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2021 Best Colleges for the Money (With Aid) in Illinois

52 Colleges
$23,837 Avg Cost (With Aid)*
4.3 Years Avg Time to Graduate*

When pursuing a degree in today's world, there are many different options to choose from. Our mission at College Factual is to arm you with as much information as we can to help you make that decision. Our Best Illinois Schools For The Money For Those Getting Aid ranking is one tool we have developed to help in this regard.

Our analysis looked at 52 schools to determine which ones were the best for overall value for the money with aid in Illinois. This ranking isn't just a listing of 'cheap' schools. Instead, it is noting which schools offer a high quality education for a reasonable price. Thus, one college may rank better than another, but the second school could have a lower average cost.

See what other factors we include in our ranking methodology.

To calculate the average cost amount, we sum up the total expenses to attend a school - such as tuition, fees, room and board, books and supplies, and other living expenses - and then subtract the average financial aid award a student receives. So it is an approximation of how much you will have to pay out-of-pocket each year on average.

Customizing Your List

Since one ranking on its own is not enough to give you a complete understanding of your educational options, you can refine this list by location and field of study. We've also developed a number of other tools and rankings based on other factors. These other rankings highlight colleges that excel in other factors such as overall quality or diversity as well as schools that excel in serving different groups of students such as veterans or returnings adults.

You can create your own custom comparison that focuses on the factors most important to you using our tool, College Combat. We encourage you to try it out and pit your favorite colleges and universities head to head!

Top Colleges for the Money (With Aid) in Illinois

Learn more about these excellent schools below:

#1

Principia College

Elsah, Illinois

Our 2021 rankings named Principia College the best school for overall value for the money with aid in Illinois for students working on their bachelor’s degree. Located in Elsah, Illinois, the small private not-for-profit school handed out 119 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average student at Principia graduates in less than 4.2 years, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $16,849 for students who receive aid. 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.

Since the school has a student-to-faculty rate of 6 to 1, those pursuing a bachelor’s degree will have more opportunities to interact with their professors. In addition to its great value ranking, Principia is in the top 15% of all schools on our Best Colleges in Illinois list.

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The excellent bachelor’s degree programs at University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign helped the school earn the #2 place on this year’s ranking of the best schools for the money in Illinois. Located in Champaign, Illinois, the large public school awarded 8,983 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2018-2019.

It takes about 4.2 years for the average student at UIUC to complete their degree, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $18,767 for students who receive aid. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from UIUC be around $78,821. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

The school has an excellent freshman retention rate of 92%, which means students like the school well enough to return for a second year. UIUC not only placed well in our value rankings, but it is also #3 on our Best Colleges in Illinois list.

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#3

University of Illinois at Springfield

Springfield, Illinois

A rank of #3 on our Best Colleges for the Money in Illinois list means University of Illinois at Springfield is a great place for students working on their bachelor’s degree. UIS is located in Springfield, Illinois and has a small student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 680 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

The average student at UIS graduates in less than 4.4 years, and the average full-time cost to attend the school for students who receive aid is around $16,266. Looking at these numbers together, we estimate that the average cost of a bachelor’s degree from UIS is about $71,408. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

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#4

Eastern Illinois University

Charleston, Illinois

You’ll be in good company if you decide to attend Eastern Illinois University. It ranked #4 on our 2021 Best Value Colleges in Illinois list. EIU is located in Charleston, Illinois and has a medium-sized student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 1,244 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

It takes about 4.4 years for the average student at EIU to complete their degree, and the average full-time cost to attend the school for students who receive aid is around $15,443. 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 EIU is $68,258. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

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#5

Illinois State University

Normal, Illinois

The excellent bachelor’s degree programs at Illinois State University helped the school earn the #5 place on this year’s ranking of the best schools for the money in Illinois. Located in Normal, Illinois, the large public school handed out 4,822 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at Illinois State is 4.4 years, and the average full-time cost to attend the school for students who receive aid is around $19,821. When we combine these numbers, we estimate that the cost to get a bachelor’s degree from Illinois State is $86,420. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

The student loan default rate at the school is 3.9%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%.

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University of Illinois at Chicago ranked #6 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in Illinois list. UIC is a public institution located in Chicago, Illinois. The school has a large population, and it awarded 4,524 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at UIC about 4.5 years to graduate, and it costs students who receive aid about $20,608 per year to attend the school. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from UIC be around $92,942. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

The student loan default rate at the school is 3.1%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%.

Full University of Illinois at Chicago Report

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Southern Illinois University Edwardsville did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Illinois ranking, coming in at #7. Southern Illinois University Edwardsville is a fairly large public school located in Edwardsville, Illinois that handed out 2,607 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes about 4.5 years for the average student at SIUE to complete their degree, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $17,498 for students who receive aid. Looking at these numbers together, we estimate that the average cost of a bachelor’s degree from SIUE is about $79,091. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

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#8

Illinois College

Jacksonville, Illinois

With a ranking of #8, Illinois College did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for the Money in Illinois list. Located in Jacksonville, Illinois, the small private not-for-profit school handed out 256 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

At Illinois College, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.1 years, and it costs students who receive aid about $20,471 per year to attend the school. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from Illinois College be around $83,317. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

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#9

Judson University

Elgin, Illinois

Judson University ranked #9 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in Illinois list. Judson is located in Elgin, Illinois and has a small student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 220 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at Judson is 4.2 years, and the average full-time cost to attend the school for students who receive aid is around $18,324. When we combine these numbers, we estimate that the cost to get a bachelor’s degree from Judson is $77,694. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

With a student-to-faculty rate of 9 to 1, it’s easy to see that the school is committed to helping their undergraduates succeed.

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#10

Knox College

Galesburg, Illinois

With a ranking of #10, Knox College did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for the Money in Illinois list. Located in Galesburg, Illinois, the small private not-for-profit school awarded 367 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2018-2019.

It takes about 4.1 years for the average student at Knox to complete their degree, and it costs students who receive aid about $28,255 per year to attend the school. This means that the average student pays around $116,128 to get a bachelor’s degree from Knox. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

Students who start out at the school are likely to stick around. The freshman retention rate is 87%. On top of its placing in our value rankings, Knox also did well on our Best Colleges in Illinois list. It’s in the top 20% of all schools reviewed in this analysis.

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#11

Western Illinois University

Macomb, Illinois

Western Illinois University did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Illinois ranking, coming in at #11. WIU is a public institution located in Macomb, Illinois. The school has a medium-sized population, and it awarded 1,785 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes about 4.4 years for the average student at WIU to complete their degree, and it costs students who receive aid about $17,615 per year to attend the school. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the WIU is $78,211. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

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#12

Augustana College

Rock Island, Illinois

With a ranking of #12, Augustana College did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for the Money in Illinois list. Augustana is a private not-for-profit institution located in Rock Island, Illinois. The school has a small population, and it awarded 855 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average student at Augustana graduates in less than 4.1 years, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $29,480 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 Augustana is $119,689. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

The student loan default rate at the school is 3.4%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%. Augustana also claimed a spot on our Best Colleges in Illinois list. It’s in the top 20% of all schools in this category.

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With a ranking of #13, Southern Illinois University Carbondale did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for the Money in Illinois list. Carbondale, Illinois is the setting for this fairly large institution of higher learning. The public school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 3,120 students in 2018-2019.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at SIUC is 4.5 years, and the average full-time cost to attend the school for students who receive aid is around $18,643. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the SIUC is $83,148. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

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#14

Blackburn College

Carlinville, Illinois

Blackburn College ranked #14 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in Illinois list. Blackburn is located in Carlinville, Illinois and has a small student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 120 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

At Blackburn, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.4 years, and the average full-time cost to attend the school for students who receive aid is around $15,650. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from Blackburn be around $68,860. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

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#15

Northern Illinois University

Dekalb, Illinois

Northern Illinois University did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Illinois ranking, coming in at #15. NIU is located in Dekalb, Illinois and has a fairly large student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 3,441 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at NIU is 4.6 years, and the yearly average cost to attend the school is $20,171 for students who receive aid. This means that the average student pays around $92,181 to get a bachelor’s degree from NIU. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

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#16

Monmouth College

Monmouth, Illinois

Monmouth College did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Illinois ranking, coming in at #16. Monmouth is a private not-for-profit institution located in Monmouth, Illinois. The school has a small population, and it awarded 238 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

At Monmouth, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.2 years, and it costs students who receive aid about $22,828 per year to attend the school. 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 Monmouth is $96,106. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

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#17

Bradley University

Peoria, Illinois

With a ranking of #17, Bradley University did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for the Money in Illinois list. Bradley is located in Peoria, Illinois and has a medium-sized student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 1,048 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

It takes about 4.3 years for the average student at Bradley to complete their degree, and the yearly average cost to attend the school is $30,832 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 Bradley is $131,344. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 2.7%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%. On top of its placing in our value rankings, Bradley also did well on our Best Colleges in Illinois list. It’s in the top 15% of all schools reviewed in this analysis.

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#18

Wheaton College Illinois

Wheaton, Illinois

With a ranking of #18, Wheaton College Illinois did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for the Money in Illinois list. Wheaton College Illinois is a small private not-for-profit school situated in Wheaton, Illinois. It awarded 720 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at Wheaton College Illinois about 4.1 years to graduate, and the average full-time cost to attend the school for students who receive aid is around $34,245. This means that the average student pays around $141,089 to get a bachelor’s degree from Wheaton College Illinois. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

The school has an excellent freshman retention rate of 93%, which means students like the school well enough to return for a second year. Wheaton College Illinois not only placed well in our value rankings, but it is also #4 on our Best Colleges in Illinois list.

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#19

Northwestern University

Evanston, Illinois

Northwestern University came in at #19 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for the Money in Illinois ranking. Northwestern University is a large private not-for-profit school located in Evanston, Illinois that handed out 2,770 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

At Northwestern U, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.1 years, and it costs students who receive aid about $37,219 per year to attend the school. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern U be around $153,714. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

The school has an excellent freshman retention rate of 98%, which means students like the school well enough to return for a second year. Northwestern U did well in our quality rankings, too. It placed #1 on our Best Colleges in Illinois list.

Full Northwestern University Report

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#20

Lincoln Christian University

Lincoln, Illinois

With a ranking of #20, Lincoln Christian University did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for the Money in Illinois list. Lincoln, Illinois is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 77 students in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at Lincoln Christian College and Seminary about 4.5 years to graduate, and the average full-time cost to attend the school for students who receive aid is around $20,453. This means that the average student pays around $92,243 to get a bachelor’s degree from Lincoln Christian College and Seminary. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

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#21

Lake Forest College

Lake Forest, Illinois

Lake Forest College came in at #21 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for the Money in Illinois ranking. Lake Forest College is a small private not-for-profit school located in Lake Forest, Illinois that handed out 453 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

At Lake Forest, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.2 years, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $31,412 for students who receive aid. When we combine these numbers, we estimate that the cost to get a bachelor’s degree from Lake Forest is $130,360. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

The student loan default rate at the school is 1.8%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%.

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#22

University of Chicago

Chicago, Illinois

University of Chicago did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Illinois ranking, coming in at #22. University of Chicago is a fairly large private not-for-profit school located in Chicago, Illinois that handed out 2,024 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at UChicago is 4.1 years, and the yearly average cost to attend the school is $41,662 for students who receive aid. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from UChicago be around $169,564. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

The student loan default rate at the school is 1.5%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%. UChicago did well in our quality rankings, too. It placed #2 on our Best Colleges in Illinois list.

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#23

Dominican University

River Forest, Illinois

Dominican University came in at #23 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for the Money in Illinois ranking. Located in River Forest, Illinois, the small private not-for-profit school handed out 500 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

At Dominican U, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.2 years, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $26,952 for students who receive aid. This means that the average student pays around $114,546 to get a bachelor’s degree from Dominican U. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

The low student loan default rate of 4.9% 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%.

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#24

Illinois Wesleyan University

Bloomington, Illinois

Illinois Wesleyan University landed the #24 spot on the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Illinois ranking. Illinois Wesleyan is located in Bloomington, Illinois and has a small student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 434 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

It takes the average student at Illinois Wesleyan about 4.1 years to graduate, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $37,862 for students who receive aid. Looking at these numbers together, we estimate that the average cost of a bachelor’s degree from Illinois Wesleyan is about $153,720. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

The student loan default rate at the school is 2.5%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%. Illinois Wesleyan excels when it comes to quality. It’s ranked in the top 10% of all schools on our Best Colleges in Illinois list.

Full Illinois Wesleyan University Report

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#25

MacMurray College

Jacksonville, Illinois

With a ranking of #25, MacMurray College did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for the Money in Illinois list. Located in Jacksonville, Illinois, the small private not-for-profit school handed out 123 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

At Mac, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.2 years, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $18,611 for students who receive aid. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from Mac be around $77,794. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

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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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