Personal Finance

Student debt is on the rise. Some schools are doing away with the loans

Key Points
  • Some 70 schools have a no-loan policy.
  • Mark Kantrowitz, an expert on financial aid and the publisher of, has compiled the list.
Johns Hopkins University
JHU Sheridan Libraries/Gado/Getty Images

Americans leave college today with more debt than ever before. Some schools are trying to reverse the trend by instituting a no-loans policy.

Most recently, Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, announced he would give $1.8 billion to his alma mater, John Hopkins University, to replace loans with scholarship grants at the college. "It will ease the burden of debt for many graduates," Bloomberg wrote in an Op-Ed for the New York Times.

Student debt burdens Americans more than auto or credit card debt. The average graduate leaves school $30,000 in the red, up from $10,000 in the early 1990s.

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Around 300 colleges have a big enough endowment to be able to afford a no-loans policy, said Mark Kantrowitz, an expert on financial aid and the publisher of

Today, some 70 schools have adopted the policy, he said. "Bloomberg's donation might trigger a new spike," he said. At the same time, a number of schools have become tuition-free.

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Some students will have to take out loans for living expenses and supplies, even if their tuition bill is covered through grants and work-study opportunities. Still, Kantrowitz found those who graduate from no-loans schools are less in debt than those who hail from other colleges.

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For example, the average debt for graduates from Princeton University, the first school to adopt a no-loans policy in the late '90s, is around $9,000. And about 80 percent leave debt-free.

Kantrowitz has compiled a list of the schools in every state that have done away with or reduced student loans.

Some of the colleges and universities include all students in their policy, while others are only extended to low-income students or those from the area.


• Arizona State University

• University of Arizona


• California Institute of Technology

• Pomona College

• Stanford University

• University of California at Berkeley

• University of California System


• Colorado State University-Pueblo


• Connecticut College

• Fairfield University

• Sacred Heart University

• Wesleyan University

• Yale University


• University of Florida


• Emory University

• Georgia Institute of Technology


• Northern Illinois University

• Northwestern University

• University of Chicago

• University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


• Indiana University Bloomington


• Grinnell College


• University of Louisville


• Bowdoin College

• Colby College


• Johns Hopkins University

• University of Maryland, College Park


• Amherst College

• Boston University

• College of Holy Cross

• Harvard University

• Massachusetts Institute of Technology

• Tufts University

• Wellesley College

• Williams College


• Michigan State University

• University of Michigan at Ann Arbor


• University of Minnesota System


• College of the Ozarks

• Washington University in St. Louis

New Hampshire

• Dartmouth College

New Jersey

• Princeton University (all students)

New York

• Columbia University

• Cornell University

• Vassar College

North Carolina

• Appalachian State University

• Davidson College

• Duke University

• North Carolina State University

• University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


• Kenyon College

• Miami University

• Oberlin College

• University of Toledo


• Haverford College

• Lafayette College

• Lehigh University

• Swarthmore College

• University of Pennsylvania

Rhode Island

• Brown University


• Bryan College

• University of Tennessee

• Vanderbilt University


• Lamar University

• Rice University

• Texas A&M University

• Texas State University - San Marcos

• University of Texas at El Paso


• University of Vermont


• College of William and Mary

• University of Virginia

• Washington and Lee University


• University of Washington