Colleges don’t have to charge tuition. Free tuition was a tradition at public colleges and universities from California to New York until the 1970s. The nations’ service academies, like West Point and the Naval Academy, still have free tuition today.
DIY U by Any Kamenetz is not easy reading, in my opinion, but it’s worth digging into.
There are some colleges that are part of the Work College Consortium where students work on campus in order to pay for their tuition. The College of the Ozarks in Missouri is one such school. 95% of their students graduate without any college debt!
The Cooper Union, a prestigious design college in New York, owns and manages Manhattan real estate in order to provide free tuition.
[I]n 2008, applications to Cooper Union surged 70 percent making it far more selective than Harvard.