Home » CNBC applauds Berea College for no tuition and least debt for students

CNBC applauds Berea College for no tuition and least debt for students

Draper Hall on the Berea College campus in Berea, Ky.
Draper Hall on the Berea College campus in Berea, Ky.

Once 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.

In the first article, Hess states that “currently, over 44 million Americans hold a total of $1.4 trillion in student loan debt, and it takes the average student debt borrower 20 years to pay off their loans. For-profit colleges and private loans can be particularly treacherous traps that can tie students to mountains of student loans.”

She counters the bleakness of such statistics with a list of eight schools—many of which are U.S. military academies—that demonstrate a commitment to accessibility and affordability by not charging tuition.

Quoting from the Berea College website, her article states that Berea’s Tuition Promise Scholarship “guarantees no student pays tuition. Berea students pay an average of $1,000 toward housing, meals and fees, with financial assistance for books available.”

The second article, lists Berea as the college where students graduate with the least debt. Nationally, about 70 percent of graduates leave college with loans. According to Hess, some schools “leave graduates shouldering an unbearable mountain of debt, [but] others work with students to make sure they’re not taking on more than they’ll be able to pay off.”

By contrast, Hess states that student loan borrowers had the lowest average amount of debt at Berea College, where a smaller percentage of students have any debt and those who do are well under the national average. The average American in their 20s owes $22,135 in student loan debt, but Berea students who graduated with debt averaged only $7,062.

Both articles featured a photo from Berea College. To read the full articles, visit:



Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, focuses on learning, labor and service. The College admits only academically promising students with limited financial resources, primarily from Kentucky and Appalachia, although students come from 40 states and 70 countries. Every Berea student receives a Tuition Promise Scholarship, which means no Berea student pays for tuition. Berea is one of eight federally-recognized Work Colleges, so students work 10 hours or more weekly, earning 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. www.berea.edu