Colleges That Let You Skip the Student Loans

You don't need to go deep into debt to get a degree from these schools.

A college or university that includes a large chunk of loans in its financial aid package isn’t doing you any favors. Unlike grants and scholarships, loans have to be paid back, and that can take years. The good news is that some schools have adopted policies that replace loans with grants and other aid.

These programs don’t necessarily eliminate loans. Students may need to borrow to pay for things that aren’t included in the financial aid package, such as computers. In addition, financial aid awards are based on the school’s estimate of what the family can afford to pay. Some families can’t pay that amount, or choose to use the money for other things.

Still, students who attend “no loan” schools graduate with much lower loan balances than the national average. Here’s a look at the three schools with generous no-loan programs:

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First on our list is Yale. Yale is difficult to get into, but if you pull it off, you probably won’t have to worry about student loans. The average amount of need-based aid for Yale students is more than $44,000. Families with annual income of up to $200,000 qualify for some financial aid. Only 16% of students who attend Yale have student loans.


Coming in second in our rankings is Vanderbilt University, which eliminated loans from its financial aid packages in 2009. Nearly half of the university’s students receive need-based financial aid, and the average aid package is worth more than $39,000. Only 22% of students who attend Vanderbilt have student loans.


Finally, Davidson College, a small school in North Carolina, stands out for its generous no-loan program. The liberal arts college provides 100% of financial aid through grants and campus jobs to nearly half of its students. The school’s average need-based aid package is about $33,700. Only 22% of Davidson students have student loans.

Here are seven more colleges and universities that don't require student loans. See if one is right for you.

Sandra Block
Senior Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Block joined Kiplinger in June 2012 from USA Today, where she was a reporter and personal finance columnist for more than 15 years. Prior to that, she worked for the Akron Beacon-Journal and Dow Jones Newswires. In 1993, she was a Knight-Bagehot fellow in economics and business journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She has a BA in communications from Bethany College in Bethany, W.Va.