Berea Takes No. 1 Spot for Least Graduate Debt in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Ranking, Named a “Best College Value” Institution

Berea graduates at midyear commencement 2017Long known for providing access to high-quality, low-cost education, Berea College has again been named as the No. 1 College with Lowest Average Graduating Debt by Kiplinger.

Berea also ranked in the top 50 of Liberal Arts Colleges (#49) in the U.S. and in the top 100 of all colleges and universities (#95) in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance’s list of the 300 Best College Values for 2018.

“It is gratifying to have Berea be recognized with strong, objective rankings such as this year after year,” Berea College President Lyle Roelofs said. “Our current students, alumni and donors can take pride in knowing the school they have attended and support continues to serve the public good by providing a high-quality education for talented, low-income students from Appalachia and beyond.”

Berea College provides a Tuition Promise Scholarship, meaning students and their families do not have to pay tuition. Berea also makes education affordable by hiring its students to work for the College to earn money for other expenses, such as room, board and books. As a result, Berea’s students graduate with little or no debt, as compared to the national average of nearly $30,000.

Introduced in 1998, Kiplinger’s rankings now combine public schools, private universities and private liberal arts colleges into a single, comprehensive list. In assessing schools, Kiplinger’s quality measures look at more than cost, with particular attention on the admission rate, the retention rate of students who return for sophomore year, the student-faculty ratio, and the four-year graduation rate. Cost criteria include sticker price, financial aid and average debt at graduation. Unlike other rankings, which include subjective criteria in their assessments, Kiplinger restricts its analysis to measurable standards of academic quality and affordability. Kiplinger’s was the first ranking to focus on value, its core mission.

“Our rankings, which weigh affordability alongside academic quality, are a great resource for students and their parents when sorting through college choices,” said Mark Solheim, editor of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. “We start with a universe of nearly 1,200 schools and trim the list using measures of academic quality. We then rank the schools based on cost and financial aid data. All 300 schools on our list are worth a look.”

The full rankings are now available online at and will appear in print in the February 2018 issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, on newsstands Jan. 9.

For nine decades, the Kiplinger organization has led the way in personal finance and business forecasting. Located in the heart of our nation’s capital, the Kiplinger editors remain dedicated to delivering sound, unbiased advice for families and businesses in clear, concise language.

Categories: News, Places
Tags: Accolade, Kiplinger, Student debt, Tuition-free

Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, focuses on learning, labor and service. The College only admits academically promising students with limited financial resources—primarily from Kentucky and Appalachia—but welcomes students from 41 states and 76 countries. Every Berea student receives a Tuition Promise Scholarship, which means no Berea student pays for tuition. Berea is one of nine federally recognized Work Colleges, so students work 10 hours or more weekly to earn money for books, housing and meals. The College’s motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,” speaks to its inclusive Christian character.