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.

map-imgFounded 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.



  • 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 $44,100 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.
  • More than 70% 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.
  • Nearly all (98%) of domestic Berea College students received federal Pell grants.
  • Washington Monthly named Berea College the No. 1 liberal arts college in the nation in 2016 and 2017, and No. 1 "Best Bang for the Buck" in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.
  • 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 was the highest-scoring LEED-certified residence hall in the world at the time of its construction in 2013; Boone Tavern is the first LEED-certified hotel in Kentucky; and the Ecovillage—a sustainable housing complex near campus—is the first of its kind in Kentucky.



of Berea students live on campus.



annual amount collected in tuition.


of Berea students in 2018 were first- generation college students.


of operating budget revenue provided from endowment...


hours worked by students each week (2017-2018 academic year)

Top 3

One of the Top 3 liberal arts college in the nation (Washington Monthly 2020)


First-time pass rate for national council licensure for nursing graduates


students on the Dean’s List in Spring 2020


Berea not only admits students, it hires each of them. Berea students all work a minimum of 10 hours a week in one of 140 labor departments that serve the institution. Students earn money, gain valuable work experience and learning, and contribute to the stewardship of College operations.

100% of Berea College students graduate with an academic and a labor transcript. And when combined with a resume, these transcripts provide the validation of a high- quality liberal arts education and the attainment of work/soft skills.


hours in 2019-2020 contributed by students to the community through service-learning courses and community service



of all Berea students in Fall 2018 were from a racial or ethnic category other than “white, non-Hispanic.”


of first-year students in 2020 were from Berea’s Admissions Territory, consisting of Kentucky and most of Appalachia.


of first-year Berea students 13% in Fall 2019 were Latino/ Hispanic.


of first-year Berea students in Fall 2019 were African American.



had an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $0


are Pell Grant recipients


enrolled students from 28 states and 29 countries


  • Berea named the No. 1 liberal arts college in the nation three consecutive years — by Washington Monthly, 2016-2018
  • Berea named “Best Value College” - Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education, 2018-2021.
  • Top 50 Best Schools for African Americans — Essence Magazine, 2016
  • Top of the list for colleges with least student debt, U.S. News & World Report, Class of 2018
  • #1 in affordability, MONEY Magazine, 2017
  • Berea is #1 for the lowest average student debt at graduation, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, 2018
  • Princeton Review listed Berea in the top seven percent of “Colleges That Pay You Back: The 200 Schools That Give You the Best Bang for Your Tuition Buck” and named Berea among the Top Green Colleges for sustainability
  • One of the “Best 10 Colleges for the Money” —USA Today
  • Berea featured as “The Little College Where Tuition is Free and Every Student is Given a Job” — The Atlantic, 2018
  • CBS News featured Berea in a national story on Debt-Free Degrees — CBS This Morning: Saturday, 2019

Berea College has been recognized for and is focused on helping students graduate with little or no debt. According to the Student Loan Debt Report compiled by, the Berea College 2017 graduates are ranked:


lowest student debt figure in Kentucky


lowest student debt figures for all U.S. private institutions


lowest student debt figures in the United States