Berea College is the “most affordable” college or university in the nation, states a FORTUNE Magazine article published this week. Titled, Colleges that offer the best bang for your tuition buck,the article points out that students and their families can make smart choices so college costs won’t overwhelm them.
Citing a recent MONEY.com survey, which identified Berea College as the most affordable, the FORTUNE article states something Berea students and alumni already know. As Berea College President, Lyle D. Roelofs says, “Access to and affordability of a high-quality education has been Berea’s distinctive mission since the College’s founding in 1855. While some national rankings use rather subjective data, MONEY’s new value rankings measure educational quality, affordability, and career outcomes.”
Berea College’s distinction as “most affordable” is due largely to its policy of not charging students tuition. Contributions from alumni and other donors who support Berea’s mission and various grants (virtually all of Berea students are eligible for PELL grants) provide the funds so every admitted student receives a Tuition-Promise Scholarship. Students and their families are only responsible for other expenses, such as housing, meals, and books.
“We work very hard at Berea to serve precisely those students who are most underserved, and for all admitted students, we provide a high-quality, transformative education to those who can least afford it,” states Academic Vice President and Dean of the Faculty, Chad Berry. “Half of our incoming students who will arrive on campus in August have an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $0. We therefore think of Berea as the best education that money can’t buy, because we will not admit a student who comes from a family who can afford to pay for high-quality education. Berea is answering the national need for affordability and academic excellence.”
Berea officials caution that the numbers in national rankings often can lead consumers to assume that a “# 1” ranking equals “the best.” While rankings are interesting to review and can be a factor in deciding which school to attend, rankings should not be the only factor. Would-be students should also consider such things as availability of desired academic majors, school size, location, and other criteria beyond ranking or cost to assure they find a good fit for their educational experiences. And a visit to an institution is often the best practice.