This New York college is a top-ranked school that charges zero tuition — but there’s a catch

US Navy Marines amphibious vehicle
Webb students double major in naval architecture and marine engineering. Wikimedia Commons

Webb Institute is one of only a handful of colleges in the US that offers a tuition-free 4-year education.

Located in Glen Cove, New York, the school boasts a strong academic program, and is ranked in the “most selective” category by the US News & World Report.

The only catch: There is only one academic option for attendees. All students double major in naval architecture and marine engineering.

Students who attend Webb don’t have the typical college experience.

With an enrollment of roughly 80 students, the student-teacher ratio is about 7:1, offering an intimate classroom experience. There are no teaching assistants, so students have high access to their professors. And rather than students changing classrooms, they stay seated all day while their professors change rooms between classes.

The rigorous academics at Webb certainly yield results. The school enjoys a 100% job placement rate, with students largely finding employment in the maritime industry, but also in engineering fields and in finance. Webb shares a list of the most common employment opportunities for graduates on their website, which includes Chevron Shipping and Rolls-Royce Marine.

Chevron Rig in WA
A Chevron rig Chevron

The college is able to provide tuition-free school primarily due to its endowment, a Webb spokesperson told Business Insider, which is large considering the number of students enrolled each year. That endowment — $US54 million as of 2013 — was left by American shipbuilder and philanthropist William H. Webb in 1889.

Webb is unusual in that there are no obligations for students to receive a free education once they are accepted. Most other tuition-free colleges have certain stipulations that accompany their free college plans.

For example, Alice Lloyd College and Berea College are both “work colleges.” Students attend these schools tuition free, but are employed around campus to reduce the need for outside workers. In the case of Berea, students work 10-15 hours a week as teaching assistants, grounds keepers, and farm workers.

West Point and the US Naval Academy also admit students tuition-free, but both require an active duty service obligation upon graduation.

For students with an interest in naval architecture and marine engineering, Webb Institute provides an incredible opportunity to receive a top-notch education for free.

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