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.

Find out exactly what you should be paid
RankSchool Name20 Year Net ROI
Total 4 Year Cost
Graduation Rate
Typical Years to Graduate
Average Loan Amount
Rank:1School Name:20 Year Net ROI:$617,000Total 4 Year Cost:$118,000Graduation Rate:85%Typical Years to Graduate:4Average Loan Amount:$27,600
Rank:2School Name:20 Year Net ROI:$600,000Total 4 Year Cost:$236,000Graduation Rate:71%Typical Years to Graduate:5Average Loan Amount:$27,300
Rank:3School Name:20 Year Net ROI:$557,000Total 4 Year Cost:$178,000Graduation Rate:85%Typical Years to Graduate:4Average Loan Amount:$27,600
Rank:4School Name:20 Year Net ROI:$481,000Total 4 Year Cost:$267,000Graduation Rate:94%Typical Years to Graduate:4Average Loan Amount:$25,200
Rank:5School Name:20 Year Net ROI:$436,000Total 4 Year Cost:$275,000Graduation Rate:94%Typical Years to Graduate:4Average Loan Amount:$43,900
Rank:6School Name:20 Year Net ROI:$435,000Total 4 Year Cost:$118,000Graduation Rate:58%Typical Years to Graduate:5Average Loan Amount:$24,500
Rank:7School Name:20 Year Net ROI:$394,000Total 4 Year Cost:$207,000Graduation Rate:73%Typical Years to Graduate:4Average Loan Amount:$27,500
Rank:8School Name:20 Year Net ROI:$394,000Total 4 Year Cost:$218,000Graduation Rate:70%Typical Years to Graduate:4Average Loan Amount:$28,400
Rank:9School Name:20 Year Net ROI:$384,000Total 4 Year Cost:$169,000Graduation Rate:58%Typical Years to Graduate:5Average Loan Amount:$24,500
Rank:10School Name:20 Year Net ROI:$356,000Total 4 Year Cost:$176,000Graduation Rate:74%Typical Years to Graduate:4Average Loan Amount:$30,300

Attending college in the Prairie State isn’t just smart 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. PayScale’s data can help you identify the best value colleges in Illinois before you apply.

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 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. This well-known public university will provide plenty of bang for your education buck, and you could very well land a job at Microsoft post graduation. 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. 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. 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.