List of 10 Ways to Get a Free Cremation in Ohio


Is it possible to get a cremation for free in Ohio? The cost of cremation is on the rise, and many families are finding it challenging to make ends meet. While most understand how cremation works, the cost is more of a mystery. Clearly understanding what goes into cremation and the overall cost is one of the best ways to find an affordable (or free) cremation. However, the options vary by state. 

Jump ahead to these sections:

In Ohio, is a free or low-cost cremation possible? Every state has its own rules and regulations on how the dead are handled, both by families and funeral homes. This often makes it confusing for families. If you’re handling a loved one’s final affairs, it’s easy to feel unsure about your next decisions.

Everyone deserves a final sendoff that’s respectful and meaningful. This doesn’t have to come with a high price tag. It’s all about the sentiment behind it as well as the family’s wishes. In this guide, we’ll share a list of ways to get a free cremation in Ohio as well as other cost-saving options. 

Will the State of Ohio Pay for a Cremation?

First, an important question to ask is whether the state of Ohio will pay for a cremation? Some states have their own programs that help those who cannot afford a cremation or burial get a final resting place. There is no federal program, so it’s up to individual states. In Ohio, there is actually a program in place to help. 

This is known as the Indigent Burial and Cremation program. In the state of Ohio, this program works directly with local towns and cities to reimburse the cost of funeral disposition. Residents who fall below the federal poverty line qualify for this option. Under Ohio state law, the local county must pay for a burial or cremation. 

Previously, this program was run by the Department of Job and Family Services. A recent update means it is now under the regulation of the Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors. The new budget approved in July of 2019 gives this program a total of $2 million to help families in need. A township can be reimbursed up to $1,000 in burial or cremation expenses for an adult and $750 for a child. 

This is a state program in Ohio vs. county programs because poverty doesn’t know boundaries. It’s important for people to get the help they need no matter their place of residence. Because funeral directors are on the program board, it’s possible to adjust reimbursement prices to suit the real cost of cremation and burial in Ohio. 

» MORE: Our story doesn't end at the grave. Honor your loved one with a free online memorial.

Places or Programs That Offer Free Cremation in Ohio

If you’re looking for free cremation in Ohio, there are a lot of places and programs that make this possible. While you might have to be open-minded, there are a lot of options. Everyone deserves a quality final sendoff, no matter their financial capabilities.

1. Full-body donation

First, anatomical donation programs are one of the easiest ways to get a free cremation in Ohio. A full-body donation is when you donate your body to science. The body is used towards medical research and training, making the world a better place. Aside from doing something good for society, the body is cremated at no cost to the family once it’s no longer needed.

In Ohio, there are a lot of ways to pre-arrange the donation of your body. The Ohio State University College of Medicine, for example, has an anatomical bequeathal and cremation form that makes it simple to arrange this for yourself or a loved one. 

2. Cleveland Cremation

Next, if you live in the Cleveland, Ohio area, the private provider Cleveland Cremation offers no-cost cremation. This is a whole-body donation affiliated with Science Care. Cleveland Cremation works with the family to file the death certificate, arrange legal matters, and more. 

If you need help through the full-body donation process, Cleveland Cremation is here to help. This provider understands that cremation is a great fit, but it can be expensive. They use their skills to help with these steps. 

3. Veteran cremation benefits

Another option for those who served the country is to seek help from the VA. Veterans have access to death benefits designed to reduce the financial burden for military families. However, the VA doesn’t pay any money directly to the provider. 

This is provided as a reimbursement to the family, and it can take a while to get these funds. Because of this, the family might need to pay for any funeral and cremation costs upfront. If you think your loved one is a good fit for the veteran death benefits, apply online or at your local VA office. 

4. Indignant Burial and Cremation Support Program

Previously, we shared information about the Ohio Indigent Burial and Cremation support program. This program is a state-funded option to reimburse local governments for the cost of a burial or cremation for someone who qualifies. In order to qualify, the deceased must qualify as “indigent.” This means they aren’t able to afford final arrangements with their current estate.

If your loved one qualified for social services, they likely are a good fit. To apply, families should ask their funeral director for assistance. You must apply no later than 60 days after the burial or cremation permit is issued. 

5. Charities and nonprofits

Finally, there are always charities and nonprofits that offer low-cost or free cremations. These are designed for families in need, typically after a sudden loss. Some places that help with costs of cremation are:

  • Churches and religious groups
  • Shelters 
  • FEMA and emergency response organizations
  • Children’s burial assistance
  • Community groups

It’s worth connecting with leaders in your community for ideas around keeping the cost of your cremation low. This is also something your funeral director can help with, and they likely have the best grip on what options are available near you.

Tips for Saving Money on Cremation in Ohio

With that in mind, even if you don’t qualify for any of the options above, there are still many ways to save money on cremation in Ohio. No matter your budget, there is a final sendoff that’s right for you or your loved one. 

6. Choose direct cremation

To begin, the best way to keep costs low with cremation is to choose what’s known as direct cremation. Unlike traditional cremation, the cost of a direct cremation is significantly lower. This type of cremation is quick, and it doesn’t involve any extra preparation. 

If you don’t need to have your loved one’s body present at the memorial service, a direct cremation is a much better choice. These start at around $600 in Ohio, depending on your area, and they’re much more affordable. 

» FEATURED: Raise funds for your funeral event with a free memorial page from Cake. Create a memorial site for free.

7. Shop around for the best price

Whether you choose traditional or direct cremation, don’t feel pressured to go with the first funeral home you find. Like any type of purchase, you should feel confident understanding your full range of options. 

Because of federal law, every funeral home has to be upfront about prices. In today’s world, you can often find these online. However, you can always ask in-person or over the phone about clear pricing so you know what to expect. 

8. Opt for an online funeral home

While in the past you needed to go to a physical funeral home to plan a cremation or burial, this is no longer the case. More funeral homes today offer fully digital arrangements and planning. This means you don’t have to go into a physical office, and you can do much of the planning yourself. 

While this isn’t the right fit for everyone, it’s a good option if you don’t need much assistance. Online funeral homes are more cost-effective, making them a good option for those looking to save funds. 

9. Rent a casket

If you wish your loved one’s body to be present during the funeral, it’s common to use a casket. While you can always purchase a new casket outright, this isn’t necessary. This can be a really expensive add-on, and it’s not necessary to keep your loved one’s body secure during the funeral service. 

Instead, most funeral homes allow you to rent a casket. This is a safe, clean, and efficient way to use a temporary casket for the duration of the service. From there, the body is transferred to a cremation casket prior to the actual cremation. 

10. Buy an urn online

Lastly, you don’t have to purchase an urn directly through your funeral home. Instead, you can always purchase this online. When you shop online for memorial products, you have more options to keep costs low. 

If you’re creative, you can even make your own DIY urn. There are no rules about the type of urn you need, so don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. 

Get a Low-Cost or Free Cremation in Ohio

Ultimately, a cremation shouldn’t break the bank. While the cost is going up across the country, there are still many ways to get a low-cost or free cremation in Ohio. With state-wide funding available for those who need it as well as community groups, you’re not alone. 

Above all, the best way to keep costs down when it comes to funerals is to understand the process. There’s often a lot of mystery around funeral planning. Knowledge really is power, so make the most of this guide to share what matters most to you. 

  1. Tebben, Susan. “Indigent Burial Program May See More Action.” Politics and Government, Ohio Capital Journal, 4 January 2021.

Icons sourced from FlatIcon.