Paul Quinn College, a historically black college (HBCU) in Dallas, has found a way for its students to pay as little as $2,300 in tuition next year. Starting in the fall, everyone on campus will work. They’ll grow vegetables, cook meals, sweep the halls, and answer phones—keeping the campus running for cheap and, in turn, getting the chance to graduate with minimal debt.
Paul Quinn’s idea isn’t new, but it is rare. The college is taking steps to become one of a handful of work colleges, a type of school that requires all students, regardless of their financial situation, to work in exchange for steeply discounted tuition. There are just seven work colleges recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, most of them in rural cities. Three of them—Alice Lloyd College in Pippa Passes, Ky.; Berea College in Berea, Ky.; and College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Mo.—charge no tuition.
The setup allows students to graduate with far less debt than they might accumulate attending a traditional college, even with financial aid. Students graduating work colleges in 2010 owed an average of $12,121, according to the Work Colleges Consortium, which advises work colleges. That’s less than half of the national average (pdf) for that year, $25,250. <Read more.>