2022 best colleges in Illinois

A few of the country's top schools are located in Chicago, alongside underappreciated gems like the University of Illinois in Chicago. And 17 of the midwest 24 Hispanic serving institutions are located in Illinois, most in Chicago. But don't sleep on University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus. While the Fighting Illini have been decidedly mediocre in the Big 10, students can take some solice in the excellent engineering program, one of the best in the country. Considering that Chicago is the third largest city in the US and is surrounded by miles and miles (and miles) of pristine - if flat - countryside, there are relatively few quality liberal arts colleges in the state. 

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Net cost: The median annual cost of all students that receive any aid. This does not refer to the “sticker price”, the price listed by the college.

Earnings: The median earnings of all bachelor-level students 10 years after enrollment. This includes both students that do and do not graduate, across all majors.

Payback: The amount of time in years it takes to pay off the median net cost by the median earnings. For this calculation, the median earning of high school graduates (in the school’s home state) are deducted from the median earnings.

Earningsplus: The difference between the school’s median earnings and the median earnings for all schools in the same state.

Rankings: The ranking order is based on the economic score. The economic score is calculated using a school’s payback and earningsplus performance.

Net cost
Payback
Earnings
EarningsPlus
Rankings
Ranking methodology
#1 in Illinois | #22 in National Universities

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Champaign, Illinois

Economic score: 0.90

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $15,880

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 1.4 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $71,539

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $26,702

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 64%
Graduation rate: 85%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#2 in Illinois | #34 in National Universities

Northwestern University

Evanston, Illinois

Economic score: 1.03

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $24,664

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 1.8 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $80,033

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $35,196

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 10%
Graduation rate: 96%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#3 in Illinois | #47 in National Universities

Illinois Institute of Technology

Chicago, Illinois

Economic score: 1.16

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $22,831

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $77,682

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $32,845

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 61%
Graduation rate: 74%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#4 in Illinois | #55 in National Universities

University of Chicago

Chicago, Illinois

Economic score: 1.28

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $27,315

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.2 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $76,730

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $31,893

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 8%
Graduation rate: 95%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#5 in Illinois | #62 in National Universities

University of Illinois Chicago

Chicago, Illinois

Economic score: 1.32

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $13,312

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 1.8 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $59,780

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $14,943

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 73%
Graduation rate: 68%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#6 in Illinois | #90 in National Universities

University of St Francis

Joliet, Illinois

Economic score: 1.68

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $17,538

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.2 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $59,498

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $14,661

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 61%
Graduation rate: 67%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#7 in Illinois

Saint Xavier University

Chicago, Illinois

Economic score: 1.81

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $14,528

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.2 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $53,990

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $9,153

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 80%
Graduation rate: 62%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#8 in Illinois

University of Illinois Springfield

Springfield, Illinois

Economic score: 2.02

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $12,477

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.2 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $49,747

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $4,910

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 78%
Graduation rate: 55%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#9 in Illinois

Lewis University

Romeoville, Illinois

Economic score: 2.08

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $18,664

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.6 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $55,906

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $11,069

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 67%
Graduation rate: 67%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#10 in Illinois | #32 in Liberal Arts

Illinois Wesleyan University

Bloomington, Illinois

Economic score: 2.11

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $26,039

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 3.2 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $66,966

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $22,129

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 57%
Graduation rate: 79%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#11 in Illinois

Bradley University

Peoria, Illinois

Economic score: 2.14

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $25,634

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 3 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $61,889

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $17,052

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 74%
Graduation rate: 78%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#12 in Illinois | #140 in National Universities

Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville

Edwardsville, Illinois

Economic score: 2.18

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $14,423

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.5 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $51,671

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $6,834

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 86%
Graduation rate: 54%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#13 in Illinois

Elmhurst University

Elmhurst, Illinois

Economic score: 2.30

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $21,485

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.9 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $56,183

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $11,346

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 66%
Graduation rate: 67%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#14 in Illinois

Governors State University

University Park, Illinois

Economic score: 2.30

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $12,077

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.5 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $48,796

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $3,959

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 48%
Graduation rate: 60%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#15 in Illinois | #163 in National Universities

DePaul University

Chicago, Illinois

Economic score: 2.35

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $30,090

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 3.3 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $63,489

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $18,652

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 71%
Graduation rate: 69%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#16 in Illinois | #169 in National Universities

Illinois State University

Normal, Illinois

Economic score: 2.39

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $20,895

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 3 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $55,457

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $10,620

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 82%
Graduation rate: 72%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#17 in Illinois | #44 in Liberal Arts

Lake Forest College

Lake Forest, Illinois

Economic score: 2.41

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $26,426

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 3.2 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $59,021

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $14,184

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 58%
Graduation rate: 71%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#18 in Illinois

Dominican University

River Forest, Illinois

Economic score: 2.49

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $19,268

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.9 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $52,781

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $7,944

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 77%
Graduation rate: 65%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#19 in Illinois

Eastern Illinois University

Charleston, Illinois

Economic score: 2.58

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $14,607

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.8 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $47,991

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $3,154

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 56%
Graduation rate: 60%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#20 in Illinois | #200 in National Universities

Northern Illinois University

Dekalb, Illinois

Economic score: 2.60

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $18,259

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 3.1 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $52,792

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $7,955

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 60%
Graduation rate: 58%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

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