12 great bargain colleges

College costs are soaring, but you can still get a quality education without breaking the bank. These 12 private schools are all featured in The Best 373 Colleges by the Princeton Review and charge tuition and fees under $20,000 a year. At four of them, you won't pay a cent.

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College of the Ozarks
College of the Ozarks
Location: Point Lookout, Mo.
Tuition & fees: $0

At College of the Ozarks, you can get a free education in exchange for working at a fruitcake and jelly factory.

Sounds wacky, but here's how it works: The Christian institution charges zero tuition. Instead, students must do 15 hours of work-study a week -- plus two weeks of full time work a year.

Assignments might include landscaping, teaching at the college's day care center, doing community service, or even milking cows at the school's dairy farm (the milk is used in the cafeteria and local restaurants). Another popular option: the fruitcake factory, which churns out 30,000 fruitcakes a year and has served such notables as Sarah Palin, Ben Stein and Barbara Bush.

Money generated from the work-study program covers a chunk of tuition costs, and the school's endowment pays the rest.

While you don't have to be Christian to attend, 95% of students are. Students also must attend seven chapel services a semester and dress conservatively.

"We have high standards and students can't wear outrageous clothing and hairstyles," said Elizabeth Hughes, public relations director at the college. "If you have green hair, that's not going to work and you wouldn't want to wear a midriff shirt to class if you're a woman, and boys can't wear earrings and have long hair."

"But in exchange," she said, "you're getting to graduate debt-free."


NEXT: The Cooper Union
Last updated November 10 2010: 1:38 PM ET
Source: Tuition and fee data from "The Best 373 Colleges" (Random House/Princeton Review, $22.99)
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