Two Sullivan Foundation partner schools—Berea College and Alice Lloyd College—were recognized recently by USA Today and Fox Business for their efforts to help students work their way to a degree instead of paying high tuition.
USA Today singled out Berea and ALC as two of the country’s nine official four-year “work colleges,” where students must work as part of their learning experience. Berea and ALC are two of only three such schools that offer free tuition.
For the story, USA Today interviewed Collis Robinson, who cleaned restrooms and set up events at Berea College before becoming comptroller and, later, director of the school’s campus activities board. “I led 22 people and had a $70,000 budget to manage,” Robinson, now Berea’s director of student labor, told USA Today. “I got to gain a lot of transferable skills.”
Students from ALC’s 108-county service are guaranteed that the full cost of their tuition will be covered. They have to work a minimum of 10 hours a week on campus, serving as janitors, resident advisors, teacher assistants, postal workers and other positions.
Students at Berea College have to work at on-campus departments 10-20 hours a week. They typically earn $2,000 for the academic year, USA Today reports.
Free tuition doesn’t necessarily mean a free education, of course. Depending on the school, other expenses, such as room, board, books and supplies might have to be covered by the student in other ways, whether out-of-pocket or through scholarships, loans or Pell Grants. Still, working for your degree is a big money-saver, as USA Today notes: “The average undergraduate annual tuition and fees across all undergraduate institutions is $12,600, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics. Students at private nonprofit schools pay the most: $33,800 annually on average.”