The College Not Worth Attending in Each State, Ranked
The United States of America is home to some of the best educational opportunities that the world has to offer. We have some of the best schools for people of all ages, but our universities and colleges really stand out on the world stage. People come from all over the world to take classes and earn a degree from a school in the United States.
However, there are fantastic colleges across the country, there are decent colleges across the country, and then there are the colleges on this list... In this list, you will find the colleges in each state that aren't worth attending. If you're considering attending one of these schools, you might want to look into your other options.
You won't see many of their graduates proudly displaying these diplomas on the wall! Whether it's tuition costs, job prospects post-graduation, or a host of other things, these colleges simply didn't make the grade. What do you think about the universities that are the lowest of the low? Did you attend one of these colleges or know someone who did?
All stats and numbers from the United States Department of Education, Niche, and College Factual.
Featured image: Ronald Martinez/Staff/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images & Wesley Hitt/Contributor/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images & Jamie Squire/Staff/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
50. Washington – Heritage University
Washington state has some pretty good universities. We still have to pick a worst, and that goes to Heritage University. The university has an 84.1% graduation rate, but only 4% of the students graduate on time.
The biggest negatives about Heritage is that the median six-year salary is $35,900. Washington state reports that the average salary for the state is $61,896. That's well below Heritage's median salary. That explains why 11.8% of borrowers default on their debt.
49. Oregon – Pacific Northwest College of Art
Pacific Northwest College of Art is insanely expensive, as art schools often are. The average student loan debt is $22,716, and the median salary six-years post-graduation is a mere $27,400. That wouldn’t pay the bills in Oregon.
Pacific Northwest College of Art doesn't have a great graduation rate (57.6%), but it's better than some others on this list. One stat that's surprising is 6.9% of graduates default on their loans. That's not great, but it's pretty low considering how much the average salary is!
48. Minnesota – Crown College
One of the only good things about Crown College is the 57.1% graduation rate. Now for the bad news: students leave with $31,720 and the median earnings six years post-graduation is $35,100.
It gets worse when you find out that 9.3% of those student loan borrowers default on their loans. Being a student can also feel tough since there's only one professor per 19 students. That's not a great ratio.
47. Massachusetts – Montserrat College of Art
With MIT, colleges have an incredibly high bar in Massachusetts. Without a doubt, Massachusetts has a lot of great schools, but Montserrat stands out as being one of the worst. The graduation rate at Monserrat College of Art sits at 48.5%, according to the Department of Education.
CollegeFactual reports that the average student will walk away with $47,340 in loan debt, which is pretty bad considering they only make around $26,500 median earnings six years after graduation. That’s not great odds.
46. Hawaii – Chaminade University of Honolulu
Hawaii doesn’t have a ton of options, but what they do have isn’t terrible. The worst thing about Chaminade University is that it’s pretty expensive. Then again, everything in Hawaii is pretty expensive!
Students walk away with $26,468 worth of student loans, but only 5.6% defaults—better than the national average of 6.9%. The graduation rate is 48.3%, and the average six-year salary is $38,400.
45. Connecticut – Mitchell College
College Factual marked Mitchell College as being “over market” compared to other options in the area. Students have an average of $31,848 in student loans and most end up with a $32,000 median salary after six years. The graduation rate, however, is close to the national average at 46.2%. The national average is currently 59%.
Many of the students complain about the price, especially since the classrooms appear to be out of date and the WiFi doesn't work properly. A large number also live on campus, and the food isn't that great. For that price, you'd think they'd have something a little better.
44. Rhode Island – Rhode Island College
Rhode Island has a lot going for it, namely good colleges. It was tough to pick one that was really terrible, but we landed on Rhode Island College due to the lower starting salary, which is merely $37,000 staring salary. That's not terrible, but others near by are simply better.
Along with that, Rhode Island College has a 42.6% graduation rate, $25,236 average student loan debt, with 8.2% of graduates defaulting on their student loans. The competition is just pretty stiff in this small state.
43. Utah – Stevens Henager College-Ogden
Several Stevens Henegar College locations made the list, but Ogden is the worst of them all. It has a graduation rate of 42.4%, with only 18% doing so on time. They also have an average of $34,640 in loans.
The six-year average salary is just $28,800. Considering the U.S. Census Bureau states the average annual salary is $61,557, we're not sure how graduates survive. Naturally, this contributes to the 19.4% default rate.
42. Wisconsin – Herzing University-Madison
We do have to say that Herzing University-Madison has a decent graduation rate of 42.1%, with 10% graduating on time. That's not great, but it's not terrible, either. That’s where the good news (or marginally good news) stops.
The average student debt is $32,204 with 13.6% defaulting on that amount. The six-year salary is also a little low. It's currently $37,800, which doesn't seem bad until you learn that the average salary in Wisconsin is $60,773 (according to U.S. Census Bureau).
41. Kansas – Sterling College
Kansas actually has some good options, but not Sterling College. This one is over market, and the average student loan debt is $24,892. Six years post-graduation, the median salary is $35,700, but that’s only for the 42% that actually finish Sterling.
The only real good news we have is that 24% of the students that manage to get their degree do so on time. Also, 64% of the teachers are full time with a 12:1 student-to-professor ratio.
40. North Dakota – Mayville State University
Mayville State University is probably the best of the worst. It has a graduation rate of 40.6%. Mayville is actually a great price, around $14,557 for in-state tuition, according to CollegeFactual. Thanks to the great price, students end up with a little over $27,000 in debt.
The median salary six years after graduation is $39,300. Even better, 91% of graduates are employed after two years. Still, 11.4% still default on their student loans.
39. Arkansas – Philander Smith College
The only thing Philander Smith College has going for it is that it doesn’t cost a lot. The graduation rate is 39%, and students usually walk out with an average of $26,616 in debt.
Six years following graduation, students earn a median of $24,400, which makes it difficult to repay their loans. Unfortunately, 20.1% default after three years.
38. Nebraska – Peru State College
Peru State College isn’t absolutely terrible, but it isn’t that great either. It has a graduation rate of 36.7%, but CollegeFactual reports that 18% graduate on time. See what we mean by not terrible but not great?
The average total loans amounting to $22,404 per student. The benefit is that the median salary is $37,500 six years after graduation. Unfortunately, around 9% still default on their loans.
37. Vermont – Johnson State College
Johnson State College may be "fairly" priced ($18,842 annual in-state price), but the loan amounts are high ($31,736). The graduation rate is just 36.7%. Post-graduation, the median average pay six years later is $33,200.
That salary isn't great, but it isn't awful. Still, some graduates struggle since 9.6% default on their loans. In 2018, Johnson State College merged with Northern Vermont University, so maybe these stats will get better over the next five to 10 years.
36. New Hampshire – New England College
Whatever you do, don’t go to New England College. It has a 36.3% graduation rate with students walking out with a debt of $34,536. The six-year median salary is $37,900, and loans have a 12.2% default rate.
The only good thing New England College has going for it is that 93% are employed two years after graduation. That's much higher than the national average, but considering the graduation rate is so low, this is one to stay away from.
35. California – California College San Diego
California College San Diego has some work to do. After two years, only 79% of students are employed, and most make around $39,800 six years after graduation. It’s not much considering the average debt is $31,884.
Of course, this is if you even get to graduate at all. The graduation rate sits at 36%. One last thing about this college is that there aren't many full-time professors. Only around 19% of the professors are full time, which means less time for students.
34. Kentucky – Lindsey Wilson College
Lindsey Wilson is part of the low-graduation-squad at 34.2%, which is pretty bad since the price is over market. The average student loan debt is $20,536 with a default rate of 9.6%. Worst of all, it’s going up.
The median salary doesn’t look too great, either, at $28,800. That being said, there is good news. Niche lists that 85% are employed two years after graduation. That's a little higher than the national average of 83%.
33. South Dakota – Black Hills State University
Black Hills State University pretty expensive, costing in-state students $18,723 annually. The university also has a low graduation rate of 33.2%. Of those students, only 13% actually graduate on time.
Average student loans at Black Hills State sits at $26,672, but the median six-year salary is $35,900. Unfortunately, 9.3% still default on that debt. This university has one thing going for it, however, and that's the employment rate two years after graduation. It can boast a 93% employment rate.
32. New Jersey – Bloomfield College
New Jersey has some really great options, especially since the state is so close to some of the top schools in the nation. But the worst? That goes to Bloomfield, but it is better than some on this list. Bloomfield College has a 31.9% graduation rate.
The median salary is $38,200, which graduates use to pay their debt of $26,044. Still, some have trouble, which causes a 14.5% default rate on loans despite 92% finding employment.
31. Iowa – Waldorf University
You’d think Iowa would be cheaper than others on the list, but nope. Waldorf University is over market, and students usually end up with $27,804 in debt. The good news is that the median salary is $37,800, but that doesn’t stop 9.7% defaulting on their loans.
We're guessing that part of the reason the default rate is so high is because the graduation rate is 31.4%, according to the Department of Education. Still, of the people that do graduate, 26% do so on time, which is better than some others on this list.
30. Alaska – University of Alaska Anchorage
Alaska doesn’t have many options, and most of them are good. The University of Alaska Anchorage just falls behind in a few areas. First of all, its price is over market based on other universities in the state.
Only around 31% of students graduate, and the default rate is 12.2% three years following graduation. Unlike others on the list, the median starting salary is pretty high at $46,000—double that of total student loans.
29. Delaware – Wesley College
Wesley College is over market compared to other colleges in the area, and students generally leave with $31,084 in debt. The good news is that they do earn $42,900 median salary six years after graduation.
The thing Wesley really needs to work on is their graduation rate, which is currently 31%. This could be because the freshman retention rate is so low. Considering it's so hard to get in (with a 62% acceptance rate), it's strange students would leave so quickly.
28. South Carolina – Benedict College
South Carolina is another state with a few excellent, top-notch colleges, but Benedict College? Not so much. It has a 31% graduation rate, but the remarkable thing is how cheap it is versus how much the average debt is.
The annual net price is $9,184, but the average student loan is $45,144. A total of 8.6% default on those loans, possibly due to a six-year median salary of $25,400.
27. Idaho – Lewis-Clark State College
Idaho has some pretty decently-priced options for college. Even Lewis-Clark State is cheap enough for students to only walk away with $19,948 in student loans. Unfortunately, 12.8% still default despite earning $34,600 on average six-years post-graduation.
As far as the graduation rate, that sits at 30.% with only 11% of its students graduating on time. One of the good things about this college is that 68% of the professors are full-time, and students claim they love teaching.
26. Mississippi – Mississippi Valley State University
Only 29.8% of students actually graduate from Mississippi Valley State University. Even though it’s a decent price ($14,339 annually), students still end up with loans of $32,252. After graduation doesn't look too stellar, either.
After six years, the median salary is $23,200, which is extremely low. It would also explain why the default rate is a high 18.9%. Students just aren't making enough money to pay down their loans.
25. New York – College of New Rochelle
College of New Rochelle has topped the charts as being one of the worst universities in the nation, so it naturally made the list of worst in New York. The only beneficial thing about this college is the average starting salary of $40,000.
While that isn't bad, it pales in comparison to the cost of living in New York. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median salary is $57,782, which is far below this starting salary. The average debt is $30,096, and over 12% default on their loans. The graduation rate is 29%.
24. Indiana – Indiana University – Northwest
Indiana University – Northwest has some pretty great professors, but it still has some stuff to work on. The average graduation rate is 28%, and only around 9% of students actually graduate on time.
On top of that, students usually walk away with almost $22,000 in loans. However, it isn't all bad. The good news is that the median salary is $36,300, which is higher than some others on this list.
23. Montana – Montana State University Billings
Montana State University Billings should be avoided, if possible. Even if it’s a fairly decent price, only 27.8% graduate. Of those people, around 11% graduate on time. Things don't get much better following graduation.
Graduates leave with $22,448 in debt and a total of 11.5% of students default on their loans. Six years after graduation, the median salary is $34,600, but it does have a high rate of employment two years after graduation at 89%.
22. Maine – University of Maine at Augusta
The University of Maine at Augusta may be close for some, but not the best choice. The graduation rate is 27.8%. Students walk away with a debt of $23,896, with a 17% default rate. The bad news keeps on rolling with a median salary of $27,700.
Overall, Niche gave the school a C on their report card with Athletics being the worst. The only thing that this university has going for it is that 80% are employed two years after graduation. It's less than the national average of 83%, but it isn't far off.
21. Nevada – Nevada State College
Most state schools are pretty great, but not Nevada State. This college has a 27.6% graduation rate. According to CollegeSimply, the average salary 10 years after graduating from Nevada State sits at $47,600.
That being said, the average debt is just over $11,000, but 11% still default on their payments. Graduates must have a hard time paying their loans down before getting a good job with good pay.
20. Alabama – Alabama State University
Alabama State University has over 5,000 students, but one of the lowest graduation rates in the state (26%). Even after graduation, the median earnings six years later sits at $27,700—well below the national average.
Even worse, around 21% of students will default on their loans just after three years. The only good news about Alabama State is that they accept 98% of the people that apply.
19. Wyoming – Laramie County Community College
Alright, so here's the deal. Wyoming doesn’t have a lot of options. We didn’t want to list the only university in the state as being utterly terrible when it wasn’t. That honor goes to Laramie County Community College.
This community college has a 25.9% graduation rate with 86% of graduates finding a job post-graduation. The college also has a default rate of 16%, according to Data U.S.A.
18. North Carolina – Shaw University
Not many people graduate from Shaw. It has a graduation rate of 25.4%, which is odd considering their acceptance rate is just 52%. When students leave, they usually have an average of $28,044 in loans.
That’s not great since the six-year salary is only $29,200. With those two stats combined, it isn't surprising that 19.6% default on their loans after just three years.
17. Virginia – Virginia Union University
Maybe it’s the competition, but Virginia Union University can’t keep students. It has a graduation rate of 25.4% of students, but that could be because it’s so expensive.
Students leave with around $24,524 in debt, and around 15% of those will default on the debt. Two years graduating, 92% are employed, but the median six-year salary is $32,000.
16. Georgia – The Art Institute of Atlanta
Art colleges are extremely expensive, and this one is no exception. Students leave with $31,656 in student loans. Niche listed that the average salary post-graduation is $30,900, which isn't much and could contribute to the 18.8% default rate.
The graduation rate of The Art Institute of Atlanta is 23%, with only 11% of its total students graduating on-time. Students state that they love their professors since they seem very knowledgable, but the resources are very limited.
15. Ohio – Central State University
Central State University has a graduation rate of 22%, but that’s not the worst part. Despite being a "fair" price (according to College Factual), students still end up with an average loan amount of $26,896.
The six-year median salary is $26,100, and 91% are employed two years after graduation. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like it's enough—a whopping 27.8% default.
14. West Virginia – West Virginia State University
West Virginia State University in Institute, West Virginia has some work to do. The university has a 21.9% graduation rate. That could be because it’s so expensive ($20,036 annually in-state).
Due to the high price, students leave with $31,900 in debt. You'd hope they would make a good salary to pay those down, but the median six-year salary is just $29,800. This could explain why 17.1% default on their loans.
13. Michigan – Baker College in Flint
Flint has had troubles, and Baker College is also struggling. Only 21.1% of students graduate, and when they do, they leave with $22,852 in debt. That can be pretty hard to pay off as Niche reports the median salary six years after graduation is just $27,200.
This coupled with the fact that Flint has had its share of troubles, the default rate on student loans sits at 16% and on the rise. The only good news we can report is that 82% are employed two years after graduation.
12. Illinois – DeVry University
DeVry University has a bad name and ranked last in almost all states (since it’s an online school). It has a physical location in Illinois, so this is why it’s ranked as the worst in this state. In Illinois, the campus has a 20.6% graduation rate, leaving students with over $30,000 in loan debt.
What we found strange is that DeVry has a high default rate, according to CollegFactual. However, students that do graduate earn a median salary of $44,100 after six years.
11. Maryland – Coppin State University
Maryland has more options than you’d think for such a small state. On top of that, they’re actually pretty decent. Coppin is the “worst,” but it’s not terrible compared to others. Students leave with a debt of $23,936, but the median six-year salary is $38,100.
The only terrible thing about Coppin is the graduation rate (20.4%). It could also use more full-time teachers, as the current rate is 49%. That being said, the school also has a decent teacher-to-student ratio of 14:1.
10. Pennsylvania – Strayer University
Strayer University doesn’t release a lot of info, but what we found isn’t appealing. It has a graduation rate of 20% as of 2018, according to the United States Department of Education. Of those that graduate, they do manage to get a median salary of $45,900, according to Niche.
Unfortunately, the number of people that found employment post-graduation is only 85% (another Niche statistic)—lower than a lot on this list. Another startling statistic on Niche is the student-to-professor ratio, which is 29:1. It's one of the highest on this list.
9. Tennessee – Le Moyne-Owen College
Le Moyne-Owen has an embarrassing low graduation rate of 20%. Despite the fair price, (around $11,900 annually) students still leave with $36,796 in debt. On top of that, the median six-year salary is just $28,400.
The low six-year salary could also attribute to the shockingly high 20.4% default rate. After six years, you'd think students would be making at least $30,000.
8. Florida – Edward Waters College
There are a lot of bad things about Edward Waters College. First, it has a low 19.6% graduation rate. Second, six-year post-graduation surveys show a $25,900 median salary.
Finally, it’s expensive, so students walk out with $22,558 worth of debt. That makes it hard to pay off student loans, so it's no surprise that Edward Waters College’s loan default rate is 21.7%.
7. Colorado – Nazarene Bible College
Nazarene Bible College is expensive. Students walk away with an average of $42,340 in student loans, which is a lot considering most only make $29,700 six years after graduation. Due to this, the default rate sits at 12.9%, but the default rate could also be high because only 16.4% graduate.
Most of the students at this university are part-time, meaning there are tons of evening classes. Students seem to enjoy it, but it doesn't really seem worth it considering the low graduation rate and the low average salary following graduation.
6. New Mexico – University of the Southwest
University of the Southwest has an incredibly low graduation rate of 16.1%. The price is over market compared to other colleges and universities in the area. Students graduate with $23,112 worth of debt, with 8.6% defaulting on that debt. The median six-year salary is $36,200.
The interesting thing about University of the Southwest is that they don't accept many students, either. The acceptance rate, according to Niche, is only about 45%. Maybe they're working hard to increase their graduation rate. Whatever they're doing, it may not be working.
5. Arizona – Western International University
Western International University has about 1,300 students, but the graduation for the average undergrad is just 15% after six years. As far as those that graduate on time? CollegeFactual says only 1% of students will graduate on time. Ouch.
After three years, 6.2% of students default on their loans, which the average is approximately $21,228. That's not really awful, but considering the graduation rate, it's certainly a gamble.
4. Oklahoma – Bacone College
Bacone’s graduation rate is a low, low 14.9%, and only 6% of those students graduate on time. In addition to this, the price is pretty high, so students leave with an average debt of $25,220, with 10.6% default on their loans.
If you manage to actually graduate and get a job, the six-year median salary is $34,500. That being said, 90% of Bacone's graduates are employed within two years. They just don't make enough, sadly.
3. Texas – Texas College
Texas is huge, and there are almost too many options to count. With the plethora of competition, colleges have to be good. Not so much for Texas College. This college has a terribly low 12.4% graduation rate, with only 4% of those students graduating on time.
Following graduation, students have an average of $21,624 in loan debt. Considering the six-year median salary is a paltry $23,400, it may not be much of a surprise that 23.3% default on their loans.
2. Louisiana – Grambling State University
According to U.S. News, Grambling State University has a 10% graduation rate—yikes! It’s also pretty expensive, and students leave with a debt of $27,656. Since the median salary is also low ($28,100), 16.1% of students are destined to default on their loans.
Grambling State is one of the few public universities on the list. Because of this, it does have a high number of full-time teachers at 95%, but the student-to-faculty ratio is 25:1. That's extremely high for anyone that needs a little extra help.
1. Missouri – Harris-Stowe State University
Harris-Stowe State University has one of the lowest graduation rates in the whole nation—8%. Of those people, only 2% actually graduate on time. That's a fraction of a fraction and not a great start. As if that weren't enough, the average student loan debt of $30,944, which wouldn't seem bad if graduates made a lot of money.
Unfortunately, the median six-year salary is $26,700. Overall, this contributes to a high percentage of defaults. CollegeFactual reports that 21.5% of people defaults on their loans.