Getting A College Education for Free – Really!

I wrote a post for my CBS MoneyWatch college blog on Friday that blew out Antioch College’s server.

How did I do that? Actually, it wasn’t me. I was just the messenger for the liberal arts college that had a dramatic announcement to make.

For the next three years, Antioch College in Yellow Springs, OH, is offering all its incoming students full-ride tuition scholarships. With this year’s tuition valued at $26,500, each four-year scholarship is worth at least $106,000. It doesn’t matter what your family’s income is, every accepted student will get the same deal.

The offer will be even better for some students, who file for financial aid and can’t afford the room and board, which is currently $8,628.


Obviously, when you write that a college is handing out six-figure scholarships to all its students, it attracts a lot of attention. So what is the catch?

As I mention in my CBSMoneyWatch post, Antioch, which was founded by abolitionists in 1850, is crawling out of the grave.

Thanks to horrifically poor management, the liberal arts college shuttered its doors in 2008. Loyal alumni went ballistic and their donations helped to bring the school back to life. The reborn school’s first class (35 students) showed up last fall and Antioch is in the process of taking applications for the next crop of freshmen. Antioch is aiming for 65 to 75 new students in the fall and hopes to have about 300 enrolled students by 2015.

If you’re interested in applying to Antioch, it’s not too late to apply. The admission deadline is Feb. 15.

Don’t Believe Everything You Read

Antioch College is one of the 40 colleges that the late Loren Pope, a former New York Times education editor and college counselor, wrote about in his classic book, Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change The Way You Think About Colleges. Pope wrote the book, which has been incredibly popular for many years, after becoming an unabashed and tireless champion of liberal arts colleges.

The last edition of Colleges That Change Lives is outdated — the most recent version came out in 2006. I thought it was unfortunate and embarrassing that the book was praising Antioch after its (temporary) demise. Pope should have known before updating his book that Antioch had been in what one alumni called a “slow-motion decline” for many years. Here is one graduate’s harrowing account  of Antioch College’s demise.

In my own book, The College Solution (the second edition will be coming out this spring!), I used Antioch’s press coverage to illustrate that you can’t believe everything you read about a college. (That advice applies to college rankings too!) For instance, months before Antioch folded, US News  & World Report‘s Best Colleges guide singled out Antioch for its small class sizes (the school had very few students left!) and its “outstanding” internship program.

Colleges That Change Lives

While Colleges that Change Lives is outdated, I do think that it is a wonderful book to get a sense of what liberal arts colleges are all about. Coincidentally, my two children happened to attend schools that are featured in the book — Beloit College and Juniata College. The 40 colleges profiled in the book formed an organization, Colleges That Change Lives, and you can find information on all these school on its website.

As a group, the CTCL colleges make appearances throughout the year;  here is the link to where the schools will be holding events in 2012. I counted appearances in 22 cities.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution, an Amazon bestseller, and a workbook, Shrinking the Cost of College. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

More from The College Solution:

Measuring the Generosity of Colleges

The Colleges Where PhD’s Get Their Start

Financial Aid: Bait and Switch




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