As prices continue to outpace inflation at both public and private colleges, it\'s no surprise that two-thirds of college graduates end up borrowing to help pay for their college education. In 2011, student borrowers graduated with an average of $26,600 in student loans, according to the Project on Student Debt.
These ten schools from our 2013 list of best values in public colleges offer academic quality as well as enough financial support to help students earn their diploma while keeping student debt manageable. Four of the schools on our list get students to graduation day with an average debt of less than $15,000.
1. North Georgia College & State University
Avg. debt at graduation: $10,128
In-state rank: #96
Undergrad enrollment: 5,541
Annual in-state cost: $14,382
Annual out-of-state cost: $26,658
Students who borrow: 55%
Nestled in the Appalachian Mountains in Dahlonega, Ga., about an hour\'s drive north of Atlanta, North Georgia College & State University stands on what was once the U.S. Mint\'s Dahlonega location. The steeple of Price Memorial Hall is covered with gold leaf, harking to the town\'s gold-rush history.
The below-average cost of attendance ($14,382, compared with the $17,860 average for public colleges), as well as the generous HOPE scholarship available to in-state students, allow students to graduate with an average of only $10,128 in debt, less than half the national average and the lowest amount on our list.
2. California State University, Long Beach
Avg. debt at graduation: $12,401
In-state rank: #82
Undergrad enrollment: 29,287
Annual in-state cost: $19,688
Annual out-of-state cost: $30,848
Students who borrow: 42%
Only 30% of applicants are admitted to this campus, which is part of the California State University system, but more than half of those who attend receive need-based aid. Merit aid averages nearly $3,000, helping to reduce students\' need to borrow.
The school\'s 322-acre campus, located about 25 miles south of Los Angeles, overlooks the Pacific Ocean.
3. SUNY Oneonta
Avg. debt at graduation: $13,697
In-state rank: #59
Undergrad enrollment: 5,852
Annual in-state cost: $18,119
Annual out-of-state cost: $27,369
Students who borrow: 75%
SUNY Oneonta, located halfway between Albany and Binghamton, awards nearly $2.5 million in scholarships each year based on academic achievement. The awards range from $1,000 to $5,870.
While the percentage of students who take out loans is among the highest on our list of 100 public colleges, the average amount that each student owes at graduation--$13,697--is only about half the national average ($26,600).
4. New College of Florida
Avg. debt at graduation: $14,172
In-state rank: #7
Undergrad enrollment: 845
Annual in-state cost: $16,181
Annual out-of-state cost: $39,210
Students who borrow: 32%
This small college located in Sarasota, Fla., was founded as a private college in 1960 but joined the state university system in 1975. The school shares its campus with the University of South Florida.
Not only do 90% of New College students receive financial aid, but the average need-based aid brings the total cost for in-state students to a bargain $7,674. Only 32% of undergraduates take out student loans, the lowest percentage of student borrowers among our top 100 list.
5. SUNY Buffalo
Avg. debt at graduation: $16,010
In-state rank: #33
Undergrad enrollment: 19,334
Annual in-state cost: $20,333
Annual out-of-state cost: $30,953
Students who borrow: 45%
The largest school in the SUNY system, this research institution has several large merit-based scholarships for top-notch applicants and recently launched an initiative dedicated to helping students graduate on time.
The University at Buffalo\'s \"Finish in 4\" program aims to get students to do just that, avoiding the expense of an additional year. If a student takes the pledge and fulfills each of the commitments--including limiting work to 20 hours or less per week--and still doesn\'t graduate on time, the school will waive tuition and fees for any remaining coursework.
6. University of North Carolina at Asheville
Avg. debt at graduation: $16,252
In-state rank: #52
Undergrad enrollment: 3,814
Annual in-state cost: $14,450
Annual out-of-state cost: $28,272
Students who borrow: 53%
The University of North Carolina at Asheville keeps student borrowing to a minimum with a variety of scholarship and grant programs: An average need-based aid award of nearly $6,000 reduces the cost for in-staters to $8,521. The school attracts student scholars with its Laurels scholarships, which range from small awards to the full cost of attendance and can be renewed for all four years if students meet the requirements. It also offers an extensive list of departmental scholarships.
7. San Diego State University
Avg. debt at graduation: $16,400
In-state rank: #77
Undergrad enrollment: 26,371
Annual in-state cost: $21,845
Annual out-of-state cost: $33,005
Students who borrow: 44%
This Southern California-based research institution is the third-largest university in the state and among the most selective schools on our list of 100 public colleges, with only five schools more discerning. San Diego State University offers admission to one-third of applicants; roughly 50% of the students who attend receive financial aid. The average need-based aid reduces the cost to $12,645, for in-state students and to $23,805, for out-of-staters.
8. University of North Florida
Avg. debt at graduation: $16,572
In-state rank: #64
Undergrad enrollment: 14,363
Annual in-state cost: $15,625
Annual out-of-state cost: $30,084
Students who borrow: 43%
The University of North Florida keeps student indebtedness well below the national average, thanks to its expansive aid offerings. The school, which is located in Jacksonville, Fla., meets 89% of a student\'s demonstrated need–one of the highest percentages on our list–and provides almost $6,000, on average, in need-based financial aid. The university also has one of the lowest percentages of students who borrow (43%) of our top 100.
9. University of Texas at Dallas
Avg. debt at graduation: $16,813
In-state rank: #60
Undergrad enrollment: 11,760
Annual in-state cost: $21,842
Annual out-of-state cost: $39,516
Students who borrow: 36%
While colleges look to ease the pain of tuition increases, the University of Texas at Dallas, located about 20 minutes outside of downtown Dallas in Richardson, Tex., has already extended a promise to students.
The school\'s Guaranteed Tuition Plan locks in a student\'s tuition rate for four years. Under the plan, in-state students are also permitted to take classes beyond the traditional 15 credit hours at no additional cost.
Nearly half of UT Dallas students receive financial aid packages of some type: Need-based aid averages about $8,000 and is distributed to 35% of undergraduates. Non-need-based aid averages $8,600.
10. California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
Avg. debt at graduation: $16,815
In-state rank: #89
Undergrad enrollment: 19,399
Annual in-state cost: $19,738
Annual out-of-state cost: $30,898
Students who borrow: 36%
One of seven polytechnic universities in the country, Cal Poly Pomona is known for its learn-by-doing approach, which uses student enterprise programs such as the school\'s Farm Store to provide hands-on experience. The school awards generous financial aid packages to a large portion of the student body: More than half of undergraduates receive need-based aid, and the average package comes to $9,646.
The school\'s 1,438-acre campus is located about 30 miles east of Los Angeles, on what was once the ranch of W.K. Kellogg, of breakfast cereal fame.
Atlassian Is a Zombie Stock Set to Go to Zero, Noted Tech Bear Says
Atlassian stock is down 64% this year and one strategist says it has farther to fall.
By Dan Burrows • Published
Stock Market Today: Stocks Rally on Encouraging Jobs Data
Weekly jobless claims edged up last week, while continuing claims hit their highest level since February.
By Karee Venema • Published
Should I Cancel Amazon Prime? Here Are 12 Good Reasons
Amazon Prime The giant retailer had a year of ups and downs, leaving many wondering: Do I need Amazon Prime?
By Bob Niedt • Published
10 Things to Know About Hurricane Insurance Claims
Becoming a Homeowner Hurricane damage? Know what’s covered, what isn’t, and how to make the most of your policy if you need to file a claim.
By Kimberly Lankford • Published
The Most Expensive Natural Disasters in U.S. History
Economic Forecasts Wind, water, fire and drought have all wreaked havoc on the United States. What’s been the worst?
By David Muhlbaum • Last updated
Amazon Prime Day 2022: Some of the Best Deals from Kiplinger Editors
Amazon Prime Amazon Prime Day is here. We’ve identified some great values on products and services, a number of which we’ve used ourselves.
By the editors of Kiplinger's Personal Finance • Last updated
10 Tax Deadlines for April 18 (Today is Not Just the Due Date for Your Tax Return)
tax deadline Between requesting a tax extension, making IRA or HSA contributions, and meeting other tax deadlines, there's more to do today than just filing your federal income tax return.
By Rocky Mengle • Last updated
Alternatives to Amazon Prime for Free Shipping and More
Amazon Prime You don’t need to pay Amazon Prime’s juiced $139 annual fee to find a wide swath of products online at different retailers.
By Bob Niedt • Last updated
40 Ways to Earn Extra Cash in 2022
business We flag a wide variety of cool side hustles to earn bonus bucks for expenses both expected and unexpected as we begin to emerge from the pandemic.
By Bob Niedt • Last updated
40 Best Amazon Prime Benefits to Use in 2022
Smart Buying Amazon Prime membership will soon rise to $139 a year. Get your money's worth by following this guide to the best Prime perks to use for the rest of 2022.
By Bob Niedt • Last updated