Tuition Waivers

A tuition waiver or tuition remission is a form of financial aid in which the college forgoes (waives) all or part of tuition charges. Some tuition waiver programs will waive required fees in addition to tuition.

Many tuition waiver programs are linked to employment.

  • Many colleges and universities provide tuition remission for faculty and staff and their dependents as an employee benefit. In 2011-2012, about 1.7% of undergraduate students (2.7% of students in Bachelor’s degree programs and 0.7% of students in Associate’s degree and certificate programs) and 8.0% of graduate students benefited from institutional tuition waivers for faculty and staff according to the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS). Some colleges and universities will provide tuition remission for faculty and staff and dependents of other colleges and universities. The Tuition Exchange, for example, enables such reciprocal benefits at more than 600 colleges and universities.
  • Teaching and research assistantships may provide a full or partial tuition waiver in addition to a small stipend in exchange for graduate students performing teaching and research activities. In 2011-2012, 11.8% of graduate students received a teaching or research assistantship, split evenly among the two types of assistantships. Teaching and research assistantships were most common among students in doctoral degree programs, where 47.6% received assistantships. In contrast, only 8.3% of students in Master’s degree programs received assistantships. Assistantships are most common in science and mathematics.
  • Some colleges provide tuition waivers to head residents or resident assistants in the dormitories or residence halls, the student body president and the editors of the student newspaper and yearbook.
  • Many public colleges provide tuition waivers to state employees and unemployed individuals, on a space-available basis.
  • Members of the military may be eligible for a full or partial tuition waiver through the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Yellow Ribbon Program.

Some colleges use tuition waivers as a recruiting tool, offering free tuition to students who demonstrate academic or artistic talent. For example, Massachusetts public colleges may offer a tuition waiver to high school valedictorians from the state.

Many states offer tuition waivers to foster children and adopted children.

Public colleges often provide tuition waivers to children and spouses of members of the military, law enforcement and firefighters, especially when the servicemember or first responder became totally and permanently disabled or died in the line of duty. Some public colleges provide tuition waivers to children and spouses of wrongfully convicted felons.

Senior citizens may be able to get a tuition waiver to audit non-credit classes on a space available basis, especially at community colleges. The tuition waiver may or may not include a fee waiver. Tuition waivers generally do not cover the cost of textbooks. There may be minimum age, maximum income and other restrictions.

Some states will waive the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition for students in neighboring states or students who live close to the state border. Examples include the National Student Exchange, Academic Common Market (AL, AK, DE, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, OK, SC, TN, TX, VA, WV), Midwest Student Exchange Program (IL, IN, KS, MI, MN, MO, NE, ND, WI), New England Board of Higher Education (CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT), and Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (AK, CO, HI, ID, MT, NV, NM, ND, OR, SD, UT, WY).

States often have very detailed tuition waiver programs. See, for example, the tuition waiver programs for Massachusetts and Washington. These can be found by googling the name of the state and “Tuition Waiver” or by searching the web sites of specific public colleges in the state.