40 Lowest Student Debt Colleges for 2022

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With all the buzz going around about President Biden’s latest initiative to forgive student loans, many people are thinking about student debt as a whole. College is not cheap. In fact, it’s very expensive. According to data collected by Melanie Hanson for the Education Data Initiative, student loan debt in the United States currently totals $1.748 trillion. Bachelor’s degree holders have an average federal student loan debt of $32,300 each. 

Despite the high sticker price, advanced degrees still offer a lifetime of higher earnings on average. A study titled “Education and Lifetime Earnings in the United States” reports that “men with bachelor’s degrees earn approximately $900,000 more in median lifetime earnings than high school graduates. Women with bachelor’s degrees earn $630,000 more.” (Yeah, the pay gap is real.)


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So although a college degree is a gateway to a lifetime of higher earnings, Colleges of Distinction understands that for many students, it needs to be affordable and accessible. As you begin your college search, you might factor in the average debt that students graduate with. Keep reading to see the colleges with the lowest student debt.

Ivy League Universities with lowest student debt:

Graduates from Ivy League universities and other highly rejective colleges emerge relatively unscathed by the burden of student loans. Indeed, their average student loan debt is in the $10,000-$14,000 range, which is nearly half of the national average of $30,000. Without context, this seems like a magical benefit only available to graduates of these universities. But unfortunately, lower student debt has little to do with magic, but more to do with intentional recruitment and enrollment practices of these highly selective colleges. 

These institutions tend to accept students who can already afford high tuition. The Pell Grant-eligible population at these schools makes up only around 14-15%. For this small number of students, these universities promise extremely generous financial aid packages. Harvard, Princeton, and Yale foot the entire bill for students whose families make less than $75,000 a year. And recently, Princeton expanded this policy to families who earn less than $100,000 annually.  While these policies are wonderful, with acceptance rates in the single digits, the generosity is only available to a very small number of students.

10 Best Colleges With Lowest Student Debt

1. Princeton University

students walking on Princeton University campus

The median debt for students who have completed 2019-2020: $10,450

Princeton University is a private Ivy League research university in Princeton, New Jersey. Princeton’s undergraduate population is less than 8,000; only six percent of applicants are accepted. Students graduate with a median debt of $10,450.

2. Wellesley College

4 female students in front of campus building

The median debt for students who have completed 2019-2020: $10,700

Wellesley College is a private women’s liberal arts college in Wellesley, Massachusetts, United States. Students graduate with a median debt of $10,700.



3. Brigham Young University-Provo

main entrance to Brigham Young University Campus

The median debt for students who have completed 2019-2020: $11,500

Brigham Young University is a private research university in Provo, Utah. It was founded in 1875 by religious leader Brigham Young, and is sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Students graduate with a median debt of $11,500.

4. Stanford University

aerial shot of Stanford University building

The median debt for students who have completed 2019-2020: $12,000

Stanford University is a private research university in Stanford, California. The campus occupies 8,180 acres, among the largest in the United States, and enrolls over 17,000 students.  Students graduate with a median debt of $12,000.

5. Rice University

straight on shot of Rice University campus building at sunset

The median debt for students who have completed 2019-2020: $12,000

William Marsh Rice University is a private research university in Houston, Texas. It is on a 300-acre campus near the Houston Museum District and adjacent to the Texas Medical Center.  Students graduate with a median debt of $12,000.

6. Pomona College

Pomona college campus building

The median debt for students who have completed 2019-2020: $12,000

Pomona College is a private liberal arts college in Claremont, California. Students graduate with a median debt of $12,000.

7. SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

aerial shot of SUNY College building

The median debt for students who have completed 2019-2020: $12,000

The State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry is a public research university in Syracuse, New York focused on the environment and natural resources. It is part of the State University of New York system. Students graduate with a median debt of $12,000.


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8. Harvard University

Harvard University library building

The median debt for students who have completed 2019-2020: $12,665

Harvard University is a private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts founded in 1636 Students graduate with a median debt of $12,665.

9. Johns Hopkins University

two female students walking on Johns Hopkins campus

The median debt for students who have completed 2019-2020: $12,750

The Johns Hopkins University is a private research university in Baltimore, Maryland. Founded in 1876, Johns Hopkins is the oldest research university in the United States. Students graduate with a median debt of $12,750.

10. Brown University

Brown University main building

The median debt for students who have completed 2019-2020: $13,000

Brown University is a private Ivy League research university in Providence, Rhode Island. Brown is the seventh-oldest institution of higher education in the United States. Students graduate with a median debt of $13,000.

More “Highly Rejective” Colleges :

As a college bound student, you should understand the term “highly rejective college.” Coined by thought-leader Aki Bello, “highly rejective” is another way to refer to hyper-elite colleges with single-digit acceptance rates. And because their student populations are so carefully controlled, these picky colleges are more likely to boast nearly perfect graduation rates. These high graduation rates are just another way in which these elite schools like to stand out; however, they are so exclusive that they are more often than not inaccessible to the majority of college-bound students.


More Amazing Colleges With Low Student Debt >>>

These hyper-elite colleges are not the only way to get a great college education. We have picked another 21 amazing schools that have low student debt numbers and also pass through our Four Distinctions guidelines. Take a look for yourself and see if there is one or two worth adding to your shortlist!

21 Best Colleges of Distinction With Lowest Student Debt

At Colleges of Distinction, we know numbers don’t always tell the whole story. That’s why each of our member schools go through a comprehensive, personalized application process. We vet each school by hand to ensure that we understand what schools are doing to ensure their students an education that is both affordable and accessible. We look at strategic plans, diverse recruitment and retention initiatives, grant programs, and more to ensure that students are receiving the support they need to make it to the finish line without breaking the bank.



View Profiles: University of California, Santa Barbara  |  University of California, San Diego  |  Grinnell College Hamilton College | Whitman CollegeLafayette College  |  University of MiamiBoston CollegeColorado College  |  SUNY New PaltzBinghamton University | Stony Brook University  |  Dickinson CollegeKenyon CollegeUniversity at BuffaloSUNY OneontaSt. Mary’s College of MarylandStonehill College

At Colleges of Distinction, we firmly believe that the true value of a school lies beyond the numbers. That’s why we hand-pick and individually review all of our schools to see how they help students learn, grow, and succeed. We believe that a thorough selection process requires so much more than an overview of institutional data and statistics. No matter where you are in your college search journey, Colleges of Distinction can help you find a school that’s the best fit for you.

If you’re an adult student who wants to finish your degree, we can help you too! Check out our sister brand Abound: Finish College to find the right degree completion program for you.