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 | #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.

#2 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.

#3 in Illinois | #66 in Liberal Arts

Augustana College

Rock Island, Illinois

Economic score: 2.81

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: $23,874

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

Payback: 3.6 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $58,227

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

EarningsPlus: + $13,390

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: 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 | #80 in Liberal Arts

Wheaton College

Wheaton, Illinois

Economic score: 3.06

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: $25,358

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

Payback: 3.6 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $53,473

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

EarningsPlus: + $8,636

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

Admission rate: 87%
Graduation rate: 88%

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 | #100 in Liberal Arts

Knox College

Galesburg, Illinois

Economic score: 3.55

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: $22,292

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

Payback: 3.9 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $49,010

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

EarningsPlus: + $4,173

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: 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.

#6 in Illinois | #104 in Liberal Arts

Monmouth College

Monmouth, Illinois

Economic score: 3.74

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: $17,061

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

Payback: 3.9 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $46,998

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

EarningsPlus: + $2,161

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

Admission rate: 70%
Graduation rate: 57%

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 | #105 in Liberal Arts

Illinois College

Jacksonville, Illinois

Economic score: 3.75

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: $16,562

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

Payback: 3.9 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $46,510

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

EarningsPlus: + $1,673

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

Admission rate: 76%
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.

#8 in Illinois | #170 in Liberal Arts

Blackburn College

Carlinville, Illinois

Economic score: 6.90

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: $15,993

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

Payback: 5.9 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $38,571

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

EarningsPlus: - $6,266

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: 47%

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.

East-West University

Chicago, Illinois

Economic score: 35.93

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: $20,633

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

Payback: 23.5 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $29,301

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

EarningsPlus: - $15,536

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

Admission rate: N/A
Graduation rate: 13%

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.