PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Last week, 22,000 high school students and parents checked out the Pittsburgh National College Fair at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, and the cost of tuition was on everyone’s mind.

“Affordability is the most important thing,” said Steve Spotts of Cranberry.

“It’s very important because it can, like, make or break you,” added Taylor Lambria of the Hill District.

It sure can. Seven out of ten college grads have debt, averaging $28,950.

“College costs is one of the biggest concerns that students and families face,” Julie Martin, a South Fayette High School guidance counselor told KDKA money editor Jon Delano.

“The cost of college has exponentially grown over the past few decades,” noted Martin.

This year, tuition at a public university averages $9,410 and $23,893 for an out-of-state student attending a public school, while tuition at a private college is $32,405.

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With the costs of colleges and universities driving families and students into incredible debt, KDKA asked, “Are there any tuition-free universities left in America today?”

Besides the military academies that are paid by all of taxpayers and are free for the students, there are a few tuition-free colleges.

Adam Bailey teaches fifth graders at Propel Homestead Charter School and is a 2012 graduate of Berea College in Kentucky.

“Yes, tuition-free.”

In exchange for work on campus, Berea offers a 4-year tuition-free college education.

“That type of education, in particular, is often just inaccessible to people from a holler in West Virginia like me that grew up without a whole lot,” added Bailey.

Berea is not alone.

Other tuition-free work-study schools include the College of the Ozarks in Missouri and Barclay College in Kansas.

Now in Boston, Monroeville resident Wombi Rose attended the Webb Institute on Long Island, tuition-free, graduating in 2009, although like most he paid room and board.

Delano: “Did you get out of school debt-free?”
Rose: “So I got out of school with under $10,000 in debt, which I think is a really, really good number.”

KDKA found two tuition-free schools in Pennsylvania — the Curtis Institute of Music and Williamson College of the Trades — both in the Philadelphia area.

Tuition-free schools can have special requirements, and some former ones like Antioch College in Ohio now charge half-tuition.

But it may pay — and save — to check them out.

“It’s really important for students and their parents to consider all available options before making a final decision,” says Martin.

Here is the list of colleges and universities in the United States that offer free tuition:

Alice Lloyd College
Berea College
College of the Ozarks
Cooper Union
CUNY Teacher Academy
Curtis Institute of Music
Deep Springs College
Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering
UC Irvine School of Law
University of Washington
U.S. Air Force Academy
U.S. Coast Guard Academy
U.S. Merchant Marine Academy
U.S. Military Academy
U.S. Naval Academy
Washington State University
Williamson College of the Trades