You can take free college classes online! For credit! At Ivy League universities!

Instead of spending tens (hundreds!) of thousands of dollars for a college degree, you can begin or expand your university education at no cost, though a wide variety of free distance learning opportunities. Here's how.

Check Out Carnegie Mellon University Online

The Open Learning Intiative at Carnegie Mellon offers online courses to everyone at no charge. You'll find it at cmu.edu/oli

These are self-guided courses in a wide variety of topic areas, including introductory and advanced math courses, biology and chemistry, economics, languages, and information technology.

Carnegie-Mellon is one of the top technical schools in the US, and the courses offered are high-quality and challenging. They can be taken for credit if you make the appropriate arrangements with your host institution.

Go Ivy League

If you've always had a hankering to attend MIT, now you can, online, and for free.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology hosts their MITOpenCourseWare site at ocw.mit.edu. Plan on spending some time here, because they offer almost 2,000 courses online, in fields such as architecture, math, engineering (of course! It's MIT!), health sciences, social sciences, and your mainstream science topics like biology, chemistry, and physics.

But it's not all technology and engineering. MIT also offers courses in business and management, history, political science, and even a course or two in 'gender studies'. Go for it.

Go iPod League

Another Ivy League school, Stanford University, makes a similarly diverse course offerings available for download, so you can play back courses on your iPod, PC or Mac computer.

Believe it or not, they call it iTunes U, but even though it's hosted at iTunes, all content is free. You can get started at itunes.stanford.edu

If you want the California college experience, but you're more the public university type, visit UC Berkeley's free course listings at webcast.berkeley.edu

Why Not Visit Overseas

The internet makes international education a breeze.

The UK's Open University at openlearn.open.ac.uk brings a full college curriculum to your desktop. You can take the courses at your own pace, and even join onine groups to share class notes, discuss assignments, or just BS a bit (it is college, after all).

Australia's University of Southern Queensland also offers online course in their OpenCourseWare program (ocw.usq.edu.au). There's a heavy focus on science, computer techology and general IT courses here, but you'll also find courses in career planning, tourism, and teaching.