Oct 25, 2018

The Little College Where Tuition is Free and Every Student Is Given a Job

Berea College, in Kentucky, has paid for every enrollee’s education using its endowment for 126 years. Can other schools replicate the model?

The Atlantic
Adam Harris
October 11, 2018

Berea College isn’t like most other colleges. It was founded in 1855 by a Presbyterian minister who was an abolitionist. It was the first integrated, coeducational college in the South. And it has not charged students tuition since 1892. Every student on campus works, and its labor program is like work-study on steroids. The work includes everyday tasks such as janitorial services, but older students are often assigned jobs aligned to their academic program, and work on things such as web production or managing volunteer programs. And students receive a physical check for their labor that can go toward housing and living expenses. Forty-five percent of graduates have no debt, and the ones who do have an average of less than $7,000 in debt, according to Luke Hodson, the college’s director of admissions.

On top of all that: More than 90 percent of Berea College students are eligible to receive the Pell Grant–often used as a proxy for low-income enrollment. Most of those students, 70 percent to be exact, are from Appalachia–where nearly one of every five people live below the poverty line. And that recruiting pipeline in Appalachia produces a rather diverse class–more than 40 percent of the student body identify as racial minorities.

Every couple of years, Berea College makes national news, often for its tuition-free promise–a promise that has become all the more noteworthy as the national student debt crisis has grown.

Full article available at The Atlantic.