Princeton is the No. 1 school in the country—more importantly, it also makes this list

These are the top universities in the US

With its highly ranked academic programs, both for graduates and undergraduates, Princeton University in New Jersey lands the top spot in U.S. News & World Report's 2018 Best Colleges list.

But the historic, Ivy League school also makes another list that bodes well for its current and future attendees: The top 10 private colleges where graduates have the least debt.

The average published cost of tuition and fees at private, nonprofit, four-year institutions was $33,480 from 2016 to 2017, according to the College Board. That's $23,830 higher than the average cost for public, four-year, in-state schools. And the cost of tuition keeps rising.

Some private schools are better than others at keeping costs for students down.

Student Loan Hero collected data for 670 private colleges and universities and listed the top-ranked schools where grads end up with less than $20,000 in debt — and often a lot less:

College of the Ozarks in Missouri

Average graduate debt: $5,339

Davis College in New York

Average graduate debt: $5,360

Barclay College in Kansas

Average graduate debt: $7,220

Berea College in Kentucky

Average graduate debt: $7,928

Princeton University in New Jersey

Average graduate debt: $8,577

Berea College Campus.
L.H. | Flickr CC

Amridge University in Alabama

Average graduate debt: $10,500

Alice Lloyd College in Kentucky

Average graduate debt: $10,591

Calvary Bible College and Theological Seminary in Missouri

Average graduate debt: $15,498

Brigham Young University in Utah

Average graduate debt: $15,720

The Baptist College of Florida

Average graduate debt: $17,174

"Public colleges are often touted as a cost-effective college choice," says Elyssa Kirkham, lead researcher on the study, "but they aren't the only affordable option.

"Today's cost-conscious college candidates and parents might not even consider private colleges, assuming these schools are budget-busters that will land them in six-figure student debt."

However, she adds, "students at [our ranked] private colleges have to borrow less debt to finance a degree. And with fewer student loans to hold them back, students at these top private colleges graduate ahead of the financial curve."

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