There’s no doubt that a college education is expensive. As of 2014, US student loan debt exceeded $1 trillion. The student debt crisis in the United States has major financial and psychological implications for graduates and their families. We will address the student debt crisis in more detail in an upcoming blog. In the meantime, if you are concerned about student debt and hope to graduate with the least debt possible, take a look at these 11 colleges whose graduates have the least amount of student debt. Some of these colleges have no-loan policies for low-income students.
1. Princeton University, Princeton, NJ: In 2001, Princeton became the first university in the US to enact a no-loan policy. Most students receive grants and others have on-campus jobs. Princeton has an endowment of $23 billion—the 4th highest overall in the US and the number 1 per student. In 2015-2016, Princeton awarded $140 million to 3100 students. Princeton’s endowment is sustained through alumni contributions and investments. The average student debt among Princeton graduates at the time of graduation is $5000—the lowest in the country.
2. Berea College, Berea, KY: Berea is the only college in the US to award all students the Tuition Promise Scholarship—which covers 100% of tuition costs due to donations from alumni, friends, and organizations who believe that “a student’s income should not dictate their outcome.” This leaves students only covering room and board, if that. In exchange, students are required to work at least 10 hours a week on campus. Many of these jobs are part of the college’s emerging sustainability programs. Berea’s endowment is $1 billion and average student debt is $6186.
3. Pomona College, Claremont, CA: Pomona introduced a no-loan policy in 2008. It has an endowment of over $2 billion, giving students access to generous financial aid packages. The college also offers a number of work-study options. Nearly 70% of students graduate with zero debt. Of the 50% who do apply for financial aid, 56% have their needs fully met. Average student debt is $16,273.
4. Baruch College—City University of New York, New York, NY: Baruch’s endowment is over $180 million and growing. About half of students at Baruch receive some sort of financial aid, typically in the form of grants. Work-study programs typically award $1200 to students. Every year, Baruch keeps the amount of student debt per student below $10,000. Average debt at graduation is $9949.
5. Williams College, Williamstown, MA: An impressive 65% of Williams College graduates graduate with zero debt. Of the students who needed financial assistance, 52% had their needs fully met. Williams’s endowment is $2.2 billion. Given how small the school is, this affords each student $1,170,000. While total annual cost of attending Williams is around $61,870, the average financial aid award can cut the total annual cost down to $19,305. On average, students receive $42,565 in need-based grants. Average debt at graduation is $14,170.
6. Amherst College, Amherst, MA: At Amherst, 70% of graduates graduate with zero debt. Of the 50% of students who apply for financial aid, 56% have their needs met. Students receive an average of $45,604 in grants. Amherst offers need-blind admissions to both international and US students. The college’s endowment is $2.2 billion, making the endowment-to-student number $1.2 million. Average student debt at graduation is $14,490.
7. Haverford College, Haverford, PA: Nearly 75% of Haverford graduates graduate with zero debt. Of the 54% of students who apply for financial aid, 51% have their needs fully met. Average needs-based grants total $41,124 per recipient. Students who participate in work-study programs can get $125,025 from federal work-study grants and $835,679 from the state. The college’s endowment is about half a billion dollars. Average student debt is $15,540.
8. Alice Lloyd College, Pippa Passes, KY: Nearly half of Alice Lloyd graduates leave school with zero debt. On average, students who apply for financial aid have 71% of their needs met. Work-study programs are highly popular at Alice Lloyd and include such jobs as office assistant, tutor, craft maker, residential advisor, maintenance, grounds, and outreach. Work-study jobs award approximately $2320 per student, totaling about $1 million a year. The college’s endowment is $35,791,310. Average student debt at graduation is $9949.
9. California State University, Fullerton, Fullerton, CA: At Fullerton, 75% of students apply for financial aid and 29% have those needs fully met. On average, students get 56% of their needs met. About 60% of students graduate debt-free. Average needs-based grants come to $10,010 per recipient. The endowment of CSU-Fullerton is nearly $52 million. Average student debt at graduation is $14,965.
10. Yale University, New Haven, CT: Yale’s $23.9 billion endowment allows the school to meet 100% of financial aid need for students who qualify. The average need-based award is $44,268, cutting total cost by 73%. Yale also has a no-loan policy. Average student debt at graduation is $13,009.
11. Harvard University, Cambridge, MA: At Harvard, 75% of students graduate without debt. Of the 33% of students who apply for financial aid, nearly 60% have their needs fully met. Furthermore, 20% of students pay nothing at all. With an endowment of $38 billion, Harvard has the largest endowment in the world, allowing for generous financial aid packages. On average, students receive $44,430 in grants. Average student debt at graduation is $15,117.
If you’d like to learn more about these colleges but want more information than you would find on the school’s website or in a college guidebook, you’ll want to join Konversai. Konversai is a new knowledge-sharing platform that enables one-on-one live video conversations between anyone, anywhere, about anything. One of the core premises behind Konversai is that no matter who you are, where you’re from, or what your circumstances in life are, you have valuable knowledge, skills, and experiences to share that could benefit someone somewhere else in the world. On Konversai, you can connect with current college students and alumni to get the inside scoop on campus life, including financial aid. You can also connect with people who can help you come up with a plan to finance your college education. Users are encouraged to be both providers of seekers of knowledge on Konversai’s platform on any and as many topics as they wish. Knowledge providers are also encouraged to charge as much as they wish for their time. This is a great way for college students to make some extra money simply by sharing their experiences and knowledge, all from the comfort of their own space and at their own time—a great way to help ease some of the financial burden. You don’t have to be an expert. Whatever knowledge and experiences you have all have a place on Konversai. Get started today!
- Best Colleges. (2016). Lowest Student Loan Default Rates.
- Kiplinger. (2015). Best Colleges with Lowest Debt at Graduation.
- Value Colleges. Top 50 Universities with the Lowest Student Debt.