Many families are looking for ways to lower the cost of college and to avoid accumulating student loan debt. Work College Consortium colleges can be a great option for budget-conscious homeschoolers and students who enjoy community service. This group of seven colleges in the United States trades student labor for some of the lowest tuition rates available.
How It Works
Students at Work College Consortium schools combine traditional liberal arts courses along with work experiences. Student work helps lower tuition costs and students benefit by developing experiences that may guide their lives after graduation. Colleges make an effort to help students develop “real world” job skills such as working as a member of a team. The experience of students is different than just having a part time job on a typical campus. Instead student work is woven into a broader focus on service to community. In environments where all students work there is a shared experience that helps students feel invested in their school.
Applicants Should Know
All work colleges are liberal arts programs with a wide range of majors available. Study abroad options are available at each of the schools. Some work college consortium school require that applicants be low to moderate income. Work colleges represent a wide range of competitiveness in admissions.
Work College Profiles
Alice Lloyd College is located in Pippa Pass, Kentucky. This is a Christian college located in a very rural area. Admissions are competitive with approximately about a third of students admitted. Students from counties in the five-state Appalachian service area pay no tuition.
Berea College is located in Berea, Kentucky. Berea has the most academically competitive reputation of the Work College Consortium schools. Berea is known for attracting strong students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds and providing them with a tuition-free education. Admissions are competitive with about about one in three applicants admitted.
Blackburn College is located in Carlinville, Illinois. Students receive a reduction in tuition costs from work, making Blackburn the least expensive private college in Illinois. The college is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. Admissions are moderately selective with about two of three students accepted.
College of the Ozarks is located in Point Lookout, Missouri. The college refers to itself as Hard Work U. Students receive free tuition in exchange for work. Additional summer work can earn free room and board. Only 9% of applicants are admitted and the college heavily weighs an interview, the school record, and worth ethic in their consideration.
Ecclesia College is located in Springdale, Arkansas. Students receive approximately $2,500 off the price of tuition credited based on their work. Ecclesia is a Bible college and is not regionally accredited. The school is very small with around 300 students with about 90% of applicants admitted.
Sterling College is located in Craftsbury Common, Vermont (not to be confused with the larger Sterling College located in Kansas). Their motto is Working Hands Working Minds. The college is very small – fewer than 200 students. The college’s focus is on environmental studies and the college is a “year round” school that includes a summer semester. Sterling is less competitive than some colleges accepting about 90% of students who apply.
Warren Wilson College is located in Ashville, North Carolina. The school emphasizes “The Triad: Academics for the Mind, Work for the Hands, Service for the Heart.” This college would be an especially good choice for students interested in environmental studies and sustainability. Warren Wilson takes about two of three applicants.