The Wall Street Journal Names Berea College Kentucky’s Top College Offering the Best Value

The Wall Street Journal Names Berea College Kentucky’s Top College Offering the Best Value

September 20, 2023

By Jodi Whitakaer

BEREA, Ky. – Berea College offers the best value of any of Kentucky’s universities, and is ranked No. 20 overall in the U.S., according to the new Wall Street Journal/College Pulse college rankings. The rankings look at colleges that not only keep costs low, but also put graduates on the pathway to a meaningful and lucrative career.

“The question of how much a college degree can boost future earnings and how that compares with its cost has become a centerpiece of the college decision process, as many Americans have come to doubt the value of a degree,” the Wall Street Journal says in its report. “Guided by research conducted by the public-policy think tank, Third Way, our best-value calculation looks at how quickly a degree from each college pays for its cost through the salary boost it provides its students.”

Berea College is meeting the “best value” challenge by providing a college degree that immediately transforms students’ lives through both economic reward and personal fulfillment.  “Since 1892, Berea College has offered students a high-quality liberal arts education that inspires them as they pursue their goals—and we do it through our no-tuition promise that allows our students to graduate with zero or very little debt,” said Berea College President Dr. Cheryl Nixon, who began her tenure as the College’s 10th president and first female president on July 1. “Upward mobility is our central goal. Our mission is to educate those who may not otherwise be able to afford to go to college, and we are committed to providing them a blueprint for life after college.”

At Berea, 96 percent of students receive federal Pell Grants, and the annual household income of students’ families is about $32,000. Nationally, graduation rates for students in that demographic are only in the mid-teens. By contrast, about two-thirds of Berea students graduate on time, with many going on to earn advanced degrees. Nixon explains, “We are considered the most economically diverse college in the nation. By offering one of the lowest-cost degrees in the country, we change the trajectory of our students’ lives, and also open opportunities for their families and their communities.”

The Wall Street Journal explains how they calculate the schools that have the best value:

“We do that by estimating the net price of a four-year education at each school and comparing that to how much higher the median salary of the school’s graduates is, 10 years after enrollment, than that of high-school graduates in the state where the school is located. Net price is the average overall cost of attending the college for students who receive federal financial aid, including tuition and fees, room and board, and books and supplies, taking into account any grants and scholarships. Colleges that finished atop the best-value list both kept costs low and put graduates on pathways to lucrative careers.” 

The Wall Street Journal rankings can be found at

Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, focuses on active learning, work experience, and community service. The College only admits academically promising students with limited financial resources, primarily from Kentucky and Appalachia, although students come from 45 states and 70 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, where students work at least 10 hours a week 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.