Friday, July 25, 2008

T.G.I.F.: Free college, Berea college

A few days ago The New York Times did a story on Berea College in Kentucky, a college founded in 1855 that does not charge tuition. That's right--if you get accepted into Berea and matriculate, you don't pay a dime in tuition (and they are ranked #75 among small liberal arts colleges according to U.S. News and World Report--which we should all take with a grain of salt, these rankings, but figured I'd include them for what they are worth).

This is a description of Berea from their college website:
Berea College is distinctive among institutions of higher learning. Founded in 1855 as the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, Berea charges no tuition and admits only academically promising students, primarily from Appalachia, who have limited economic resources. Berea’s cost of educating a student exceeds $23,000 per year.

[View of sunset from Berea college athletic fields]

According to their "About the College" site, 1 in 3 students at Berea are also members of an ethnic minority. So here we have a college that is free, that was the first interracial and coeducational college to open its doors in the South (and this during a time well before the likes of Brown vs. Board of Education and well before places in the South like Vanderbilt and Sewanee were opening its doors to African Americans and women), and whose mission is to educate promising students who wouldn't normally be able to afford the exorbitant tuition and cost of living at places like Harvard, Swarthmore, and Stanford.

That, is truly a Great Impossible Feat.


Dance said...

I feel obliged to make the late comment that Harvard, Stanford, and Swarthmore all have need-blind admissions, and so promising students do not need to be able to afford any of those schools. In theory (and often practice) they charge you only what you are able to pay, covering tuition and cost of living. Any of those three would love to give a qualified student from the ghetto of Appalachia 50K/year to attend.

Apologies. I'm tired of people scapegoating the Ivies for tuition debt.

But I like your TGIF series!

Jennifer said...

Hey Dance,
Were you following the debate at Racialicious about Berea vs. Ivies/SLACs? It was a bit over the top--and a bit of a straw man really, because I agree--there are some really great ivies and SLAC and public ivies that are making college really affordable for students--like UT Austin and UNC Chapel Hill both making college entirely free for students of a certain income bracket (and since they are both public they also have a commitment to educating students in their respective states, which I really like too).

Anyway, thanks for the props on the TGIF series--I do think Berea, given their long history and commitment to interracial/coeducation and free education is pretty fantastic!

Dance said...

No, I didn't follow the racialious one (but just checked it out). I'm seeing a lot of scapegoating in the news articles linked at University Diaries, etc. Because Harvard is sitting on $30 billion, students are graduating with $200K in debt, the bad logic goes, nicely distracting us from the slide in federal funding for the millions of non-Ivy students. I'll have to do a post eventually.

Not that I can come up with 3 names you might have used instead.