Top 50 colleges with low student loan debt and high earning potential

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Top 50 colleges with low student loan debt and high earning potential
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Despite all the horror stories you hear about student loan debt and the rising cost of tuition, getting a college degree is still worth it. College graduates earn more — and have significantly higher earning power — over a lifetime than those who only have a high school diploma.

But of course, it’s still up to you to make the best choices.

Read more: How to refinance your student loans

What it costs to attend college in 2017

According to the College Board, here’s a look at the average total cost of attending college for the 2016-2017 school year (including tuition, room & board and other expenses):

  • Public two-year community school: $17,000
  • In-state public college: $24,610
  • Out-of-state public college: $39,890
  • Private college: $49,320

colleges with most risk reward student loan debt

How to be smart about student loan debt

About 60% of college students graduated with student loan debt last year — owing an average of $28,400 each. And they aren’t alone — about 43 million Americans currently have student loan debt — owing a total of $1.2 trillion.

But here’s the thing, student loans can still be very beneficial to your future and overall career potential — you’re investing in your education in order to get a better, higher-paying job down the road.

When it comes to borrowing money for college, Clark’s rule of thumb is to never borrow more than you expect to make in your first year’s salary. So when it comes time to take out loans, that can help you avoid borrowing more than you’ll be able to afford to pay back.

The key to making college worth it is making sure you understand your best options when it comes to choosing a school, the type loans you get and the careers you’re considering for your future.

One of the biggest problems with student loan debt in America is the lack of understanding of how the process works from start to finish. So when many people graduate college, they are in for a big surprise when those student loan payments start coming in.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how student loans work, your best options and how to start paying them off.

Consider the risk-reward when choosing a school

To help students and parents financially plan for both college and post-college, when student loan payments kick in, LendEDU has released its second annual risk-reward report. LendEDU is an online marketplace for student loans and student loan refinancing.

The goal of the report is to help students make the most informed decisions about college in order to graduate with the least amount of debt and the highest earning potential.

‘The key to being financially prosperous as a young college graduate is having low student loan debt and a high early career pay. On the other hand, having high debt and low pay is a recipe for financial hardship and stress.’

So here’s the question behind the report: ‘What is the risk-reward of attending a 4-year college or university?’

To answer this question, LendEDU ‘defined the risk of attending college as the average student loan debt per graduate and the reward as the average early career pay for graduates, or the median salary for alumni with 0-5 years of experience.’

Here’s how the group determined the rankings:

‘For this year’s CRRI report, we analyzed 752 public and private 4-year colleges and universities in the United States. Schools with the highest CRRI values (College of the Ozarks – 100.27) should be considered the best risk adjusted choice for undergraduate students. Schools with the lowest CRRI values (Grambling State University – 0.79), on the other hand, should be considered the worst risk adjusted choice for students.​’

College risk-reward rankings for 2017

  • CRRI: College Risk-Reward Indicator value (see above)
  • ECP: Early Career Pay (median salary for graduates from that school with 0-5 years of experience)
  • DPG: â€‹Debt Per Graduate (average debt per graduate from that school)

You can also use LendEDU’s search function to find a specific school. 

Here’s a look at the top 50 ranked schools for 2017.

Rank

School Name

CRRI

ECP (dollar amount)

DPG

School Type

State

State Rank

1

College of the Ozarks

100.27

37,500

374

Private

MO

1

2

St. Petersburg College

50.52

44,100

873

Public

FL

1

3

Princeton University

47.89

65,700

1,372

Private

NJ

1

4

Baruch College CUNY

44.68

51,700

1,157

Public

NY

1

5

Queens College CUNY

35.13

45,700

1,301

Public

NY

2

6

Yale University

23.04

60,800

2,639

Private

CT

1

7

Northeastern Illinois University

19.77

40,400

2,043

Public

IL

1

8

Lehman College CUNY

19.19

40,900

2,131

Public

NY

3

9

Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

17.23

65,700

3,814

Private

NY

4

10

Harvard University

16.24

65,200

4,014

Private

MA

1

11

Stanford University

15.15

70,800

4,672

Private

CA

1

12

Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne

13.80

41,800

3,028

Public

IN

1

13

City College CUNY

13.76

51,300

3,727

Public

NY

5

14

Brigham Young University

12.32

52,300

4,244

Private

UT

1

15

Vanderbilt University

12.24

57,900

4,731

Private

TN

1

16

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

10.42

78,300

7,515

Private

MA

2

17

Lamar University

9.44

49,800

5,275

Public

TX

1

18

Brooklyn College CUNY

9.43

43,100

4,571

Public

NY

6

19

Duke University

9.17

61,300

6,686

Private

NC

1

20

University of California, Berkeley

8.91

60,500

6,790

Public

CA

2

21

University of Pennsylvania

8.49

62,200

7,324

Private

PA

1

22

Rice University

8.42

62,300

7,403

Private

TX

2

23

Wellesley College

8.36

51,000

6,103

Private

MA

3

24

Washington University in St. Louis

8.07

56,700

7,030

Private

MO

2

25

Colgate University

7.97

56,500

7,092

Private

NY

7

26

Hamilton College

7.93

54,600

6,885

Private

NY

8

27

Brown University

7.76

58,600

7,547

Private

RI

1

28

Washington and Lee University

7.39

54,500

7,372

Private

VA

1

29

Dartmouth College

7.39

60,800

8,228

Private

NH

1

30

University of Chicago

7.32

53,000

7,239

Private

IL

2

31

California State University, Fullerton

6.91

43,400

6,285

Public

CA

3

32

Middlebury College

6.74

49,200

7,297

Private

VT

1

33

California State University, Long Beach

6.71

45,300

6,752

Public

CA

4

34

The University of Texas at Dallas

6.70

51,100

7,623

Public

TX

3

35

San Jose State University

6.67

56,800

8,516

Public

CA

5

36

University of Miami

6.66

50,600

7,600

Private

FL

2

37

University of Utah

6.65

49,400

7,432

Public

UT

2

38

Colby College

6.60

49,300

7,469

Private

ME

1

39

University of Virginia

6.57

57,300

8,717

Public

VA

2

40

University of Washington

6.50

55,100

8,472

Public

WA

1

41

Georgia Institute of Technology

6.48

65,300

10,073

Public

GA

1

42

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

6.36

59,300

9,322

Public

CA

6

43

Georgetown University

6.32

55,400

8,765

Private

DC

1

44

Weber State University

6.26

52,000

8,308

Public

UT

3

45

New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

6.05

62,400

10,306

Public

NM

1

46

Bates College

6.05

47,000

7,768

Private

ME

2

47

Cornell University

6.03

63,200

10,489

Private

NY

9

48

Johns Hopkins University

5.93

61,500

10,375

Private

MD

1

49

Harvey Mudd College

5.83

78,500

13,467

Private

CA

7

50

Carleton College

5.70

46,900

8,226

Private

MN

1

See the full list here.

Student loans 101: Everything to know about borrowing money & paying it back

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Alex Thomas Sadler About the author:
Alex is the former Managing Editor of Clark.com.
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