NPR Features Berea College’s No Tuition Policy and Labor Program

Draper Building

Berea College was the focus of a feature story by Jeff Tyler recently broadcast by National Public Radio. Tyler, a journalist for NPR’s Marketplace and All Things Considered, recently visited Berea’s campus to prepare the story that focused on how Berea College and Alice Lloyd College provide no-tuition enrollment for college students and offer examples other American colleges might follow.

Continue reading NPR Features Berea College’s No Tuition Policy and Labor Program

CNN Features Berea as Counterpoint to American Admissions Scandals

Amid media coverage of the FBI’s “Varsity Blues” college scam cases, CNN’s Fareed Zakaria contrasted how Berea College offers “a high-quality education to economically-disadvantaged students in pursuit of their American dreams.”

A special CNN documentary that aired Sunday, October 20, examined how the college admissions process in America became so broken. Titled SCHEME and SCANDAL: Inside the College Admissions Crisis, the documentary investigated how some students and their high-profile celebrity parents have turned to criminal rigging of their applications in pursuit of entrance to the most in-demand colleges. The hour-long program also reported on lesser-known cases of cheating that did not make the headlines: paying bribes to coaches, admissions officers, and other school officials, hiring standardized test takers, obtaining false diagnoses to secure more time for testing, and more.

In contrast, Berea College was highlighted as an alternate model for access and affordability to quality higher education, especially for those who can least afford it. Students were interviewed and spoke about the opportunities Berea provides that they and their families could not otherwise afford. The program featured Berea’s distinctive no-tuition model and how the College’s endowment and contributions from alumni and other donors provides the capital to invest in lives of great promise.

The program will be rebroadcast on November 2, 2019. Check local listings for times in your area.

Berea College Ranked No. 1 “Best Value College” by The Wall Street Journal/THE

A Berea College student reading the Wall Street Journal's article ranking Berea College Number 1Berea College tops the list of “Best Value Colleges” in the nation in The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education (THE) 2020 College Rankings. Looking at the top 250 schools overall, the rankings calculated which schools provide the best value by dividing each school’s overall score by its average net price according to data from the U.S. Department of Education. The average net price is the total cost of attending a school—including tuition, fees, room and board, books and supplies, and other costs—minus federal or institutional financial aid that doesn’t have to be repaid. Students who don’t receive any aid aren’t included in the calculation.

Berea’s no-tuition model contributed to its No. 1 best-value ranking. The College ranked No. 155 overall.

“We are thrilled to be ranked at the top of this impressive list of colleges and universities and are proud to be leading a cohort of schools that are committed to the important American ideal of social mobility through educational opportunity,” said Berea College President Lyle Roelofs. “Our no-tuition policy allows us to provide talented students who might not otherwise be able to afford access to a high-quality liberal arts education and transformative experiences and enables them to graduate with little or no debt.”

Following Berea on the list are three schools in the City University of New York (CUNY) system: CUNY City College of New York, CUNY Bernard M. Baruch College and CUNY Hunter College. The University of Washington-Seattle rounds out the top five.

Eight of the top 10 best-value colleges in this year’s Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings are public schools whose financial resources are constrained by government budgets.

Read the Wall Street Journal article (pdf) and watch this segment from Spectrum News 1 about our ranking.

Washington Monthly Ranks Berea No. 1 as Best Bang for the Buck and No. 4 Best Liberal Arts College

2019 Washington Monthly College Rankings magazine coverWashington Monthly ranked Berea College No. 1 as the Best Bang for the Buck Colleges in the South. No other college in Kentucky was in the top 25. Berea also was named the nation’s No. 4 top liberal arts college in the 2019 Washington Monthly College Rankings guide. The recognition for Berea comes from its success in educating and graduating academically talented, low-income students who become service-oriented leaders in their professions and communities.

In announcing the rankings, Washington Monthly author Robert Kelchen noted that there is “growing public attention paid to colleges’ roles in fostering upward social mobility among their students. This is our eighth year of producing a ranking of ‘best bang for the buck’ colleges, which is laser focused on showing which colleges do a good job promoting social mobility—and which don’t.”

Kelchen noted that Berea held the top spot again this year due to the College’s “economic diversity, relatively strong graduation rates and commitment to meeting students’ financial need.”

Washington Monthly’s rankings focus on what colleges are doing for the good of the country at large by the way they educate their students. The publication measures schools’ success in three key areas—social mobility (admitting and graduating low-income students), research and Ph.D. production and community service—to determine the rankings.

“We find such recognition for Berea’s success in serving students who might otherwise not be able to attend college most gratifying, especially since the criteria for Washington Monthly rankings aligns with Berea’s mission,” said Berea College President Lyle Roelofs. “The economic data and peer surveys that other publications use for their rankings typically favor wealthy, elite colleges. By contrast the Washington Monthly criteria recognizes the value of social mobility, transformative education and service, which are consistent with our ‘Great Commitments’ that inform Berea’s work and inspire support from donors.”

Berea’s distinctive mission is serving low-income students. Between 80 and 90 percent of Berea students receive federal Pell grants and annual household of students’ families is about $29,000. The national graduation rates for that demographic averages only in the mid-teens. By contrast, about two-thirds of Berea’s students graduate on time and a healthy number go on to earn doctoral and other advanced degrees.

The Washington Monthly College Rankings and guide appear online here.

Berea Named One of the Best 385 Colleges in the Princeton Review’s 2020 Guide

Graduates celebrating in Seabury Center

(Photo: Crystal Wylie ’05)

Princeton Review 2020 CoverThe Princeton Review has once again included Berea College in its just-released publication of The Best 385 Colleges: 2020 Edition.

Berea is nationally recognized for its high-quality education and its distinctive labor program, which hires every admitted student to help operate the school. Berea is also known for its Tuition Promise Scholarship that covers the $44,100 annual tuition cost for every student. That is particularly meaningful for Berea’s students since most come from families making an average of $29,000 and are the first in their families to attend college.

The Princeton Review’s list of best colleges is based on input from students at America’s schools on a survey that asked students 84 questions about their school’s academics, administration, campus community and themselves. The answer format uses a five-point Likert scale to convert qualitative student assessments into quantitative data for school-to-school comparisons. The company does not rank the 385 schools in the book hierarchically, from 1 to 385 in any category. Instead The Princeton Review surveyed 140,000 students at 385 of the nation’s top colleges to rate their schools on dozens of topics important to applicants and their parents.

“Berea’s continued recognition among America’s top schools is gratifying,” said Lyle D. Roelofs, president of Berea College. “Berea’s no-tuition model is especially important to our students whose families seek the kind of high-quality liberal arts education Berea College offers, but cannot afford to pay tuition. The national attention on Berea from organizations such as The Princeton Review helps families connect with a school that will meet their needs. This recognition also puts a spotlight on Berea’s many alumni and friends whose contributions replace tuition so that our student’s outcomes are not limited by their financial situations.” 

“The 385 colleges for this edition were chosen as ‘best’ overall, academically, based on data gathered in 2018–19 from more than a thousand school administrators about their schools’ academic programs and offerings,” said Robert Franek, The Princeton Review’s editor-in-chief and lead author of the book.

Nerdwallet Spotlights Berea’s Student Work Program

Student carrying a plant at the Ecovillage

Nerdwallet, a personal financial services blogsite that provides information on banking, credit cards, college loans, mortgage loans, insurance, and stock trading, highlighted Berea College in a recent article. The feature focused on Berea’s Student Labor Program and two other schools that are members of the Work Colleges Consortium that also require students to work.

Continue reading Nerdwallet Spotlights Berea’s Student Work Program

Berea Named a “Best Value” College by the Princeton Review

Student forming a clay mugBerea College, widely known for its no-tuition policy, is one of the nation’s best colleges for students seeking a superb education with great career preparation at an affordable price, according to The Princeton Review®.

The newly-published 2019 edition of The Princeton Review’s annual guide, The Best Value Colleges: 200 Schools with Exceptional ROI for Your Tuition Investment, recommends colleges considered the nation’s best for academics, affordability and career prospects. The distinction is based on a ROI (return on investment) rating score developed by The Princeton Review that weights more than 40 data points, including data from previous years’ surveys of students and administrators at more than 650 U.S. colleges. Other factors include starting and mid-career salaries and career social impact. Continue reading Berea Named a “Best Value” College by the Princeton Review

Berea College Noted for Easing Student Financial Burden

A Berea graduate raising her arms in celebration with her diploma in hand

(Photo: Desiree Dunn ’21)

A recent article published by U. S. News & World Report included Berea among selective colleges where students are eager to apply, be accepted and attend. The story named highly competitive colleges that are considered “high yield,” which refers to the percentage of accepted students who choose to enroll. The article specifically cited Berea College and the United States Naval Academy for high yields and no tuition, stating “Two liberal arts colleges with high yield figures – the Naval Academy and Berea College in Kentucky – provide a tuition-free education, easing the financial burden on students and their families as the cost of school continues to rise across the nation.” Read the full article here.

Berea College Featured on “CBS This Morning: Saturday”

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“CBS This Morning: Saturday” featured Berea College in a broadcast about the rising cost of attending college on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. The show highlighted Berea’s unique no-tuition policy as a model to curb that national trend. Continue reading Berea College Featured on “CBS This Morning: Saturday”

Berea’s Feature in The Atlantic Cited by the National College Access Network

Berea College was cited in a newly published article by Lindsay Broderick, a staff writer for the National College Access Network (NCAN), who called attention to the extensive feature about Berea in a recent issue of The Atlantic.

The National College Access Network is composed of member organizations across the U.S. that, like Berea, are committed to providing college access and success to students, especially for those who often are underrepresented in postsecondary education. Berea’s Partners for Education program is a NCAN member. Continue reading Berea’s Feature in The Atlantic Cited by the National College Access Network

Berea Featured in The Atlantic

Berea’s distinctive educational model has once again attracted national attention. The Atlantic published a feature on the College following a recent visit to campus by education writer Adam Harris. The article details Berea’s remarkable history and how its mission is carried out today. Harris also asks if Berea’s no-tuition model, or at least key aspects of it, could be replicated at other schools across America to address the need for affordable, high-quality education. Read the full article at The Atlantic here.

Washington Monthly Again Ranks Berea No. 1, Twice; As Best National Liberal Arts College and Best Bang for the Buck in the South

Washington Monthly once again ranked Berea College No. 1, in two major classifications, citing Berea as the nation’s top liberal arts college and ranking Berea as the Best Bang for the Buck College in the South. Berea’s top rank in the 2018 Washington Monthly College Guide and Rankings comes from its success in educating and graduating academically-talented students who have great financial need to become service-oriented leaders in their professions and communities. Continue reading Washington Monthly Again Ranks Berea No. 1, Twice; As Best National Liberal Arts College and Best Bang for the Buck in the South

Berea College Highlighted for Low Student Debt, Nationally and Locally

Berea College captured the national spotlight again for helping students graduate with little or no debt. In a newly-released report focused on student-loan debt for each state, Kentucky’s Berea College was ranked No. 1 among private colleges and universities in the state and fourth among private schools nationwide. Continue reading Berea College Highlighted for Low Student Debt, Nationally and Locally

Berea Named a “Best Bang for Your Tuition Buck” College by the Princeton Review

We Made the List! - Colleges that Pay You Back 2018Berea College, widely known for its no-tuition policy, is named in the newly released edition of The Princeton Review’s book, Colleges That Pay You Back: The 200 Schools That Give You the Best Bang for Your Tuition Buck. Only 7 percent of the nation’s four-year colleges earn inclusion in this publication.

In addition to being named as a College That Pay You Back—based on academic rigor, affordability and career outcomes for graduates—the book also cites Berea College in the following categories:

  • Tuition-Free Schools (One of just nine)
  • Green Colleges
  • Best Southeastern (Schools considered academically outstanding)

Continue reading Berea Named a “Best Bang for Your Tuition Buck” College by the Princeton Review

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

CNBC Applauds Berea College for No Tuition and Least Debt for Students

CNBC logoOnce again Berea College’s distinctive model of not charging students for tuition has gained national attention. Americans have more student debt than ever before, but CNBC, a national media network for consumer news and business, recently published two articles by Abigail Hess citing Berea for its affordability and its top spot for students with the lowest average amount of debt. Continue reading CNBC Applauds Berea College for No Tuition and Least Debt for Students

Washington Monthly Ranks Berea No. 1 Twice; As Best National Liberal Arts College and Best Bang for the Buck

Student with Washington Monthly 2017
Washington Monthly has once again ranked Berea College #1 in two major classifications, citing Berea as the nation’s top liberal arts college and ranking Berea as the Best Bang for the Buck Colleges in the South. Berea’s top rank in the 2017 Washington Monthly College Rankings Guide comes from its success in educating and graduating academically talented, low-income students who become service-oriented leaders in their professions and communities. Continue reading Washington Monthly Ranks Berea No. 1 Twice; As Best National Liberal Arts College and Best Bang for the Buck

Forbes Names Berea as a “Standout” for Low Debt

Rising student debt continues to alarm many families. The amount of debt American colleges take on—while making fewer headlines—also is of extreme concern. Forbes, in its latest list titled “2017 College Financial Grades: How Fit Is Your School?” gives kudos to Berea College for keeping institutional debt low and scores Berea with an “A” grade.

In a newly-published article, Matt Schifrin, a Forbes staff writer, focuses on factors that indicate the financial fitness of schools: endowment assets per student; primary reserve ratio; viability ratio; return on assets; and instruction expenses per student. Continue reading Forbes Names Berea as a “Standout” for Low Debt

Berea featured as one of the best colleges in the Princeton Review’s 2018 guide

Berea College is one of the nation’s best colleges for students seeking a superb education with great career preparation and at an affordable price according to The Princeton Review. The education services company lists Berea College as one of the nation’s best institutions for undergraduate education in the new 2018 edition of its college guide, “The Best 382 Colleges.” (Penguin Random House / Princeton Review,$24.99, August 1, 2017)  Continue reading Berea featured as one of the best colleges in the Princeton Review’s 2018 guide

MONEY Ranks Berea College #1 in Affordability

MONEY Magazine lists Berea College as the country’s most affordable liberal arts college. The No. 1 ranking puts Berea at the top of 50 high-quality private schools that scored well for affordability. The schools on MONEY’s list are judged as providing a great education at an affordable price that helps students launch promising careers. Continue reading MONEY Ranks Berea College #1 in Affordability

President Lyle Roelofs Weighs in on Student Loan Debt Burden in Facebook Live Q&A


Berea College President Lyle Roelofs spoke today on Facebook Live, discussing Berea’s unique mission and responding to recent news regarding growing student loan debt. “Education is the most important route for the transformation of lives,” President Roelofs said, pointing out that for many across the nation, attaining an education saddles individuals with mountains of debt. In his remarks, he describes some of the issues students and families currently face, what some of the proposed cuts in the federal budget might mean to low-income families, and how Berea College continues to provide an option for obtaining a high-quality college education for those who otherwise could not afford one.

Berea Named a 2017 “Best College Value” by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

-Recognized for Embodying Exceptional Academic Quality and Affordability-

Long known for providing access to high-quality, low-cost education, Berea College has been named to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance’s list of the Top 300 Best College Values of 2017. Continue reading Berea Named a 2017 “Best College Value” by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

U.S. Congress Hears About How Berea Makes College Accessible and Affordable

U.S. Capital domeOn September 13th, 2016, a U.S. House Ways and Means subcommittee held a hearing to look at how colleges use their tax-exempt endowments and control the rising cost of tuition. Of course, in Berea College’s case, students do not pay any tuition. Berea’s Vice President for Finance, Jeff Amburgey, was among a select panel of higher-ed leaders invited to provide testimony. Amburgey discussed how Berea makes college affordable to those who can least-afford it, the very population of students Berea serves in Appalachia and beyond. Continue reading U.S. Congress Hears About How Berea Makes College Accessible and Affordable