With college costs reaching insurmountable levels, tuition-free colleges are more important than ever. But even they are not immune to volatile economic climes. Perhaps the most famous free college, Cooper Union, announced recently that it might consider charging tuition to bridge its $16.5 million budget deficit.

Below, read about Cooper and nine other tuition-free schools of many different stripes -- work colleges, service academies and burgeoning online institutions.

Has the cost of your college affected your standard of living? Would you consider going to a tuition-free college? Weigh in below.

Loading Slideshow...
  • Cooper Union

    The New York City arts school has covered tuition-related costs for students since it opened in 1859. The school's president <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/01/cooper-union-considers-ch_n_1070135.html?ref=college" target="_hplink">recently said</a> they were considering charging tuition because of budget difficulties.

  • Berea College

    Students at this Kentucky college work campus jobs as part of a required work-study program, and in exchange, they receive scholarships to cover all of their tuition expenses, which amount to more than $100,000 over four years.

  • Deep Springs College

    One of the last remaining all-male liberal arts schools in America, Deep Springs does not charge its students for attending. Instead, students work on the campus ranch, doing everything from cooking to farming. Note: Deep Springs trustees <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/20/education/20brfs-TINYALLMALEC_BRF.html" target="_hplink">voted this year to make the college co-ed</a>, but it is not yet known when that will go into effect.

  • U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Military Academy at West Point, U.S. Air Force Academy

    Funded by the U.S. government, the Naval Academy, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the U.S. Air Force Academy cover tuition for students in exchange for a commitment to service after graduation. Other service academies include the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.

  • Khan Academy (non-accredited)

    This <a href="http://www.khanacademy.org/" target="_hplink">online learning institution</a> offers gratis instruction via virtual YouTube lessons. Supporters include Google and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

  • University of the People (non-accredited)

    An online university with a global bent, <a href="http://www.uopeople.org/" target="_hplink">University of the People</a> aims to instruct students worldwide --for free -- with virtual tutorials.

  • College of the Ozarks

    Another work-based school, College of the Ozarks mandates that all students work 15 hours per week to cover tuition costs.

  • Alice Lloyd College

    Students at this small Kentucky school also work their way through to pay their tuition costs.

  • More on HuffPost...