Low income. High potential.
From the very beginning, Berea College was founded to be accessible to people who otherwise could not afford a college education. As the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, Berea was open to all people in the region, regardless of race, gender or ability to pay. No Berea student has paid tuition since 1892.
No Tuition. No Kidding.
Student debt disproportionately impacts economically disadvantaged families. That's why Berea College has been paying for students' tuition since 1892.
The national average for student loan debt is $35,000.
Who is eligible?
Students with strong academic potential and financial need are encouraged to apply. Berea is academically competitive. The average ACT score of our students is about 25—which is above the national average—and more than half of our first-year students ranked in the top fifth of their high school class. Find out if you meet the financial qualifications at our Admissions Information page.
Why no tuition?
We believe a college education is crucial for success in the modern world and that it should be available to everyone. With the average annual cost of tuition at nearly $45,000, the kind of education Berea provides is out of reach for many, unless they want to take on an enormous amount of debt. We’re proud to say that more than half of recent Berea graduates had no debt at all, the other half owes a fraction of the national average for student debt.
How are we able to operate without charging tuition?
Berea College is such a special place that generations of people have been inspired to support us financially. Starting a century ago, all estate gifts to the College—money or real estate left to us in the wills of generous supporters—were deposited into our endowment. Over time, this endowment has grown to more than $1 billion. We use the interest earned from the endowment to cover 74% of Berea's operating budget. Another 18% comes from state and federal aid. The remaining 8% has to be raised every year.
Our mission is impossible without generosity
To continue our mission, we must raise nearly $5 million annually. Thanks to our donors, we have met this goal each and every year. In 2021, gifts from more than 14,300 alumni, friends and organizations supportive of our mission enabled us to provide nearly 1,600 students with a Tuition Promise Scholarship to cover the cost of tuition.
Students with strong academic potential and financial need are encouraged to apply. A Berea education impacts EVERYONE. Society as a whole benefits from an educated populace. We have example after example of Berea alumni who have changed the world. But to be very specific, we benefit first-generation and low-income college students who otherwise could not afford to pay for their education. We benefit the Appalachian region when graduates return to their hometowns and invest in their communities. And we benefit a society struggling with issues of equity, diversity and equality. Our motto—God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth—speaks to our inclusive mission to benefit as many people as possible.