Top 10 Colleges Where Students Accumulate the Least Debt
For many college students and parents, student loans are inevitable. Loans become the financial bridge between personal means and institutional financial aid. How common is student debt? Let’s put some data in place to properly frame the concept of student debt:
- NCES reports 17 million students current attend college
- Statistic Brain reveals 14 million are undergraduates, 2 million are in a graduate degree program, and 330,000 are enrolled in a professional degree.
- 44 million Americans hold $1.4 trillion in student loans
- 70% of graduates leave school with student loans
The debt side of the ledger may paint a disheartening picture of college, but the economic reality remains for the overwhelming majority of students that college is worth the investment. In addition to the knowledge, skills, and life experiences attending college provides students, the economic gains are stark. To underscore this reality, the BLS published data showing a tight correlation between education level, income, and employment. In other words, the greater level of education you attain the greater income and more job stability on average.
The media has the propensity to frame the college conversation in unfavorable terms at times. For example, the current tuition at Princeton University is $47,140 with room and board pushing the total over sixty thousand dollars a year. If the conversation stopped there, the pool of applicants would be quite limited. However, the facts need to be considered to get the full picture. The average grant for student aid for the class of 2021 is an eye-popping $50,600. Average grants cover 100% of tuition and 60% of students qualify for student aid. Lastly, 82% of graduates of Princeton University graduated debt free thanks to a robust $23 billion endowment fund. These financial realities explain why Princeton landed the second spot on our top 10 list.
Another tack is to help students graduate on time. In other words, if the focus is on affordability and graduating on schedule, the results can benefit students in surprising ways. An example of this philosophy is found at Thomas Aquinas College. Current tuition is just under twenty-five thousand dollars a year with fully 85% of students taking out student loans. Thomas Aquinas College made our list this year by limiting debt, offering generous financial aid, and emphasizing on-time graduation. The result is the fact students graduate with just under seventeen thousand dollars in student loans. Students are more likely to continue on to graduate school or jump into the workforce financially nimble.
Topping the list this year were students had the lowest average student loan debt was Berea College. Berea is located in Berea, KY and 65% of students take on student loans to finance their college education. Combining generous student aid with a tuition free admissions policy, student loans netted an average of $7,062 for graduates. Students are Berea are typically left to pay for remaining college expenses along with room and board costs.
Below you will find a variety of colleges and universities from around the country on our top 10 list this year. From expansive public universities to small liberal arts schools in rural areas, the list covers an array of school types. The top ten colleges where students had the least debt after graduation on average include the following:
College Graduates with Debt: 65%
Average Student Debt: $7,062
College Graduates with Debt: 18%
Average Student Debt: $8,908
College Graduates with Debt: 48%
Average Student Debt: $13,415
College Graduates with Debt: 14%
Average Student Debt: $13,625
College Graduates with Debt: 26%
Average Student Debt: $15,158
College Graduates with Debt: 43%
Average Student Debt: $15,496
College Graduates with Debt: 83%
Average Student Debt: $15,559
College Graduates with Debt: 35%
Average Student Debt: $16,577
College Graduates with Debt: 23%
Average Student Debt: $16,702
College Graduates with Debt: 85%
Average Student Debt: $16,986
Additional Financial Aid Resources
- Ways to Reduce Student Debt
- Scholarship Basics
- Graduating Debt Free from College
- Finding College Scholarships
- Inside Scholarship Essays
- Scholarship Guide
- Avoiding Scholarship Scams
- Debunking Scholarship Myths
- Scholarship Tips