Though the application process is highly competitive, some art schools have a free-tuition policy, while others offer full scholarships to promising students. Those interested in expanding their horizons might also consider studying abroad, where public universities typically offer free classes.
The Cooper Union
Located in the East Village area of Manhattan, New York City, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art (cooper.edu/art) has been offering free tuition to all accepted applicants since its founding by philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859. The Cooper Union School of Art also offers full merit-based scholarships for its four-year Bachelor of Fine Arts program. The School of Art offers a general curriculum covering all the fundamental disciplines.
If you are willing to study abroad, some countries' governments completely fund their university systems, including their preeminent art schools. These schools welcome degree or exchange students from other countries at the tuition-free rate that their citizens receive. Some international art schools even accommodate English speakers. For example, the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts (kuva.fi) is a tuition-free art school that has classes and seminars in English.
Full-Tuition Scholarship Competitions
Most art colleges and universities have scholarship competitions where the winning recipient receives a full-tuition grant. For example, Salem College in North Carolina (salem.edu) offers a merit-based art scholarship competition that requires you to submit an art-related essay, provide letters of recommendation that speak to your artistic ability and participate in an on-campus interview to review your portfolio. In St. Louis, Missouri, The College of Art at Washington University (wustl.edu) offers five Conway-Proetz scholarships, each worth $6,500 annually.
The Academy of Art University
Founded in San Francisco, The Academy of Art University (academyart.edu) offers free-tuition scholarships to its Pre-College Summer Art Experience for high school students, who are exposed to an intensive four-class schedule for six weeks. This type of program may help you determine whether a four-year art program is right for you while receiving college-level art training for free.