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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16Lincoln College - Lincoln, IL(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$273,000
Total 4 Year Cost$120,000
Grad Rate26%
Time to GraduateN/A
Loan Amt$25,600
17University of St. Francis(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$267,000
Total 4 Year Cost$163,000
Grad Rate56%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$27,900
18 (tie)Illinois State University(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$245,000
Total 4 Year Cost$136,000
Grad Rate72%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$30,200
18 (tie)Springfield College in Illinois(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$245,000
Total 4 Year Cost$153,000
Grad Rate51%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$25,300
20Southern Illinois University (SIU) - Edwardsville Campus(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$236,000
Total 4 Year Cost$136,000
Grad Rate50%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$25,400
21North Central College - Naperville, IL(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$233,000
Total 4 Year Cost$183,000
Grad Rate63%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$32,100
22Illinois Wesleyan University (IWU)(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$228,000
Total 4 Year Cost$206,000
Grad Rate81%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$32,800
23Dominican University - River Forest, IL(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$226,000
Total 4 Year Cost$162,000
Grad Rate63%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$24,400
24Southern Illinois University (SIU) - Carbondale Campus(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$225,000
Total 4 Year Cost$154,000
Grad Rate44%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$29,500
25Loyola University - Chicago, IL(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$218,000
Total 4 Year Cost$211,000
Grad Rate73%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$36,600
26Lewis University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$210,000
Total 4 Year Cost$160,000
Grad Rate62%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$31,600
27Aurora University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$208,000
Total 4 Year Cost$134,000
Grad Rate58%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$24,500
28Eastern Illinois University(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$204,000
Total 4 Year Cost$95,700
Grad Rate59%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$28,900
29Olivet Nazarene University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$196,000
Total 4 Year Cost$169,000
Grad Rate56%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$29,200
30St. Xavier University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$195,000
Total 4 Year Cost$170,000
Grad Rate54%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$28,400

*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 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.