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2021 Best Colleges for the Money (With Aid) in the Great Lakes Region

226 Colleges
$21,664 Avg Cost (With Aid)*
4.3 Years Avg Time to Graduate*

With all of the options you have for higher education today, it can be tough to choose which direction to take. One of our goals at College Factual is to give you as much information as we can - such as our Best Great Lakes Region Schools For The Money For Those Getting Aid ranking - to help you make that decision.

After analyzing 226 schools, we came up with our list of those that were the best for overall value for the money with aid in the Great Lakes Region. This ranking doesn't just identify the colleges with the lowest costs. Rather, it highlights those institutions that offer excellent educational experiences for a lower cost than other schools of roughly the same caliber. Because of this, it is possible for one college to rank better than another, even if the latter college has a lower average cost.

Learn more about our ranking methodology.

When determining average cost, we look at total expenses, such as tuition, fees, books and supplies, room and board, and other living expenses, and then deduct the average amount of financial aid awarded to a student. This estimate is meant to give you a better picture of how much money you'll have to pay each year, either through self-pay, loans, or external scholarships.

One Size Does Not Fit All

We know that one set of rankings doesn't always help you determine the best school for you, so we've created the ability to narrow your list by location and field of study as well as alternative rankings that prioritize different factors, such as those of importance to veterans and returning adults or those seeking diversity and overall quality.

One of our other unique offerings is College Combat. This tool lets you build your own customized comparisons utilizing the factors that are most important to you. If you're torn between two schools, you can use it to help you see how they stack up against one another!

Top Colleges for the Money (With Aid) in the Great Lakes Region

Learn more about these excellent schools below:

#1

Principia College

Elsah, Illinois

Our analysis found Principia College to be the best school for overall value for the money with aid in the Great Lakes Region in this year’s ranking. Principia is a small private not-for-profit school situated in Elsah, Illinois. It awarded 119 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

At Principia, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.2 years, and the average full-time cost to attend the school for students who receive aid is around $16,849. Looking at these numbers together, we estimate that the average cost of a bachelor’s degree from Principia is about $70,934. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

Students who start out at the school are likely to stick around. The freshman retention rate is 88%. In addition to its great value ranking, Principia is in the top 10% of all schools on our Best Colleges in the Great Lakes Region list.

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#2

University of Detroit Mercy

Detroit, Michigan

A rank of #2 on our Best Colleges for the Money in the Great Lakes Region list means University of Detroit Mercy is a great place for students working on their bachelor’s degree. Detroit, Michigan is the setting for this medium-sized institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 752 students in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at UDM about 4.2 years to graduate, and the average full-time cost to attend the school for students who receive aid is around $15,117. Putting this cost and the average time to graduate together, we find that the average amount you’ll pay to get a bachelor’s degree from UDM is $63,794. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 3.8%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%. UDM also claimed a spot on our Best Colleges in the Great Lakes Region list. It’s in the top 20% of all schools in this category.

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#3

Hillsdale College

Hillsdale, Michigan

The excellent bachelor’s degree programs at Hillsdale College helped the school earn the #3 place on this year’s ranking of the best schools for the money in the Great Lakes Region . Hillsdale College is a small private not-for-profit school located in Hillsdale, Michigan that handed out 403 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes about 4.1 years for the average student at Hillsdale College to complete their degree, and it costs students who receive aid about $24,324 per year to attend the school. Looking at these numbers together, we estimate that the average cost of a bachelor’s degree from Hillsdale College is about $99,728. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

Since the school has a student-to-faculty rate of 9 to 1, those pursuing a bachelor’s degree will have more opportunities to interact with their professors. Hillsdale College also claimed a spot on our Best Colleges in the Great Lakes Region list. It’s in the top 10% of all schools in this category.

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#4

University of Wisconsin - La Crosse

La Crosse, Wisconsin

The excellent bachelor’s degree programs at University of Wisconsin - La Crosse helped the school earn the #4 place on this year’s ranking of the best schools for the money in the Great Lakes Region . Located in La Crosse, Wisconsin, the fairly large public school handed out 2,211 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at UW - La Crosse about 4.5 years to graduate, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $19,185 for students who receive aid. This means that the average student pays around $85,373 to get a bachelor’s degree from UW - La Crosse. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

The low student loan default rate of 1.6% is a good sign that students have an easier time paying off their loans than they might at other schools. For comparison, the national default rate is 10.1%.

Full University of Wisconsin - La Crosse Report

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#5

Eastern Illinois University

Charleston, Illinois

Out of the 226 schools in the Great Lakes Region that were part of this year’s ranking, Eastern Illinois University landed the #5 spot on the list. Eastern Illinois University is a medium-sized public school located in Charleston, Illinois that handed out 1,244 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at EIU is 4.4 years, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $16,976 for students who receive aid. Looking at these numbers together, we estimate that the average cost of a bachelor’s degree from EIU is about $75,034. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

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#6

Hanover College

Hanover, Indiana

Hanover College landed the #6 spot on the 2021 Best Value Colleges in the Great Lakes Region ranking. Hanover is a small private not-for-profit school situated in Hanover, Indiana. It awarded 247 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

At Hanover, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.0 years, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $25,334 for students who receive aid. This means that the average student pays around $102,349 to get a bachelor’s degree from Hanover. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

The student loan default rate at the school is 4.6%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%.

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#7

Illinois College

Jacksonville, Illinois

Illinois College did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in the Great Lakes Region ranking, coming in at #7. Illinois College is a small private not-for-profit school located in Jacksonville, Illinois that handed out 256 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average student at Illinois College graduates in less than 4.1 years, and it costs students who receive aid about $20,471 per year to attend the school. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the Illinois College is $83,317. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

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Southern Illinois University Edwardsville came in at #8 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for the Money in the Great Lakes Region ranking. SIUE is a fairly large public school situated in Edwardsville, Illinois. It awarded 2,607 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at SIUE about 4.5 years to graduate, and it costs students who receive aid about $17,498 per year to attend the school. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from SIUE be around $79,091. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

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#9

Ferris State University

Big Rapids, Michigan

Ferris State University came in at #9 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for the Money in the Great Lakes Region ranking. Big Rapids, Michigan is the setting for this fairly large institution of higher learning. The public school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 2,493 students in 2018-2019.

It takes about 4.6 years for the average student at Ferris to complete their degree, and it costs students who receive aid about $15,909 per year to attend the school. This means that the average student pays around $73,022 to get a bachelor’s degree from Ferris. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

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#10

Earlham College

Richmond, Indiana

Earlham College came in at #10 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for the Money in the Great Lakes Region ranking. Located in Richmond, Indiana, the small private not-for-profit school awarded 229 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2018-2019.

It takes about 4.1 years for the average student at Earlham to complete their degree, and the average full-time cost to attend the school for students who receive aid is around $24,883. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from Earlham be around $102,020. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

The school has an excellent freshman retention rate of 86%, which means students like the school well enough to return for a second year.

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#11

University of Illinois at Springfield

Springfield, Illinois

University of Illinois at Springfield landed the #11 spot on the 2021 Best Value Colleges in the Great Lakes Region ranking. UIS is a public institution located in Springfield, Illinois. The school has a small population, and it awarded 680 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at UIS about 4.4 years to graduate, and it costs students who receive aid about $20,739 per year to attend the school. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from UIS be around $91,044. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

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#12

Lake Superior State University

Sault Ste Marie, Michigan

Lake Superior State University ranked #12 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in the Great Lakes Region list. Lake Superior State University is a small public school located in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan that handed out 393 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average student at Lake Superior State University graduates in less than 4.4 years, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $16,475 for students who receive aid. Putting this cost and the average time to graduate together, we find that the average amount you’ll pay to get a bachelor’s degree from Lake Superior State University is $72,160. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

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#13

Indiana Wesleyan University

Marion, Indiana

Indiana Wesleyan University ranked #13 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in the Great Lakes Region list. IWU is a small private not-for-profit school situated in Marion, Indiana. It awarded 778 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at IWU is 4.2 years, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $21,484 for students who receive aid. This means that the average student pays around $90,018 to get a bachelor’s degree from IWU. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

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#14

Grand Valley State University

Allendale, Michigan

Grand Valley State University did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in the Great Lakes Region ranking, coming in at #14. GVSU is located in Allendale, Michigan and has a large student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 5,421 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

It takes the average student at GVSU about 4.5 years to graduate, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $23,233 for students who receive aid. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the GVSU is $105,245. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 3.8%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%.

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#15

Illinois State University

Normal, Illinois

Illinois State University did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in the Great Lakes Region ranking, coming in at #15. Located in Normal, Illinois, the large public school handed out 4,822 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average student at Illinois State graduates in less than 4.4 years, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $24,958 for students who receive aid. This means that the average student pays around $108,817 to get a bachelor’s degree from Illinois State. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 3.9%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%.

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#16

University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point

Stevens Point, Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point ranked #16 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in the Great Lakes Region list. This medium-sized public school is located in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, and it awarded 1,927 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average student at UW - Stevens Point graduates in less than 4.5 years, and the average full-time cost to attend the school for students who receive aid is around $19,927. This means that the average student pays around $90,070 to get a bachelor’s degree from UW - Stevens Point. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 3.5%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%.

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#17

Wabash College

Crawfordsville, Indiana

With a ranking of #17, Wabash College did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for the Money in the Great Lakes Region list. Wabash College is a small private not-for-profit school located in Crawfordsville, Indiana that handed out 220 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at Wabash about 4.1 years to graduate, and the average full-time cost to attend the school for students who receive aid is around $29,099. When we combine these numbers, we estimate that the cost to get a bachelor’s degree from Wabash is $118,433. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

The school has an excellent freshman retention rate of 87%, which means students like the school well enough to return for a second year. As a testament to the quality of education it offers, Wabash also is in the top 15% of our Best Colleges in the Great Lakes Region ranking.

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#18

Judson University

Elgin, Illinois

Judson University landed the #18 spot on the 2021 Best Value Colleges in the Great Lakes Region ranking. Judson is a private not-for-profit institution located in Elgin, Illinois. The school has a small population, and it awarded 220 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

At Judson, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.2 years, and the yearly average cost to attend the school is $18,324 for students who receive aid. When we combine these numbers, we estimate that the cost to get a bachelor’s degree from Judson is $77,694. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

The impressive student-to-faculty rate of 9 to 1 means that students may have more opportunities to work more closely with their professors than they would at other schools.

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#19

Purdue University - Main Campus

West Lafayette, Indiana

Purdue University - Main Campus ranked #19 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in the Great Lakes Region list. Purdue is a public institution located in West Lafayette, Indiana. The school has a large population, and it awarded 7,568 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at Purdue about 4.4 years to graduate, and the average full-time cost to attend the school for students who receive aid is around $28,495. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from Purdue be around $124,238. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

The school has an excellent freshman retention rate of 91%, which means students like the school well enough to return for a second year. Purdue excels when it comes to quality. It’s ranked in the top 5% of all schools on our Best Colleges in the Great Lakes Region list.

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#20

Cedarville University

Cedarville, Ohio

Cedarville University did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in the Great Lakes Region ranking, coming in at #20. Cedarville is a private not-for-profit institution located in Cedarville, Ohio. The school has a small population, and it awarded 759 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes about 4.2 years for the average student at Cedarville to complete their degree, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $26,930 for students who receive aid. This means that the average student pays around $112,567 to get a bachelor’s degree from Cedarville. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 2.1%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%.

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#21

Mount Vernon Nazarene University

Mount Vernon, Ohio

Mount Vernon Nazarene University did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in the Great Lakes Region ranking, coming in at #21. Located in Mount Vernon, Ohio, the small private not-for-profit school handed out 371 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

At MVNU, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.2 years, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $18,170 for students who receive aid. Looking at these numbers together, we estimate that the average cost of a bachelor’s degree from MVNU is about $76,496. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

The impressive student-to-faculty rate of 9 to 1 means that students may have more opportunities to work more closely with their professors than they would at other schools.

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#22

University of Evansville

Evansville, Indiana

With a ranking of #22, University of Evansville did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for the Money in the Great Lakes Region list. UE is a small private not-for-profit school situated in Evansville, Indiana. It awarded 504 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at UE about 4.1 years to graduate, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $28,152 for students who receive aid. When we combine these numbers, we estimate that the cost to get a bachelor’s degree from UE is $115,423. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 3.3%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%. As a testament to the quality of education it offers, UE also is in the top 20% of our Best Colleges in the Great Lakes Region ranking.

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With a ranking of #23, Ohio Northern University did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for the Money in the Great Lakes Region list. This small private not-for-profit school is located in Ada, Ohio, and it awarded 415 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at ONU about 4.2 years to graduate, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $27,759 for students who receive aid. Putting this cost and the average time to graduate together, we find that the average amount you’ll pay to get a bachelor’s degree from ONU is $117,421. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 3.7%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%. On top of its placing in our value rankings, ONU also did well on our Best Colleges in the Great Lakes Region list. It’s in the top 15% of all schools reviewed in this analysis.

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#24

University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire

Eau Claire, Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire ranked #24 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in the Great Lakes Region list. Eau Claire, Wisconsin is the setting for this fairly large institution of higher learning. The public school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 2,231 students in 2018-2019.

It takes about 4.5 years for the average student at UW - Eau Claire to complete their degree, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $22,070 for students who receive aid. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the UW - Eau Claire is $99,536. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

Full University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire Report

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#25

University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh

Oshkosh, Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in the Great Lakes Region ranking, coming in at #25. This fairly large public school is located in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and it awarded 2,151 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average student at UW Oshkosh graduates in less than 4.8 years, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $19,232 for students who receive aid. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from UW Oshkosh be around $91,544. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 3.4%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%.

Full University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh Report

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Rest of the Top 15% Best Colleges for the Money (With Aid) in the Great Lakes Region

Not only did these schools make the top-ranked list, but they also landed in the upper 15% of this year’s ranking:

#26

Knox College

Galesburg, Illinois
#27

Ripon College

Ripon, Wisconsin
#27

Northern Illinois University

Dekalb, Illinois
#29

Manchester University

North Manchester, Indiana
#30

Monmouth College

Monmouth, Illinois
#31

Western Illinois University

Macomb, Illinois
#32

University of Wisconsin - River Falls

River Falls, Wisconsin
#33

Western Michigan University

Kalamazoo, Michigan

View Best Colleges for the Money (With Aid) Nationwide >

All Majors and Fields of Study >

Honorable Mentions

These schools also performed well in our Best Colleges for the Money ranking:

Rank College Location
34 Grace College and Theological Seminary Winona Lake, IN
35 Augustana College Rock Island, IL
36 Taylor University Upland, IN
37 Andrews University Berrien Springs, MI
37 Kettering College Kettering, OH
39 Marietta College Marietta, OH
40 Huntington University Huntington, IN
41 Franciscan University of Steubenville Steubenville, OH
42 University of Wisconsin - Whitewater Whitewater, WI
43 University of Wisconsin - Stout Menomonie, WI
44 Lincoln Christian University Lincoln, IL
45 Albion College Albion, MI

More Rankings >

Notes and References

Footnotes

*These averages are for the top 25 schools only.

  • For our state-specific rankings, we use in-state tuition to calculate average cost. For our national and regional rankings, we use a weighted average of in-state and non-resident tuition.

References

  • The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a branch of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) serves as the core of our data about colleges.
  • Some other college data, including much of the graduate earnings data, comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s (College Scorecard).
  • Information about the national average student loan default rate is from the U.S. Department of Education and refers to data about the 2016 borrower cohort tracking period for which the cohort default rate (CDR) was 10.1%.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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