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The U.S. News Short List, separate from our overall rankings, is a regular series that magnifies individual data points in hopes of providing students and parents a way to find which undergraduate or graduate programs excel or have room to grow in specific areas. Be sure to explore The Short List: College, The Short List: Grad School and The Short List: Online Programs to find data that matter to you in your college or graduate school search.
Attending college is an investment. Some students think it’s worthwhile to take out loans as their hope is that a bachelor’s degree will lead to a fruitful career.
The proportion of students who borrow and how much graduates ultimately owe varies widely among higher education institutions. But among the 1,018 ranked colleges that submitted these data to U.S. News in an annual survey, the average debt load for 2016 graduates who borrowed was $29,611.
On average, about two-thirds of students at these ranked colleges borrowed to pay for college.
[Discover tips for parents borrowing loans for college.]
The average debt load is significantly higher at the 10 schools where 2016 graduates who borrowed owed the most: $48,971. At these schools, an average of 83 percent of students took out loans.
Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey — where 76 percent of graduating students borrowed — tops the list, with grads owing $53,702 on average. At only one school, Mayville State University in North Dakota, 100 percent of 2016 grads borrowed funds for college. They owed an average of $48,128.
Most of the colleges on the list are Regional Universities in the northern region of the U.S. Regional Universities offer a full slate of undergraduate programs, some master’s programs and few doctoral programs.
[Explore 10 colleges where 2016 graduates had the least debt.]
The average debt loads at the schools on this list fall on the opposite end of the spectrum from colleges such as the United States Merchant Marine Academy in New York, where 2016 graduates who borrowed owed an average of just $3,880, and Berea College in Kentucky, where graduating students had an average debt load of $7,062.
Below is a list of the 10 schools where 2016 graduates who borrowed for school had the highest average debt. Unranked schools, which did not meet certain criteria required by U.S. News to be numerically ranked, were not considered for this report.
||Average debt load, class of 2016
||Percentage of graduating students who borrowed
||U.S. News rank and category
|Fairleigh Dickinson University (NJ)
||64 (tie), Regional Universities (North)
|Maine Maritime Academy
||5, Regional Colleges (North)
|Metropolitan College of New York
||146-187, Regional Universities (North)
|Alvernia University (PA)
||111 (tie), Regional Universities (North)
|Dean College (MA)
||22 (tie), Regional Colleges (North)
|Mayville State University (ND)
||45 (tie), Regional Colleges (Midwest)
|Delaware Valley University (PA)
||126 (tie), Regional Universities (North)
|Quinnipiac University (CT)
||13, Regional Universities (North)
|The Catholic University of America (DC)
||120 (tie), National Universities
|University of New Haven (CT)
||94 (tie), Regional Universities (North)
Don’t see your school in the top 10? Access the U.S. News College Compass to find student debt data, complete rankings and much more. Sign up for the U.S. News Extra Help: College Admissions free email newsletter to receive expert advice twice a month.
U.S. News surveyed more than 1,800 colleges and universities for our 2017 survey of undergraduate programs. Schools self-reported myriad data regarding their academic programs and the makeup of their student body, among other areas, making U.S. News’ data the most accurate and detailed collection of college facts and figures of its kind. While U.S. News uses much of this survey data to rank schools for our annual Best Colleges rankings, the data can also be useful when examined on a smaller scale. U.S. News will now produce lists of data, separate from the overall rankings, meant to provide students and parents a means to find which schools excel, or have room to grow, in specific areas that are important to them. While the data come from the schools themselves, these lists are not related to, and have no influence over, U.S. News’ rankings of Best Colleges, Best Graduate Schools or Best Online Programs. The student debt data above are correct as of March 13, 2018.
More from U.S. News
How to Borrow Loans for Alternative Higher Education
Free College Movement May Reduce Student Borrowing
Get Tips for Parents Borrowing Loans for College
10 Colleges Where Graduates Have the Highest Debt originally appeared on usnews.com
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