Could College of the Ozarks model for free college be a national model?

I’m not sure if your familiar with College of the Ozarks in Branson Missouri. One of its mottos is “Graduate Without Debt”. Basically it’s free because:

  1. Students work many jobs on campus. Those jobs can be degree related like accounting but also including areas like custodial, laundry, cleaning stables, and yard work. This cuts back on payroll and expenses.
  2. Students must demonstrate financial need so they get government grants.
  3. The college has several money making businesses.
  4. They push hard for alumni support.
    Here is one article giving yes and no’s.
    So what do you all think? Could this be a model for more colleges nationwide and an answer to helping students afford college? Already some colleges have work-study programs so maybe this isnt so far off?


There are only a limited number of stables needed in large city campuses.

Even UW has stables to be cleaned. Ever been to Babcock Hall? :smiley: Or the Agricultural Research Stations?

While not every campus will have agricultural jobs, the idea is worthy of consideration. If not free tuition, costs could be contained by focusing student labor on the university’s needs.

UW Madison has well over 40,000 students. How many horses and cows does it have? I haven’t found numbers for that.

And how many people will be unemployed by kicking them out of their UW jobs and giving them to students? Many of those current employees have families and kids to support. I don’t know those numbers, but I’d bet the rest of the community isn’t big enough to absorb and support them all.

Good point. I think it’s naive to think that the model is necessarily restricted to agricultural jobs. There are plenty of necessary and even moneymaking jobs around a campus. For the campus necessities, you could always fire the professional janitorial staff and make janitor a student position. Food service too, plus library assistants, shuttle drivers (some campuses), parking attendants, etc. For moneymaking endeavors on campus, you could start up a child day care for the local population. For bonus points, students can get credit toward an Education degree for working there.

College of the Ozarks has 1,400 students. I don’t think this model would work with any reasonably sized school, let alone finding jobs for the 52,000 students at the University of Central Florida in the greater Orlando area. Plus another 41,000 near Miami for FL International, 33,000 for UofF in Gainseville, 33,000 more at FSU in Tallahassee, 31,000 at U of SF in Tampa, 25,000 at FAU in Boca, etc. There are a lot of students out there, and not a lot of jobs for them.

And creating businesses that benefit from tax breaks and student labor to compete with existing businesses isn’t going to go over well in those big college towns.

CoO’s work program only covers 4k out of an 18k/year tuition cost.

A good hunk of the rest is made up from financial aid, and presumably they try to make sure that many if not most of their students qualify for such grants.

However, they do foot the rest of the bill for every single student. That’s pretty cool, and something that could easily be handled by the endowments of quite a few private and public universities in America.

So no, work study is not going to become a model for education in America because it already happens everywhere. It would be great if more universities would cover tuition costs as a matter of course, though.

Which means, you already have to be poor enough to qualify for federal grants. There are 8.7 million students who receive Pell Grants. But that’s only abouthalf of total college enrollment.

Since Pell Grants are about the easiest paperwork for a college, I’m guessing pretty much everyone who qualifies is actually receiveing something.

It’s a model some schools could adopt, but it isn’t going to solve the cost of a college education.

What is different about the College of the Ozarks is that they are actively trying to keep costs down. Their total tuition is 18,000 which is 13,000 less than the average private college.
Since most college tuition is paid by either borrowing or gifts from the government there is very little incentive to keep costs down. Since prestige is what most colleges are selling it makes no sense for them to try to compete on price. George Washington University in DC had an ambitious president who sought to make it a much more prestigious university. One of the first things he did was to up the tuition and now it is one of the most expensive colleges in America. As a result the prestige has gone up and more people are applying than ever.

Our goal should be to eliminate the high costs of college as a barrier to otherwise qualified students. It’s a shame to see a straight A student flippin’ burgers their whole life, it’s a waste of talent, it’s a waste of tax-paying abilities. It’s well worth the investment of $100,000 to put them through college, so instead of paying them Earned Income Credit every year we can collect income taxes instead … presumably A LOT of income taxes … it’s a great return on investment for the tax-payers.

If a student isn’t qualified for college, then they should be made to pay their own tuition. Many people just aren’t well suited for rigorous academia, be it temperament or intelligence or slothfulness or whatever, such a person is better off jumping straight into the job market and get that four year head start on their career. I’m sorry, but if you’ve failed high school Algebra four straight years, failing Algebra four straight years in college does nobody any good at all.

Financial Aid for college-level classes only … we already paid for your high school education, we shouldn’t have to pay twice.

A college buddy of mine is a chemistry professor at Berea College in Berea, Kentucky. Berea operates on a similar model. Every student receives a Tuition Promise Scholarship, which covers 100% of tuition. In addition, every student is required to work 10-15 hours per week, by which they earn money for things like books, food, and other expenses.

Like College of the Ozarks, Berea is small (1,623 students), and limits its admissions to students with demonstrated financial need. It also tends to limit its admissions to students from the Appalachian region, although not exclusively. Its small size, I think, is key to its being able to essentially charge no tuition. It has a very large endowment that enables it to provide such generous scholarships, an endowment that depends greatly on gifts from alumni and other benefactors. It’s difficult to see how that would scale up to larger colleges or universities. A much larger endowment would be required, which would require a lot more people to make financial contributions for higher education.

Couldnt they put such a program into place to help say 10% of students? Thats 5200, 4100, 3300, and 3100 to the respective colleges and numbers you mentioned. And just how many jobs does the univeristy have that could be turned over to such a program?

They do have work study, everywhere. The federal government evensubsidizesit. But it doesn’t pay anything like enough to cover tuition and room/board, not even with your pell grant on top of it. Which is why those schools are full of low-income kids who work 20 hours a week, get a Pell grant, and take out substantial loans to cover the rest. What makes College of the Ozarks different is that they offer grants to cover the rest, instead.

University of Central Florida is cheap, with direct resident costs of $15,718 (that’s tuition + room/board. Books and such would likely bump that to $20K). Maximum Pell Grant is $5,815. That’s $10K a year to make up in a combination of work study, summer work, and loans.

For some numbers, the Texas A&M system educates something like 140,000 students, but employs a relatively paltry 28,000 people, including faculty.

So the enrollment of just one campus (Texas A&M) has more than twice the number of students than there are employees for the entire system.

I think that there probably ought to be more of an effort on the part of a lot of schools to offer on-campus student-friendly jobs than there currently is; I’ve known people who had to go beg their bosses to move shifts around because they had class, or because they had a final at that time or something. Ideally, they shouldn’t even be confronted with the work or final choice, but it happens.

There are a lot of private schools that keep costs down. Missouri Baptist University in St. Louis has tuition of $11,860 with room and board as low as $4,800.

Cityvision University in Kansas City has limited degree offerings, but it’s a bargain at $6,000/yr. tuition and roughly the same for room and board.

Columbia College in Columbia will guarantee its tuition of $21,000/yr. for five full years. They even offer athletics!

These are genuine non-profit, bachelor degree program schools, too, not “career schools” or online schools.

It’s also worth noting that College of the Ozarks relies extremely heavily on wealthy alumni and other donors to supplement the scholarships, grants, and so on. Of course, even public universities do this to a large extent but nowhere near what’s going on here.

Are there enough rich alumni of every school willing to donate? Maybe we could force them to donate somehow…possibly by putting a line item on a form they fill out every April under threats of fines & jail time for not submitting the proper percentage of their wealth to support a societal need.