstrated financial need, and enroll in at least six credits per semester.

32. Washington

Washington’s College Bound Scholarship can be used to cover the average tuition costs and other fees at state community colleges. To apply, students must:

  • Enroll in 7th, 8th, or 9th grade.
  • Have a 2.0 GPA or higher upon high school graduation.
  • Complete the FAFSA or Washington Application for State Financial Aid (WASFA) before your senior year of high school.
  • Attend college within one year of graduating high school.
  • Demonstrate financial need.

33. West Virginia

For students entering a high-demand field and attending school in West Virginia there is the West Virginia Invests Grant. For qualifying areas of study at state community colleges and technical schools, students can have their certificate or associate degree costs covered. To be eligible, students must:

  • Be a West Virginia resident for at least one year.
  • Have not already earned a degree of associate or higher.
  • Meet the school’s Satisfactory Academic Progress policies.
  • Complete the FAFSA.
  • Agree to live, volunteer, and work in the state for at least 2 years.
  • Participate in a drug screening.

34. Wyoming

Wyoming’s Hathaway Scholarship can be put towards attending a community college within the state or the University of Wyoming. There are four tiers of merit-based awards and the better the student performs, the more money they will receive – up to $1,680 per semester. There is also a need-based award available.

What Should You Do If Your State Doesn’t Programs for Free Community College?

Not every state has free community college available to all students at the moment. However, new programs are being added regularly. For example, Massachusetts only added theirs in August 2023! The list is constantly growing.

If your state is not listed above or you don’t qualify for your state’s free community college or financial aid programs, you do have options. Almost all states have additional programs and grants available to their students based on different criteria. There are also scholarships designed to help community college students afford their tuition and fees.

It’s important that college-bound students:

  • Always complete their FAFSA.
  • Talk to their high school guidance counselor about options.
  • Reach out to the college financial aid department if they need additional assistance or help applying for a school financial aid grant. 

Do you want to learn more about scholarships that can help you afford your community college tuition? Use our Scholarship Search Tool for free today to find the awards you qualify for today!