Berea College

Berea College is repeatedly named as the nation’s top liberal arts college by Washington Monthly— an award that looks beyond standard criteria like test scores, economic data and peer surveys. Instead, Washington Monthly’s criteria focus on social mobility, excellence in education and community service.

Founded in 1855, Berea was the first interracial and coeducational college in the South. Berea awards four-year tuition scholarships to all its students, who because of financial circumstances cannot otherwise afford a high-quality, residential, liberal arts education. The work program has been an integral part of Berea’s educational program for more than a century.

Fast Facts

  • Abolitionist minister Reverend John G. Fee founded Berea College in 1855. 
  • Berea is the first interracial and coeducational college in the South. 
  • The College’s motto is “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth.” (Acts 17:26) 
  • About 75% of Berea’s operating expenses are covered by the College’s endowment. The rest, about $5 million, must be raised annually. 
  • All 1,600 students receive a Tuition Promise Scholarship, valued at $39,000 per year. 
  • The Tuition Promise Scholarship means most students can graduate with little to no debt. 
  • Berea College is one of eight federally recognized work colleges. All students work at campus jobs to help pay for books, housing and meals. 
  • 78% of Berea College students come from Kentucky and Appalachia, and more than half are first-generation college students. 
  • Berea College’s students come from families with an average annual income of less than $30,000. 
  • In fall 2015, 60% of Berea College students had an expected family contribution (EFC) of $0, meaning their parents cannot afford to pay anything toward their education. 
  • In fall 2015, 98% of domestic Berea College students received federal Pell grants. 
  • Washington Monthly has named Berea College the No. 1 liberal arts college in the nation for the past two years (2016 and 2017), and No. 1 in affordability for three consecutive years (2015-2017). 
  • Well-known alumni include Carter G. Woodson, the Father of Black History Month, and John Fenn, winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. 
  • Berea has a commitment to environmental sustainability: “Deep Green” residence hall is the highest-scoring LEEDS-certified residence hall in the world; Boone Tavern is the first LEEDS-certified hotel in Kentucky; and the Ecovillage—a sustainable housing complex near campus—is the first of its kind in Kentucky.