Best Value Colleges in Illinois

The Illinois College ROI Report makes it easy for students and their families to determine which Illinois colleges provide the highest return on investment for their educational dollars.  Read More

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1Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT)(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$561,200
Total 4 Year Cost$201,800
Grad Rate63%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$29,360
2University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$551,200
Total 4 Year Cost$111,800
Grad Rate84%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$26,840
3University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$494,400
Total 4 Year Cost$168,600
Grad Rate84%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$26,840
4Northwestern University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$473,700
Total 4 Year Cost$239,300
Grad Rate94%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$23,200
5University of Chicago(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$458,000
Total 4 Year Cost$245,000
Grad Rate93%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$24,760
6University of Illinois at Chicago(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$390,300
Total 4 Year Cost$112,700
Grad Rate57%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$26,360
7Bradley University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$365,700
Total 4 Year Cost$157,400
Grad Rate76%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$25,040
8DePaul University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$357,000
Total 4 Year Cost$186,000
Grad Rate70%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$27,520
9Northern Illinois University (NIU)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$354,100
Total 4 Year Cost$108,900
Grad Rate51%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$31,640
10University of Illinois at Chicago(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$340,700
Total 4 Year Cost$162,300
Grad Rate57%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$26,360
11Northern Illinois University (NIU)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$318,000
Total 4 Year Cost$145,000
Grad Rate51%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$31,640
12Southern Illinois University (SIU) - Carbondale Campus(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$307,200
Total 4 Year Cost$95,800
Grad Rate43%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$29,640
13Southern Illinois University (SIU) - Edwardsville Campus(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$261,300
Total 4 Year Cost$91,700
Grad Rate50%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$24,920
14Southern Illinois University (SIU) - Carbondale Campus(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$259,700
Total 4 Year Cost$143,300
Grad Rate43%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$29,640
15University of St. Francis(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$257,900
Total 4 Year Cost$152,000
Grad Rate57%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$29,080

*NOTE: Unranked schools on this list don’t have on-campus living options, so on-campus costs are not available.

Attending college in the Prairie State isn't just advantageous because of the high earning potential that many graduates enjoy. It's also a great choice because of the hustle and bustle of Chicago, where the majority of schools in this report are located. Whether you're thinking about attending college in Illinois because you've always dreamed of being in or near the Windy City or because you're drawn there for the best value colleges Illinois is known for, consider using PayScale's data to pinpoint the best value colleges in Illinois before you apply.

In terms of college return on investment Illinois boasts many schools that appear within the top 200 rankings nationwide. Illinois Institute of Technology, commonly known as Illinois Tech or IIT, is of particular note. This prestigious private, not-for-profit school is ranked 63rd in terms of 20-year net ROI for students without financial aid. If you are lucky enough to attend, the return on your investment, which averages around $201,800, should be considerable. IIT alums report a median return of investment of $561,200 in the 20 years following graduation. When financial aid is used, that figure soars to $674,400. Famous for its incredible science and engineering programs, IIT researchers were behind some of the most important technological advances in recent memory, including spacecraft re-entry technology and magnetic recording. Architects who graduated from the design school here have helped shape the iconic Chicago skyline, which you will enjoy gazing at every day as an IIT student.

If you dream of following in the footsteps of Bill Gates and other technology and business leaders, the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign should be up your alley. Happily enough, this public university is ranked 72nd nationwide for net ROI. The average cost for in-state students is $111,800, and the 20 Year Net ROI of the resulting education is $551,200. Throw in financial aid, and the number rises to $601,200. You'll get plenty of bang for your education buck, and you could very well land a job at Microsoft. After all, Gates himself once noted that the company hires more graduates of UIUC than any other school.

Northwestern University earns a well-deserved place near the top of the list of top college return of investment Illinois schools. This prestigious, private, not-for-profit university, which is located in Chicago's Streeterville neighborhood and is a founding member of the Big 10, counts numerous Nobel Prize winners, Pulitzer Prize laureates and other illustrious folks among its alumni. Ranked 128th nationally for 20 year net ROI, Northwestern is one of the leading research institutes in the world. The cost of an education here will set you back by $239,300. Northwestern grads report a median return of investment of $473,700 over 20 years, however, and that figure soars to $602,100 when financial aid is included. From cheering on the Wildcats to graduating from a school that produced a current U.S. Supreme Court justice -- John Paul Stevens -- Northwestern is a worthwhile option to consider for many reasons.

Finally, the University of Chicago offers a value of college education Illinois students and their families are sure to approve of. The private university is ranked 142nd on PayScale's list for 20 year net ROI. Founded following a generous donation by John D. Rockefeller, U of C is best known for its incredible professional schools, including the Booth School of Business and the Pritzker School of Medicine. Earning a U of C degree costs an average of $245,000, but the 20 Year Net ROI of that education is $458,000 without financial aid and $580,000 with it, making it an incredible deal in the long run.