10 Billionaires Who Never Went to College

With living costs hitting the roof and college education  becoming more expensive than ever, young people often start out their adult lives laden with student debts. If this does not appeal to you, take inspiration from billionaires of this world who gave the college campus a miss and instead depended on their own entrepreneurial skills to give them a head start in life. Here are thus five billionaires who never went to college but made good in life.

  1. Karl Albrecht

    The richest man in Germany is Karl Albrecht with a net worth of $25.4 billion which also makes him the tenth richest billionaire in the world. However coming from humble circumstances, Karl could never attend college. Albrecht owes his fortunes to ownership and operation of the discount division the Aldi supermarket chain, Aldi Sud which now has some 4,500 stores, including 1,200 across 32 U.S. states. It opened its first New York City locations in 2011, one in Queens and another in the Bronx.

    The immensely lucrative venture started out when Karl and his late brother Theo took on their mother's corner grocery store after World War II and turned it into a large retail chain based on low prices in a no-frills setting. In fact to keep costs low, Aldi stores still do not accept credit cards. The brothers split ownership in 1961 – while Karl took the more profitable stores in southern Germany, in addition to the rights to the brand in the U.K., Australia and the U.S., Theo got northern Germany and the rest of Europe.
  2. Ka-shing Li

    Yet another world’s foremost billionaires emerged from humble circumstances so that he could never go to college. Today Ka-shing Li is the richest Hong Kong individual who has $25.5 billion worth of assets and ranks as the ninth richest billionaire in the world; according to Forbes, this also makes him Asia's richest person for the first time since 2004. Currently serving as the Chairman of Hutchinson Whampoa Ltd, Ka-Shing Li actually has vast diversified interests, but especially real estate and technology. That Li is always looking for expansion is underlined by the fact that he also has personal investments in tech start-ups like Facebook and Spotify. The extent of such achievement seems incredible considering that Li is actually a school dropout who quit school at age 12 to help support his family. A decade later he started his own business making toys, plastic flowers and the rest, as is said, was history.
  3. Amancio Ortega

    Founder of the luxury fashion house, Zara as well as Inditex, Amancio Ortega is the richest man in Spain and one of the richest on the continent with personal fortune that is estimated at $47.4 billion – according to Bloomberg1, the surge in Ortega’s fortunes is due to Inditex stock price closing at a record high. 76 year old Ortega is a self-made billionaire who never got to go to college.  A railway worker's son, he started as a gofer in a shirt store. With then-wife Rosalia Mera, now also a billionaire, he started making dressing gowns and lingerie in living room. Ortega has three children among whom, his daughter Marta, also works for Inditex. In February 2012, she, married Spanish equestrian star Sergio Alvarez Moya. Ortega himself owns a horse-jumping circuit as well as a stake in a soccer league.


  4. Richard Branson

    The flamboyant owner and chairman of the Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson is believed have a net worth of almost 3 billion Sterling Pounds. Born in Surry England in 1950, Branson was considered a dyslexic in childhood.  He however had other things planned in life. Apart from publishing a magazine titled Student, at the age of 16, he started out selling music by mail order in the 70's. He then opened a music shop in 1972 and went on to add a music studio to that shop and Virgin records was on its way.  Virgin Records’ first artist was Michael Oldfield whose album Tubular Bells was the featured sound track in the movie the Exorcist.  The album sold over 15 million copies.  After that,  Virgin Records was able to acquire talents such as Phil Collins, The Sex Pistols, and Boy George. Virgin records grew into quite a force in the music business. Today Richard Branson seems to have a finger in every profit-making pie with business interests as diverse as aviation, music publishing, media and communication. In 1999 Richard Branson was knighted for his services to entrepreneurship and soon became a youth icon for his interest in adventure sports as well as philanthropic work. He has been married twice, the first time to Kristen Tomassi with whom the marriage lasted five years. Currently he is married to Joan Templeman with whom he has two children, Holly and Sam.
  5. Sean Parker

    Like many of the youngest billionaires, Sean Parker has the World Wide Web to thank for his net worth of $1.3 billion, At 19, Parker gave college a miss to disrupt the recording industry with music swapping site Napster and later advanced viral marketing with his Web address book Plaxo. He served as Facebook's first president at age 24, helping streamline the product and organizing the company to ensure his pal Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's founder and CEO, maintained control. Next he launched Spotify, a highly popular and more importantly legal music platform. Parker is currently busy with his third start-up, the video chat platform Airtime which was launched amid much hype in June 2012.
  6. Phil Ruffin

    A self-made entrepreneur who never went to college, American billionaire Philip G Ruffin enjoys a net worth of $2.4 billion as of Sept 2011. His business interests lie largely in casinos, greyhound racing tracks, oil production, convenience stores, and real estate. Ruffin is best known for his purchase of the New Frontier Hotel and Casino, one of the most venerable properties on Las Vegas Strip. In 2007,  Ruffin sold the New Frontier to El Ad Properties - the $1.2 billion sale price for the 36 acres  property went on record as the largest per-acre price in The Strip's history.
  7. S. Daniel Abraham

    With a net worth of $1.8 billion as of September 2012, S.Daniel Abraham is a prominent American self-made billionaire. Born in Long Island-born, Daniel joined the army in Second World War and never got to finish high school much less go to college. However after leaving the army, Daniel joined his uncle's medical supply company. He created Slim-Fast brand in 1977, after failed attempts to market itch cream and weight-loss gum. He took it public two years later and private again in 1987. He sold the company to Unilever for $2.3 billion in 2000. In recent times he has been interested in philanthropy and emerged as a generous donor to Jewish causes. Apart from funding a scholarship program for Jewish college students interested in studying the Torah after graduation, he has also helped set up the Washington, D.C. center devoted to promoting Middle East peace.
  8. Yusaku Maezawa

    Yusaku Maezawa is a Japanese entrepreneur who at just 37 years of age has net worth of $1.1 billion, according to Forbes as of March 2012. Yusaku Maezawa is started out as a former rock musician, selling CDs and band t-shirts online back in the early 1990's. He then founded a company called Start Today, along with a wildly-successful e-commerce site called Zozotown. The company has doubled its value every year since it was established in 2005, and Zozotown currently has over 3 million subscribers.
  9. Haim Saban

    With a net worth of $3.1 billion as of September 2012, Haim Saban is easily one of the most successful self-made billionaires. And yet this Egyptian origin billionaire and former war survivor never attended college. However this did not stop him from building a multibillion-dollar fortune in television and media. Saban started out with the Japanese TV show, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and eventually founded the Saban media group. His Saban Capital Group bought a 7.5% stake in Indonesia's largest TV and radio media group, Media Nusantara Citra, in October 2011 for about $110 million.  Saban's largest holding though - worth about $500 million-- is his share in Spanish language broadcaster Univision. Apart from these, his Saban Brands owns and manages the Power Rangers brand as well as that of Paul Frank, known for its monkey, Julius. Saban is also a long-time supporter of the Democrat Party and has donated nearly $47 million to Children's Hospital Los Angeles, $11 million to the Saban Free Clinic (formerly the Los Angeles Free Clinic) and just over $15 million to the Soroka Medical Center in Israel.
  10. John Paul Dejoria

    With a net worth of $4 billion, John Paul Dejoria seems a far cry from the high school graduate who was once told by his teacher that he “would never succeed at anything.”2 Today, the former Navy vet basks in the success of high-end hair products brand Paul Mitchell Systems, which has roughly $1 billion in annual sales. His Patron Spirits, started as a hobby with pal Martin Crawley in 1989, sold more than 2.4 million cases of tequila in 2011. DeJoria has given back to the community in the form of charities that help people help themselves. Chrysalis provides L.A. homeless with a fresh start; Grow Appalachia hands people the supplies and knowledge needed to grow their own food.


  1. Bloomberg - Spain’s Ortega Overtakes Buffett as World’s Third-Richest
  2. Forbes - John Paul DeJoria