Free college? Sweet deal! How come no one knows about it?

Everyone knows the cost of college is completely out of control. Kids are graduating with unprecedented levels of student loan debt, and it's often a difficult burden to carry into the first years in the workforce.

BusinessWeek's Alison Damast takes a look at 11 tuition-free colleges all over the country. Many, like Berea College in Kentucky rely on extensive work-study programs that allow students to work off the entire cost of their education while they're in school -- a nice alternative to paying off student loans out of your Social Security check when you're in your sixties.

Another interesting program is the City University of New York's Teacher Academy which prepares students for careers as math as science teachers -- both of these fields are currently suffering from a critical shortage of talent, so any program to induce more kids to pursue the career is a worthwhile investment for society. Cooper Union is a highly-selective college with programs in art, engineering, and architecture.

And then there are the Military, Air Force, Naval, Merchant Marine and Coast Guard academies which require a nomination from a state congressman.

I was in high school not all that long ago -- and I don't remember the guidance counselor ever mentioning anything about these tuition-free colleges. My brother is an engineering major -- and also was never told about programs like the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering.

These seem to be a very, very, well-kept secret, and it seems like most prospective college students and their parents don't know about them -- Forward this post to anyone you know who might be interested.