Thursday, August 30, 2007

Top U.S. Universities and Where to Go To Avoid Debt

U.S. News and World Report's 2008 America's Best Colleges review is now available. While our three year old daughter is still 15 years away from attending, I have more than a passing interest in the article. One of my dream jobs is to be a College Application Coach for students applying to top U.S. universities. Since it has been a while since I applied to college myself, I wanted to begin to refresh my memory on the current state of today's colleges.

College Rankings

The college rankings are still similar to when I applied to college. Ivy League schools still have many of top spots, with Princeton, Harvard and Yale in the top three. Here are the top five schools:
  1. Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
    Undergraduate student body: 4,906
    Tuition and fees: $33,000
    Room/board: $9,200

  2. Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
    Undergraduate student body: 6,649
    Tuition and fees: $33,709
    Room/board: $9,946

  3. Yale University, New Haven, CT
    Undergraduate student body: 5,409
    Tuition and fees: $33,030
    Room/board: $10,020

  4. Stanford University, Stanford, CA
    Undergraduate student body: 6,576
    Tuition and fees: $32,994
    Room/board: $10,367

  5. University of Pennsylvania (tie), Philadelphia, PA
    Undergraduate student body: 9,730
    Tuition and fees: $35,916
    Room/board: $10,208

    California Institute of Technology(tie), Pasadena, CA
    Undergraduate student body: 913
    Tuition and fees: $29,595
    Room/board: $9,102
As a previous reader noted, tuition and fees may not include text books, sports fees, insurance, and travel from home.

Student Debt Rankings

Surprisingly, Princeton and Harvard were the top two schools for the least student debt, among national universities. Here to the top five schools for low student debt:

  1. Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
    Percent of graduates with debt: 26 percent
    Average amount of debt: $4,965

  2. Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
    Percent of graduates with debt: 42 percent
    Average amount of debt: $9,717

  3. Howard University, Washington, D.C.
    Percent of graduates with debt: 88 percent
    Average amount of debt: $10,868

  4. Utah State University, Logan, UT
    Percent of graduates with debt: 25 percent
    Average amount of debt: $11,040

  5. University of Massachusetts-Amherst
    Percent of graduates with debt: 55 percent
    Average amount of debt: $11,227

Of note, the article states that the data does not include loans taken out by parents. So the number may understate the total family debt to attend the university.

Overall, I was impressed average debt at some of the top universities, which offer about $20,000 to $25,000 of non-loan financial aid. Of course, the costs will be much higher when our daughter will be applying. If she should be fortunate enough to be admitted, perhaps she will qualify for one of these unique scholarships.

For more on Crossing Generations , check back every Thursday for a new segment.

Photo Credit: Princeton University

This is not financial advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2007 Achievement Catalyst, LLC


Dimes said...

W00t! Top 20!

Jorge said...

$80k student loan debt so far and counting since 2000 at a public university in Florida. That's what happens though when you're middle class. I'm hoping Congress passes some sort of student loan reform soon as they promised but I'm not getting my hopes up.

Super Saver said...

@ Dimes,

Congratulations! It's always fun to see one's Alma mater does well on these lists.

@ Jorge,

Wow $80K seems really big to me. Hopefully, you have a great interest rate :-)