Although the average college student is borrowing more every year, dozens of colleges have such low tuition, or such generous financial aid, that most of their graduates leave school without a penny in student loan debt, according to a recent analysis by The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS).
To help you find a college that won’t load you up with debt, here’s MONEY’s list of 20 high-value colleges that graduate students with the lowest overall debt loads.
To be considered for this list, schools had to meet MONEY’s minimum standards for quality, which include good graduation rates and stable finances. We believe that puts them in the top half of all four-year public and private colleges.
They also had to have a 2015 graduating class in which fewer than 50% of seniors had any student loan debt, according to TICAS data. And the debt loads for those who did borrow had to be below the average of all recent college graduates: $30,100.
The schools that made our top 20 had the best overall combination of no- and low-debt loads for seniors who graduated in 2015. Here they are, ranked by the overall average student loan debt (percentage of seniors with loans times the average size of debt for those who borrowed).
|College||MONEY overall Rank||% of seniors with student loans*||Avg. debt for those who borrowed*|
|1. College of the Ozarks||299||7%||$5,339|
|2. CUNY Bernard M Baruch College||188||21%||$5,511|
|3. CUNY Queens College||445||25%||$5,204|
|4. Princeton University||1||16%||$8,577|
|5. Yale University||12||17%||$15,521|
|6. Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art||8||22%||$17,338|
|7. Amherst College||7||25%||$15,756|
|8. Harvard University||3||24%||$16,723|
|9. Haverford College||250||28%||$14,750|
|10. Brigham Young University-Provo||5||27%||$15,720|
|11. CUNY Brooklyn College||478||30%||$15,235|
|12. Stanford University||10||22%||$21,238|
|13. Vanderbilt University||27||22%||$21,506|
|14. Pomona College||22||39%||$13,381|
|15. Davidson College||46||27%||$19,929|
|16. Claremont McKenna College||71||22%||$25,462|
|17. Swarthmore College||100||33%||$18,262|
|18. Wellesley College||34||49%||$12,455|
|19. California State University-Fullerton||463||42%||$14,965|
|20. Duke University||39||35%||$19,104|