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Overall Score: 81.28

Berea College

Kentucky's Berea College was founded as a Christian school with a mission of providing an education accessible to all. In the past, that meant Berea was one of the first colleges in the South to open its classes to people of color and women. Today, it means offering a path to a college degree for students with limited economic resources, especially those from the Appalachia region, where the college is located. As such, it's not surprising that the small liberal arts college is a standout for affordability, capturing the number one spot for this measure in Money's rankings. Nearly all first-year undergraduates are eligible for federal Pell Grants. Berea doesn't charge tuition – students can recevie a Berea Work Scholarship to help pay their way, and all students are required to work a minimum of 10 hours a week, for which they take home a paycheck to help cover day-to-day expenses. At the end of their college careers students leave with a labor transcript along with a degree. The college also offers ample scholarships for students who can't afford to pay for room and board and other fees. Few students borrow, and those who do leave college with small debt loads. Berea offers about 30 majors and 40 minors, with specialized programs ranging from Peace and Social Justice Studies to Forest Resource Management. There are 14 residence halls for first-year students and upperclassmen, and an ecovillage – made up of about 50 apartments – for students with children or who are married and want to live with their families. Students living there are expected to meet certain standards of environmentally friendly living, pitching in to help with composting, babysitting, gardening or landscaping activities.


Est. full price 2022-2023
% of students who get any grants
Est. price for students who receive aid
Average price for low-income students


Acceptance rate
Median SAT/ACT score
SAT/ACT required?
Undergraduate enrollment

Financial Aid

% of students with need who get grants
% of need met
% of students who get merit grants
Average merit grant

Student Success

Graduation rate
Average time to a degree
4.3 years
Median student debt
Early career earnings
% earning more than a high school grad

Notes: Students who get merit grants are full-time undergraduates who had no financial need and were awarded grants. Graduation rate measures degree completion within six years for both transfer students and first-time students. Early career earnings are the median earnings for both graduates and non-completers, 10 years after they first enrolled.

Sources: U.S. Department of Education, Peterson’s, Money/Witlytic calculations.

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