Berea College’s Founding Vision Continues Today

Berea College’s Founding Vision Continues Today

June 12, 2023

Fall 2023 incoming class aligns with College’s inclusive mission

BEREA, Ky. – Berea College was founded in 1855, becoming the South’s first coeducational and interracial college, based on founder Rev. John G. Fee’s understanding of the Christian teaching of impartial love. To realize Fee’s scriptural vision of a fully interracial living and learning community in its early years, Berea was intentional about having equal numbers of white and Black students. Interracial education has been an essential part of Berea’s mission since its founding, interrupted by a 42-year period of forced segregation under Kentucky’s infamous Day Law, which ended in 1950.

The influence of this founding vision continues today through Berea’s guiding principles known as the Great Commitments and the students who are selected for admission. Socioeconomic class and academic potential also guide selection of students.  Berea strives to admit between 70 and 80 percent of its students from an admissions territory comprised of central and southern Appalachia as well as the entire Commonwealth of Kentucky.  Every student at Berea College, therefore, is part of a unique and inclusive mission that reflects equal opportunity with the obvious exception that Berea excludes applicants who come from families who could afford to pay for a high-quality education. Berea, perhaps more than any other institution, is a place of grace, making decisions to serve those who are deserving of educational opportunity, which remains the best way to change trajectories of students of low income and high potential. In the continuing spirit of impartial love, Berea College teaches love of the mind, the heart, the self and others.

Students who will enter Berea later this August reflect these principles:

  • 445 first-year and 58 transfer students have committed to attend Berea, for a total of 503 incoming students for Fall 2023
  • 45% are from Kentucky, with the remaining 55% from 34 states/U.S. territories and 33 countries
  • 42% are from an Appalachian Regional Commission county
  • 65% are from Berea’s primary admissions territory
  • 43% are male and 57% are female
  • 30% identify as Black, African-American alone or in combination with another race
  • 15% identify as Hispanic/Latino
  • 50% are first-generation college students, which means they will be the first in their families to complete a four-year college degree
  • 88% will receive a Pell grant based on household income
  • 53% have an Expected Family Contribution of $0 dollars, based on the FAFSA, meaning these families cannot contribute any money toward a college education
  • 15 are Bonner Scholars
  • 24 are Dr. Carter G. Woodson Scholars
  • No student will pay for tuition, a practice that dates back to 1892