Student Debt in Overdrive: 35+ Colleges That Just Aren’t Worth Their High Price Tag

Many young people look to American colleges to equip them with the knowledge they’ll need in their life. But some universities come at such a hefty cost that it’s important you know about them straight away. We’re not outright telling you to stay away from these institutions… but it’s best you’d know what you’re getting into from the start.

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If you’re looking for a comprehensive run-through of the most outrageously priced schools in the United States, look no further. At Hype Galore, we’re revealing which colleges will bring you the largest amount of debt. And you can decide for yourself whether it’s worth the intimidating tuition fee.

Saint Augustine’s University | $129,000

Saint Augustine’s University is based in Raleigh and makes up part of America’s historically Black colleges and universities (also known as HBCUs.) But as a small college with only 974 students, its eye-watering price tag of $129,000 for four years of study can seem more than a bit steep.

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Image: Instagram / saufalcons

On top of that, only 23% of the students who start on their course actually graduate at the end of the four years. Their school motto translates to “the truth will set you free,” but we can’t help but think you’ll feel anything but free at the end of your education here. That’s a scary amount of debt to be in.

St. Andrew’s University | $167,000

Those who want a beautiful college campus experience might be drawn to St. Andrew’s University in Laurinburg, North Carolina. It boasts gorgeous sprawling grounds and a huge serene lake with a small island in the middle. Perhaps their picturesque location is part of the reason they charge their students so much.

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Image: Instagram / standrewsuniversity

Studying at St Andrew’s University will cost on average around $167,000 over four years. That’s a hard enough pill to swallow, but it gets even worse. The return on investment is estimated to be around -$98,800, which isn’t the best. It makes sense that 96% of their students receive financial aid to be there.

Lindsey Wilson College | $152,000

Those who are drawn to Kentucky’s Lindsey Wilson College were most probably attracted to their athletic image. They have a very large number of sports teams to choose from, and boast of an impressive amount of championship trophies, too. Many of their alumni have gone on to be successful professional sportsmen and sportswomen.

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Image: Instagram / lindseywilsoncollege

But it’s important to bear in mind that success in sports in very hard to achieve. And you’ll need all the success you can get in order to pay the $152,000 in school fees. It’s unfortunate to say that for most of those who graduate from Lindsey Wilson, they’re looking at a return on investment of -$160,800.

University of Maine at Machias | $124,000

Expect to live in a close-knit rural community if you opt to study at the University of Maine at Machias. If you’re outdoorsy, you’ll probably want to do a lot of hiking through the local forests or go swimming in the rivers. But before you pack your bags, you should really know about the actual cost of it all.

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Image: instagram / hillsburn

It’ll cost you $124,000 to get a full four-year-long education at this college. But would it be worth it? We’ll leave the decision up to you – just know that the return on investment after 20 years is approximately -$70,000. They’re a highly ranked university according to the U.S. News and World Report, but for many it won’t be worth the cash.

Emory & Henry College | $179,000

The oldest liberal arts college in Southwest Virginia, the Emory & Henry College, has a good reputation in the academic circuit. But we’re pretty sure it doesn’t make up for the fact that it costs $179,000 on average to go here.

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Image: Instagram / emoryhenry

After four years you’ll have acrued almost $200,000 worth of debt. But after 20 years of slaving away at your desk job you’ll still have a return on investment of roughly -$91,300. Yikes. The graduation rate is a touch over 50%, so statistically speaking you’re just as likely to complete your course as you are not to complete it.

Brewton-Parker College | $113,000

The Brewton-Parker College is situated among the picturesque nature of Mount Vernon, Georgia, which is appealing to many young students. It’s also located in basically a student village, with over half of the local population coming to study with Brewton-Parker.

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Image: Instagram / bpcmvb

But this cozy institution won’t leave you with many warm feelings after four years of study. It will set you back around $113,000, with a total return on investment of around -$92,200. But the cherry on the cake has got to be the shockingly low graduation rate of around 17%. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Montserrat College of Art | $169,000

The Montserrat College of Art seems like the perfect place for students looking to expand their creative education. And in many ways it is. There are only 400 students, it’s located near Boston, and offers a variety of art-related degrees. But you’ll be much better suited to Montserrat if you have parents with deep pockets.

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Image: Patch

Four years of education at the Beverly-based college comes to around $169,000, most of which you shouldn’t expect to earn back. The return on investment is -$107,400 after two decades of working, which will surely leave you wondering whether it was all worth it in the end.

University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma | $100,000

Founded back in 1908, the Oklahoma College for Women has a decent ratio of students to professors at around 13:1. It’s only a small institution, but they experience a fair amount of competition for undergaduate places. Their acceptance rate is only at about 50%.

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On top of that, they have a pretty good academic record. Perhaps that’s why it costs so much to go here – roughly $100,000 for a full course. And for those that do end up graduating, they shouldn’t expect to see a huge return on their investment. It’s estimated to be about -$65,500.

Voorhees College | $100,000

Voorhees College is situated in the rural south of the United States, right in the middle of South Carolina. With around 500 undergraduate students, it has a good academic reputation with fairly small-sized classes. Students also have access to their sprawling 365 acres of manicured land.

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Image: Voorhees College

But it comes at a cost. Students spend almost $100,000 for the privilege of studying here for the full four to six year courses. Data company PayScale estimated the return on investment after 20 years to be -$153,400. Now to us, that’s no laughing matter. But perhaps the more personal education style is worth it to some students.

Shaw University | $118,000

Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina, actually has a great reputation as the first historically Black university in the South of the United States. But it comes off as far less attractive when you hear about their tuition fees. It costs approximately $118,000 for a course of four years.

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Image: Instagram / shawuniversity

The “mother of African-American colleges” really does have a steep price. Especially when you take into account the -$93,600 return rate after 20 years of working. It’s hard to join such a symbolic institution knowing that there’s a high chance it won’t pay off in the long run.

Paine College | $100,000

Historically Black institution Paine College in Augusta, Georgia, certainly puts its students under a lot of financial strain. The college itself has been hit in the pocket recently, after being taken to court on its accreditation due to its own financial issues.

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Image: Paine College Athletics

But students will need to cough up almost $100,000 for a four year course with Paine College. And the return on investment is marked to be around the -$94,700. So it’s not looking too promising for those who graduate. Even then, roughly only 20% of the students do.

Rust College | $63,400

Rust College is located in Holly Springs, Mississippi, and has a rich and inspiring heritage. It’s one of only 10 historically Black colleges in Mississippi that’s still up and running today. On top of that, it’s the second-oldest private school in the whole southern state.

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Image: Instagram / rustcollege

It has an acceptance rate of approximately 43%, with those students going on to pay the college about $63,400 for a full education. It’s rough for these pupils as they have a return of investment rate of -$97,100. You’ll want to really crunch the numbers on this university before signing up.

Johnson University | $90,000

Christian establishment Johnson University is situated a few miles east of Knoxville in suburban Tennessee. But the quiet area of Kimberlin Heights where the students reside probably doesn’t make up for the high price. Four years of study here will cost you almost $90,000.

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Image: instagram / johnsonunivtn

To make matters worse, the return on investment after 20 years is calculated to be approximately -$97,900. And for many students, it takes five or six years to complete their course. Either way, coming out of this university will leave you with a lot of debt.

Cazenovia College | $184,000

Who wouldn’t want to study in Upstate New York? Liberal arts college Cazenovia College sits in the Syracuse area and is proud of its intimate learning environment. And you too can benefit from their one-to-one approach for the meager sum of around $184,000.

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Image: Instagram / cazenoviacollege

That’s right – four years of study here will cost you an arm and a leg. And the return on investment is in the ballpark of -$100,000. With less than a thousand other undergraduate students, this small college promises good memories but empty pockets.

Wilson College | $150,000

Wilson College only just started letting in male students in 2013, after its long-established history as an all-women’s liberal arts college. But its inclusive new approach is tainted by the fact that it costs approximately $150,000+ for the privilege. But at least you’ll have 300-acres of beautiful campus grounds to study on.

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Image: Wilson College

The rate of return on your academic investment is calculated to be around -$85,000. Meaning it’s ubnlikely you’ll ever earn all that money back. And the graduation rate is only at 39%, so all in all the odds won’t be in your favor.

Benedict College | $124,000

Benedict College in South Carolina isn’t tucked away in a small student village; it’s based in the city of Columbia. As one of America’s historically Black colleges and universities, it currently holds about 2,300 students, which is pretty sizable. It was actually originally a teachers college and had been since 1870.

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Image: Instagram / skyvisionmedia_

However impressive it may seem, it’s still up there in regards to university costs. Students have to fork up $124,000 for four years of undergraduate study, with a whopping -$105,600 return on investment over 20 years. And take into account that only 22% of students actually leave with a diploma.

Unity College | $150,000

Unity College in Unity, Maine, specializes in sustainability and environmental science, which puts them in most people’s good books. But think before you act with this one as it will set you back a staggering $150,000 after four years of education.

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Image: Instagram / theclumsyrunner93

And that’s if you’re part of the lucky half that actually end up graduating. The private liberal arts college might have a “green” image, but it’s still going to cause a lot of damage to your paycheck for years to come. On top of which, they only recently announced that they’ve cut 30 percent of their workforce out.

Stillman College | $98,700

Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, might seem appealing for it’s small class sizes, but wait till you hear how much it will cost you. It’s $98,700 for a full four year course, which you’d attend with 600+ students. And if that didn’t put you off the liberal arts college, wait till you hear the numbers.

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Image: Instagram / littleafricatravel

Statistically speaking, after over 20 years of working after college you’ll only earn back 20% of the tuition costs. Meaning you’ll still be left around $80,000 out of pocket from the whole experience. Adding to that, less than 25% of the students actually end up graduating from Stillman. So yeah, it doesn’t sound great.

Columbia International University | $133,000

Private Christian college Columbia International University has religious affiliations that they’re proud to stand by. “To Know Him and to Make Him Known” is their school motto, but we wonder if it’ll come as much comfort once you see the tuition fees. They come to $133,000 for four years of study.

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Image: Instagram / kierstonsmithphoto

And get this; the return on investment averages to around -$115,700. But to make up for such disappointing figures, the evangelical institution does boast a quiet suburban environment and more personalized education. After all, they take in less than 700 students a year.

Morris College | $92,200

The historically Black liberal arts university, Morris College, has more than 900 students enrolled at any given time. It’s affiliated with the Baptist faith, it was founded back in 1908 when education was far less accessible. But its pricing as it stands today makes it seem like it’s still living in the past.

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Image: Brain Sharper

For undergraduate students, $92,200 is what you can expect to pay after four years here. And rather unfairly, after 20 years you can estimate to have a rate of return of around -$106,800. Yikes. Those numbers are sure to deter even the richest students.

Martin Luther College | $93,300

Martin Luther College is located in New Ulm, Minnesota, and has an impressive amount of multi-talented students. A third of the college’s students actively take part in varsity sports and two thirds take part in recreational sports. That’s a pretty healthy student population.

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Image: Instagram / martinluthercollege

If only the students’ bank accounts were as balanced. It’s unfortunate to report that it costs about $93,300 to attend this athletic institution, with a return on investment coming in at around -$123,200. It’s also required that you’ll live on the campus for the full four years, so you won’t be able to save much there.

Claflin University | $128,000

This historically Black university is rightly proud of its history, as it was the first college to give black women in the U.S. diplomas back in 1884. Its school motto is “The World Needs Visionaries,” but after looking at the figures we think the world actually needs more affordable higher education.

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The total cost after four years of study at Claflin University should come to $128,000. The return on investment is estimated to be about -$134,000 after 20 years of postgraduate life, so deciding on whether or not to study here should not be taken lightly. At least half of its students end up graduating.

Wheelock College | $201,000

Wheelock College initially had a different name; Miss Wheelock’s Kindergarten Training School. But after it merged with Boston University’s School of Education in 2018, it trimmed the name that had been with it since 1888. If only it could trim their tuition fees, too.

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Image: Instagram / wheelockathletics

It costs a shocking sum of $201,000 for a four year course. It specializes in education studies, meaning the return on investment after two decades is especially bad at $140,700. It’s stayed true to its mission “to work with children, families, and communities towards a more just society through the power of education.” If only it would apply that sentiment to its students.

Talladega College | $88,200

Alabama’s Talladega College offers its students more of the city life than many other places. The Talladega College Tornado Marching Band has given it a good name in recent years – they even performed at the presidential inauguration parade back in 2017. You’ll often find the Great Tornado competing in national battles of the bands.

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Image: Instagram / degadiamonds

$88,200 is how much an education at Talladega will cost you at the end of your course. Which when you take into account the -$156,900 return on investment after 20 years as a postgraduate, it’s nothing worth marching to. You’ll at least be in the same boat as 1,230 of your fellow peers.

Maine College of Art | $184,000

Those looking for a solid education in the fine arts might likely consider Maine College of Art, AKA MECA, an attractive option. The New England-based private school offers you courses ranging from animation to woodworking. And you’ll be living in an urban space with 500 other undergraduate pupils.

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Image: Instagram / _mecastore

You’ll also be forking over $184,000 to the elite institution for your four years of art education. And taking into account the -$163,600 that their alumni have on their return on investment after two decades, it’s one hell of an expensive experience. At this rate, its graduates have been losing 10% of their investment each year.

Campbellsville University | $143,000

Baptist-affiliated college Campbellsville University has a lot to offer the students that go there. From access to the large neighboring state park to highly-ranked professors, you’ll likely find yourself quite satisfied there. That is until you realize just how much debt you’ve accrued.

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Image: Instagram / cu_womenssoccer

$143,000 is what you can expect to hand over after four years at this institution. It has a well-regarded School of Music, School of Education, and School of Art. But it can’t guarantee you’ll get a good return on investment, calculated to be around -$76,800.

The University of Montana Western | $109,000

Now, the University of Montana Western offers its students some exciting prospects, until you get to the price, of course. Situated near the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains of north-west America, all manner of fun outdoor activities are only a drive away. Think skiing and snowboarding.

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Image: Zippia

Unfortunately, you won’t be getting your money’s worth with the University of Montana Western. Tuition fees and living expenses come to $109,000 on average after an undergraduate course. And the return on investment is shockingly low for almost half of the graduates, coming in at approximately -$71,400.

Emmanuel College | $112,000

Christian liberal arts university Emmanuel College turned 100 years old last year. It’s a Christian college located in Franklin Springs, and offers a diverse range of subjects to study; from criminal justice to Christian ministry. It’s just a shame that its education comes at such a high cost.

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Image: Icepop

You’ll be paying $112,000 to walk away with a degree from Emmanuel College. That’s if you walk away – only 43% of students actually graduate. But expect a return on investment of around -$70,000. You may leave with a diploma, but you’ll probably also walk away financially unsatisfied.

Davis & Elkins College | $160,000

Davis & Elkins College is a Christian university that only admits a small number of students – less than 800 on average. And their acceptance rate sits at about 37%, so you’re guaranteed a more personal student experience. To every 12 students you have one professor – that’s a lot better than what you get at other colleges.

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Image: Instagram / paragonxl

But going to such an intimate college setting is gonna cost you. $160,000 to be exact, for four years of education. Nursing, Business, and Psychology are some of their popular majors, but they can’t guarantee you a successful future. The return on investment is after 20 years comes to -$66,000.

University of South Carolina Aiken | $130,000

The University of South Carolina Aiken has a lot boast about. Made up of eight different schools, it usually sits among the best ranking institutions of the south. It promises you’ll be learning in small focused classes of 15 pupils or less, and after-hours you can benefit from the local party scene.

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Image: iknstagram / hanna_hyderr

Access to this big institution won’t come cheap, as it usually costs students around $130,000 for a four year undergraduate degree. Unfortunately, the return on investment doesn’t look great after 20 years. It’s only half of the total college tuition at about -$66,000.

Florida Memorial University | $109,000

The Florida Memorial University has ties to the Baptist Church and American Baptist Home Mission Society. Located in Miami Gardens, it’s a historically Black college with a powerful back story. And its acceptance rate is only 33%, meaning that its admissions can be quite competitive.

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Image: Flickr / kcjc

The real question is, will it be worth the $109,000 in college tuition fees? Bearing in mind that the return on investment after 20 years is around -$64,000, you have to ask yourself if it’ll be worth the heavy financial burden. On the plus side, you won’t be far from the beach.

University of Montevallo | $143,000

What does the University of Montevallo have to offer? It’s the only public liberal arts college in the state, and it’s a member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges. It’s also frequently ranked near the top of the colleges offered in Alabama, and it has a gorgeous public campus to boot.

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Image: Instagram / montevallo

But the students who go to the University of Montevallo have a high chance of finding themselves under financial strain. The college tution costs come to $143,000 for undegraduates, and the return on investment after 20 years is about -$65,000. Those aren’t numbers that should be easy dismissed.

Miles College | $90,200

The Fairfield-based liberal arts school, Miles College, offers its students a fun party scene and good access to different sports. But it charges its students a hefty amount for the privilidge which were sure would put a people off. Not enough, however, as it still has 1,470 undergraduate students.

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Image: Miles College

Only 17% of its students end up actually walking away with a diploma… ouch. And for those “lucky” students, they’ll have $90,200 in college tuition fees to pay. The return on investment afcter 20 years is -$164,600, making this a pretty bad deal. And the expected starting salary upon graduation is only around $20,000.

The Baptist College of Florida | $68,500

For those students looking to study in a more religious institution, the Baptist College of Florida might seem like a good choice. Its super small acceptance rate of roughly 250 undergraduates a year can choose to study anything from theology to business, as well as its specialized subject of  Ministerial Studies.

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Image: Instagram / baptistcollege

But before any of you get too carried away with the thought, bear in mind that tuition will come to $68,500. That may seem better than a lot of other colleges on this list, but the return on investment after 20 years falls at -$63,400. That’s almost a 100% negative return, and that’s pretty serious.

Harris-Stowe State University | $110,000

These students of Harris-Stowe State University may be smiling now, but they’re statistically far less likely to around graduation. This institution has a shockingly low graduation rate of only 8% – meaning the huge majority of its students don’t end up receiving their degrees.

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Image: Innovations of the World

The average cost for a degree from Harris-Stowe State University is $110,000, with student spending on average five to six years studying here. And with the typical starting salary as a graduate being about $24,000, you can easily understand just how long it will take to pay your student debt.

Wesley College | $124,000

Liberal arts university Wesley College is situated in Dover, Delaware and can easily seem like a smart choice for many students. It have over 30 different subjects to choose from. Yet it still remains a fairly small institution for more personalized learning. About 1,100 enroll here every year.

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Image: Instagram / wesleycollegede

Nursing, Kinesiology and Exercise Science, and Psychology make us some of its most popular degrees, but it comes at a price. $124,000, to be exact, if you’re undergoing a four-year long degree. However, one small benefit you might experience after graduating from Wesley is a higher starting salary, currently ranking at about $34,000.

Baker College | $45,000

Baker College based in Flint, Michigan, scores well on its student acceptance rate, letting in more or less all of the students who apply. But when you take into consideration their terribly low graduation rate, things start to look a lot less rosy.

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Image: Instagram / bakercollegeofficial

Of the 2,130 undergraduates who enroll with them, only 15% will walk away from the institution with a diploma. And the cost of your degree will probably be around the $45,000 ballpark. And bear in mind, it has only recently raised their prices an additional 5%.

Mississippi Valley State University | $75,000

Mississippi Valley State University has a selection of athletics to get involved with. Their biggest departments are Business, Social Work and Youth Services, taught by an array of well-established professors. In fact, students show a high satisfaction rate with regards to their lecturers.

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Image: Instagram / thesatindolls

But students are far less satisfied in the financial department. Having to spend around $75,000 for your education across four years, the return on investment comes to about -$175,000. However, the student-to-staff ratio at Valley State is good, sitting at 13:1. Though we hardly think that makes up for it.