Home > Uncategorized > The 20 Colleges With the Lowest Student Loan Debt

Comments 0 Comments
Advertiser Disclosure


Student loan debt is growing. That fact has been the core of many higher education conversations in the past few years, as it should. It affects a lot of people. For people who earned bachelor’s degrees in the 2012-2013 academic year, 69% at public and private nonprofit colleges graduated with debt, with the average debt load at $28,400.

Education debt relies on several factors, but one of the choices that most impacts the amount of debt you graduate with is where you decide to go to school. Some schools produce graduates with notably high debt loads, but loan balances alone don’t reflect a school’s quality or value. Those high-debt schools may turn out a lot of graduates who go into high-earning fields, or they may attract student demographics that typically borrow more. There’s a lot to consider when deciding the value of a college, and debt among graduates should be part of the equation.

The Project on Student Debt (an initiative from The Institute for College Access & Success aka TICAS) published a helpful report in this area: Student Debt and the Class of 2013. It analyzed data voluntarily reported by more than 1,000 public and private nonprofit colleges and universities in the U.S., which can be searched using the online database at college-insight.org.

TICAS makes it clear that this report doesn’t provide a comprehensive view of education debt in the U.S., because it counts only the undergraduate debt of bachelor’s degree earners, and not all colleges and universities report their numbers. It doesn’t include the debt of borrowers who don’t earn degrees, which makes up a lot of defaulted student debt, or graduate students, which accounts for a high volume of outstanding student loan dollars. For-profit colleges, which often produce graduates with heavy debt burdens, are practically not represented in this report, as few voluntarily report debt data. Still, the report represents 83% of all bachelor’s degree recipients in the 2012-2013 academic year. Here are the schools included in the report whose undergraduates had the lowest average loan balances upon graduation.

20. CUNY Brooklyn College (public)
Brooklyn, N.Y.
Average debt among 2013 graduates: $11,200
Graduates with debt: 46%

19. Maranatha Baptist Bible College (private nonprofit)
Watertown, Wis.
Average debt: $11,034
Graduates with debt: 67%

18. The University of Texas of the Permian Basin (public)
Odessa, Texas
Average debt: $10,972
Graduates with debt: 46%

17. California State University-Bakersfield (public)
Bakersfield, Calif.
Average debt: $10,871
Graduates with debt: 87%

16. California State University-Dominguez Hills (public)
Carson, Calif.
Average debt: $10,662
Graduates with debt: 52%

15. Howard University (private nonprofit)
Washington, D.C.
Average debt: $10,455
Graduates with debt: 77%

14. Hampton University (private nonprofit)
Hampton, Va.
Average debt: $9,878
Graduates with debt: 79%

13. Fort Valley State University (public)
Fort Valley, Ga.
Average debt: $9,301
Graduates with debt: 90%

12. CUNY Lehman College (public)
Bronx, N.Y.
Average debt: $8,525
Graduates with debt: 25%

11. Mercy College of Ohio (private nonprofit)
Toledo, Ohio
Average debt: $7,975
Graduates with debt: 70%

10. Campbellsville University (private nonprofit)
Campbellsville, Ky.
Average debt: $7,860
Graduates with debt: 44%

9. Keystone College (private nonprofit)
La Plume, Pa.
Average debt: $7,801
Graduates with debt: 81%

8. National University (private nonprofit)
San Diego, Calif.
Average debt: $7,462
Graduates with debt: 73%

7. Berea College (private nonprofit)
Berea, Ky.
Average debt: $6,652
Graduates with debt: 67%

6. College of the Ozarks (private nonprofit)
Point Lookout, Mo.
Average debt: $6,424
Graduates with debt: 13%

5. CUNY Bernard M. Baruch College (public)
New York, N.Y.
Average debt: $5,979
Graduates with debt: 20%

4. Princeton University (private nonprofit)
Princeton, N.J.
Average debt: $5,552
Graduates with debt: 24%

3. California State University-Sacramento (public)
Sacramento, Calif.
Average debt: $4,551
Graduates with debt: 42%

2. East-West University (private nonprofit)
Chicago, Ill.
Average debt: $4,100
Graduates with debt: 70%

1. CUNY York College (public)
Jamaica, N.Y.
Average debt: $2,271
Graduates with debt: 10%

Student loans can be beneficial to your credit if you pay them on time and as agreed. However, if you find it difficult to make your payments, it’s important to contact the loan servicer to try to work out a payment arrangement. Defaulting on your loans can damage your credit and make it challenging to get other forms of credit down the road, rent an apartment, or get access to other consumer services. You can see how your student loans are affecting your credit by pulling your free credit scores on Credit.com, and you can see how your credit can affect your lifetime cost of debt by using this calculator.

More on Student Loans:

Image: PointsofNoReturn, via Wikimedia Commons

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team