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Top 30 Colleges with the Lowest Student Debt in the U.S Today
According to the Federal Reserve's most recent quarterly tally, student loan borrowers in the United States owed a combined $1.76 trillion in federal and private student loans as of December 2022.

Facts About Student Loan Debt in the U.S

U.S. universities are notoriously expensive. In reality, the cost is quite high. Mel Hanson of the Education Data Initiative reports that national student loan debt in the United States is $1.74 trillion. The average federal student loan debt for a borrower with a bachelor's degree is $32,300.

Higher education comes with a hefty price tag, but it pays off in the long run. A study titled "Education and Lifetime Earnings in the United States" found that "men with bachelor's degrees earn approximately $900,000 more in median lifetime earnings than high school graduates." The average salary increase for bachelor's degree-holding women is $630,000. (The wage gap exists; yes.)

The crisis level of the student debt problem has been reached. While it's common knowledge that having a college degree opens doors and increases pay, the question of whether or not the rising costs of higher education are justified has become a heated topic of discussion.

This trend is being fought, however, and some schools are taking the lead. We've ranked the schools based on how much debt their graduates typically have.

Editor Note: Different rankings and data from each school year can shift a school's position in the rankings. However, the majority of these institutions continue to rank among those with the lowest student debt in the United States.

Top 30+ Universities with the Lowest Student Debt in the USA

30. Harvard University

Boston, Massachusetts

Top 30+ Colleges with the Lowest Student Debt in the U.S Today

Graduates from Harvard University have an average debt of $16,702. The sum was estimated at $15,114 by Shemmassian and Lendedu. According to Forbes, graduates have no trouble repaying their $6,500 median federal debt after graduation because they make a median yearly income of $91,000 ten years after graduation.

90% of US families would pay the same amount or less to send their child to Harvard than to a state school thanks to the college's financial aid program.

29. Watkins College of Art, Design, & Film

Nashville, Tennessee

According to Niche, Watkins College of Art, Design & Film students borrow an average of $3,150 annually. 96% of the college's first-degree candidates receive funding from loan or aid programs.

Because the college is regarded as a significant cultural institution by local and state organizations, Watkins College of Art, Design & Film students are able to graduate with little debt.

As a result, the Tennessee Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts provide funding to the college, resulting in numerous generous scholarship opportunities.

28. Vaughn College

New York City, New York

Any student at Vaughn College who receives financial aid but still falls short of covering the cost of attendance can take advantage of an innovative agreement the school provides. The college develops a financing option whereby it will pay all or part of the student's unpaid bills while they are enrolled.

Once the student earns at least $32,000 annually, they only have to pay back this money. The debt is completely written off if the student does not repay any or all of it after eight to twelve years, though. Additionally, residents of New York State with annual incomes under $125,000 are eligible for awards of up to $6,000 for study-related expenses. According to Niche, a Vaughn College student borrows $2,983 on average each year in loans.

27. City University of New York, Brooklyn College

New York City, New York

According to US News, graduates of City University of New York's Brooklyn College had an average debt of $11,550.

The fact that the college grants more than 600 scholarships, awards, and prizes to students each year is one factor in the low level of graduate debt. The Brooklyn College Alumni Association Student Award is one of the most creative of these awards. Students can receive up to $4,000 from this scholarship if they show "significant commitment to service in the Brooklyn College community and/or significant commitment to performing arts at Brooklyn College."

This grant is only available to undergraduate students with GPAs of at least 3.0. In addition to providing opportunities like these, Brooklyn College also charges full-time residents of New York State affordable tuition of $3,365 per semester.

26. University of Maryland Eastern Shore

Princess Anne, Maryland

The tuition and required fees for the University of Maryland Eastern Shore are $8,042 per year for all residents of Maryland. The annual tuition and required fees for students who have lived in Delaware or Eastern Shore Virginia are $10,442.

The annual cost of tuition and required fees for all other students is $18,048. The fact that University of Maryland Eastern Shore receives funding from Title III of the Higher Education Act, which offers federal assistance to colleges that demonstrate a constructive effort to strengthen themselves, is part of what makes the college so affordable.

According to Lendedu, a college graduate's average student debt is $9,861.

25. Davis College

Johnson City, New York

Because Davis College offers each student individualized support, students almost always leave the school with very little debt.

87% of students receive scholarships as a result of this strategy, and 98% of students receive other forms of financial aid. Additionally, Davis College offers to cover the cost of any student who enrolls in their Bachelor of Religious Education program by repaying their student loans.

After graduating, all a student needs to do to repay their loans is find work for 30 hours per week. According to Lendedu, graduates from Davis College typically have debts totaling $9,381 when they leave.

24. Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

Tallahassee, Florida

The Florida Bright Scholarship Program helps the majority of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University students. Scholarships of various kinds are offered through this program to Florida residents with high GPAs.

The Florida Academic Scholars scholarship is the best of these awards. With this scholarship, a student who enters college with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher will have all of their tuition and fees paid for, in addition to receiving $300 per semester for additional educational costs.

In order to be eligible for the award in subsequent college years, students must maintain a 3.0 GPA. According to Lendedu, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University graduates have an average debt of $7,454.

23. The College of Idaho

Caldwell, Idaho

The state of Idaho provides a number of scholarship opportunities for its citizens. However, high school students who reside in Caldwell, the city where the college is located, have the best opportunities. The college and the local community have partnered to provide generous financial aid to students from this city.

Additionally, the college itself provides scholarships to students who excel in fields like debate, Christian leadership, playwriting, and others. According to Lendedu, The College of Idaho graduates with an average debt of $7,202.

22. University of North Texas at Dallas

Dallas, Texas

University of North Texas at Dallas is not only incredibly affordable, but it is also expanding quickly! The college has seen its enrollment records broken three years in a row. Due to the college's low annual tuition of less than $9,200, students are flocked to it in droves.

According to Lendedu, a University of North Texas at Dallas graduate has an average debt of $6,271. According to the college president, "Our affordable tuition plans ensure that our graduates enter the job market with financial freedom - not saddled with student debt."

21. University of the Incarnate Word

San Antonio, Texas

With an average debt of $5,831, according to Lendedu, University of the Incarnate Word graduates have the third-lowest student loan debt of any university in America. There are several reasons why graduate student debt is so low. Financial aid is received by 95% of University of the Incarnate Word students.

This is due to the fact that the college provides scholarships "available to students of all majors." Additionally, the college offers excellent financial counseling to all students. Additionally, students can use iGrad, an award-winning platform for financial wellness that gives them access to all of their financial options and advice on how to spend wisely.

20. United States Merchant Marine Academy

King’s Point, New York

Due to the fact that the government pays for the majority of college costs, enrollment in the United States Merchant Marine Academy almost always results in low levels of student debt.

There are, however, fees not covered by the government for services like laundry and hairstyling. The expected annual fee for the class of 2021 is $700. According to US News, students who graduated from the United States Merchant Marine Academy in 2017 had an average debt of just $3,852.

19. Pensacola State College

Pensacola, Florida

One of the easiest aspects of attending Pensacola State College is paying for tuition. Students have very flexible payment options with no interest thanks to the college's philosophy. Many Pensacola State College students also take advantage of the Florida Prepaid Plan, which enables families to prepay future college tuition costs at a fixed rate.

Florida residents don't pay any more than the plan accounted for, even if the cost of college is higher than expected. Additionally, the college has a wealth of experience in finding students the best grants and loans. According to US News, the average student in the class of 2017 had just $3,239 in debt.

18. City University of New York, Baruch College

New York City, New York

The Excelsior Scholarship is a fantastic new scholarship that is now available at all colleges affiliated with City University of New York. Residents of New York State who make less than $125,000 per year in family income are eligible for this scholarship. It pays the full cost of tuition for all City University of New York colleges.

However, additional expenses like fees, board, and meal plans are not covered. According to CNBC, graduates of Baruch College and City University of New York carry an average debt of $12,000. However, Niche reports that the average annual student debt accumulation is $4,332. The college has additionally been acknowledged as a pioneer in cutting-edge social mobility.

17. Thomas Aquinas College

Santa Paula, California

According to Lendedu, Thomas Aquinas College graduates have an average student loan debt of $19,269. However, according to CNBC, the number is less, at $16,986. Last but not least, according to Niche, students borrow $3,871 on average annually. The college charges $25,600 in annual tuition. $8,800 covers lodging and meals.

However, unlike some colleges, there aren't any other mandatory extra fees that raise the cost of attendance. Thomas Aquinas College constantly looks for ways to help students cut costs. Limiting the amount of loans that students can take out before they are automatically eligible for financial aid from the college is one way it accomplishes this.

16. Wellesley College

Wellesley, Massachusetts

The sources used in the methodology provide a range of estimates for graduate debt at Wellesley College. According to Lendedu, it is $18,370.

CNBC, on the other hand, places the amount much lower, at $13,415. Forbes is even more forgiving, estimating the median debt to be around $9,000. The source also states that the median annual income is $60,000 ten years after college graduation.

According to the college, the average graduate debt is $13,283. When it comes to student admissions, Wellesley College is committed to being need-blind. The typical aid package is worth $47,000. Its financial assistance is not subject to repayment.

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15. Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

New York City, New York

Regarding the amount of debt that Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art students accrue, the methodology sources are divided.

The average loan disbursed annually, according to Niche, is $2,565. According to Shemmassian, the typical graduate debt is $3,844.

However, Lendedu reports that the average graduate debt is $18,272. The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, which began charging tuition in 2014 after previously charging tuition for all students, may be to blame for this disparity.

Fortunately, by 2029, the college will resume its tuition-free model. The college will typically pay 77% of each student's tuition in 2020. This percentage will increase yearly beginning in 2022, reaching 93% in 2028, the final year before Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art's tuition-free status is restored.

14. Southern Utah University

Cedar City, Utah

In 2019, Southern Utah University was already among the most affordable universities in the country. For the first time in 42 years, however, it then declared that it would not be increasing its tuition or student fees. This made it the first college in Utah to freeze tuition fees from one year to the next in more than 20 years.

The college was able to add "more academic advisors, a mental health counselor, and more faculty positions" while maintaining the same tuition and fees, which is truly impressive.

According to Lendedu, graduates from Southern Utah University have an average debt of $16,892 when they leave school. According to Niche, the average annual student loan cost at the college is $3,906.

13. California State University, Dominguez Hills

Carson, California

When estimating the typical student debt at California State University, Dominguez Hills, Lendedu and Niche are consistent. Graduate student debt, according to Lendedu, is $16,370. According to Niche, $4,279 is the typical amount of student debt accrued annually.

Overall, the cost of tuition and fees for a California resident's academic year is only $6,941. Around $16,441 in tuition and other fees are paid by non-Californians. CSU-Dominguez Hills "makes every effort to keep student costs to a minimum."

For instance, it operates a cutting-edge program called the Affordable Learning Solutions Campaign, which encourages faculty to offer less expensive course materials by raising faculty awareness of the high cost of some course materials.

12. New College of Florida

Sarasota, Florida

On the average debt of a New College of Florida graduate, CNBC and Lendedu provide results that are strikingly similar. The estimate given by CNBC is $16,577. Lendedu estimates the amount to be $16,297.

The good news is that New College of Florida "guarantees scholarship funding to virtually all admitted freshmen who apply for the fall class," by the college's priority deadline. This is great news for students trying to reduce their college expenses.

Florida residents can really benefit from these almost certain scholarships because college tuition there is only $6,916 per year. The annual cost for out-of-state residents is $29,944.

11. Williams College

Williamstown, Massachusetts

According to CNBC, the typical debt of a Williams College alum is $15,496. Lendedu estimates the amount to be $16,230. In its admissions process, the college sees itself as being more than just need blind. It claims that in addition to covering all of a student's tuition costs who demonstrates a need for financial aid, the college actively recruits low-income students.

This is so that Williams College can see "financial aid as money well spent - an investment in our community."As a result, 17% of students pay nothing to attend the university. Even better, all college students are given free access to books, lab supplies, art supplies, and music lessons.

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10. Brigham Young University

Provo, Utah

According to Lendedu, the average debt of Brigham Young University graduates is $14,998. This amount is slightly raised by CNBC to $15,158. According to Forbes, the average student borrows about $12,000 and earns $57,000 over the course of ten years.

The Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints members pay just $5,790 in tuition annually at Brigham Young University. The annual tuition for students who are not members of the church is $11,580, which is still reasonably priced.

9. City University of New York, Hunter College

New York City, New York

According to Forbes, the average salary for graduates of City University of New York's Hunter College after ten years is $68,000. This is astounding considering that students graduate with a median debt of $13,000, according to the source. The amount of student debt, according to US News, is $12,122.

According to City University of New York, Hunter College, the average grant and scholarship award given to students who receive financial aid is $7,440. For New York State residents, the annual tuition for this college is just $6,530. Students from out-of-state pay $17,400.

8. Yale University

New Haven, Connecticut

Top 30+ Colleges with the Lowest Student Debt in the U.S Today

According to Shemmassian, Yale University graduates typically graduate with debts of under $2,000 on their balance sheets. However, according to other methodology sources, the average or median debt is more accurately between $13,050 and $13,625. Even if a student graduates with debt at the higher end of this range, they will almost certainly be able to repay it.

According to Forbes, 10 years after graduation, graduates make an average of $82,500 per year. Any student whose family's annual income is less than $65,000 is not required to receive financial aid from their parents or any other source. It is instead covered by Yale University.

7. Paul Quinn College

Dallas, Texas

Shemmassian points out that a graduate of Paul Quinn College can expect to earn $41,000 as their first job. The graduates have a balance of about $2,250 in debt, which makes this strong starting salary even better. Niche claims that the college has little student debt, but the average annual loan balance is $2,127.

Affordability has always been a priority at Paul Quinn College. However, it has increased its efforts in recent years, becoming the only urban-based work college in the country. This entails that each student must put in 300 to 400 hours of work annually to pay for their tuition and receive a cash payment of $1,500 to $1,500.

6. University of North Georgia

Dahlonega, Georgia

According to Go Banking, the typical graduate debt in Georgia is $28,376. However, the average debt for University of North Georgia graduates is just $12,435.

This number is provided by two additional methodology sources. Fortunately, Georgia offers a variety of scholarships, including the HOPE Scholarship and the Zell Miller Scholarship, for students who exhibit academic promise.

University of North Georgia offers a number of scholarships on its own, in addition to these state-wide ones. Over 1,500 scholarships were awarded overall by the college from 2017 to 2018.

5. Dixie State University

St. George, Utah


According to three different methodology sources, Dixie State University students graduate with an average debt of $12,201.

The college offers 18 different types of scholarships to students who enroll. Whether it's the Student Ambassador scholarship, the diversity/multicultural scholarship, or any other kind, the majority of students are certain to be eligible for some of these.

Additionally, the college has very low tuition fees; students pay just $2,748 per semester, with the remainder coming from state taxes.

4. Alice Lloyd College

Pippa Passes, Kentucky


According to methodology sources, Alice Lloyd College graduates typically owe between $9,828 and $10,141 in student loans.

Because the college has made sure that students who come from the 108 counties that make up Central Appalachia don't have to pay for tuition, graduates graduate with such a low level of debt. These counties are located in five different states: West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee.

Additionally, Alice Lloyd College offers initiatives "specifically created to assist students in reducing debt."

3. Princeton University

Princeton, New Jersey


According to six different methodology sources, graduates of Princeton University have debts ranging from $7,500 to $9,005.

Additionally, Forbes reports that the median graduate salary after ten years is over $80,000, which is even more impressive. However, according to the college, the average debt for seniors who graduated was only $6,600.

According to a boast from Princeton University, its financial aid program "is recognized as among the most generous in the country." However, the college stands out for having the same financial aid policies for both domestic and international students.

2. Berea College

Berea, Kentucky


The average debt per graduate at Berea College, according to Lendedu, US News, and GO Banking, is $7,468. The amount is slightly less, according to CNBC, at $7,062.

Due to the college not charging any tuition, students are able to accumulate such low levels of debt. Instead, the average cost of housing, meals, and fees for students is $1,000 per year.

And it's highly unlikely that the college will modify this anytime soon. Berea College has actually maintained its tuition-free status for more than a century.

1. Bethel College

North Newton, Kansas


According to Go Banking, Shemmassian, and Lendedu, the average debt for Bethel College graduates was $5,633. The college has great success securing financial aid for its students. In actuality, 98% of college students receive financial aid or scholarships.

The students who gain the most from Bethel College's scholarships are either Kansas residents, graduates of Mennonite high schools, members of Mennonite churches, AVID or Upward Bound participants, or those who have a relative who attended Bethel.

Almost all accepted students who satisfy those requirements will be qualified for a $50,000 scholarship. Additionally, all classes taken after the fourth year are tuition-free if a student doesn't graduate in four years.

In Conclusion

The skyrocketing price of higher education is a major barrier for many academically talented students.

College attendance is the single most important factor in a student graduating with minimal or no debt. And this list will show you which universities in the US are the best for that very thing.

Fortunately, there are some schools willing to accommodate these students. They provide a means by which students can finance their education without incurring crippling debt that will follow them for the rest of their lives.

Colleges across the United States are making higher education possible for students who would not otherwise be able to afford it by providing them with low tuition rates, state grants, easily accessible scholarships, and other forms of financial aid.

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