College of the Ozarks, Missouri.
Topping the list of best private colleges for student borrowers: College of the Ozarks. Tommy Thompson—College of the Ozarks

The 100 Best Private Colleges for People Who Don't Want to Borrow

Sep 17, 2014

Among the hundreds of private schools on MONEY's Best Colleges list, these institutions turn out graduates with the most manageable student debt.

To identify the top 100, we considered the following factors: We analyzed the average total debt that students have at graduation (weighted at 35%), as well as the amount parents typically borrow from the federal parent PLUS loan program (10%). We also looked at whether alumni from each institution typically earn enough once they're in the workforce to comfortably handle their loan payments. To do that, we compared the average debt load per student to how much recent graduates from each college typically earn (35% weighting), and gave 10% weights to each of two factors assessing the risk of students from each school defaulting on their loans (our Student Default Risk Indicator, which multiples a school's official 3-year student loan default rate by the percentage of students who borrow; and a "value-added" indicator that reflects whether a school has a greater or lesser percentage of defaults than colleges with a similar number of low-income students and students with comparable academic backgrounds).

None of the schools in our top 100 have default risk indicators higher than 5%, and most have rates of 2% . That puts them considerably ahead of the average. The average for colleges of all types - including for-profit colleges - is 7.4%.

Debt rankCollegeMoney overall value rankAcceptance rateEstimated average student debt upon graduationDebt, as a percentage of early earnings
1College of the Ozarks
Point Lookout, Mo.
629%$1,4105%
2Princeton University
Princeton, N.J.
48%$1,2202%
3Berea College
Berea, Ky.
5732%$2,2857%
4Yale University
New Haven, Conn.
158%$1,7554%
5Harvard University
Cambridge, Mass.
66%$2,2604%
6Cooper Union
New York City
88%$2,8575%
7Brigham Young University-Provo
Provo, Utah
955%$3,7477%
8Stanford University
Stanford, Calif.
57%$3,0455%
9Colgate University
Hamilton, N.Y.
2729%$1,7983%
10Vanderbilt University
Nashville
5014%$2,9746%
11Swarthmore College
Swarthmore, Pa.
3214%$3,5467%
12Pomona College
Claremont, Calif.
5013%$4,67310%
13Washington University in St Louis
Saint Louis, Mo.
6218%$5,68711%
14University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia
1113%$4,4978%
15Haverford College
Haverford, Pa.
12223%$3,94410%
16Amherst College
Amherst, Mass.
1713%$4,1378%
17Wellesley College
Wellesley, Mass.
9530%$5,04012%
18Bowdoin College
Brunswick, Maine
4416%$4,3449%
19Columbia University
New York City
227%$4,8788%
20Webb Institute
Glen Cove, N.Y.
238%$6,62410%
21Rice University
Houston
2017%$5,59410%
22Colorado College
Colorado Springs
23523%$5,40913%
23Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, Mass.
39%$5,9289%
24Duke University
Durham, N.C.
3214%$5,81310%
25California Institute of Technology
Pasadena
1013%$6,68910%
26Williams College
Williamstown, Mass.
1417%$5,78111%
27Bates College
Lewiston, Maine
15027%$5,61213%
28Davidson College
Davidson, N.C.
7225%$5,29312%
29Claremont McKenna College
Claremont, Calif.
4714%$6,82714%
30Brown University
Providence
1910%$6,28212%
31Reed College
Portland, Ore.
46536%$7,23416%
32Vassar College
Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
12923%$6,40814%
33Dartmouth College
Hanover, N.H.
2410%$7,65814%
34Colby College
Waterville, Maine
8629%$6,62814%
35Middlebury College
Middlebury, Vt.
4718%$7,05914%
36Cornell University
Ithaca, N.Y.
2417%$7,85214%
37Georgetown University
Washington, DC
3718%$7,11313%
38Tufts University
Medford, Mass.
7221%$7,65216%
39University of Chicago
Chicago
10113%$6,94015%
40Scripps College
Claremont, Calif.
11432%$7,49617%
41Washington and Lee University
Lexington, Va.
3919%$6,05113%
42Hamilton College
Clinton, N.Y.
10127%$6,67912%
43Carleton College
Northfield, Minn.
7926%$8,80420%
44Grinnell College
Grinnell, Iowa
14432%$9,37721%
45Pitzer College
Claremont, Calif.
26916%$8,68519%
46Barnard College
New York City
15623%$6,88916%
47Skidmore CollegeSaratoga Springs, N.Y.28042%$8,79522%
48Kenyon College
Gambier, Ohio
9436%$8,85320%
49Northwestern University
Evanston, Ill.
12918%$8,88118%
50Wesleyan University
Middletown, Conn.
16924%$8,88820%
51Trinity College
Hartford
23534%$8,17217%
52Boston College
Chestnut Hill, Mass.
12229%$8,04716%
53University of Richmond
Richmond
12030%$9,58419%
54Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore
10718%$8,89116%
55Sewanee-The University of the South
Sewanee, Tenn.
48759%$8,52423%
56Oberlin College
Oberlin, Ohio
45131%$9,94926%
57Whitman College
Walla Walla, Wash.
21449%$10,16524%
58Emory University
Atlanta
15627%$10,84321%
59Babson College
Wellesley, Mass.
129%$10,29817%
60University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, Ind.
2023%$10,69420%
61University of Tulsa
Tulsa
19441%$10,89220%
62Rhodes College
Memphis
23155%$11,14926%
63Smith College
Northampton, Mass.
24843%$10,47625%
64Southern Methodist University
Dallas
25754%$10,47221%
65Harvey Mudd College
Claremont, Calif.
719%$11,03115%
66Franklin and Marshall College
Lancaster, Pa.
24839%$10,25323%
67Bucknell University
Lewisburg, Pa.
4527%$10,05019%
68Mississippi College
Clinton, Miss.
23558%$12,89134%
69Wofford College
Spartanburg, S.C.
13463%$11,53328%
70University of Miami
Coral Gables, Fla.
53640%$10,61623%
71Principia College
Elsah, Ill.
3287%$13,87433%
72Furman University
Greenville, S.C.
35977%$11,60328%
73Dickinson College
Carlisle, Pa.
23540%$11,41926%
74Samford University
Birmingham
26976%$10,05125%
75Gettysburg College
Gettysburg, Pa.
13840%$10,99023%
76Santa Clara University
Santa Clara, Calif.
9254%$11,48022%
77Tulane University of Louisiana
New Orleans
55527%$12,90930%
78Brandeis University
Waltham, Mass.
24839%$12,72229%
79Mount Holyoke College
South Hadley, Mass.
48042%$12,34431%
80Bryn Mawr College
Bryn Mawr, Pa.
29341%$13,10229%
81Elon University
Elon, N.C.
28052%$11,76327%
82Bentley University
Waltham, Mass.
2845%$13,51725%
83Rollins College
Winter Park, Fla.
57456%$13,10931%
84DePauw University
Greencastle, Ind.
13462%$12,59827%
85Saint Joseph's College-New York
Brooklyn
30071%$12,73636%
86Macalester College
Saint Paul
21437%$14,13436%
87Presbyterian College
Clinton, S.C.
8458%$13,17431%
88Connecticut College
New London, Conn.
41934%$13,41329%
89George Washington University
Washington, DC
21433%$13,55329%
90Texas Christian University
Fort Worth
26141%$11,52824%
91Lafayette College
Easton, Pa.
2834%$13,59224%
92John Brown University
Siloam Springs, Ark.
33965%$14,57138%
93Lewis & Clark College
Portland, Ore.
61864%$13,47537%
94Occidental College
Los Angeles
28539%$13,48530%
95University of Denver
Denver
29368%$13,62230%
96Illinois Institute of Technology
Chicago
9254%$14,63927%
97Grove City College
Grove City, Pa.
5884%$16,38737%
98Union University
Jackson, Tenn.
45875%$14,82335%
99St Lawrence University
Canton, N.Y.
35248%$11,94628%
100Centre College
Danville, Ky.
13868%$14,09832%
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